Weatherford Democrat

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July 9, 2012

A haven for horses

PARKER COUNTY — Kandyce Simpson is an animal lover.

That’s why she and the other 600 members of the Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society have donated their time to the development and rehabilitation of abused horses.

To date, the organization, which stretches across the state, has more than 100 horses under its care.

“We deal with horses, ponies, mules and donkeys,” Simpson, a resident of Poolville, said. “We usually work with local law enforcement and they’ll contact us when they come across a case where they need our help and have taken away animals for neglect or abuse.”

By taking the animals in, volunteers provide rehabilitation programs, diet improvements and shelter.

“We help them out by taking them in and getting them a temporary home,” she said.

Recently Simpson, who is the assistant neglect and abuse coordinator, traveled to Hawkins County to rescue three horses. While situations appear all over, Simpson is primarily responsible for abuse activity in Parker County.

“Horse abuse and neglect is a severe problem, and we’re getting horses in worse and worse conditions,” she said. “I have one on my property now that had been starved and went without water for we don’t know how long. But we got her back up and she’s doing much better.”

When dealing with an animal used to less-than-ideal feeding habits, Simpson said it’s important to slowly rebuild their system.

“We start by feeding them with hay, but we go easy when we start because if we feed to quickly, the horse can actually develop what’s called Refeeding Syndrome,” she said. “Refeeding Syndrome can actually cause the horse’s metabolism to go haywire and you’ll actually be doing more harm.”

With most of Parker County’s breeds, including quarter horses or a quarter horse mix, Simpson said an average healthy weight for a horse is around 1,000 pounds, although age and breed factor in.

Some situations don’t require anything drastic, as Simpson said its more about educating owners on how to feed and treat a horse.

In the more severe cases, euthanization may be a necessity.

“What we do at a seizure and surrender is evaluate the horse right there,” Simpson said. “If a horse is so bad and you can’t get them up, we call a vet to euthanize them right there. We prefer to bring them back and evaluate them to see if they have a chance, but we don’t want them to suffer more than they already have.”

The success rate for rehabilitation has been very good, especially in the past year.

“We probably had maybe two that did not make it and had to be euthanized,” Simpson said.

In addition to helping the animals gets their strength and health back up, Bluebonnet Equine also helps secure a future for the animals through foster homes and adoptions.

“When we say we take them home with us, we literally take them home with us,” Simpson said.

Volunteers care and nurse the horses as fosters, then begin the process of trying to get them adopted. Bluebonnet Equine is currently looking for anyone interested in volunteering as a foster home or someone interested in permanently adopting the animals.

“It works the same way as dogs and cats. They just need a place to stay until we can find them an owner,” Simpson said. “If someone is looking to adopt, we go out and do an inspection of the property, making sure they have a good water source, proper fencing and a sizable property.”

Simpson said they are having to turn down animals because of a lack of space and housing.

“We’re really looking for adopters,” she said. “We want people to know that these aren’t just trash horses. They’ve been rehabbed and trained. Some horses are even involved in competitive trail riding and rodeo.”

Anyone interested in volunteering is welcomed, and prior horse experience isn’t required to help.

“They don’t have to have owned horses, or anything like that,” Simpson explained. “We’ve got so many jobs that they can help out with.”

To find out more information, visit the Bluebonnet Equine website at www.bluebonnetequine.com.

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