Red came to Happy Trails in 2004 along with Tony, his pulling partner, after retiring from an Amish Farm (our friend Willis Miller in Fredericksburg) where they both plowed fields as a team for their entire lives. They were both 17 years old. It was due to Red and Tony that Happy Trails Amish Horse Retirement Program was created. At that time, Happy Trails volunteers and board members took up a collection to buy these horses who were going to end up at the local Mt. Hope auction, where no-doubt they would have been purchased by meat buyers. We bought them to serve as ambassadors of the sanctuary, and we took them to community events and because of their gentle nature, they taught many people how to work around draft horses and others had the wonderful opportunity to ride them either in the arena or out on trails.
We lost Tony about four years ago to colic. When I moved off the property at Happy Trails, Red moved with us as a foster horse. Red was best friends with my draft horse Shelby, and together Red, Tony and Shelby had spent every hour together since Red and Tony arrived at Happy Trails. The three were the best of friends. We had all decided that Red should never be adopted out, but rather to allow him to live out his life with his best horse friend, Shels.
Red, 28 years old this year (an amazing old age for a draft horse), has continued to be healthy and sound up until recently when he developed a very serious infection in his back left hoof, which affected the coffin bone. He had surgery at the Equine Specialty Hospital in May, but during his stall confinement at home following his surgery, his back right hoof couldn’t bear the additional weight to compensate for his left foot, and complications arose. Red experienced a muscle mass on his left side by his rib cage due to standing uneven, his sheath became swollen, and most importantly, the hoof wall of his back right hoof (his ‘good’ hoof) dropped due to the increased pressure, and his coffin bone has now rotated and sunk to nearly the bottom of the sole of his foot, an extremely painful condition. We discovered this through radiographs at the Equine Specialty Hospital yesterday. He was given massive amounts of pain relief and I brought him home to spend one last night with his horse friends and to be free from stall rest for a day (he hated being confined to his stall). Upon arrival home yesterday, Red immediately headed out to the far back pasture to graze, with Barney and Shelby close behind. This decision was difficult, but is what is best for our friend and icon. We miss you buddy. ~ Annette