Charger’s Story

When I first met twenty-year old American Saddlebred “Charger” at Whippoorwill Horse Rescue (Turtletown, TN), I thought, “What have I gotten myself into?” I was on a trip when the Rescue contacted me about “a sad boy.” His eyes were closed and drippy; he looked as if he had given up. Euthanasia would be better than life for him, I thought. But more photos came. I saw a light in his eyes. “Go get him.” I was committed. And I was scared. His feet were terrible; his legs were swollen; his kidney function was poor; his liver enzymes were out of whack; and he was anemic. My vet was sure he heard a heart murmur: That muscle just didn’t have any strength left to beat. I didn’t know if Charger would survive the 30-mile ride to my farm. But he did, arriving on May 7, 2017.

Where to begin? Good pasture first. We had that, and he started nibbling. And then he nibbled more. We soaked his food because he didn’t chew well, even after his teeth were floated. I think he simply didn’t have any energy to bother. My vet said he was just weeks from death. I started feeding Charger by hand, figuring what would be the best supplement for him without stressing his body. He looked like he had ringbone on one back leg, but X-rays showed it was old scar tissue. His joints looked swollen, and though he didn’t appear lame, it was obvious he needed help. I chose Farrier’s Formula DS Plus Joint, half-dose in the beginning because of his system. It was the first thing he really loved to eat. Gradually I added some weight gain powder and some high quality fish oil mixed with a handful of feed. This combination was his “by hand” lunchtime snack.

Charger started looking “bright,” and one hoof that particularly worried me —(It looked like he had sliced it on wire fencing) started to improve within a couple of weeks. I made him jog next to me for a few steps to start building his heart muscle. Then he started trotting when he saw me come with that lunch snack—a beautiful, flowing gait that said “Saddlebred” in every step. One day the trot changed to a canter: “Where’s my snack?” He looked happy. We added some soaked beet pulp and rice bran, but our core supplement is the FFDSPJ. It is worth every penny, and I still feed it by hand. I don’t want a single pellet to be wasted.

Our boy? Six months later he is a proud, beautiful Saddlebred. My vet cannot find that heart murmur—“His heart is so much stronger!” And all his blood test readings are in normal range. I ride him with a bitless bridle once a week around the trails on the farm because he enjoys looking at deer and turkeys, and visiting the neighborhood children, who love “pony rides” on “Big Red.” He has some pasture friends, too, and is a happy, sweet boy. It has been a journey, but more rewarding than I ever could imagine. I hope others will consider working with older horses. Charger has been a gift.

Thank you Life Data Labs for your important part in Charger’s recovery.

Janis L.


Before and After Photo of Horse