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Horse Network: From Starvation to Show Ring


Kim Ellis lost her beloved mare in early 2016 after Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM) cut their partnership short.
So, when she began searching for another horse later that year, it had to be the right one. It had to be one who could fill the void the mare left.

A friend recommended Days End Farm Horse Rescue (DEFHR), a non-​profit organization in Woodbine, Maryland. As Kim scrolled through the farm’s online listings, she was immediately drawn to a 14.3‑hand pinto mare named Mika.

“They had a picture of her schooling on cross country. She was cantering through a water feature and just had this look that was adventurous,” Kim said.

She booked an appointment immediately and drove a few hours north from her home in Manassas, Virginia to meet Mika in person.

Rescued in the nick of time

As Kim and Mika got to know each other, the staff at DEFHR shared the seven-​year-​old Quarter Horse/​Arab mare story. DEFHR had found the seven-​year-​old Quarter Horse/​Arab mare starved and dehydrated in 2013. When they brought her to the center, she could barely stand on her own.

Staff and volunteers spent weeks rehabbing Mika and helping her regain strength with the assistance of their Anderson Sling, a support system designed to aid horses through rehabilitation.

“Horses who are weak, lethargic, sick, or unable to stand and support themselves don’t have a whole lot of fight or flight instinct left in them, so they take to sling therapy quite well,” explains DeEtte Hillman, DEFHR’s Equine Programs Director. “What’s important is the constant supply of feed and water and, of course, continuous monitoring.”

“Mika arrived when it was bitterly cold out,” recalls Leigha Schrader, DEFHR’s Assistant Trainer. “So, one of our volunteers parked her camper near the barn to give staff and volunteers a place to rest between shifts. We monitored her 24 hours a day.”

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