Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation, Inc. ----Discussion Forum

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We received a phone message earlier that we have not been able to return yet, but have also received emails now that our internet is back up regarding 27 horses in Trempealeau County that need immediate help.  I know the word is spreading rapidly regarding these horses, and please feel free to crosspost this and share wherever you can.  We realize that there is no one or any rescue that can take in 27 horses, but hopefully if the word spreads far and wide and a person here and there can help these horses will get the help they need sooner than later. 

Trempealeau County Sheriff's Department Telephone Number:  715-538-4509, or 715-538-4351. 

My Friends in Rescue - An innocent telephone ring this afternoon brought 27 of these horses in to my life.... An elderly couple in Trempeleau County cannot care for their herd any longer. The local officer in charge who is working with the couple has told me that the couple will surrender the horses as long as they are not sent to slaughter. Hay is now being pitched to them from a round bale, although desperately less than they need. There is now water for them and the officer stops each evening to insure both are being carried out. The need is obvious - homes, transport, and funds to support vet assessments. I have attached only 3 of the pictures. Some are much worse. The freeze spots from the winter are visible on their hides. Feet are very long. Heads look oversized for the emaciated bodies. Worms...you can imagine. I don't think there is a stud in the herd. Let's pray for that one! Please cross post however and wherever you feel there may be support. And if you or anyone you know can help in any fashion - please email or call. 715-772-3379.  refugefarms@hotmail.com
Enjoy the journey of each and every day,
Sandra L. Gilbert Executive Director Refuge Farms, Inc.




Mary H.
It's so horrible and yet people are coming forward to help out. Sandy says she has found "forever" homes for four so far today. I hope and pray that the community in Trempealeau County can take them in and properly care for them. Lord knows all the rescues are totally full and yet..... I believe there is a vet going out there today and several may need to be euthanized as they are very weak. Hope and prayers and lots of tears going out for these poor animals. Will people never learn?
Nikki G.

Any update on these horses?I may be able to take one or two of them in if needed....

Nikki, this message was just posted today, Tuesday, June 10th at 12:31 p.m., and the message that 4 of them have been placed was posted at 12:51 p.m (we had no internet until late morning, no email and no phone)....no new updates since then.  We, or someone, will surely post new updates as soon as they are available. 
There are phone numbers and email address listed in the post to contact if you can help...please contact one of those phone numbers or email addresses and they will have the most current updates available. 
Thank you Nikki! 
Oh my gosh!!! How sad is that??! I'm glad the couple ended up surrendering them, however wish they would have realized the severity of the situation a lot sooner.
I am pretty new to the "horse world", I have never heard of "freeze spots"...I think I can figure out how they are caused, but would they improve once the horse was able to regain their health??

Terrie, I am not sure what she meant by "freeze spots" and without laying eyes on the horses in person cannot really guess.  I guess it is possible that they got frostbite over the winter(?)  My best guess would be that they have fungal type infections such as rain rot (rain scald or scald from urine or feces being on their body), etc., going on and loss of hair in spots for various reasons, even lice and/or mites as well.  That is typical when a horse is this malnourished, not kept properly, not dewormed properly and their immune system does not fight off infection, so fungus and parasites can really host on them, as well as I am sure they have not received any dewormers to help that type of thing.  But that is just a guess from past experiences with this type of thing and I have not seen any of these horses in person.  Even healthy horses can wind up getting "rain rot" when there is a lot of rain, so the malnourished ones are very likely to be afflicted. 


Thanks Karen... I did shoot an email w/ the original post including pic to my cousin who works w/ a vet..hoping through her connections she may be able to help out in some way. Crossing my fingers that all the horses regain their health and find loving permanent homes.

Mary H.
Terrie, the freeze spots are from frostbite.  Usually you see it on ears but if the horses had zero body fat and with the horrible winter we had, they can get it on other parts of their body.  I can't imagine how they survived and the wooded area you see in some of the pictures may have helped (assuming they could get in there) with at least a little shelter. 
Sherri N.

Let me know, what, if anything I can do. 


Thanks Terrie, and Mary.  Yea, they sure didn't get that skinny in the matter of a few weeks.  I imagine they will have a host of things going on.  I would also venture to guess there is probably at least one stallion in that crew, as it sounds like there are young ones. 

If the horses are strong enough to travel (and there is a route that isn't washed out) and someone is bringing a trailer in the direction of Wausau/Antigo/Rhinelander, I'd be happy to feed one. I have more than enough grass and I love to give TLC to debilitated horses. I could help with gas $ too.
Poor innocent things!

Thanks!  Brenda, feel free to email at the above email address listed for a contact person. 

Just as an FYI, still wading through it all, and talked to the county a couple hours ago.  Apparently there is a rescue that has offered to take all 27 of them, but no idea where that is going to go yet for sure at this point, so I would not count on that for sure (Wow, can't imagine what kind of time, space and workforce this place must have).  According to the officer, the horses sound very unhandled and not even very catchable.   Just an FYI, they also would not be coming with a current Coggins test apparently, at least the county is not willing to pay for that (good quarantine needed). 
They may need quite a bit more than TLC and food.  Hard to say what is going on with them or their medical conditions until they are evaluated and we hear a report. 
We will update what we know tomorrow as we know more. 


Thanks Karen for the update...

Mary H.
Wow - can't imagine taking in all 27.  Hope those folks know what they are getting into and how to handle it all.  Thanks for the update Karen.  This surely is going to be a mess before it all gets sorted out. 
Latest word I have, the 20-year-old in a pen by himself is a stallion.  The woman on the property believes there are 4-6 more stallions out in the herd.  The comment was made that all of the horses on the property are out of the 20-year-old stud.  These horses are not handled.  Pregnant mares are an obvious possibility.

Right now as it stands, people experienced in handling untouched horses as well as stallions are what is being sought out.  No one wants to see them go from the frying pan to the fire, so some experience in dealing with these things is a must.  I have been in email communication with Sandra G. from Refuge Farms who is the contact person for this, and they are going to waive any adoption contracts on this mission and just get these horses placed.  The only condition that they do not go to slaughter, which has been assured to the owners.  The owners do own these horses and the county is not taking ownership of them.  As my own aside, I would also suggest to anyone getting any of these horses to be sure you get an assignment of ownership in writing from the owners. 
I have also sent an email over to Sandra G. from a friend of ours who may be willing to take 10 of these horses to rehab, train and rehome (very experienced and highly recommended by us, has helped us with a similar case in the past), and I will keep you all updated on that as well. 

There may be a call for help soon for people with stock trailers willing to haul. 

Sandra G. is awaiting a vet in the area to come and sex and age the horses as well as give a price on Coggins, etc. 

Will keep everyone informed as we learn more. 


Sad to think then that the skinny malnourished mares then may be pregnant too...  Man...  Prayers going out to those that are able to help these poor horses.  I wish I had the space, time, money and knowledge to help out.   

Mary H.
Yes, as everyone feared, starving pregnant mares in the mix.  Good Lord it just keeps getting worse and yet here you guys go arranging a place for 10 possibly - awesome!!  Karen, you and Sandy G. are doing a fantastic job of organizing this and what a mess to organize.  The horses, of course, are worth it!   Good work!

Hoy boy, I'm not organizing anything...just getting the help from the great people on this forum and passing on emails from good people and a few phone calls to good people.  It was great talking to you last night Mary!  I know you've talked to as many people as we have on this ordeal.  Sandra G. is heading this up over there and we are all pulling for her and these horses! 

Mary H.
I think you and Scott are doing much more than you know here, Karen.  Nice talking with you also.  We are hoping to make room for five if need be and I have one lady who will take in one for sure.  Looks like there will be lots of gelding surgeries going on!  Yes, poor Sandy is working overtime on this one.  All I can say is that it is overwhelming to say the least!!
We will sure do what we can.  It is going to take a lot of people to get this mess cleaned up, and thank you Mary for going above and beyond on this one!  
Scott is on the phone with Sandy right now.  Overwhelming is right, and not exactly how a lot of counties handle these things. 

Ok, I think we have a handle on what's going on with this situation.

There are 27 horses there, some young, sold old, some studs......very few if any of them have been handled at all and are very wild.

As we speak, Sandy Gilbert from Refuge Farm is setting up this next Tuesday as the day we head over there and evaluate the situation and see what we can do. This plan is contingent upon the owners of the horses letting us in and the County letting us in as well, but so far we have no reason to believe they will deny us access.

This is definately a joint effort, on Tuesday it will be Karen and myself from MHWF, Mary from St. Francis, Sandy Gilbert from Refuge Farm as well as our good friend Lalo and his crew, along with a few helpers from each organization. The plan is to evaluate and take out as many as we can. How well that goes is going to depend on the cooperation of the county as well as the land owners, and of course, the horses themselves. From there we will all have a better understanding of what we have left in front of us and what else might need to be done.

Now we just kick back, prepare and wait until Tuesday.

Scott Bayerl-MHWF

Thank you Char, but I am certainly not in control...just wanted to update everyone as to where we are at. All we have done so far is make some phone calls and bounce some ideas back and forth. If anyone has been doing the real work and has been in charge it would probably be Sandy Gilbert. She deserves your recognition for her work, maybe Lalo as well since he really has stepped up to the plate, coming all the way from Racine with a crew and offering to take as many as 10 of these horses. 

kathy atkins
I have been reading this and am amazed at the mess and the way people are moving to help. Can you give us a better idea of where this is exactly? Just thinking.
Scott Bayerl
I think if we point out exactly where it is we will jeopardize being able to get this done. It is near Arcadia though, which is between LaCrosse and Eau Claire.

If the owners get "jumpy" they can kick us all out of there and we will be unable to help any of them, so for now we are going to approach this very carefully.
Lori W

Good luck to everyone who is helping these horses out.

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