Foaled in approximately 1990
15.3 hand Belgian gelding
Died December 2011
This is Oso (left) in August 2010, a mere 6 months after he arrived at TGC
Hello, I’m Oso. At least, that’s what they are calling me now. I’m almost 20 years old, so you know I’ve had other names. My life has included some wonderful things. I know what carrots and apples are, and how to gently eat an apple from a small hand. I know something about people – I’ll allow them to approach me while I’m laying down. I know what a blanket is, and appreciate it; what the sound of feed into a bucket means, and appreciate it; and I follow directions while haltered, for the farrier and the vet, and while people pet me and brush me. So my life hasn’t always been bad. But my picture tells another story, doesn’t it? I’m a Belgian draft horse, standing 5 feet tall at the withers. I have the big head, big feet and thick skeletal structure of most draft horses. But I am at least 200-300 pounds underweight. For a long time, I’ve been very hungry, and cold to the bone. I was eating tree bark or lumber, and remember the horror in the voice of the nice people who discovered splinters in my mouth when they came to float my teeth. In addition, my tongue has a scar across it, healed now but indicating I almost lost my entire tongue at once time! As starvation continued, I began to absorb my own muscle in an effort to stay alive. And I’m so weak as a result, having no muscle left to move my big frame around. I don’t know why the people who owned me wouldn’t feed me. But I was hungry so long, I started to despair. Each day I wasn’t sure I could make it, and dreaded the night. But one day, it seemed my luck turned. It didn’t seem all that great at first, that day they loaded me and others into a trailer. I dreaded the ride – so weak was I. But so many of us were in one trailer, the press allowed me to stay on my feet. And then we were at a feedlot in Fallon, Nevada. A lot of horses, all as confused as I. I tried to stay away from the other horses – I was too weak to defend myself. And when food arrived, I was too tired and weak to compete for much of it. I was so tired. And then, they asked me to get in another trailer. Despite my exhaustion and weakness, I did as I was asked – I always do. And was rewarded with a bag of hay! I ate and ate, swaying in the trailer. This was the beginning of life for me again… These nice people put me in a big covered pen by myself, and fed me every day. It was all going well for about a month, I was beginning to think I might make it. I had trouble eating the hay at first, but my teeth were fixed a little and it got easier, and I gained some strength. But after a month, the nice people gave me some paste, and I had a terrible belly ache and almost died. O, I thought nothing was worse than an empty stomach, but the pain…! Although I made it through, I colicked a couple more times. I once again felt as weak and shaky as I had when I arrived. At this place, I had five months to try to rebuild my strength before being asked to get into a trailer again. I won’t deny I was worried – I didn’t want to go back to the feedlot. At least here I had plenty to eat. But as I always do, I walked onto the trailer. This was a long long ride, and I spent the night in the trailer as well, with a little white mare. By the time they let me out again, I was so tired I stumbled repeatedly. Oddly, when I got off the trailer, I was in the middle of a dirt road. No other horses around, no stall, nothing that looked familiar. Just two people, who took my leadrope (and that of the mare) and started walking down the dirt road with us. I tripped several times, partly due to my long toes and partly from weakness, but we walked slowly and no one was angry with me. It felt good to be on firm ground and moving. Twice as we walked, we passed over little creeks crossing the road, and the mare and I both stopped to get a drink from them. Sweet fresh water! Eventually, we passed a field with horses in it, turned down another little road and were put in stalls with fresh water. I had a BIG drink now, and after the little drinks on the way, I felt much better. And then I was given a huge bowl of hay pellets and some yummy grain and alfalfa concoction with molasses, and several big carrots! After I ate the whole bowl, I laid down for a few hours in the sunlight and slept. And woke to realize that I may have found heaven – more food was offered, and has been offered three times a day ever since! Food I can easily eat, full of energy and flavor, with all the fresh water I can drink. A blanket every night, and a chance to walk around, and lay down and sleep undisturbed, in turnout every day. Carrots, apples, grooming and many tender touches from a variety of people. A farrier trimmed my long toes, so I could walk easily again, and he was very kind to me when I could hardly hold a foot up for him due to my weakness. A veterinarian came and listened to my heart, took my temperature, looked at my teeth and gave me a nice pat when he was done. Everyone is nice to me, except the little mare I arrived with – who spanked me hard to keep me from eating any food! Since that day, I’ve been kept in a different turnout – boy am I glad about that! Kicking back isn’t really my style, but even if it was, I’m too weak to defend myself even against a little thing like her. I’m not ready to be wholly happy yet. This place really seems wonderful, but I’m concentrating now on getting as well as I can. That vet said it would take many months before I was out of danger. But if they’ll just give me that time, and keep that chow coming, I think I can make it. I want to live.
Oso came to the Golden Carrot from Shirley Puga and her gang of rescuers, after they plucked him in the nick of time from the killer buyer’s feed lot. He was so feeble and frail from starvation that they simply couldn’t consider placing him in a home without some rehab, and Marlene took him in for about five months. But her thing is quarter horses, and if they could find the right home for him, she could take another QH rescue, to retrain and rehome. So, Oso came home at last to the Golden Carrot. This poor old guy is still very poor. Marlene had his teeth worked on, but the vet told her that more work needed doing – when he was better able to handle the stress of it. His feet have very long toes as well, he stumbles over his front toes fairly frequently, and you hear the steady knock-knock of his hind toes bashing his front heels! Tomorrow (1-24-10) my farrier should be able to help this. I thought he was going to cry when he heard the sound of hay pellets and senior feed hitting the bucket – he called urgently to me to be sure I was bringing some to him!
The picture above is the best I have so far of his topline - I'd suggest looking at Sara's page to see how this top line SHOULD look ....
Here's Oso with his new blanket on, on his first evening at The Golden Carrot. Just look at that sweet old face! This is Oso 2 weeks after arrival, I think you can see he's looking a little better
In his first weeks, Oso was either sleeping, or waiting/begging for food. In the middle of February, maybe one month after arrival, volunteer Shela was thrilled and a little scared to see this big guy canter the length of the turnout when he saw her! She was afraid he would not be able to stop, but after doing so, he conned her into believing that I hadn’t fed that morning…. she gave him another bowl of pellets! O, the boy…who can deny those eyelashes?!
Here is Oso about 8 months later. Seems like he's doing well, yes? That's Fi, his sponsor. Oso eats enough for three horses – it’s helping, but it will probably be another couple of months before I can back off to a maintenance level of feed. Oso is a big horse, and at least 19-20 years old. He may not have a lot of years left. Like big dogs, big horses don’t often last as long as smaller breeds. And with the level of starvation that he withstood, I’m sure he lost a few years. Let’s try to make his last years truly golden…
OSO has a sponsor! Fi Gotfredson has stepped up for this boy, as well as her other sponsoree, Beau! Seems like Fi is really fond of the BIG ones! “-) THANK YOU for sponsoring Oso.