Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Looking out for each other

Submitted by EARS volunteer Shari Neal of Marion, Iowa

Among the 49 animals rescued from neglect in Wayne County, West Virginia on May 27 were two ponies locked in a shed. Here is the story of their journey from crisis to care.

Dillon looked at Murray as if to say this may be our only chance. Murray nodded in silent agreement then together the small ponies pushed through the door of their shed. Their liberators stood in shock, holding empty leads, as a whir of brown and white passed by them and the sound of eight hooves bolting to freedom rung in their ears. Dillon was the larger of the two, only by about three inches, but he took great pride in being the “big one." He liked to think of himself as “the muscle" since Murray had already established himself as “the brains."

Some people said Murray looked about the size of an overweight Great Dane, but he knew he was a fine pony and would be appreciated for his good looks and intellect someday. Hope was all he had to keep his spirits up, locked in a dark shed without food or water. He was grateful to be there with his best buddy, Dillon, who made him laugh because he had a white rump that made him look like he sat in wet paint. Murray had once heard a woman say she thought he had some faint zebra markings on his legs and back. From then on, he was certain he had descended from wild zebras.

Finding themselves suddenly in the sunlight and finally free, the ponies tried to figure out what to do next. Within an instant each had spotted a tuft of grass, raced to it and eaten it voraciously. And then another and another. It had been so long since they had eaten, they ran back and forth across the yard snapping up anything green, not even tasting it and quickly moving on to the next morsel.

All the while, the humans trying to contain them were closing in. In the end, the ponies would gladly trade their freedom for the sweet taste of fresh green grass, and that is what they did. Dillon spotted a field of the good stuff. He looked to Murray for permission and together they plowed through the fence standing between them and grass heaven. There they stood munching as quickly as they could, until the humans finally strolled up and lassoed them. It was worth it.

After arriving at the emergency shelter, the hay came every day. There was always clean water to drink, salt to lick and humans offering to scratch their ears. Murray didn’t trust the humans and convinced Dillon they needed to eat as much hay as they could because they would never get any more. After a few days of stomachaches and Murray’s theory being proven false, they decided to leave some hay for later and trust the humans to bring them some more. Dillon focused on training the humans to rub his nose and liked to taste their hands, while Murray gave his attention to perfecting methods for stealing hay from the horses in the neighboring stall. After all…you never know when you might need more hay! Years of neglect had taught him this hard lesson and it would not be soon forgotten.

Dillon is not thrilled about being surrounded by horses as he doesn’t get to be the “big one” anymore, but he likes his festive red halter. Murray (wearing classic black, as he is not the flashy type) is hoping to find another pony descended from zebras to compare markings with. The two friends are unsure of their future but certain that they are better off in their new home than in the one they left. They have decided to keep a positive attitude and look out for each other as they always have.

Photos: Murray and Dillon in their new digs at the temporary shelter; Murray and Dillon enjoying their endless supply of hay; best buddies, Murray and Dillon scratch each other; Murray steals hay from a neighboring stall; Dillon samples the fingers of a UAN volunteer. Photos courtesy Shari Neal.

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  1. Yay, EARS volunteers! Thank you for giving these horses wonderful care and lots of love! Also, thank you, Shari, for a great article which really shows these ponies' personalities!

  2. Elizabeth C.6/9/10, 12:40 PM

    Sorry if I'm missing something--tried to look at older posts but came up with nothing. What are the details of this story of neglect--or can't you say because it's under investigation at the time?

  3. Linda Sherman6/9/10, 1:20 PM

    Hi It appears to me that Murray and Dillon are mules. I first thought so when I saw their pictures and when the story mentioned the zebra type stripes on the legs that confirms it. Long time horse lover and Ears volunteer fom California.

  4. I don't know if they are descended from zebras or not, but I'm pretty sure those two aren't ponies. They have long ears; I bet that they are hinnies. (A hinny is similar to a mule, but the mother is a donkey and the father is a horse or pony. A mule is the opposite - donkey daddy, horse mother). Whatever they are, they sure are cute! Thanks for helping them out.

  5. Elizabeth, you can read more about the case on our press release here:

    The good news is that the owner has been charged with animal cruelty and the animals can be adopted into new homes once they are healthy and strong enough.

  6. Many of these animals were basically 'mutts' not purebred ponies, mules, donkeys, horses, etc. The vets were having a very difficult time determining breed on most of them, so it's no wonder there's confusion. The way I see it is that they are animals in need and we're just thrilled they are all in such a better place than they were! See the latest HSUS video to watch these to run and play in their new pasture at Paradise Stables in MD.


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