Shiloh, a gorgeous shire horse, had become a casualty of divorce. While the family was splitting apart, no one noticed Shiloh had suffered a bad cut to his lower leg. Because the injury was left unattended for months, an infection grew with proud flesh built up and the horse was unable to walk properly. As Shiloh’s pain grew, he became more and more difficult to be managed by those trying to help the family. In the wake of the split and with no money for care, Shiloh was surrendered to Rosemary Farm Sanctuary (RFS). RFS wrote ISF about their willingness to help, “It's going to be a long road, perhaps a year of stall rest and regular care, but he wants to live and we are working to give that to him.” Upon further evaluation, RFS said “His former owners attempted some care, so now the horse has a resistance to normal antibiotics, and is also 'over' having that painful leg touched. He is a draft cross, so he is huge, but he is still trying to be a good boy. We believe this horse has a chance to live and we are working to give that to him.” ISF wanted to help RFS with Shiloh and gave them a Medical Emergency Grant.
As Shiloh settled into the sanctuary, RFS's Founder and President Dawn wrote ISF to say, “He is anxious to make friends here, and is actively talking to every horse that comes near, trying to connect. He is happy when others are around. This leg wound is painful and has been going on for a long time, but even in the face of that pain, he greets me with kindness.”
Because the aggravated wound was old and extreme, RFS’s veterinarian recommended they remove the proud flesh through surgery and then cast Shiloh to help him heal. To fight the infection, a different medication would need to be administered which he was not accustomed to.
On the day Shiloh was scheduled for surgery, he became frightened while being loaded into his traveling trailer. He did not want to leave and a fearful horse is a dangerous one. As the horse grew more fearful of the trailer loading, the crew slowed down and tried to keep him calm, but as bad luck would have it, a neighbor's truck backfired. Dawn explained to ISF what happened next, “It was very fast, he ran into me, hitting my left shoulder, and as I fell he tried to leap over me, hitting my head with his hoof.” Because of the incident, the surgery was canceled for the day and Dawn was taken to the hospital with a concussion. Of the incident, Dawn said, “I do not blame Shiloh. He was untrained, new to us, and in pain.”
Shiloh’s surgery was set for a week later and was successful. He remained on strict stall rest before and after surgery. For an athletic horse, confinement can be difficult as they often can thrash and undo their progress. In order to keep Shiloh calm, RFS gave him a stall with a view and also brought other horses next to him to keep him company. Shiloh also received lots of treats and grooming which he loved. As his health grew and his pain subsided, he put on one hundred needed pounds. After his cast was removed, he was able to be hand walked and have limited time out in the pasture.
Shiloh received hundreds of people interested in adopting him, but one former vet tech and her family stood out over the rest. Now a professional in the horse industry, she had the kind of stability and knowledge to help Shiloh. Even after Dawn’s incident, she remained interested in Shiloh’s rehabilitation and proved she could handle him. Shiloh eventually moved to her barn where the family, especially her teenage boy, have fallen in love and bonded with him. Because of Shiloh’s size and relative lack of former training, the family is making the decision to formally adopt Shiloh slowly. They have made progress and are able to ride Shiloh with a saddle. The family will most likely adopt Shiloh by the end of 2015, but if not, he will always have a home with Rosemary Farm Sanctuary.
Written by Veronica Hampton