Many of you have asked how Sparkle has improved since we first rescued her over a month ago.
And here’s our girl now, in all her beauty:
She doesn’t even look like the same horse! She lost most of her thick, curly winter coat which has now been replaced with a sleek, slightly darker, summer coat. Since she was approximately 100 lbs underweight, her weight was our main focus. If you don’t remember, she was in pretty bad shape when she first joined us on the farm.
With horses, they will overeat when they have been starving for some time. You have to monitor their feeding times so that overeating doesn’t lead to digestion issues and other problems. The vet recommended a wonderful Purina protein pellet supplement for Sparkle’s diet. She LOVES her protein pellets. So much so that she is very vocal in the morning when I let the dogs out at first light and she will wait by the barn gate in the early evening, letting us know she is ready to go up for the night and eat dinner in her stall. It was very reassuring to us that she had a strong appetite and that she felt comfortable to let us know.
We did notice some weakness in her hind legs a few weeks ago. I noticed she was dragging her back feet some and I was immediately concerned she may have a neurological condition which would explain the change in gate. The vet examined her and tested her for West Nile Virus and Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM). West Nile Virus which is carried by mosquitos causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord and may cause symptoms of encephalitis. Since we have a small pond/watering hole on the back of the property which creates a breeding ground for mosquitos, I was fearful there might be a West Nile outbreak. At that point in time, Sparkle hadn’t been vaccinated for West Nile Virus because her shots were completed in stages due to her initial poor condition. She has since been vaccinated for West Nile Virus.
The other disease that was of concern was EPM which is a disease caused by the apicomplexan parasite Sarcocystis neurona that also affects the central nervous system of horses. This parasite is transmitted in the feces of opossums which is passed to horses through contaminated food or water. Much like this:
We hadn’t seen any opossums around but you never know what lurks about at night on the farm. We eventually received the good news that she didn’t have either disease and the vet didn’t see any neurological signs. Hallelujah! God is good. Being in the clear of anything neurological was a relief. These diseases can lead to very unfavorable outcomes for horses and I didn’t feel Sparkle’s journey was over yet.
The vet suggested her issues could be from an old hip fracture or possibly a short spinal column. A definitive diagnosis can’t really be given unless we want to sedate Sparkle and have x-rays and/or an MRI done. Unless she declines dramatically, Andrew and I both felt waiting on such costly measures was a good idea. We have considered having a horse chiropractor look at Sparkle. I didn’t know there was such a thing but apparently, horses benefit from a realignment too. Our good friend has had much success with her horses and realignments.
As of today, Sparkle hasn’t worsened but she still drags her hind hooves slightly when she walks. Our vet mentioned to give her some more time and riding her was still a possibility in the future. Friends that were aware of Sparkle’s condition asked what I would do with her if I couldn’t ride her. What was the point they asked. WHAT WAS THE POINT?! The notion that she wasn’t any use to us if we weren’t able to ride her never entered my mind. When I first saw Sparkle, I only wanted to provide her with a better life, a life she deserved because she is one of God’s creations. I thought riding her would be a bonus in the future but it wasn’t my main motivation for rescue.
Seeing Sparkle in our pasture each day, getting stronger and more beautiful is exactly what I envisioned for her life. And to see her figure fill out, her hip bones slowly disappear and her coat glisten in the sunlight gives me such joy. Even though she has experienced struggle in her life just as we all do, her story, our testimony, will live on and people will recognize the beauty in that. She is so much more than just a horse to us.
She is love. She is compassion. She is life. She is strength. She is second chances. She is stronger still.
She is Sparkle.