Amazing Grace: Jasmine's New Shoes
November 13, 2017
“The beauty of life is in both its light and dark.” - William Faulkner The practice of rescuing horses presents challenges of many kinds, especially when the horse being rescued comes with no known history whatsoever. All that Equinox Stables Founder, Tammi Jo Regan, knew of Jasmine at the time of her rescue was that she had been abandoned in a field, standing cold and alone after having been neglected for who knows how long. Her basic needs unmet, it was anyone’s guess how long she had stood there, starving, without water or shelter. With having only physical and behavioral evidence to go by, Tammi forms insight into what her rescue horses may need. To that end, she spends a lot of time watching and interacting with the whole herd to see what kind of important messages they might be trying to reveal. “I’ve found if we listen carefully and observe closely, the pieces of the puzzle have the potential to come together.” Tammi says. This insight goes a long way in supporting her very deliberate, very intentional and individual rehabilitation process. In Jasmine’s case, a general lack of care over the course of her eighteen years on this Earth caused her to founder which, sadly, was caused by lack of hoof care along with a case of unmanaged Cushing’s Disease. Tammi had suspected she had vision issues, but she was unfortunately misdiagnosed twice by two different veterinarians. Tammi continued her search for answers because she simply knew it wasn't right. She had her vision tested more than once, each time unsatisfied with the results. She probed further and, true to her suspicion, at last found an expert to confirm Jasmine’s condition: severe cataracts in her right eye and something called Lens Luxation in her left eye, caused by either chronic infection called uveitis or blunt force trauma. Uveitis is a severe inflammation and extremely uncomfortable. Left untreated, both Lens Luxation and cataracts can cause blindness. Once her blindness was officially diagnosed and confirmed, Tammi developed a communication system consisting of a specialized cadence of language and whistling that is used to let her know she is being approached, so as to minimize startling. In working with and around a blind horse, talking is key. If the horse has an awareness of where humans are and what they're doing, surprises are mitigated or altogether eliminated. “We're constantly talking with Jasmine,” says Tammi. “Whenever we work with her we touch her, both for reassurance as well as to let her know where we are in relation to her body. Blind horses can live a very happy and well-adjusted life when properly cared for and communicated with. Each of us at Equinox goes to great lengths every day to make sure Jasmine feels safe, protected and loved.” That loving protection extends throughout the herd as well. Tammi’s most recent rescue horse, Res Judicata, a full-size Off the Track Thoroughbred, has selected mini Jasmine for his pasture mate. He has literally opened her stall door on several occasions to be with her. “We call Res her Seeing Eye Horse,” adds Tammi. Blind horses are often very low in the pecking order of a herd. Until Res arrived, Jasmine had yet to find a real buddy to pair bond with. She was usually off doing her own thing as a survival and means for self preservation. With Res by her side, Jasmine is now able to safely graze with confidence and a stronger sense of security. She is able to explore more and shows more interest in life around her. It’s as if Res knew Jasmine needed a friend, and so did he. At night, he has been found springing her loose from her stall. It’s a touching and heartwarming friendship. Tammi continues to piece together the story of Jasmine's life. How long she has lived in darkness and pain is something that can only be guessed, but with the help of her human handlers and herd mates, her life is beginning to look much brighter. This is the tough part of rescue and rehab work. It is yet another example of how and why the rehabilitation process of rescued horses should not and cannot be rushed. Tammi shudders to think of where Jasmine would have ended up, if given over to the wrong hands. She surely would have continued to live in darkness, in unprotected fear and unnecessary agony or, worse, would have been put down too early due to the extreme cost of her care. This is the heart of the Equinox mission, and Tammi’s honor and privilege to care for them. Every day, their milestone achievements are celebrated. Jasmine is finally getting the relief and comfort she so richly deserves.