We Need Your Help!
Please consider making a financial contribution to Medicine Horse Program. Your donations support our programs and help some great kids and families.
Your help is greatly appreciated. We are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
Contributing money is easy!
1. Mail your donation to Medicine Horse Program at: 8778 Arapahoe Road, Boulder, CO 80303
2. Call us at 720.406.7630 to provide us with your VISA or MC number
3. Make a secure donation online right now by clicking the Paypal "Donate" button below
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In accordance with the provisions of the Equal Opportunity Act and the City of Boulder Human Rights Ordinance, there will be no discrimination against an applicant for services or benefits based on the basis of age, source of income, sex, race marital status, sexual orientation, national origin, religion or handicap. Medicine Horse Program complies with all state and federal laws prohibiting discrimination. the City of Boulder's Human Rights Ordinance protects against discrimination. If you believe your rights have been violated, call the Colorado Fair Housing Hotline at (303)672-5437 or 1-800-877-7353.
Copyright 2008, Medicine Horse Program
HopeFoal Project is a registered trademark
Welcome Eddie to MHP
Medicine Horse Program is proud to announce the donation of Edvin (Eddie), a 17 year old 16.2 hand Swedish warmblood gelding generously donated by Kristin Kilbourn and family. Eddie was imported from Sweden. He was formerly a driving horse, but has been in dressage training for the the last 9 years. Eddie is a family man, and loves children. He is also very fond of peppermints, but please feed them in his bucket rather than by hand.
Eddie is the first Medicine Horse to have his own Facebook page and you can friend him here or search Edvin Medicinehorse for updates. We are thrilled to have Eddie joining our program horses, as a therapist, lesson horse and friend. For a photo gallery, click the photo above or here.
Chicho Celebrates His 27th Birthday
Chicho celebrated his 27th birthday by dancing to music for the seniors from the Frasier Meadows Retirement Community.
Meet the Medicine Horses
Medicine Horse Program is one of the few facilities in the nation who uses rescued and untrained horses in order to facilitate "reciprocal healing," where client and horse help heal each other. As the one of the largest non-residential equine assisted psychotherapy facilities in the nation, we serve over 400 therapy clients per year. Over 1000 people annually pass through our gates in some capacity. We need many horses to help us. 34 horses are used in therapy programs.
Twelve of the horses at Medicine Horses were rescued on their way to slaughter. Seven more were rehabilitated, donated too lame or too ill to continue in their careers. These "useless" horses would likely have been euthanized, if MHP had not accepted them as donations. Five of our horses are over 25 years, surpassing the normal life span of a horse. Four more are between 18 and 24, an age when many horses are retired or put to pasture. This means that the minority of the program horses, only six horses, are young, vital, healthy "normal" horses. All of our Medicine Horses lead quiet, productive lives, happy to continue to serve in whatever capacity they are able.
Medicine Horse Program also accepts donations of well trained, kind, healthy horses. These horses are an incredible asset to our riding and to our therapy programs. Clients have a chance to learn and to appreciate the differences between normal, imprinted horses and horses who have faced severe trauma. Nitro, donated by Teresa Benson, Frankie donated by the MacMillan Family, Karma donated by Arlene Thomas and Frisbee, donated by Rosie Capps, are some of the terrific young horses who have graced the gates of Medicine Horse.
The majority of horses coming to Medicine Horse are rescued from slaughter. These horses arrive malnourished, ill, and untrained. Because of the early damage done to their stomachs and their systems, they often continue to have physical problems for the rest of their lives. The care and feeding of these horses is an onerous task. Horses who arrive so lame they can barely walk require a regimented diet so they do not get too fat, putting extra stress on their damaged joints. They need special shoeing and veterinary care. They need slow, steady conditioning if they are to return to work. Sometimes it takes years to bring the horse to a place where he can be ridden comfortably at the walk and trot. Some of them are never ridden again, but are able to serve in the reflective pieces of our programs.
Young foals who arrive malnourished and full of parasites must be on a diet specifically balanced to control mineral intake, so that these young horses do not put on too much weight too fast. Rapid weight gain in young horses causes the bones to grow too fast, and the tendons and ligaments cannot keep up. This causes developmental orthopedic diseases in horses, as painful as growing pains in children, that can have a lifelong impact on the soundness of the mature horse. Our young horses are allowed to grow at a normal rate and are not force fed large amounts of concentrated feed or grain for faster growth.
Sometimes, rather than being too thin, the young horses are too fat. That is because many were being fattened up for slaughter, like cattle. Unfortunately, overfeeding the young horse in this way is far more dangerous than underfeeding. Overfeeding young horses often leads to permanent orthopedic disease and joint pain. Those with developmental orthopedic diseases, contracted tendons, epiphysitis, or OCD, often lay down to take the weight of their joints. They are sluggish and cranky. According to studies, young horses who are overfed not only suffer greater rates of developmental orthopedic diseases, but also do not grow as large as those who are allowed to grow naturally. Please read http://archive.ctba.com/02magazine/oct/HORSECARE.pdf for more information on feeding young horses to avoid developmental orthopedic diseases.
The young foals, most of whom have never been touched by humans, require extensive time and training before they are ready to go into programs with clients. They are filthy and ungroomed, with poor coat condition. Many are depressed and anorexic. All have parasites and suffer foal ulcers. Some have mild colics. As they return to good health, MHP staff and volunteers spend hours with the foals, gaining their trust and letting them know that humans can help them feel better.
On the other end of the life cycle, the horses over 18 face a large range of physical issues. Some have arthritis. Some have Cushing's disease. Those with Cushings have a hard time keeping weight on, as well as poor coat condition and a propensity to founder. Others are so old their bodies no longer metabolize calories properly. They require a high fat, low carb diet, but as they age, they just can't take in enough calories to gain weight. Just as in some older people, many of the older horses have lost their teeth and can no longer chew hay or grain. They are fed a diet of beet pulp mash, mixed with concentrated feed and fatty oils to maintain a consistent weight.
As the horses age, their muscles atrophy. Their backs drop from lordosis, and their bellies hang heavy. Sometimes their hip bones protrude and the pockets above their eyes sink. Many inexperienced people mistake the normal signs of aging as signs of ill health or malnutrition. We try to educate clients in the normal aging process of horses, from foal to geriatric. We use the older horses to discuss healthy body image in our young clients, as people often turn up their noses at the older horses. Too often, they are not considered "beautiful" as they are no longer fat and shiny. We use the older horses for their wealth of wisdom, and to demonstrate the natural life cycles of horses and humans. We try to show people the beauty in every horse, of every age, condition and background.
Many of the rehabbed and rescued horses make remarkable comebacks at Medicine Horse. We are including some before and after pictures. But, the road to recovery is a long one, and sometimes the horses take a year or more before they return to gleaming good health. Sometimes they never fully recover. In order to rescue more horses, we try to find excellent homes for many of the horses we have rescued and rehabbed. New owners need to be completely aware that these rescue horses may never be workable riding horses. They may suffer the results of neglect for the rest of their lives. But, if they can find understanding owners with realistic expectations, they make lovely companions and friends for years to come. Sometimes they make great riding horses.
It is a great gift when a horse who is rescued from death becomes a workable riding horse. It is an even greater gift when these horses share their stories of abuse and neglect with young people who have suffered the same. Our Medicine Horses have a sanctuary, a safe place of healing, where they are loved and cared for by staff and clients and volunteers.
This older mare, Minuet, was not a rescue horse. This Reserve National Champion was donated in good weight with excellent hoof and health care. She had been retired from riding and used primarily as a broodmare. From having foals and from age, her back had begun to sway and she had lost muscle tone. Within 4 months of regular work, careful condition and lots of grooming, Minuet became a well-loved riding horse and even made a successful return to the show ring as an ambassador for Medicine Horse Program.
Jazz was rescued from a feedlot by Pebby Johns, and donated to Medicine Horse Program. In the first picture, he was starving, with a skin condition called ringworm, and lame with a bowed tendon. His hooves were in terrible condition. Although Jazz has returned to a good weight, his extreme condition left some residual issues. He occasionally has mild colics due to ulcers. He is hard to keep weight on because of permanent damage to his stomach lining. He requires excellent shoeing to keep his feet in order. But, Jazz has become a lovely riding horse for his owner, who considers every ride a gift.
Lady, another rescued foal, arrived with mud caked to belly, a skin disease called scratches, worms, lice, and upright pasterns from contracted tendons. She had never worn a halter and had never been groomed. After 8 months at Medicine Horse, she learned all of the rudiments a young horse needs to know as a future riding horse: leading, grooming, bathing, roundpenning, longeing and even posing!
Upon arrival at Medicine Horse Programs, this rescued colt had contracted tendons in the hind legs, leading to very upright pasterns. In the front legs, the fetlocks are so swollen, they are almost twice as big as they should, because of epiphysitis. Both of these conditions are very painful orthopedic developmental diseases caused by overfeeding, particularly concentrated feeds or grains. A fat colt is not a healthy colt. Tubac's joints were so sore that he arrived lying down on the trailer, and did not want to get up. He spent a great deal of time lying down. After 8 months on a correct diet to control growth spurts, the colt's joints returned to normal. If the incorrect feeding had continued, he could have been permanently crippled and unridable due to osteochondritis dissecans or OCD. Instead, he is now a enjoying a riding career on a ranch in Texas.