Horses are remarkably resilient animals. Time after time, we’ve seen horses who are able to recover from terrible neglect, pulled back from the brink of death to transform back into the strong, healthy creatures they were always meant to be. These horses inspire us and give us the strength we need to keep going when things seem hopeless. 

And then there are horses who need more from us. The ones who ask us to be brave, to put our personal feelings aside and focus on what they truly need. The ones who won’t be able to reward our work with a fabulous transformation. Horses who have lived through too much. And despite all their heart and courage, expecting them to bounce back and get better is just too much to ask. 

For horses such as these, we created our Hospice Program. It turns out that “hospice” is a misnomer, at least in how the word applies to humans. But the essence of our program is this: to provide a period of happiness, good care, and love to a deserving horse, then help them pass on with dignity. It’s not something that is appropriate for a horse that is currently suffering pain, discomfort, or distress. But in a small number of cases, we have a window of time to show a horse what a good life feels like before setting them free.

Wind is one of those sweet and deserving horses.

Wind is a 14 year old mare with a BLM tattoo on her neck who looks more like a petite Paso Fino than a Mustang. She’s a cute little thing, with a big star and a kind expression. She’s a bit shy, but she seems to want to seek out a connection with the people who are caring for her. 

Sadly, Wind has suffered significant neglect in the past few years, facing starvation, pregnancy, and neglect, as well as a serious health problem that was being ignored. About 30 days ago, Wind was seized by animal control officers in King County, due to her declining condition while living in a large herd of horses. Wind has the dropped pasterns that indicate a degenerative condition called DSLD. This is turn made it difficult for her to move around in the overgrazed paddock she shared with the group, and she could not adequately feed herself, resulting in severe weight loss. She was signed over to SAFE on Tuesday and transported here along with three other horses from the same herd that ended up being seized in Pierce County.

Wind is here at SAFE so that we can give her a short period of good care and happiness before she is laid to rest. It is very important to understand that the moment we see signs that Wind is in that we cannot manage, we will let her go. Until that time comes, we will work closely with our vets at Rainland Farm Equine Clinic to provide Wind with the palliative care she needs to remain comfortable. 

At this moment in time, Wind is being kept comfortable with medication. We’ve seen her lie down and get back up, and we’ve seen that she can move around her stall and paddock without too much trouble. Her eyes are bright, she is curious and friendly, and she is eating with enthusiasm. At this moment, Wind is not telling us that she is ready to go. With vigilant attention being paid to her every day by our staff and volunteers, her comfort and happiness will be our first priority. And we can let this little mare know that she deserves to be treated with love, respect, and caring. Wind will be surrounded by the love and care of our volunteer community and the well wishes of our supporters. 

It’s hard to accept that Wind is not going to get better, but this is the reality of her situation. She has a degenerative disease that cannot be cured, and which will get worse over time. We are not going to ask her to hang on for our sake or for anyone else’s. We have no intention of letting her decline, or waiting until her condition becomes too much for her to bear. We will choose to let her go on a good day, free from stress and anxiety, and she will pass with dignity, surrounded with love.

This is a difficult situation, but we have taken a lot into consideration, and have made this choice in agreement with our veterinarians and with animal control. We’re making a big promise to this horse, and we won’t let her down. She is in the perfect place to receive the love and care that she deserves. We know that it’s a lot to ask of our volunteers, but we also know that they are the sort of people who will put their own feelings aside in order to do what is right for Wind. We can all be brave for her.