A ‘Safe Haven’ for abused horses
Jan 29, 2009 | 1833 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby<br>
SAFE HAVEN DIRECTOR Richard Fincher reaches out to one of the horses rescued from Gregg County three weeks ago today. After three weeks of almost constant eating, this horse and its companion in the background still show ribs and other scars from the neglect they suffered.
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Sugar lazily chewed her food, ignoring the call from across the way. The 35-year old mare is enjoying her stay at Safe Have Equine Rescue and Retirement Home, Inc.

The 501 (c) 3 non-profit corporation takes in abused and neglected horses and nurses them back to health. Most are then given for adoption where they have a new chance on life. Donations to the center are tax deductible.

“Sugar is our seeing-eye horse,” Richard Fincher of Safe Haven explained to The Mirror. She is stalled near another elderly horse, one which is blind. When Sugar leaves the stall area, the blind horse will follow her to water, to food, or just to roll on the ground.

Underfed when she arrived, she dropped a foal nine weeks after she arrived at Safe Haven. Now she looks after a fellow elderly horse.

In the building they share, three of the five stalls are unusable due to leaks, one of many projects around the area Fincher hopes that volunteers will help him with.

He recently got down to only one week’s supply of feed, but people came to the rescue with donations of money and grain.Among the most recent arrivals are two horses from Gregg County which graded out as level one, the worst condition.

As they took treats from Fincher’s hand, some of the treats fell to the ground due to loose teeth.

“We cannot do anything about the loose teeth yet,” Fincher explained. “The sedative might cause a heart attack or other complications at the stage they are at. When they improve, we will file down the loose teeth so they will fit together better, and they can get more protein out of their food.”

Another horse had a hard time getting to the visitor because her mother was upset with her the day of the visit. A sleek-looking chesnut, the younger horse had an open wound which had gangrene when she arrived at midnight last Memorial Day.

“When they arrived, she had maggots emerging from the wound,” Fincher said. “The problem began as a cut, and the owner did not have money for a vet, so he let it go.”

By the time the horse arrived at Safe Haven, the opening was five to six inches vertical with flies laying eggs in the wound, and the hatching maggots were eating the dead flesh on the horse.

Fortunately for the horse, one of the volunteer veterinarians was nearby with another client that day. After treating the paying customer, he came to Safe Haven to help, first washing the wound and then cutting away the rotten flesh.

“Dr. Randall Spencer of Gilmer and the Pittsburg Animal Clinic help us,” Fincher said as he displayed the veterinary area.

“These are some of the supplies we have gotten from the East Texas Medical Center Ambulance Service. They come from out-of-date stock they have to throw out or open packages which they cannot keep,” Fincher continued as he displayed a rack with plastic boxes filled with dressings, tape, peroxide, alcohol, sterile water, and other medical supplies.

At present, several horses at Safe Haven have recovered their strength and are available for adoption. The mother and daughter who came Memorial Day will soon be ready, a black horse who came before Christmas is ready, and another chestnut needs further preparation as evidenced when he shied away from the visitor.

Sometimes the center is the beneficiary of unexpected gifts such as a 7-month-old filly who arrived Saturday. She is a thoroughbred, who the trainer believes will never be a quality race horse. There was a choice of putting the animal down, or giving it to Safe Haven for adoption.

Windridge Equestrian Center has adopted several of the Safe Haven horses as the two groups have cooperative relations.

But there are always needs, sometimes directly for the horses and sometimes indirectly.

A daughter discovered her parents were giving up money for their medicine and for food to provide for their horses. Instead, the daughter negotiated a gift of the horses to Safe Haven.

Another couple is closing out their estate so that they can move closer to their children as one battles cancer. After selling the house, the farm, and some equipment, the balance of the estate will be donated to Safe Haven to sell for funds. At this time, Fincher is looking for a vacant building such as a vacant business where he can house the goods for two or three months while he inventories the items for future sale.

Anyone with space available to house these items, or other items for Safe Haven, can contact Fincher at 903-762-1432 or on his cell phone, 903-241-5451.

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