This blonde bombshell is Sobe, aka “Diamond J Jesse.”
He’s a 13 year old, 15.1 Quarter Horse gelding who came to Flying Changes after a lot of unfortunate bouncing around.
Three years ago, a generous woman outbid the meat buyers for this handsome dude at Camelot auction in New Jersey – she couldn’t bear this young guy to ship to slaughter. His new owner knew that she wouldn’t be his forever home, but wanted to be a safe landing and find a better place for this guy who clearly had so much potential.
At some point in his past, Sobe suffered a tear in the lateral collateral ligament in his left front foot (an injury that probably caused him to end up at auction). His new owner’s vet recommended rest, anti-inflammatories and special shoeing while the injury healed. His new owner followed all vets instructions and Sobe’s leg healed beautifully.
When he was cleared to ride, his owner tried to rehome him – twice. Once, he landed back at another auction (and his owner saved him again by buying him back) and a second time was placed in a home where he didn’t receive adequate care, so his rescuer took him back yet again.
She reached out to Flying Changes to help him find an appropriate forever home! She’s covering his expenses, so he’s not a cost to the rescue – she just wants to make sure that he finds the right home.
We had one of our vets check out his x-rays and previous vet reports, and Sobe has been cleared for W/T/C riding with a rider under 150 lbs. Just to be safe, we won’t be adopting Sobe out as a gaming or jumping mount, but he’s cleared for just about everything else!
Sobe came to us wearing front shoes, but both our vet and blacksmith gave him the okay to be barefoot, so we pulled his front shoes and had him trimmed up a few weeks ago. He was a little sore for the first week but feels just peachy now, and Cortney is going to climb aboard this week to see what we’re working with. We’re excited to get this guy under saddle and start figuring out what he can do!
On the ground, he’s sweet as can be and very much a gentleman. Stood quietly for the farrier. Low man on the totem pole in the field. And he might have the best hair in the barn – his highlights are to die for!
We’ll keep you posted on this guy – he’ll do a 30 day eval with us and will then hopefully be ready for a home of his own!
Meet my kid. Her name is Emma, and she’s a 12+ year old Lab/Rottweiler mix I plucked from a cardboard box outside a flea market just weeks after graduating from college.
We’ve lived in a trailer in rural Virginia, an overpriced studio in inner-city Philly (on an air mattress!) and three different homes around Pittsburgh. With me through my first teaching job, graduate school, several ugly breakups, and a marriage, Emma has been my best friend for my entire adult life.
In the last few years, Emma’s started to slow down. Her day-long hikes had to be reduced significantly in length and time, especially in the heat of the summer. It takes her a little longer to get up, especially from the damn hardwood floor. Recently diagnosed with blood cancer and on steroids, Emma now has to pee every few hours, so we pay a kind dog-walker to visit at lunchtime because she can no longer hold it all day.
But, she’s happy. She loves to snuggle, go for (shorter) walks and sniff for rabbit poop, hand out Halloween candy, eat dog ice cream, play in the river and the snow. Life is less fast-paced, and she requires more care, but I wouldn’t trade her for the world, and I’ll cherish whatever time I have with her.
Maybe you’re getting where I’m going with this.
When Emma couldn’t handle six-mile hikes anymore, I didn’t drop her at the Humane Society and go out and buy a younger dog. When she required medications, I bought them and hid them in slices of Kraft singles. When those meds make her need a 2:30am pee in below-zero wind chills, I feel around in the dark for my slippers and bathrobe and stumble outside. This is just what you do for an old dog that you love like family.
It should not surprise us when our pets get older. Unless your preferred companion is a sea-turtle, parrot, Redwood tree, or rock, most of us will be faced with an aging or ill pet.
And while horses might be more complicated companions than dogs, they deserve the same loyalty from their owners in their elder years.
Meet Elmo.This handsome chunkster was my 15th birthday present; we’ll celebrate 20 years together this June. (Weird, since I’ll only be 29 again…)
He’ll be 28 in April. He’s slowed down in the last few years, too. Some days, his joints are stiff and he prefers walking or cantering to trotting. Our jumping days are long behind us. Last summer he was diagnosed with Cushings and now requires meds. Changes in weather affect him far more these days too, and when we get a mid-winter warm spell, we’re watching him like a hawk, armed with Banamine and probiotics.
In the fall, showing off for a youngster in a neighboring pasture, Elmo tore a tendon in left hind and has been off-and-on lame for several months. His hard riding days are over, and for most of my visits we just hang out. Occasionally I’ll clip a lead rope to his halter and we’ll meander around the fields at the barn.
And I’ll love every one of these rides.
When he can’t carry me anymore, I’ll sit in his stall with pockets full of carrots and candy canes (no wonder he’s fat) and we’ll just hang out. And those days will be wonderful, too.
And when Elmo’s gone, then I’ll start searching for the 17+ hand bay gelding that I’ll name Ampleforth, who I’ve been dreaming about since I went foxhunting with friends in England.
But since teachers don’t make a gazillion dollars, and I’m no longer willing to live in a snake-infested trailer to afford my horses, Ampleforth has to just hang out there in dreamland for a bit.
My responsibility right now, as much I’d love to be galloping through fields jumping fences, is to this fat, old dude.
I wanted to share it with you, our rescue family, because it addresses one of the most complicated issues we face at the rescue: calls from owners wanting to surrender their older horse(s).
Most of us wouldn’t think about getting rid of our old dog – so why are so many people so willing to hand over their old horse?
Obviously, I have very strong feelings about our responsibility as pet owners to provide, whenever humanly possible, forever homes for our animals. FCER feels strongly about this as well, and our adoption contracts are life-long.
The rescue regularly receives phone calls from horse owners wanting to surrender their horses to Flying Changes. One woman was moving and needed to rehome four horses, including two seniors with health issues, and an unhandled yearling. Another call was from a man whose aging mother was taking care of his sister’s horses that she had stopped caring for when they were no longer rideable, and he could no longer watch his mother struggle through the daily chores. The third was a woman trying to find “good homes” for three horses in their twenties who were “very sweet,” but hadn’t seen a vet or farrier “in years.”
These phone calls raise some serious questions about the nature of rescue, and what kind of rescue we want, and are able, to be.
We do not know the full stories of any of the people on the other end of the phone lines. Some people may just want to be rid of the expense of an old horse, others may want to clear a stall for something younger and sounder, and other still may be in genuine need of help.
It’s not our place to judge. It is our place to decide how to handle these situations.
On one hand, these individuals are reaching out to a rescue rather than simply dumping their horses at an auction, and I will forever applaud that choice. On the other hand, we are not set up as a sanctuary. We do not have our own facility, and our horses are either in foster homes or boarded at Legacy Pines Equestrian Center, our home barn.
“Lawn ornaments” of various shapes, sizes, ages, etc. are just as costly, if not more so, than healthy horses, and tend to sit at the rescue far longer than a horse that can be ridden, taking stall space and financial resources from horses that can be rehabilitated, retrained, and re-homed.
Here’s the reality: No one wants your old, broken down, blind, lame, toothless, or whatever-else horse. No one. Occasionally, we are able to find generous, compassionate, caring, huge-hearted people willing to take in a horse with special needs, but no one seeks us out looking for un-rideable companion horses.
I will crap my pants the day I receive a phone call where the person on the other end says, “I’m really looking for a horse that no one can ride!” or “I’d really like a horse over the age of 27!” or “I’m really hoping to find a horse that needs $100 of medications every month!”
We know that extenuating circumstances do arise when it is no longer possible to provide a home for a beloved, elderly equine. A major financial hardship or a severe medical issue can make it impossible to provide the necessary care for our four-legged companion. In these cases, however, isn’t it our responsibility as pet owners to find a new loving home for our horse? Or perhaps the kindest option is to consider humane euthanasia if a suitable home cannot be found, or if moving a horse at this age or in this medical condition isn’t conducive to the horse’s quality of life?
We are a small rescue. We run on limited funding, time, and resources. And we have to decide how those resources are best used. I don’t know the right answer, and don’t entirely know how I feel on the issue. I don’t want horses ending up at auction, but our rescue, as it currently operates, can not be a dumping ground for people’s old horses when they want something younger, faster, flashier, or fancier.
If we take in every owner surrender that comes our way, we’ll be constantly caring for a handful of horses that won’t ever find homes, and won’t be able to take in the other horses – seizures, OTTBs, kill-pen saves, etc. – who have a chance at rehabilitation, retraining, and becoming productive members of forever families.
We have our first board meeting of 2017 coming up (with two new board members that we’ll introduce in a future post!), and our big question for discussion is how we are going to define rescue this year – what are our goals, what horses are most deserving of our limited resources, and what can we offer the numerous owners who call us looking for a home for their unwanted equines?
But we also wanted to reach out to you, our supporters, because it is your donations and your support of our fundraisers and programs that allow us to keep “rescuing” in all the varied definitions of the word.
What does equine rescue look like to you? On what kind of horses should we focus our limited funding? What do you want Flying Changes to look like in 2017?
We would love to hear from you – we want this rescue to continue to become YOUR rescue and OUR rescue, and we want to work together this year to positively impact the greatest number of horses that we can in the most responsible way possible. Your thoughts and feedback are greatly appreciated.
But other horses have a harder time finding homes.
Sweet TB with a bum knee? Stunning red-head? Snorty Standardbred? STILL HERE.
Flying Changes is at capacity at our main rescue facility. However, none of our horses are in rehabilitation, so they are no longer in need of the daily support, supervision, medical care, or training from the FCER team.
It’s great that all of the horses in our care are happy and healthy. But our limited stalls and funds could be better used on horses more desperate for our help.
We know our “lawn ornaments” are least likely to find adoptive families, so we are looking for LONG TERM FOSTER HOMES for these less-adoptable, but just-as-lovable (and very tax-deductible) equines.
Thankfully, we have a list of people to call when we’re in an emergency and need a short-term placement for a horse in need.
We love you Julie, Jena, Carolyn, and others who have taken in horses in emergency situations. We couldn’t do what we do without you.
Now we are in need of a few longer-term commitments to horses who have been harder to place so that we can keep rescuing, rehabilitating, retraining, and re-homing horses in need:
Let’s work together, Western PA horse people.
Do you have an extra stall that’s feeling lonesome? Space at your stable? Room under a run-in? Need a little more frolic in your fields?
Are you a lesson program, 4-H or pony club, or equestrian team with lots of little potential-volunteers underfoot and a desire to do good?
Rosie, Maddie, and Miami are looking for safe, loving, long-term foster homes!
WE CAN CREATE A FOSTER AGREEMENT THAT WORKS WITH YOUR NEEDS.
You can pay for 100% of the horse’s care and write off the expenses.
Or you can buy hay and grain and we’ll take care of vet and farrier.
Or you can simply provide a home for a horse and we’ll cover feed and hay.
AND 100% of what you spend caring for a Flying Changes foster horse is TAX DEDUCTIBLE.
WE OFFER THE CUTEST, FLUFFIEST, SNUGGLIEST, AND MOST REWARDING TAX DEDUCTION THAT YOU’LL FIND ANYWHERE!
Seriously. Does the guy at Goodwill eat Stud Muffins out of your hand when you drop off your old clothes? I didn’t THINK so.
If the only place you’d have available to put a horse is in your garage, your COMMENTS and SHARES still help our posts reach a wider audience!
And if you’re interested in meeting one of the lovely four-legged ladies looking for a long-term foster home, please call Sarah at 412-302-5181 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m sure many of you have seen the Purina commercial by now: A sweet old man runs a horse rescue, and as he’s tucking in the horses on Christmas eve, spends a moment with “Sam,” a white fluffy guy with a kind face. The old man rubs Sam’s head and says to the horse, with quiet sadness, “maybe next year.”
Then in the morning, Sam’s stall door opens. In front of the gentle horse stands a little girl, hand outstretched, who says, “Hi, Sam.”
Especially around the holidays, I can get a little soggy-eyed… But something about this commercial hit way closer to home.
Because at Flying Changes, WE HAVE A SAM.
Her name is Maddie.
Maddie was one of those five horses we “inherited,” when Annamaria, Angie and I decided, nearly two years ago, to help a failing rescue and start Flying Changes, and she’s been with us ever since.
Maddie was the worst abuse/neglect case her rescuers ever had to face, abandoned by her owners in a round pen with little to no food or water. Her hooves curled like elf shoes and she could barely walk; she had bedsores from laying in mud, and couldn’t stand for more than minutes at a time.
Before Maddie came to us, her first rescuers spend hundreds of hours of time and thousands of dollars coaxing her back to health. She had hoof surgery and corrective shoeing to slowly reshape and regrow her hooves. She was carefully introduced to a feeding routine that brought her to a healthy weight and returned the shine to her coat.
When we took Maddie in, she was in good health… but she also came to us a spoiled brat. Her strength and her attitude returned when her health did, and it turns out that she had some “quirks” that made her not only unlikely to be adopted, but potentially dangerous – she spun, she bit, she kicked out.
We brought behavioral expert Evon Montgomery to the rescue to work with Maddie; she quickly determined that Maddie, simply put, liked being the boss. She needed to learn manners, patience, and respect – she’d gotten too used to being loved on and babied, and was taking advantage of her humans. Evon presented us with some tips and strategies to help our beautiful, spoiled beast.
Now, to be clear, Maddie always loved people. She’d stand for hours to be brushed, and she always had her head over the stall to say hi. But she had decided she was in charge, and if she wasn’t getting what she wanted, she’d act out like a toddler. She’d scream if left alone in the arena; she’d spin or kick if you tried to take her somewhere she didn’t want to go; if she wanted a treat and she didn’t get it fast enough, she’d chomp your sleeve. Maddie’s role as lead mare needed to change.
We spent hours each week working with Maddie, teaching her to walk politely next to her handler and how to have her legs and feet handled without kicking out. Feeding treats by hand became a thing of the past; Maddie only got treats in her bucket for a while, and is rewarded more often with scratches on her neck or withers, replicating the grooming behaviors of another horse in the herd. Slowly, Maddie grew to learn her place, to respect her humans, and she’s a better and happier horse because of it.
In addition to her behavioral issues, Maddie’s hoof issue was a clear turn-off for potential adopters. She wore shoes and pads on her front feet, needed epoxy to fill in missing chunks of growing-back hoof, and had to be sedated for every farrier visit. Every eight weeks, Maddie’s hoof care cost nearly $300, and we knew that no potential adopter would be willing to pay this amount every two months for a horse that could never take a rider.
Miracle-working farrier Frankie Ammon was the final piece of the puzzle of fixing Maddie’s feet. Months ago, Frank suggested removing Maddie’s bulky shoes and putty, hoping her hooves would strengthen if they were given time and room to spread and grow. Not only does Frank now have Maddie walking on her own natural hooves, but he trims her without sedation. With endless patience, Frankie taught Maddie to trust him, and now we’ll catch her resting her head on his back during a trim.
Today, Maddie is thriving. She loves her two and four legged buddies at the rescue. She’s extremely social, and loves hanging out with her herd, but also loves one-on-one attention from her humans whenever it’s offered. One sweet young volunteer grooms Maddie before her lessons, and Maddie can’t get enough.
Maddie deserves a home of her own. After all she’s been through – the neglect, the pain, the surgeries, the healing, the retraining, the enormous progress – Maddie deserves her own family.
She deserves more than a boarding barn where different people feed morning and night, where kids come and go for lessons, and boarders all have their own special horses to love. Maddie deserves her own people.
If you have space in your barn and your heart for this girl who has been through so much, Maddie has so much love to give in return.
Let’s find “our Sam” a home so we don’t have to tell her, “Maybe next year…”
For information on meeting Maddie, contact Sarah at 412-302-5181, or email email@example.com.
Happy New Year from Flying Changes! We hope that the holidays found you relaxing in the company of those that you love.
Before we look ahead to 2017, we wanted to take some time to reflect on the past year.
2016 was our first full year as a rescue (we’ll celebrate our second birthday this spring) and it was full of ups and downs. We learned a lot – about people, about horses, about ourselves, and about all of the unplanned ways we would be asked to help animals in need.
We’ve made some new friends and have strengthened relationships with individuals and businesses in the Pittsburgh area and beyond, and are grateful for all of the support we’ve received this year.
We look forward to another year of growing and working together to help horses in need.
We look back, also, at the horses that we loved in 2016:
Maddie, healthy, happy, barefoot, sound, and looking for her special forever family.
Rosie and Miami, owner surrenders living happily with foster mom Carolyn and waiting for their forever homes. Cinnamon and Sugar, mom and filly rescued from a kill pen, brought to health, and adopted to perfect homes – Cinnamon found her own little girl, and Sugar went home with Frankie the miracle-working blacksmith and his extended family.
Jake (now Cisco) went home with Hilary Bishop and her family, and Jake is happier and more content than ever – he knows he’s home!
Jazzy went home with foster mom Julie’s son Christian, and the pair spent the summer and fall gallivanting through the woods and winning ribbons at horse shows!
Dutch, the Christmas pony, was saved last Christmas from a kill pen, and is happily living the dream at foster-mom Cathy’s farm. And Mynah’s Boy, the Puerto-Rican racing-rescue-underdog, brought to FCER for some down time and rehab, is now happily with his forever family in Florida.
We also remember the horses that we loved and lost:
– Smokey, the sweet pony abandoned with Jake and Jazzy, crossed the Rainbow Bridge due to severe founder and other irreversible health issues
– Remy, the auction-save with evidence of a hard life with the Amish, crossed the Rainbow Bridge when his breathing issues became unmanageable and limited his quality of life.
The biggest loss of 2016 was that of Angie – our outgoing, passionate, potty-mouthed, huge-hearted, no-bullshit photographer/webmaster/horse-lover extraordinaire, and left us with gaping hole that we know we’ll never quite fill.
But with Angie’s passing came silver linings – those of you that have stepped forward for the rescue. You came in various forms – those who donated in her memory, who follow our Facebook page and share our posts, who came to our second annual Karats for Horses event, who stepped up with offers to help with our website or our horse photos and videos, who have taken in foster horses, or donated feed, hay, raffle baskets, time, or words of encouragement. We look forward to making Angie proud by kicking more horse-rescue ass in the coming year.
Our first board meeting of the year will take place next week and we’ve recruited two new amazing women to serve with us – we’ll introduce you to them next week. We have a lot to discuss, lots of hard questions to consider about how we will aproach rescue in 2017. We’ll share our thoughts with you next week, and will fill you in on our plans for 2017!
As always, thank you for the love and support you’ve given us in 2016, and here’s to an amazing 2017!
It’s me, Cinnamon. It’s been strange getting used to that new name, but I’m really starting to like it.
Sugar and I have experienced some really big adjustments in the last six months but they’ve all been for the better, and I’m starting to think that life may just work out in our favor after all. I’m really looking forward to the first truly happy Christmas in as long as I can remember.
Just a few months ago, the number one wish on my list would have been for good health. I was so, so hungry this summer, and I was so worried about being able to keep Sugar healthy. Thankfully, while my body struggled, I was still able to keep my baby fed, which was really all I cared about. I was so protective and worried about her when we first arrived at our new home… it’s such an enormous relief now to know that she’s so well taken care of and that for the first time in a long time, all I need to worry about is myself.
So, Santa, now that good health is off the wish list, here are a few things that I would love this holiday season:
Santa, please help Sugar get better.I can hear her coughing down the aisleway, and while those coughs are getting softer and fewer, I worry about her every day. All a mother wants is for her child to be happy and healthy. I gave so much of myself in Sugar’s first months to protect her – please help her feel better and have a healthy 2016. I know her illness has been a financial strain on the rescue, so if you can help by donating money to the rescue for her care, that would be my greatest wish.
Please let me continue to know where my next meal is coming from. I know that I really annoy the barn girls at feeding times when I incessantly paw my stall walls… I just don’t think I truly believe that I’m so lucky that I’ll never starve again. I hope that my nickers to the girls remind them how happy I am to be here and to be so well taken care of, and how I appreciate their kindness and care.
Santa, donations can be made to the Saxonburg Agway, or directly to Flying Changes to ensure that Sugar, my friends, and I never have to feel the emptiness of starvation ever again.
I think that I am really close to ready for a person of my own. When I first came to the rescue, I wasn’t sure I wanted to connect with another human ever again because of how much I hurt, how scared I was for my future, and how much I worried about keeping Sugar safe and sound. I used to pin my ears at the humans at the barn, and gave them warning looks when they tried to pick up my feet or touch other parts of my body that hurt – I didn’t want to get hurt again, and my biggest concern was protecting Sugar.
But recently, as I’ve started to feel better, I’ve started to think that it would be really special to connect with a person of my own. I love being petted and brushed by the girls at the barn, and even trust them now to pick up my feet. The people here have been so patient and so kind, and if I could have a forever person who treats me like the rescue people do, I couldn’t imagine a better Christmas wish-come-true.
I’d love to take my person on long trail rides, or even tote around some sweet little kids in an arena – as long as my person is willing to be patient and kind and show me nothing but love. That would be heavenly.
Thank you, Santa, for looking out for Sugar and I this year, and for taking good care of us this holiday season.
My humans tell me that there are ONLY TEN MORE SLEEPS until my VERY FIRST CHRISTMAS! I am SO EXCITED!!!!
But Santa, I have a few questions. How do your reindeer fly? Can foals fly? What about foals wearing reindeer antlers? How will you know where I live? Our barn doesn’t have a chimney. Will you still visit me even if there is not a chimney for you to come down? I’m worried you won’t know where I live if you don’t see a chimney. I live at Henderson’s with my mommy and my friends. Do you know where that is? CAN I SIT ON YOUR LAP?
I have been a very good girl this year. Mommy must have been really good too, because some really nice humans helped us in the summer. Mommy was going to get taken away and put on a truck to go to Canada and I was so scared. The old horses in the pens said that I wouldn’t ever see mommy again. But the humans came and put us on a different truck and took us on a reaaaaaalllly long ride to a new barn in a place called Pennsylvania. It’s fun in Pennsylvania. There’s a sheep here!
The humans say that when you come to visit in ten more sleeps that you BRING PRESENTS? I LOVE PRESENTS!
Can you please bring me these things in your sleigh?
Treats.My humans JUST showed me what treats are when I had to take those yicky medicines, and they are really, really delicious. I would like more of them, please.
Snow! My friends keep telling me how much fun snow is, and how much they really love to play in it and how it tickles their noses. They say it’s like crunchy rain. Can I eat it? I think I will eat it… Bring some, please!
Can you bring NOT things, Santa? I would like you to bring me NOT any more medicine, or sticky-up-the-bum things. Medicine is icky, and the up-the-bum thermometer is just weird. Bring me some NOT-pneumonia, and maybe some new hair for my shavey-sides. I look silly.
My friends keep talking about wanting their own humans. I don’t know WHY they would WANT a human, because humans give yucky medicines. Maybe if there was a really, really nice human out there who likes to give scratches, and who knows all about foals/younger horses, and who does not have any medicines with them, just maybe I might like to meet that human. But I still don’t really know… I think I’d rather just have treats for now.
I am SO EXCITED for my first Christmas, Santa! Don’t forget, I live in Butler with Mary the sheep, near a green, green field in a big, warm barn. I’m the one with the brown and white splotches, and the fuzzy ears, in case you get confused.
P.S. Please bring a nice present for my mommy, too, Santa. She’s the best mommy in the whole world! This is my mommy, you’ll hear from her soon::