||Ten years old|
||Warner Robbins, Georgia, USA|
Gerda Silver, the founder of Gerda's Equine Rescue in Vermont, learned of a big 17.1 hand Belgian mare named Sophia. Along with other horses, Sophia was destined to be shipped to a slaughterhouse in Mexico. These horses are kept in a holding pen for one week, available to the public to purchase in hopes of saving their lives.
Gerda kept a vigilant eye on Sophie's ad all week, waiting to see if anyone was going to save her. But unfortunately, no one wanted her. The sad reason: Sophia was blind.
So Gerda got to work raising enough money to bail Sophia out of the kill pen and transport her to the rescue. "We'd figure out the rest once she was safe," said Gerda.
Sophia soon arrived safely in Vermont, and after a month of quarantine the decision was made to find her a sanctuary where she could live out her life. Finding a reputable sanctuary was not that easy, however - all were full and had long waiting lists.
Then something special happened. Gerda called Draft Gratitude, a rescue in New Hampshire that specializes in saving and re-homing draft horses. These horses are the giants of the equine world.
In sharing her story with Becky Roy, founder of Draft Gratitude, Gerda was shocked to learn that they had a big 19-hand Belgian gelding close to Sophia's age - and he is also blind! Mighty Mike, as he is called, came to Draft Gratitude last February. Since then he has been living with a companion horse who has now found herself a home, which will leave Mike alone. Mike was in need of a new companion.
Mike is a former workhorse, like Sophia, and he had become unable to keep up with the workload. And he is huge - the cost of feeding him was the tipping point of him becoming unwanted.
"Mike arrived very thin and filthy," Becky said. "He is blind in both eyes, but he's extremely brave and well adjusted. Over the past few months, he has reached an appropriate weight, and he looks healthy and handsome after shedding out his winter coat."
Was this all just a coincidence, or was it a meant-to-be miracle? Gerda and Becky agreed they both believe in miracles, and they got to work on matchmaking ideas.
So, how do you introduce two blind horses to one another? What if they don't get along? Can two blind horses be each other's companion?
It was decided the best approach was to bring Sophia to New Hampshire and introduce her to Mike while his companion horse, Patty, was still there.
Mike knows his current paddock well. Becky and her workers took a lot of time walking Sophia around the paddock, making sure she knew where to find the hay and water. Amazingly, Sophia quickly adjusted to her new surroundings and learned her way around.
Thankfully, Mighty Mike and Sophia hit it off. They quickly started sharing the same hay basket and stick pretty close together.
"We're excited to have Sophia join us as a companion for Mike," Becky says. "The two will be able to stay together as mutual companions and live out their lives safely."
Now there is an urgent call for heroes! In order for Sophia and Mike to stay as sanctuary horses at Draft Gratitude, they need to have their own permanent paddock built. The paddock requires safe and secure fencing appropriate for blind horses (at a cost of approximately $2,500), as well as a run-in structure for shelter (approximately $5,300). And they need monthly/annual sponsors to financially maintain them throughout their lifetime. These giants need lots of hay and care.
Gerda and Becky are hoping Sophia and Mike's story touches people and inspires them to help with the funds needed to build the two horses an appropriate home.
"Their handicap may have ended their ability to serve humans, but they still each deserve to live out the safe and loving retirement they have earned. To have found each other is a real-life love story that should be allowed to live on and flourish - but we need heroes to help us make that happen."
A fundraiser has been set up for Sophia and Mike, and those who wish to help can donate here. .
Talk about Sophia and Mighty Mike in Pet Talk!