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

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Not Available : Under Evaluation

Phearless Phyllis is an off-the-track Thoroughbred mare who turned 5 years old on 4/29/2020. She had been adopted through another rescue, and when her adopter had troubles and needed to place Phyllis, that rescue would not take her back. Phyllis had found herself in a situation where she was very neglected, then got moved to another place who worked hard on getting the weight back on her and now Phyllis came here to MHWF. Phyllis has had training under saddle, started with a Western saddle, and has been on quite a few trail rides. She was also ridden bareback and in a halter a couple of times. Phyllis’ previous owner had owned her since June of 2018, and Phyllis wound up in the wrong spot sometime in 2019. After Phyllis came back from the neglectful situation, besides being emaciated from not getting fed properly, it was noticed that she had trouble backing up and trouble with her legs shaking when trying to do that, which we will be getting evaluated. Phyllis has a very sweet disposition, and we will keep you updated as we learn more about her. 

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Poor girl!  Seeing her symptoms. I couldn't help thinking of Levi.   I hope I'm wrong.

Jan N
Good morning, sweetheart! You've no idea yet about the degree of help and caring you are about to experience. If anyone can "put you right" once your issues are explored and defined, it's MHWF! Welcome girl, welcome.
Such a kind eye.. Sending a small donation for this sweet girl.

Thank you so much for taking her in! Poor girl. I hope someone sends pictures of her condition and let's the "rescue" who wouldn't take her back know what happened to her and how she was neglected
Here's a link to her pedigree--hope it works.


I did a little digging on Phyllis' race history as well.  She had three total races, one at Churchill Downs, one at Arlington and one at Ellis Park.  Only racing three times total in her life, earning $4035 total.  Her claiming race price was $30,000, and I can't tell if that is what she sold for at one of these races, still figuring that part out.  

Phyllis is mellow, mellow, mellow with a capital M and super sweet with a capital S!!!  

Such a beautiful and sweet-eyed girl! So much potential. Time that she gets lots of loving and TLC. Hoping we get to meet her soon. :)
Heike B
Poor baby!  Hope you get her on track to better health soon!!!
I am so happy she found her way to MHWF! Such a beautiful face and a personality to match 💕
oh so hope it's just a lack of nutrition.. vitamin E, Selenium?  Please. 
She looks so sweet.  .. keep still my heart... 
I looked her up (I own three retired OTTBS and am part owner in five that are at the track, so am familiar with the racing stuff).

First, she is a granddaughter of Giant's Causeway, who was an outstanding sire with a stud fee of $80,000.  Two of my boys are sons of GC, and have wonderful temperaments. 

Second, the jockey in two of her races was Calvin Borel, a very well known rider who won the Kentucky Derby aboard Mine That Bird (look that race video up on YouTube, it's awesome).

She was never sold at auction, and while she ran in claiming races, she wasn't claimed. A claiming race is set up to keep things fair and even among horses, so one top flight horse that is a class above doesn't enter and win against horses a class or two below...they don't enter because other trainers can claim that top end horse for a bargain price in comparison to its actual value.
Here's a well-bred thoroughbred who in only two or three years (did she race at two or three?) went from being a valuable property to severe neglect.  How does this kind of thing happen?
Sharon Potter
It happened just the same way any other horse ends up being neglected.  The issue with OTTBs is that once their racing career is finished either because they can't win or are unsound, and they haven't been proven to be good enough to be used for breeding (regardless of pedigree, not every horse is breeding quality, and in fact most aren't) the owners usually want to get them off the payroll.  Because the horse didn't have value for breeding or racing, their value plummets.  Most owners don't have their own farm and are paying for the horse's care.  There are several excellent rehoming places that will rehab the horses to let them down from track life and get them ready for a new career.  That's where I got all three of mine.  But not all programs are reputable, just like not all horse owners take good care of their animals.
Chloe R
A late friend of mine who was an outstanding horse woman and all around person was named Phyllis And I also have a big soft spot for OTTBs... so its safe to say ill be watching this one! Very happy she made it to a good place!
Heike B
Any updates on this girl??

I had typed out a long update on Phyllis a few days ago, but I see that somehow it did not come through.  [confused]

Phyllis is doing very well and is gaining weight like crazy and really starting to look good.  She is feeling great and runs like the wind in the pasture with her buddies.  

Phyllis was seen on 5/21/2020 for a full evaluation.  Phyllis was diagnosed with "shivers".  There are basically two types of shivers.  

The most characteristic signs of Shivers occur when an attempt is made to move the horse backwards. Generally, horses with Shivers lack a normal 2-beat contralateral (right front then left hind, left front then right hind) gait when walking backwards. Mildly affected horses show tenseness or trembling of the hind limbs and sudden jerky extensor movements of the tail that cause it to elevate. There are two primary categories of Shivers signs observed while backing:

  • Hyperflexion: One hindlimb is raised up and away from the body in a spastic state for several seconds to several minutes. The limb trembles or “shivers” in suspension, then the foot is brought rapidly to the ground when the spasms subside. One or both hindlimbs may be affected.
  • Hyperextension: The horse places the hind feet further back than normal when moving backwards with the stifle and hock joints hyperextended. Both forelimbs are also extended when backing begins, resulting in a stretched or “sawhorse” stance. In severe cases one or both hind limbs may be held out behind the animal in rigid spastic extension, resulting in instability and even falling if the horse cannot regain control of one leg to catch itself. The horse may stand on its toes with the heels raised off the ground. Most horses are affected in both hind limbs.
Phyllis has the hyperextension type of shivers.  The type of shivers more commonly seen is the other, the hyperflexion.  Phyllis only has trouble backing up.  With hyperextension, the horse places the hind feet further back than normal when moving backwards.  

There are no answers yet as to how much this is going to effect Phyllis for riding.  It is impossible to predict which horses remain static/the same throughout their life and which horses will progressively worsen and how quickly progression will occur.  Many athletic horses that have shivers can perform at a high level.  Some cannot.  At this point we do not know where Phyllis will fit, but we are going to get Phyllis to her ideal weight and continue with good turnout and no stalling (stalling is not good for horses with shivers), and exercise...exercise is very good as well.  I am also giving Phyllis a vitamin E supplement, which may help.  There is no cure or any specific treatment for shivers, but what I mention above with good diet and exercise and not being stalled or confined does help.  

Phyllis is a super sweet and pretty laid back mare, and we are hoping she can go on to be a trail horse.  We will continue to give updates on Phyllis, and ask that you all give Phyllis your best wishes to Phyllis.  

Here are a few pictures that I thought I had posted previously but that somehow didn't happen, and a few that I quick snapped today.  Also, a bonus shot of Phyllis and Nitro together.  It may not seem like much of a photo, but it is a very big deal of a photo.  [wink]  When Phyllis first got turned out in Nitro's pasture, he did not like the idea of another horse in the pasture and was not good to Phyllis at all.  As a matter of fact, it was so bad that I removed Nitro from the pasture for 2 days...then put him back in and things got much better.  Things have progressed to the point they are actually now friends.  [love]

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She looks so much better already!
Heike B.
She is looking good, I'm glad she has made a friend.  And unfortunate that she has a shivers diagnosis.  Hopefully it will turn out to be manageable.
Jes M
Oh my gosh! Nitro and her are friends!! Yay!
She looks amazing! Thank you for being her soft landing.
Jan N
Tremendous improvement over just 2 weeks. Thank you MHWF.
Phyllis looks fabulous!  Thank you!
She's looking sooooo good!! They're beautiful bobsie twins ❤️

Phyllis continues to do well.  She is so shiny and beautiful!  She did pretty darn good with the farrier this past Saturday.  One of the worries with horses that have Shivers is how they can hold up their back feet.  Phyllis did great with the left hind but a little trouble with the right hind - not terrible, and it was hard to discern whether it was from difficulties or just young'ish horse getting a little impatient, but she did pretty good.  

We're working on building up her muscles and still putting weight on her.  

Here are a couple of updated pics of Phyllis for you.  

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Phyllis also just wanted to pop in on you and say thank-you for helping her. She is enjoying rehab at the Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation, Inc. Just look at those eyes - she is the sweetest and kindest soul you'd ever care to meet. 

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