February 2017 Issue - page 4

Page 4
February 2017
PENNSYLVANIA EQUESTRIAN
By Marcella Peyre-Ferry
Three white letters of a
freeze brand recently gave one
horse a second chance for a sec-
ond time.
In November, Marina
Dolbeck of Deering, NH was
looking for a new horse when
she encountered a draft horse
on Craigslist. The horse, located
in Vermont, did not look to
be in very good shape, and in
looking closer at his photo, she
noticed a freeze brand. “He
was real skinny and he had the
freeze brand tattoo on his left
shoulder,” Dolbeck said. “Pretty
much what spoke to me was
the freeze brand tattoo on his
shoulder.”
Fortunately for the horse,
Dolbeck is aware that freeze
brands are frequently used by
rescue organizations as a form
of permanent identification for
horses they have taken in and
subsequently adopted out.
Rescued Horses Saved Again Due to Freeze Brands
“Being an avid horse lover,
I know what the freeze brand
means, especially when it’s out
in the open like that,” Dolbeck
said.
It took some work for Dol-
beck to track down the organi-
zation that matched the freeze
brand she could see in the photo.
“I google searched and I started
making phone calls,” She said.
Eventually the search lead
her to Last Chance Ranch in
Quakertown, PA. As soon as she
called them, they asked for all the
information she had and began
their own investigation.
Details of the recovery of
the big draft horse cannot be
disclosed at this time, as not all of
the issues in this case have been
resolved, but Last Chance Ranch
Equine Health Manager and
Fundraising Coordinator Jackie
Burke can state that the horse is
doing well at this point.
This is not the first time
that a freeze brand has led to the
recovery of a rescued horse that
was again in trouble.
Burke recounts the story
of Cricket, an imported Welsh
pony that came to Last Chance
Ranch when she tested positive
for Lyme disease. That and
other issues made her not as
completely sound as her owners
needed her to be, but she was
still very usable. “She’s a really
tremendous little pony that had
a lot of potential for showing,”
she said.
Surrendered to the rescue or-
ganization, Cricket went through
Last Chance Ranch’s evaluation
program, and was in good shape
when she was adopted out.
Last Chance Ranch makes
every effort to ensure that horses
that are adopted go to good
homes. Adoptive owners must
first fill out a questionnaire of
over 50 questions. They must
provide references from their
veterinarian, farrier, horse
dentist and personal references
plus they must show that they
have a safe home for the horse.
A contract between the rescue
and the adopter makes it clear
that Last Chance Ranch retains
ownership of the horses and it
must be returned to them if it
is no longer wanted. An annual
check is made on every horse,
including a veterinary report. As
an extra precaution, since 2005,
each adopted horse receives the
LCR freeze brand, to permanent-
ly identify it.
Cricket had been in her
new home for about a year and
a half, and was between Last
Chance Ranch checkups when
she was sent to auction in 2014.
“Fortunately, many of the people
attending the auction that day
were aware of our freeze brand.
We were able to get in contact
with the person who bought her,”
Burke said.
Cricket came back to Last
Chance Ranch and once her case
was resolved, she was placed for
adoption again, and is now in a
happy home.
“Fortunately, we haven’t had
that situation very often,” Burke
said.
Freeze branding of rescued
horses is fast, virtually painless
and effective. It even works on
grey or white horses, sometimes
creating a hairless marking.
Having a freeze brand
provides a level of protection for
the horses that are adopted out to
new homes.
“It creates a safety net and
it also kind of creates a deter-
rent,” Burke said, noting that the
facility is always available to take
back horses that are no longer
wanted. With a highly visible
marking, people are less likely
to try to sell one of the rescue’s
horses.
Readily identifiable freeze
brands seen on horses at shows
and competitions are evidence of
how much some rescued horses
can do in their second chance at
a working life. Horses from Last
Chance Ranch go on to all types
of lives from pleasure horses to
mounted police units.
(Continued on page 27)
The Last Chance Ranch freeze brand identifies the horses that have
passed through the rescue. Easily identified, it has helped horses that
were sold or sent to auction despite their owners’ contract with LCR re-
turn to the Quakertown, PA rescue for rehoming.
Photo by Suzanne Bush
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