Two and a Half Horses and a Donkey

Moon, a gray quarter horse gelding, and Zoom, a registered bay quarter horse mare

Life at the barn got really busy over the Winter with the arrival of two quarter horses, a mini pony and a mini donkey.

This was cause for celebration by the humans and horses, and met with glee by our hay dealer who was instructed to double the monthly order.

We welcomed Moon and Zoom on a cold but snowless day in late November 2020. Moon is a gray quarter horse gelding and Zoom is a registered bay quarter horse mare. This bonded pair are in their late teens and were each rescued from horrific situations and rehabilitated by their previous owner before arriving at The Lily Pond. They were given their own paddock next to Dutch Treat and across from Waverly and Sammir with a run-in shed and view of the beaver pond. Both horses stepped off the trailer and settled into their new digs without issue, trotting across the grass and around the fence perimeter without ever leaving each other’s side. It didn’t take long for them to strike up a friendship with the other horses, grazing at the fence line and gossiping with each other about how silly the humans look in their Carhartt overalls.

Zoom is a PMU foal from a ranch in North Dakota that serves big pharma in the production of the drug Premarin, which is made from the urine of pregnant mares. Premarin is a hormone replacement drug prescribed to women undergoing menopause, but we believe most women and doctors would think twice if they understood the terrible conditions that the mares endure. Hooked up to urine collection devices, the mares are locked in rows of tiny stalls that prevent movement with limited water intake to harvest as much concentrated urine as possible. The foals that are born to these mares are considered a “by-product” of the drug manufacturing industry and generally shipped to auction. Many die young due to being weaned too early. Zoom was one of the lucky few who benefitted from the work of New York Horse Rescue (NYHR), a nonprofit organization that seeks to place PMU foals in homes. Working with NYHR, Zoom’s previous owner agreed to adopt her sight unseen. The North Dakota ranch branded little baby Zoom, glued a number to her forehead, and chased her onto a truck that shipped her East. This was her only interaction with humans before arriving at her adoptive home. Zoom’s person worked to rehabilitate and train the young filly, with success.

Moon, a gray quarter horse gelding, and Zoom, a registered bay quarter horse mare, with Barn Manager Brenda Izzo

Moon was a lesson horse at a college in Massachusetts, tasked with participating in over twenty rider training sessions per week. He endured years of poorly fitting saddles and bad riders until his back was so injured that he could no longer perform his lesson job. The school’s response was to dump him at an auction house. His previous owner (the woman who rescued Zoom) happened to be sitting in the bleachers at the auction when it was clear that Moon was going to be sold to the kill buyers and shipped to slaughter. She stepped up to purchase him in order to save him from such a horrific fate. Once home, Moon met Zoom and they became inseperable. Moon was very shy of people and would become terribly upset by saddles. It took a long time for his injuries to heal — he had a lot of scar tissue on his back that required chiropractic and massage therapy to help him feel more comfortable. Over time, Moon’s affection for people has grown now that no one is asking anything of him and he doesn’t have to bear the pain of being ridden.

Moon and Zoom spent many happy years together with their previous owner until a relocation to a smaller property necessitated finding them a new place to live. We agreed to provide them a forever home where they are not required to ride and will be able to stay together for the rest of their lives.

Less than two weeks later, we received an early Christmas present with the arrival of Marshall and Sheriff, a mini pony and mini donkey.

Marshall and Sheriff, a mini pony and mini donkey.

These two cuties are a bonded pair who came together after being rescued by a local animal sanctuary. Marshall was living in the Hudson Valley, only to find himself abandoned when his owner moved to Florida. A concerned neighbor alerted the sanctuary and they drove over to investigate, making an executive decision to load Marshall into their van and give him a new home. It was a similar situation with Sheriff, a gray mini donkey. This same sanctuary received a call from a local wildlife rehabilitator that a donkey was in need of surgery but his owners were unwilling to pay for it and had decided instead to put him down. The sanctuary intervened, offering to take the donkey. The owners relinquished him. The sanctuary paid for the needed surgery and Sheriff found himself in a new home sharing a paddock with Marshall, who was refreshingly of the same height. The two hit it off, becoming best friends.

Marshall with his nose stuck through the fence

Changes at the sanctuary led to Marshall and Sheriff finding a new home here at The Lily Pond. December is a tough month to transport equines given the poor road conditions. Fortunately, no trailer was needed. These two cuties are so small that they simply hopped into Jeff Redd’s van, turned up the holiday tunes and rolled on over. Marshall calmly surveyed his surroundings before actually getting out of the van and Sheriff made it clear that he would not budge for anyone but Marshall.

It’s interesting to compare Sheriff with our off-the-track Thoroughbred Waverly, who goes from 0 to 60 in three seconds whereas Sheriff will maintain a steady 0 mph all day long despite the cajoling and treats offered by humans. Marshall cannot be allowed on grass due to a history of laminitis, so we placed the minis in the paddock with Dutch Treat. The three seemed to get along just fine. Dutch was more interested in hanging out with Moon and Zoom, who share a fence in the adjacent paddock, and Sheriff only has eyes for his beloved friend Marshall. So all is well.

Sheriff, a donkey, lying in the field

Marshall has a stunning mane of blond, tan, and chocolate, leading us to wonder if he’s found a skilled hairdresser in the Hudson Valley. He quickly distinguished himself as an expert in obtaining treats. He sticks his nose through the fence rails and bats his eyes, baby kitten style. Resistance is futile. Sheriff will be right by his side, but is less than enthusiastic about most humans. Those who have earned his trust have the benefit of being allowed to rub his long, fuzzy ears. When Sheriff sees one of his favorite people, he commences bellowing “heeeee-haaaawwwww at high decibel. Sometimes he starts with small squeaks that build into a musical crescendo that can be heard across several counties. So far, we have not received any complaints from the neighbors. But if we do, we’ll just invite them to come meet Sheriff and Marshall, at which point they will be instantly smitten and wish they were running an animal sanctuary.

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