March 22, 2024

‘Buy-A-Bale’ supports MSSPA recovery program for neglected horses

If you've driven on River Road in Windham, you've likely seen the expansive, beautiful horse farm with big white barns and white fences, set right across from Mallison Falls Road and the large Maine Correctional Center. It’s called the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals, or MSSPA, and is a horse shelter, a place where abused and neglected horses begin their long journey to healing and good health.

Cherry, a 21-year-old neglected horse, was taken in by the
Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals last July
and is now thriving at the Windham facility. Here Cherry's
recovery is celebrated with a MSSPA volunteer.
On a warm July afternoon, a horse named Cherry was surrendered to her local Animal Control Officer and brought to the MSSPA. Cherry is typical of the horses that arrive at MSSPA; the initial assessment of her condition indicated that this 21-year-old mare was often the last in line for the scant food that had been available.

She was emaciated, with ribs showing and withers protruding. Her tentative gait conveyed that her feet had not been cared for in quite some time, and she took a few painful steps to the barn where she would begin her new life.

Sweet Cherry was in desperate need of a soft place to land, a place where she could know the love and tenderness of skilled care, and the reassurance of clean water, fresh hay and grain.

It would be easy to understand if Cherry mistrusted humans, or shied at being handled. But the opposite was true, you could see this sweet girl settle into her new home, almost as if she knew she could finally exhale.

Those hard days were behind her and Cherry’s personality emerged as she seemed to know her luck had dramatically changed.

Hay is so fundamental to a horse’s ability to thrive, and bad hay, moldy hay, or no hay at all can cause serious medical and starvation challenges to a horse.

Horses really ‘dig in’ in the fall and their hay consumption increases as they prepare for the cold months ahead. In the winter, it’s hay that serves as a bit of a furnace in a horse’s belly, keeping them warm through the cold months. Little is as fundamental to a horse’s healthy outcome as hay.

Which is why the annual Buy-A-Bale campaign at the MSSPA underpins all of the work that happens at the farm, year-round.

When horses arrive at the Society, they are assessed by a veterinarian. This intake exam provides a baseline evaluation of the horse’s condition, and informs the re-feeding and care plan for that horse.

All horses that come to the MSSPA are provided with all the fresh hay they can eat. Grain and supplements are added when the horse is ready.

Each horse’s re-feeding program is monitored and adjusted as the horse continues on its path to recovery. A gift to MSSPA’s Buy-A-Bale campaign contributes to the most fundamental building block for a horse’s recovery.

And as is so often the case, there is such good news to share about Cherry. She set about getting healthy and strong, and today has gained nearly 100 pounds.

Cherry now enjoys her days in the paddock with her new pal Autumn. Most often you can see them napping in the sun or reaching over the fence to welcome visitors.

While it is heartbreaking to see a horse arrive in terrible condition, the reward and joy of this work is watching each horse blossom with the attention of skilled care, proper nutrition and an endless supply of love.

You can learn more about the MSSPA and its Buy-A-Bale campaign by visiting <

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