Ginger was a beautiful chestnut mare with white markings and a sweet nature. She gave her owners many wonderful years as a successful show horse, but when age and arthritis began to affect her performance, the decision was made to “retire” Ginger.
Her owners arranged to have her turned out in a large cow pasture, so she was left there and then basically forgotten. She received no dental care, her feet were not trimmed, she was not wormed or vaccinated, and she was not fed.
Eight years later, in the summer of 2004, the local Animal Control office contacted the Equine Rescue League, to ask if the ERL could take in an elderly, emaciated mare. The AC officer warned the ERL that the mare was in very poor condition, and may not even survive the journey to the Rescue.
It is a fact that domestic horses need care. Elderly domestic horses need even more care. They cannot survive being turned out in a field and left to fend for themselves. Ginger suffered for eight years out in that cow pasture – and it was totally, completely unnecessary. All she needed was someone to take care of her.
Ginger arrived at the ERL towards the end of August 2004. On the Henneke Body Condition Grading Scale, Ginger just about scored a “1” - meaning she was emaciated to the point of being close to death. Every bone was visible through her thin coat. Her back was scaly with a nasty case of rain rot. Several of her teeth were missing, and the remaining ones were in immediate need of care.
Because of her dental problems, she was unable to chew properly. Old and untreated injuries to her knees, fetlocks, and hocks limited her ability to move.
In spite of everything, Ginger still had a strong spirit and a great will! She quickly learned her feeding schedule, and would call loudly out her window at the appointed hours. To help her gain weight safely, she was fed soaked pellets four times a day. After receiving much-needed dental care, she was turned out every day into a large, lush pasture with a pair of gentle ponies for company.
Best of all, Ginger had friends now, both equine and human. She spent her days with the ponies in her pasture. At night, she shared her barn with another mare who had recently come to the ERL after being neglected. People visited Ginger every day, bringing her easy-to-chew treats of applesauce, mashed carrots, and crumbled ginger snaps!
Sadly, the years of neglect and starvation had taken their toll on Ginger’s body. Although she was gaining weight, the spark in her eye was starting to dim, and the pain from her old injuries was becoming more than she could bear. After a thorough veterinary exam revealed that she was suffering from neurological damage, the decision was made to have Ginger humanely euthanized.
Her passing left holes in the hearts of all who knew her, but everyone who came into contact with her gentle soul was a great deal richer for having known her. And instead of facing a long, agonizing end, alone and abandoned in a nameless field somewhere, Ginger left quietly and peacefully, surrounded by friends, and with the knowledge that she was wanted and loved.