Several days ago I was returning from my hike to the water tank, my morning regimen of ascending the equivalent of a 14-story building. By the road was this odd thing, this skinny waif, this object that could barely cast a shadow. It was a horse that had obviously not been eating well; a 35-year-old “hard keeper,” meaning he needs supplements to an ordinary horse’s diet of grass. He had wandered off with his buddies and hadn’t been seen by us for probably five or six weeks.
I led him to the corral where I locked him up in the big pen and started him on some high-value feed. Equine Senior pellets, a special high-protein feed for older horses, “four-way” which is corn, oats, barley and molasses, sugar beet pulp, and pellets made of rice bran (the stuff they remove from rice to make it white and palatable to picky humans who will probably die from eating too much of the stuff because there’s no nutrition left in it). Don’t get me started on “enriched” white flour!
He had probably lost, who knows? 150 pounds? 300 pounds? I could see every bone in his pelvic region, every process on his spine, his scapulae, in fact the only part of him that looked normal were the parts where there is little or no flesh, like his hooves and teeth. I rigged up a system that would provide him with plenty of fresh water and started a twice-daily feed regimen.
I can report now that there is some visible progress. He is eating more enthusiastically and whinnies whenever he sees me approaching. I have nicknamed him Bones, an appropriate name for now, and I hope I will soon call him by his real name, King.