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Published January 07, 2013, 01:38 PM

A new year, a fresh start

Horses rescued from Minnesota farmstead are recovering and ready for adoption.

By: Marie Nitke, Forum News Service

PERHAM, Minn. — Eleven neglected horses rescued from a farmstead north of Perham, Minn., about eight weeks ago are being rehabilitated, and most are ready to settle into new, permanent homes.

It hasn’t exactly been an easy recovery for the animals.

Dehydrated and dangerously underweight, most were weak and unkempt. Some had parasites. One grey male, now called Zane, was so starved that he collapsed on four different occasions in the first eight days after his rescue. At times, the veterinarian in charge of his care was sure she’d have to euthanize him.

“The only reason she didn’t was because he had a look in his eye that said, ‘Not yet,’” says Charlotte Tuhy. “He was real iffy. He went down many times after being rescued, but he’d always get back up. On the eighth day, he started to turn the corner.”

Tuhy is a co-owner of Hightail Horse Ranch and Rescue in Hawley, Minn., which is caring for all 11 horses until they can be fostered or adopted out to good homes. The ranch conducted the rescue in cooperation with the Otter Tail County (Minn.) Humane Society and Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Department.

According to Hightail, the sheriff’s department executed a seizure of the animals, and on Nov. 9, the ranch was called to come and get them.

Tuhy says the animals’ owners contested the seizure, but after a hearing a judge sided with the sheriff’s department and turned ownership of the horses over to the Hightail ranch.

Road to recovery

With the help of volunteers, a veterinarian, holistic and homeopathic remedies, trainers and even a professional animal communicator, Hightail nursed the horses back to health.

For Zane, who was in the worst shape of the 11, the healing process involved a special high-protein, low-carb diet of slow and small meals, lots of water, homeopathic medicines and veterinary visits.

If those horses hadn’t been rescued when they were, Zane probably wouldn’t be alive today.

Instead, most of the 11 are fully recovered now, and “everybody’s looking really fit,” according to Tuhy. Even Zane, she says, is starting to build muscle, “and he doesn’t stumble and fall anymore.”

Most of the horses are ready to be adopted, though caregivers aren’t sure what kind of training, if any, the different horses have had — some may be well trained, while others may be just “pasture pets,” Tuhy explains.

Hightail is accepting donations to cover the cost of hay, feed, bedding, medicine and other needs. The ranch is always looking for good volunteers to help feed, train and otherwise care for the animals.