Oh the power of social media….Little did I know that an innocent scroll through Facebook on December 6, 2018 would change my/our life forever.
I saw a post by Horseshoe Stable of the big, handsome face above and knew I had to go meet him. He had been saved from OLEX (a livestock auction in Waterloo that sees most horses sold there go to slaughter for meat…yes, meat…for human consumption) by the incredible souls at Horseshoe Stable and he was in really rough shape. We arrived at the stable and within minutes…possibly even seconds….I knew this big guy (a Clydesdale/Belgian cross at around 17.2 hands) was meant to be a part of our life….
The photo above is from the evening we met him and the photo below is a full view of the extremely poor physical state that he was in when he arrived at Horseshoe Stable. His eyes were so incredibly sad…..after meeting him I had an hour drive to go see my Mom and I cried the entire trip there. I had never witnessed an animal of this size in such horrible shape and it absolutely broke my heart. I didn’t get any sleep that night and at about 2am, I started a Go Fund Me as I knew at that moment he had to come home to me, our family and our farm family at Rivendell. The initial costs associated with rescuing an animal can be very, very high due to all of the unknowns regarding their health, behaviour, needs etc and this fund would go to help this big guy get the care that he so desperately needed. It was the start of his hashtag… #savingbruno
He arrived at Rivendell at 7am the morning of December 8, 2019. I wish I had gotten a photo of him on the trailer as he’s so tall and almost had to duck, even on a stock trailer.
He stepped off the trailer and I hope he could feel the immediate love and support around him. We walked around the farm and stood to watch the sunrise on the first day in the next chapter of his life….a chapter full of happiness, lots of treats and the care he deserves. He also met his brother, Lightning, and it was brotherly love at the first touching of their noses.
He settled in well and one of our first endeavours was to have our Veterinarian come out to give him a full check up, his first round of vaccines, float his teeth and clean his sheath. Dr. Molson from McKee-Pownall Equine Services has such a thoughtful and patient manner with these incredible beasts and treated Bruno with such care and compassion. He was sedated to have his teeth floated and you could immediately tell there was something wrong when Dr. Molson opened his mouth…..his teeth/mouth were in horrible condition….in fact, the worst she had ever seen. Bruno has a fairly significant overbite (ie. parrot mouth) and his teeth do not wear properly because of this. Dr. Molson said that if we hadn’t done this when we had, in a few more months his teeth would have curled all the way around and would have started to grow back into his palate. Bruno will require dentistry care every 6 months for the next 2-3 years to get his teeth back to where they should be as we don’t want to take them back too quickly due to nerve endings in the teeth. He was such a trooper through all his initial treatments that morning and after 2 dentistry treatments in the past 8 months, I can tell he’s more comfortable and can masticate his food much more effectively. The photos below show his first and second sessions of dentistry care with Dr. Molson to help grind down or ‘float’ his teeth.
After ensuring a solid baseline from his visit with Dr. Molson, it was then time to figure out his food program (we needed him to gain weight but do so in a steady and healthy manner), get his measurements for tack, blankets etc (he wears the largest halter that Brubacher’s Harness and Tack Shop sells and a size 92 blanket - in comparison, Lightning wears a size 82). He lived his few few months with us in a stall overnight to stay sheltered and warm and then out in the pasture making friends during the day. He now lives outside 24/7 and absolutely loves his life with his field-mates and friends he’s made. He has two hearty meals a day and all the hay a horse could ask for. The first time I fed him an apple, the look on his face was like a little kid on Christmas morning. I have a feeling that he did not get many, if any, treats in his prior life and to see something so simple bring him so much contentedness was oh so heart warming.
I’ll now take you through a photographic journey of the past 7 months, to show you the incredible transformation that has occurred before our eyes, thanks to so many people. We truly do have a family at the farm, led by our farm manager, Lori. I can honestly say that I would not have even fathomed embarking on this journey without knowing she was the foundation of our farm and I truly cannot say ‘thank you’ enough for all that she has done for this big guy….and me! A huge thank you too to my Mom for all of her support (couldn’t have done this without you), the family at Rivendell - Mike, Grace, Chelsea etc, McKee-Pownall, Brubacher’ s, Sharpe Farm Supply, and of course, all of the Go Fund Me supporters. You helped me/us get this guy the new start he deserved and I am so beyond grateful and humbled by your support.
It has been quite a journey over the past 7-8 months and I wouldn’t change a second of it. We still have a long journey ahead….some work to do with standing much more politely for the farrier (he ‘dances’ as I’m sure he’s had a not great experience previously), more dentistry treatments, more weight to gain, more training to do….but that’s what it’s all about….the journey. Every time I pull down the laneway at the farm and see him standing there in the field, his head buried in a bale of hay or munching on some grass, my eyes well up with tears of happiness. He’s an amazing creature and I’m so glad the fates aligned the way they did to bring us all together!
A huge thank you again to everyone for all of your support….it truly does take a village!