2005 dark bay Thoroughbred gelding
Registered Name: unknown
Type of Rescue: Animal Control Surrender
Intake Date: 4/4/2019
Adoption Date: 3/21/21
Length of Time with SAFE: 2 years
ADOPTED!! by Carol and Jim
Cyrus came to SAFE in April 2019 as part of a cruelty investigation. He was emaciated and badly neglected. With careful refeeding and vet care, he has regained his true beauty and good health. Cyrus is a sweet, friendly horse who loves attention, naps, and alfalfa. Unfortunately, after being started under saddle, Cyrus showed lameness under saddle, so we decided to offer him as a companion. Now Cyrus lives the good life with his horse buddy, Nitro and a family who fell in love with him the second they brought him home.
We could not be more thrilled to announce that Cyrus is adopted! We hit the jackpot with his adopter and we could not be happier.
Carol and Jim came to SAFE a few months ago to look for a friend for their riding horse, Nitro. Sadly, they had recently lost their three senior horses, leaving Nitro without a buddy. Upon meeting Cyrus, there were tears from both parties, both from Cyrus’ story and the loss of their horses.
Cyrus came to us from an Animal Control investigation with a body score of 1.5, severely emaciated and neglected. We weren’t sure if he would make it. But there was a brightness in his eyes we all could see, and that gave us hope. Our Herd Health Manager immediately started a refeeding procedure to get him back up to weight. That meant we fed him very precisely weighed hay throughout the day and well into the night, so it wouldn’t cause him gastronomical upset. It took over 3 months of the refeeding program before we could start feed him like the rest of our horses. If you met Cyrus the day he came in, you would not believe his stunning transformation. He became beautiful and quickly was a volunteer favorite.
Once Cyrus was healthy, we started him in our riding program. After some time, we noticed he was showing signs of lameness under saddle. After inclusive lameness tests, we decided it was best for Cyrus to be offered as a companion horse. We knew Cyrus needed a special home. If we could find a family that had experience with high energy horses, who had grassy pastures for this picky eater and definitely a horse friend to keep him company, it would be perfect. Turns out Carol and Jim fit the bill!
When Carol and Jim brought him home last month, Cyrus and Nitro hit it off right off the bat! Carol said Cyrus follows Nitro everywhere. That same night, she texted Terry that she wasn’t returning him. He was part of the family.
Cyrus has come such a long way since he first arrived at SAFE, and soon he hopes to be making friends with a few other SAFE geldings. Before he gets the chance to spend the day with the other boys, he is working on recovering from a minor injury he received on January 14, 2021 in his paddock. As he returned to the barn from his day outside, we noticed he had an abrasion high up on his hind left stifle. While the initial wound healed externally, he was still appearing to exhibit lameness in this leg. Dr. Lewis from Rainland Equine rechecked Cyrus again, now one month later and he has made significant progress! It was determined he had improved so well that he will no longer need radiographs. We are so thankful for our hard working veterinary partners who help our horses through their recovery process.
After Cyrus returned from training, we began to notice a slight lameness under saddle. Dr. Lewis from Rainland came out a few weeks ago to do a lameness exam which was inconclusive. She told us that he would be a candidate for the lameness locator to help get to the root of the problem. We then scheduled an appointment for a lameness exam with the lameness locator, and Dr. Fleck came out last week to examine him.
Dr. Fleck watched Cyrus move and performed flexion tests. He appeared to be off on the right front during the initial portion of the exam, but nothing remarkable was found with flexions. Once the lameness locator was on him, the computer showed a right front and a right hind lameness. With this knowledge, Dr. Fleck first performed a nerve block to numb his right front leg from the fetlock down. We suspected that the problem might be in his foot, but there was no change in his lameness after the block so we were able to determine that was not the source of pain in that leg. Cyrus’ right hind leg was then blocked, again with no change. Dr. Fleck then attempted to block his right hock, but Cyrus had lost his patience at that point and it became too risky to continue. Dr Fleck said that he was fairly certain that the hock was not the problem anyhow, so we likely didn’t miss any answers by not blocking it.
The inconclusiveness of the lameness exam was disappointing. We were hoping to get to the bottom of his pain and do what we can to make him comfortable under saddle again. Instead, we are faced with a few options. The next step in diagnostics would be nuclear scintigraphy (bone scan). This would point to potential areas of inflammation in Cyrus’ body that we either couldn’t pinpoint in the lameness exam or that are not easy to find with other diagnostic methods due to the horse’s anatomy (like the spine and sacroiliac joints). A bone scan would give us information that we could then use to pursue further diagnostics or treatment methods in a certain area or areas. Unfortunately, this is not an option that we are able to jump to routinely because of the expense. Not only is the procedure itself expensive due to the materials and machinery involved, but on top of that you have the cost of whatever path you choose to take based on the results, whether that be further radiographs or ultrasounds, nerve blocks, joint injections, medications, etc.
Our second option would be to stop pursuing further diagnostics and make Cyrus a light trail horse. Dr. Fleck said that he could probably do easy trails with no problem at his current level of lameness. This would be a great option if it were not for the fact that he needs quite a bit of warm-up work on the ground and under saddle before he is mentally present enough to be reliable on the trails. He is not a “get on and go” type of horse.
Our third option, and the one we have chosen for the present time, is to retire him from riding altogether. An adopter down the road could choose to pursue further diagnostics and potentially get him back under saddle if he returned to soundness, but SAFE will likely be offering him as a companion with the understanding that he is currently lame. We can’t put more work into getting him ready as a riding horse if it’s causing him pain. He is very happy and sound in the pasture. We have decided to market him as a companion to potential adopters for now, while keeping our options open to continue to look for other solutions.
Cyrus is a strapping lad, full of character, good looks, and confidence. He has come such a long way from the emaciated, sad gelding that first came to us. He’ll likely be happy with whatever decision we make, as long as it means he still gets to experience his favorite thing of all time–his daily shoulder scratches from his human friends.
Thanks to The Limelight Pet Project for featuring Cyrus!
The Limelight Pet Project is a campaign local to Washington that shines a light on harder-to-adopt pets and the people who help them. We’re delighted they chose Cyrus to share this month on Q13 FOX.
Here’s the article and segment on Q13 FOX:
And a full version of Terry telling Cyrus’s story of transformation:
Cyrus has finished his first month of professional training with Donohue Horsemanship and all reports are good. He is a good guy and is learning to be more accepting of the work. No major issues but at this time, but Cyrus will still need an experienced hand to help him continue on this positive trajectory.
Cyrus is a new man with front shoes and a saddle!
His restart with Nick Donohue is underway and going well. More soon.
SAFE volunteer Phoebe T has been working with Cyrus on groundwork and saddling. Here’s her report about the November Joel Conner Clinic:
First off it was a privilege to work with Cyrus for 3 days in a row. He went from being constantly distracted on day 1, to being able to stay with me for much longer periods of time. Being able to change up what we were doing by day 2 kept his attention, and on day 3 he was getting much better at not bottling his feelings, but learning to move thru them and finding release. Joel was great at showing me how to get his front unstuck. Cyrus was nothing but yawns toward the end of each session of the clinic.
Cyrus has shown some trouble while being saddled, which leads us to believe that he probably was ridden in the past, but it clearly wasn’t a great experience for him. This makes restarting him more of a challenge because there are past issues that will need to be worked through. At the moment, we are giving him a 50/50 chance of becoming a riding horse. We are currently considering professional training for this horse. A home in which he could just be a companion could end up being the better option for him in the end.
As part of our work to support Animal Control agencies in Washington state, SAFE is often asked to take in horses that are part of active cruelty investigations. Sometimes we can make this information public right away, but in other cases, we are asked to keep these horses confidential until law enforcement gives us the go-ahead.
Cyrus is one such horse. If you’d seen him when he arrived at SAFE, you would not recognize him today because his transformation has been so stunning. He arrived with a BCS score of 1.5 — severely emaciated and badly neglected. Because he was so thin upon arrival, his recovery was a long, slow process. Under direction from our team of veterinarians, Cyrus was fed small meals round the clock until his condition stabilized. This meant that volunteers and staff visited his stall in the wee hours of the night (and all through the day) to give him precisely weighed portions of hay on a strict schedule. These scheduled feedings continued for well over three months, with portions becoming larger and feeding intervals becoming longer as Cyrus put on weight. This careful regime was necessary to prevent him from gastronomical upset as his system adjusted to being fed again. Thanks to a lot of people at SAFE, including Herd Health Manager Melinda Couvillion, Cyrus is back to being the horse he was always meant to be.