Rescue Ranch Saves A Suffering Mini Horse Before Discovering Her Strange Intentions

They may have long faces, but miniature horses are little bundles of love. It’s certainly no surprise that people want to squeeze and cuddle these portable cuties. But sadly, miniature horse breeding often results in severe health issues.
So when one rescue farm brought in a particularly pocket-sized steed, they faced a long and uncertain road to her recovery. Quickly, they found out her condition was graver than anticipated. Even in the face of pain and potential death, this mini horse shocked everyone by what she did.
R&R Ranch Chestfield, Missouri, opened its stable doors in 2016 with one purpose in mind: to rescue and rehabilitate mini horses and ponies. While they agree that fluffy pint-sized horses are totally cute, some people mistreat these beautiful creatures.
R and R Ranch / Facebook
Parents and breeders jump on the mini horse bandwagon without understanding how to properly care for the animals. These equines need knowledgeable, prepared owners, ready to tackle their unique medical needs.
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In January of 2019, they came across a Craigslist ad for a mini horse that immediately raised red flags. The post appealed to parents looking to give their kids a memorable Christmas present, but the poster forgot to include some glaring details.
At first glance, they noticed this mini horse was actually smaller than average. Based on the definition, to qualify as a mini horse, the creature must stand at 38 inches or lower. This tiny gal was especially little, so they suspected she had dwarfism.
R and R ranch Minis / Instagram
Dwarfism in mini horses means life-long specialized treatment for a myriad of health problems. The breeder had no idea his mini horse had dwarfism and likely would sell it to another uneducated owner.
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So, they hopped in the car and drove the 6 hours to Iowa on a rescue mission to fetch the foal named Martha. When they arrived, she was in a worse state than they imagined. Quickly, they shelled out the $500 pricetag and headed for the vet.
R and R Ranch Minis / Facebook
On the ride home, they discovered that 10-week-old Martha was teeming with lice. The poor little thing was scared and clearly in tremendous discomfort. She was prescribed antibiotics to treat the parasites.
The Horse
Neglect caused Martha’s front legs to twist at a painful angle. This meant she had to be fitted with specialized acrylic shoes to start correcting the damage of her untreated growth problems.
R and R Ranch Minis / Facebook
Before Martha could join the other minis at the ranch, they had to take steps to transition her from, in their words, “dog-like to horse-like.” She was started on a foal milk diet, something that she should have been drinking from the start.
R and R Ranch Minis / Instagram
If you want to act like a horse, you’ve got to do what the horses do. The next step in Martha’s recovery involved some playdates. That’s right, Martha was set up with a fellow petite pony named Banks. By watching a natural, she picked up tips on how to horse around.
R and R Ranch Minis / Instagram
Still, you can’t deny chemistry. Martha and the rescue’s golden retriever were fast friends. After many reluctant tries, Martha finally clip-clopped around the track only when her canine BFF was racing beside her.
R and R Ranch Minis / Instagram
With the all-clear from the vet, Martha moved into the barn. Her constant lice baths, medication, and worm treatments paid off. On her quest to become one with her horse self, Martha was making incredible progress.
R and R Ranch Minis / Instagram
Martha was winning her race towards a healthy mini horse future, not to mention the hearts of everyone at the rescue. Just when she’d shown so much promise, they received some news that stopped everything in its tracks.
R and R Ranch Minis / Facebook
The results of Martha’s particular kind of dwarfism had come in, and the vet delivered the crushing news. Of all the different forms of dwarfism, skeletal atavism is the most fatal, and tragically, that was Martha’s diagnosis.
Equine Dwarfism
A diagnosis didn’t change one fact: Martha wasn’t your average mini horse. Her feisty spirit and willingness to tackle every challenge played a major part in the drastic improvements she’d made.
R and R Ranch Minis / Facebook
Saddled with the information that Martha’s life could be cut short, a solemnity spread throughout the barn. The rescue’s farrier, an equine hoof and foot specialist, countered the negative prognosis.
R and R Ranch Minis / Facebook
Based on the specialized care Martha received from R&R, her life expectancy was more promising than other cases of skeletal atavism. By continuing her hoof trimmings every two weeks, coupled with top-notch care, the farrier saw no reason for Martha to live anything but a long healthy life.
R and R Ranch and Minis / Facebook
It was almost as if Martha could comprehend her medical team’s hopeful vision for her future. When she was let out of her stable for her regular laps around the barn, she surprised everyone with a delightful new trick.
Despite the lack of music, Martha ushered in a brand new move to her wobbly lap routine: a killer moonwalk! Bolstered by the hysterical laughter from the rescue workers, Martha turned it in reverse and laid down her backward shuffle for her audience.
Needless to say, the rescue had to share Martha’s spunky footwork with the world. They posted her moonwalk video to Instagram and Facebook, and fans were instantly smitten with the mini horse packed with attitude.
R and R Ranch Minis / Facebook
R&R Ranch was pleased with Martha’s growing fanbase because it gave them the opportunity to highlight the real dangers of fad breeding. They welcomed the chance to educate others about the requirements and vet care needed to keep plucky little ponies happy and healthy.
R and R Ranch Minis / Facebook
Every mini horse deserves proper care, regardless of their dancing hooves. One couple took a massive risk when their horse was facing life-threatening injuries, all to save to their one-of-kind little equine. Martha’s not the only mini who’s had to face tough odds…
Skywalker Mini Horses
Shine the mini horse liked to greet his owners every day. When he was missing one morning, however, his owners immediately knew something was wrong.
“[Shine] didn’t meet me at the gate like he always does, and he was standing funny,” his owner, Jacque Corsentino, remembered. “I shined the flashlight on him, and he was covered in blood.”
Upon taking a closer look, Jacque found multiple facial wounds, a busted lip, and a severely bleeding leg. As far as she could tell, poor Shine had been attacked by a dog.
At that point, Shine’s owners weren’t sure he’d survive the ordeal.
Shine was first treated by a local vet, who said he was going to live—but his leg injury would likely affect him for the rest of his life.
Shine’s owners brought him to Dr. Britt Stubblefield, an expert on equine injuries, at Rocky Top Veterinary Service. That’s when they discovered some devastating news.
06-shine-the-mini-horseColorado State University
Shine actually had a fracture in his lower pastern bone and coffin bone, which would affect the function of his hoof and lower leg. He was then referred to a doctor at Colorado State University named Dr. Laurie Goodrich, but unfortunately, she didn’t have good news either.
They would need to amputate Shine’s leg entirely—a death sentence for horses. However, Dr. Goodrich had an idea: though she’d never done it before, Shine was a good candidate for a state-of-the-art prosthetic.
Prosthetics aren’t usually able to bear the weight of a fully grown horse, but for a little guy like Shine, it just might do the trick… and save his life!
“It’s the first one I’ve done, but I’ve always wanted to try,” Dr. Goodrich admitted. “We had no way of preserving that limb. So we had to take it off, and this was the only option to preserve his life.”
First, the doctor contacted OrthoPets to build a custom hoof. Since the company had worked with mini horses before, they were the perfect option for helping Shine.
Using a tread similar to a tire, the prosthetic was going to help Shine get back on his feet in no time… literally.
At last! Four months after first being hospitalized, Shine was home!
“We’ve come a long way since that horrible bloody morning when I found Shine standing in a pool of blood after being attacked,” his family explained in a Facebook post. “It’s been a long journey. Shine never gave up and neither could we.”
“This afternoon [we] will travel to CSU Vet Hospital to bring our baby home,” Shine’s owners continued. “We’ve missed him being on the ranch so very much. It was so worth the wait.”
Even better? Even though Shine was supposed to be a show horse, his calm demeanor and resilience has convinced his owners that he would make a wonderful therapy animal instead.
“He’s so comforting. You know when you have horrible days? Shine is my therapy,” Jacques explained. “I think he would make an amazing therapy horse for wounded warriors or kids with disabilities.”

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