I met Kristina almost 15 years ago in 8th grade. We both played clarinet in band and became fast friends, passing notes between our music stands in the clarinet section. We quickly learned that we both had a hot and heavy love affair with horses and had even been at the same barn for a short while. We both had big bay geldings, her horse was named Mocha, mine was named Taco. Apparently we had a thing for food named horses.
After graduating high school, both of us ended up having to sell our horses and give up the equestrian lifestyle in exchange for college. Last August Kristina realized that Mocha was probably nearby, since she'd sold him to a family in Oregon. She began the process of trying to track him down, finding out that those folks had sold him, and after months of phone calls and emails she eventually tracked him down in Albany, Oregon. Finally in February she got to drive down and visit him. What she found was devastating. His ribs were showing, he was living in a tiny stall, and was clearly neglected and treated extremely poorly. She immediately decided then and there that she would do whatever she could do to get him back. More months of negotiating with his owners passed and finally was able to buy him back. She found a barn near Tacoma where she could board him, and this Sunday he was shipped up. I hadn't seen him yet and was there when he arrived. His condition took my breath away.
The photo above is what Mocha looked like during our Senior year of high school. The photo above that? That's what Mocha looks like now. His previous owners claim they fed him a ton and he just wouldn't put on weight. Well, surprise surprise, he has a ton of worms that are consuming all the food he eats and barely gets any nutrition from his food. How someone can let an animal get to that point of malnutrition without even thinking of having a vet come out and see him is beyond me. Kristina and I spent hours brushing him and it looked like he hadn't been brushed in a year. He had only two shoes left, was lame in one leg, and one of his hooves is so overgrown I can't imagine he's seen a farrier in far too long. And to make matters worse, his previous owner, a very large man, told us that he rode Mocha in this condition (and was confused at why Mocha didn't seem to want to do anything when he rode him, I wonder why...). Mocha's tail was a solid mass of matted hair. One giant dreadlock. His mane also had tons of mats. We soaked his mane and tail in detangler and Kristina spent hours detangling his entire tail.
She had a vet scheduled to come out the next day to assess his situation and see what needed to be done to bring him back to health. This is the vet's assessment:
"Physical exam and observations:
Mocha is Underweight. A body score of one out of five is appropriate. He has severe atrophy of gluteal muscles, His ribs are prominent. His top line has minimal coverage with very prominent dorsal spinous processes. His withers are similarly prominent with lack of muscular coverage.
Mocha's right front and left rear feet are highly overgrown. The toes are 3-4 inches too long. These Feet are shod with uneven aluminum shoes. His left front and right rear have more normal angles, walls and toe length. However there is evidence of chipping and wall damage. These feet are unshod.
Mocha has uneven teeth with a mild wave, sharp lateral edges and shear. Although these teeth need dental work, I do not feel they are so severe to be entirely responsible for the dramatic weight loss.
Mocha has minimal inflammation in his fetlock joints in the front, but range of motion is normal. There is a minimal amount of inflamation in his knees as well, again he has normal range of motion and does not appear painful.
Mocha has a grade 2/5 lameness on his left front. This lameness has not been accurately investigated due to his poor body development. However flexion tests of his fetlock and knee aggravated the lameness. There is no apparent increased vasculature (pulse) to his foot, although the foot remains suspect as a cause of pain and lameness.
At this time nutrition is paramount. I would advise a good quality hay offered free choice or at a minimum of 2% of his body weight (approx 20 lbs per day divided into 3 feedings). I would suggest a high calorie grain feed. I would feed at 2 times maintenance until optimal weight is obtained and then reduce intake to maintenance levels. It is important to increase feed gradually over 1-2 weeks to avoid possible overload complications."
Mocha in Kristina's senior portrait :: Mocha now
The dedication and tenacity with which Kris has pursued getting Mocha back is unrivaled. In order to afford buying him back and paying for his board, she's moved out of her apartment and into my Winnebago. Still, the vet bills, supplements, farrier fees, dental fees, and feed to get Mocha back to a healthy place are bleeding her dry (and to add to her stress, her car broke down while driving out to the barn yesterday and needs hundreds of dollars in repair work done. When it rains it pours, right? Ugh). It breaks my heart to see her precious Mocha in such a horrific condition. Seeing the photos of him back when she owned him in high school next to the ones of him now make me sick to my stomach.
Kristina's heart is huge and she's poured her whole self into getting Mocha back in order to save him from spending one more day with people who would let him get to such a deplorable state of health.
We've started a fundraiser to hopefully help pay for some of Mocha's vet and farrier fees, dewormer meds, supplements, and other costs to get him healthy. As of now, the costs have totaled about $1000 and any small donation would help cover the costs to help Mocha get healthy. He's got a ways to go, but I can't imagine anyone who could love him more and pour more of herself into giving him the life he deserves than Kris. Thankfully Mocha's bloodwork came back and it looks good, which means that other than the malnutrition and other problems mentioned, he doesn't have any serious health issues. In just a few days she's noticed that he's already put on some weight and his demeanor is happy, which is great.
If you feel like donating, or sharing on social media, any help would be amazing. Here's the link to the fundraiser page, and you can also link to this blog post. Every little bit helps, even just ten bucks or a retweet.