Eddie and I went to a local horse auction, mainly looking for deals on tack and just to see what horses came through. We were about ready to leave when in came the skinniest horse I have ever seen. The auctioneer said it was an "aged" mare. It was a sorrel with a blaze and two rear socks. Someone was actually riding this horse! I donít know how the horse held itís own weight up, let alone the saddle and rider. The rider was making the horse attempt some quick turns and moves, but the poor thing just didnít have the strength.
They started the bidding at $100 and the only bidder was the "killer" buyer. I looked into those big brown eyes and raised my hand. "SOLD! For $110 to #1910" the auctioneer said. We immediately left the barn and went out to the pens to see it. When we walked into the pen the horse put itís head against me as if to say "please take me home". Now, we had to try to find a way to get this horse home. We donít own a trailer, and it was 10:00 on Monday night. We asked around to see if anyone with a trailer was headed our way, but we werenít that lucky. Finally, we decided we would have to leave the horse there until the next morning when we could rent a trailer and come back to get it. I hated to do that since there is no food or water in the pens, but we could see no other way.
The next morning we rented a trailer and drove down to pick the horse up. The whole way, I was afraid of getting there and finding it dead. We pulled up in the parking lot and saw the horse still standing in the pen and looking at us. It was then that we noticed Ė this is a gelding, not a mare! We walked up to the pen area and the man that was there to look after the horses asked what we were there to pick up and I told him "the skinny one". I mentioned that I was a bit surprised that the horse was still alive and he said, "Well, nothing died here last night, at least not one I have seen." Like that was a common occurrence!
My 8 year old daughter, Sara, came home and fell in love with him. He would hold his head down for her to halter him and then gladly follow her wherever she led. If she ran, he trotted right beside her. I just knew that if we could save this old man, those two would be a great pair!
At first, his stool was pure liquid, then slowly he began to have normal "road apples". Two weeks after we brought him home, I vaccinated him and put him on a wormer for 5 days. He was gaining a little weight, but it was so slow that being with him every day, it was hard to notice. I donít think he ever laid down, because he didnít have the strength to get up. One day about 4 weeks after we bought him, I turned him out of his stall, and he laid down to roll. When he tried to get back up, he fell twice, but then finally made it. Eddie said that about a week later he saw him lay down to roll out in the pasture and get back up without much problem. We really thought he was gaining strength. About 2 or 3 times a week, Sara would lead him all over the yard and pasture. Anytime a human or a horse would walk by his stall door, he would nicker a greeting. He loved to have his nose rubbed, and when loose would come up to you wanting attention.
The weather had been really nice, about 65 and 70 during the day. Then it began to get cold again. I put a blanket on Cubby and he was locked in his stall at night. Then the temperature really dropped. One night it was about 10 above 0 and the next day, Eddie called me at work to tell me that Cubby was down in his stall and couldnít get up. He called the vet and I came home. We covered him with blankets and propped him up. I fed him his warm mash. He had a good appetite and was occasionally trying to get up. The vet came and said we were doing all we could do, to put some heat lights in the stall, turn him over in a few hours, keep him covered and continue feeding him warm mashes. He said that if the weather would warm up, we might have a chance of saving him. He made it through that day and that next evening seemed a bit stronger. He was trying more often to get up. He had dug holes in his stall with his front feet trying so hard to get up. I put trailer wraps on his front legs to prevent him cutting them up when he thrashed around. However, the next morning Eddie went out to check on him and he had died. We spent half of the next day trying to get someone with a backhoe out to help us get him out of the stall and to bury him. Sara was told about him when she woke up, and was heartbroken. We did our best to explain to her that she had given him a lot of love the past 6 weeks and he had not been without food or water, and we were sure he was very grateful for that.
Cubby is now buried in our pasture and will live forever in our hearts. I am not sure we could stand to go through that again. We will probably purchase another horse from auction, to keep one more from going to the killer pen, but we plan not to get one in such bad shape again. I know that it is possible to bring some of them back, but neither we, nor Sara want to go through that again. We have one empty stall now and plan to fill it soon.
Update: we have filled Cubby's stall and another since his death - See Snipper and Pogo. *S*
We have five other horses and a pony which were purchased at auction. A couple of them may have been headed for "killers", we arenít sure. None of them were in the poor shape that Cubby was in when we got him. One mare (Velvet) gave us a beautiful sorrel stud colt (E.B.) on 3/6/98, less than 2 months after we bought her and another mare (Breeze) gave us a wonderful sorrel overo colt (Sure) on 5/20/98, 10 weeks after we bought her. I may never understand why anyone would send a mare in foal to the auction.