‘Tough little horse’ badly burned

An excellent article about burns was published in THOROUGHBRED TIMES® in the August 17, 1996 issue. It was written by Heather Smith Thomas, a free-lance writer based in Salmon, Idaho, who specializes in veterinary and breeding topics. You can read the article at www.thoroughbredtimes.com.

‘Tough little horse’ badly burned

By Dana Cole, published in the San Pedro Valley News-Sun on Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Oblivious to billowing clouds of smoke from the smoldering Huachuca Mountains, Charlie stands quietly in a corral at Single Star Ranch, dozing in the shade of an adobe barn.

Described as a tough little horse, Charlie was launched into equine stardom after surviving a severe scorching by the Monument Fire. His story has aired on television newscasts all over Arizona, from Cochise to Coconino County.

Charlie was badly burned on June 12 when the Monument Fire blazed through a 380-acre pasture in Hereford where he was grazing with 23 other horses. With the exception of Charlie, all 23 horses were safely moved from the mountain pasture to another grazing area by a group of volunteers.

“Charlie was the only horse in our herd that panicked and ran into the fire instead of away from it,” said Steve Boice, co-founder and vice-president of Horse’n Around, a non-profit equine rescue organization that takes abused and neglected horses, rehabilitates them and attempts to find them good, permanent homes. “His body was literally on fire when he was first spotted by our volunteers. It was a terrible sight.”

With about two-thirds of his body singed, Charlie has burn wounds on his chest, abdomen, underside and rear legs. He lost all whiskers on his muzzle and the scorching heat caused hard-crusted areas around his nose and mouth. His eyelashes are gone, eyelids are swollen and he has lesions on his face. Heat from the fire seared his once-long mane, reducing it to stubble, and his tail didn’t fare much better. The sensitive coronary bands on each of his hooves sustained injury from the heat and are being treated with an antibiotic ointment and wrapped to protect them from becoming infected.

“He really has some serious medical issues going on right now, but this is one stoic horse,” said Boice as he injected Charlie with a dose of antibiotics on Wednesday. “As bad as he looks now, he really has come a long way from when this first happened. He has some challenges, but I think he’s going to pull through this.”

Charlie is under the care of Veterinarian Dusti Prentice of Southern Arizona Equine, who is donating her time and services to treat him.

“Charlie has become somewhat of a mascot for the Horse’n Around Rescue organization and all the folks with displaced horses,” said Prentice, adding, “Fire injury is so much more than just surface wounds.”

While his superficial skin wounds are healing well, Prentice is worried about Charlie’s lungs. “There is the possibility of compromised lung function from smoke inhalation, which is a serious problem,” she said. She also is paying close attention to the heat-injured coronary bands on his hooves, concerned that he could develop laminitis or founder, a painful inflammation of the hoof that can cause chronic lameness. Despite her concerns, as of Thursday, Prentice seemed cautiously optimistic about her patient’s recovery.

“His pain status and attitude have improved over the past few days,” she said. “He is under comprehensive and intensive fluid therapy, monitoring, wound care and an antibiotic and pain management regime. He is a tough horse with a lot of heart and I expect him to make a full recovery, barring any unforeseen complications,” the veterinarian said.

Boice, who has worked on ranches and is an experienced horseman, is treating Charlie’s wounds and administering the medications between veterinary visits. He, too, is cautiously optimistic about the injured horse’s outcome.

“Burn injuries take a long time to heal, but he seems to be doing well,” Boice said. “He still has edema and swelling in different areas of his body where the burn wounds are oozing fluid. He’s recovering, but it’s a slow process.”

While Charlie’s injuries are Boice’s most pressing issue, the Monument Fire caused other problems for Horse’n Around.

Boice talked about the fire-damaged pasture and what its loss means to the organization’s rescue efforts. “Losing 380 acres is a hug hit for us,” he said. “We have 36 horses in our organization and people are always calling us about more horses that need help. The pasture is a big part of our feeding program, so now we’re going to have to supplement these horses with hay, an expense we weren’t counting on.”

Many of the rescued horses are extremely underweight and malnourished by the time they fall under Horse’n Around’s care.

While some have health problems that require special diets and supplemental feeding programs, Boice said allowing the horses to graze is a huge benefit.

The pasture, which is completely blackened by the fire, will not be suitable for horses for several months, possibly longer, Boice said. “As badly as that pasture was torched, it could be well into next summer, maybe longer, before we can start using it again. We won’t be putting horses out there until we’re sure the area has recovered enough from the fire to support grazing.”

In the meantime, Charlie and the rest of the herd will need supplemental hay. While Horse’n Around has fundraisers planned, Boice is turning to the community for monetary donations to help with hay and feed purchases. “We’ve received some wonderful support from the community in the past,” he said. “People who know about our organization have already called with donations and want to help. I believe that as tough as this is for us right now, we’re going to get through it, especially with the outpouring of community support we receive.”

Copyright© 2011 San Pedro Valley News-Sun

Horse burned in Monument Fire euthanized

By Dana Cole, published in the San Pedro Valley News-Sun on Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A horse that had become one of the faces of the Monument Fire is now one of its casualties. After nearly a month-long battle to heal injuries sustained from the devastating fire, on Sunday the horse named Charlie was put to sleep.

Communities across Arizona were first introduced to Charlie after the Monument Fire blazed through a 380-acre pasture where he was grazing with members of his herd on June 12. As one of 36 horses belonging to a rescue organization called Horse’n Around, Charlie’s story was picked up by media all over the state and followed by animal lovers from Cochise to Coconino County.

“He was a real fighter, but all at once his body started shutting down,” said Steve Boice, who has been medicating Charlie and treating his burn injuries this entire time. “It’s very sad for all of us and this was a difficult decision. But when he started having problems, we had to do what was best for Charlie.”

With about two-thirds of his body singed, Charlie sustained burn wounds to his chest abdomen, underside and rear legs. Heat from the fire seared his once-long mane, reducing it to stubble, and his tail didn’t fare much better. The sensitive coronary bands on each of his hooves also were injured from the heat and required wraps when he was first burned.

Charlie has been under the care of Veterinarian Dusti Prentice of Southern Arizona Equine, who volunteered her services to help him. While he seemed to be showing signs of recovery through the treatments, Prentice remained cautiously optimistic about his recovery, hoping for the best but expressing concerns about the widespread injuries.

“We want to thank the whole community for all the wonderful support and positive thoughts for Charlie Horse,” said Boice, who is the co-founder and vice president of Horse’n Around. “There are a lot of really caring, wonderful people out there who have been following Charlie’s story and we want them to know how much we appreciate their kind words of encouragement. Charlie’s memory will live with all of us forever.”

Copyright© 2011 San Pedro Valley News-Sun

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.