A haven for horses and other equines

By Joan Hunt - Managing Editor
East Granby - posted Fri., Apr. 1, 2011
Stormy, a Spotted Leopard Appaloosa, had major trust issues and needed to learn everything from the ground up. He is now rideable at the walk and trot. Courtesy photos. - Contributed Photo

Second Chance Ranch in East Granby is like a huge dose of unconditional love, equine-style, for horses of any size, shape or breed. All are welcome here, no matter what maladies or injuries a horse has sustained, no matter what special needs they may have. Though the challenges are many, the rewards are huge, and after rehabilitation many of these animals are able to enjoy the rest of their lives with caring owners.

According to Shannon Kalahan, a board member for Second Chance Ranch Equine Rescue, the first pony rescued by Karen and Paul Bacon, in 1994, was Pete the Elf. “He was a small Shetland pony cross, who had found his way to the ‘by the pound’ pen at a local auction,” she said. “Pete was scrawny, half-starved and his hooves were so neglected that they curled into ‘elf shoes.’ Karen and Paul’s hearts sank at the sight of him, and they intervened on his behalf, giving him a second lease on life,” said Kalahan.

“That day...was the start of a wonderful partnership with some local equine professionals who helped save the little pony’s life, such as Dr. Peter Conserva of Suffield – hence the pony’s name,” she explained.

The equines, which include donkeys, mules and horses, come from all walks of life. Some are neglected and abused, others come from places where financial burden, major illness, divorce or death has made it impossible for the animal to be taken care of. Sometimes they are ex-racehorses or horses from stables that have closed. Always, the folks at SCR try to network, rather than take on too many animals at once, in order to be sure they can adequately care for the animals they take.

For example, Kalahan  said they once took an ex-racer with severely injured front legs (torn suspensories, fractured sessamoids and arthritis). “It took us about a year to physically rehabilitate him. We also needed to teach him (and all of our ex-racers) how to be a horse, rather than an athlete,” she said. “They definitely need time and training to adjust to life off the track.”

Success stories abound – like Sweet Pea, a Chestnut Grade Mare. “She came to us with an infected, necrotic foot-long wound,” Kalahan recalls. “We did emergency field surgery on her and were not only able to save her life, but she now has a wonderful home with a loving family.”

Another mare, Miss Marple, was both physically and mentally damaged, covered in scrapes and terrified of people. “She recovered pretty quickly from the physical injury, but the real challenge was the trust issues,” said Kalahan. “She is now in a wonderful home where she has bonded and is allowing them to ride her. That’s impressive, considering we couldn’t touch her for a month when we first got her!”

The goal is to always find a home for every adoptable equine. An adoption contract includes the stipulation that, if circumstances change and the adopter can no longer keep their equine, that the animal must come back to SCR. Adopters are required to visit and work with the equine they are interested in adopting to be certain there is “chemistry” between them, they need to have a barn in the new home with safe fencing – no barbed wire – and shelter and turnout must be available to the animal.

Being a non-profit, SCR appreciates the volunteers and the network of providers that restores the quality of life for the equines. Barn Manager Marie Westlake extended a heartfelt thank you to the people who helped round up Mac, BB and Bonnie, who got loose a couple of weeks ago. “Our special gratitude goes out to Trooper Dale Smith and DPW Supervisor Eddie Hubbard of East Granby,” said Westlake.

Donations of hay, bedding, grain, money and even land – if someone is looking for a nice tax write-off – are always needed, and volunteers. A volunteer spring clean-up is planned for April 16 and 17, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., with pizza lunch provided. Bring rakes, rags, wash buckets and gloves, if you can. RSVP to mwestlake@ssmgt.com. See their website at www.scrrescue.org.

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