UPDATE MARCH 16, 2014: The Sanctuary's farrier and equine dentist has estimated Sammy's age as 30+, which coincides with the Renner vet's age of "ancient, 30ish." While original information placed him at 20, with two experts aging him as over 30 we have granted Sammy Sanctuary with GSH and he will live the remainder of his life with us and his 29 year old Saddlebred girlfriend, Queenie.
Sammy came to GSH with an infected cheek and at a Body Condition Score of 1. After being told he was "ancient" and could not recover, we were advised to put him down. We decided to give him a chance, and today Sammy is gaining and happily enjoying retirement. Sammy is extremely well broke and safe for anyone, but at his age and body condition he isn't expected to give anyone rides, except perhaps the occasional child to help with his mental state.
Though Sammy is welcome to live out the remainder of his life with GSH, we are offering him for adoption to the perfect home. The right home for Sammy will respect his age and needs. They will understand that he needs to get the majority of his nutrition through senior feed (he likes Safechoice Senior Feed). He is currently receiving 6 scoops, or about 18 pounds, of senior feed every day while continuing to be on a weight gain diet. We suspect he will be able to maintain his weight on 4 scoops per day, but the right home will feed him based on his body condition and needs. The right home will understand he still likes to chew on hay, but gets no nutrition from it. At GSH, he's given 4-5 flakes of straight alfalfa per day as well, and does quite well with the leaves and shake, but still wastes a lot of the stems. Sammy loves carrots, and will steal the bag and run away with it, so the perfect home will have lots of treats and encourage his playful attitude while supervising and making sure he can still chew the carrots and doesn't choke. He also likes corn a lot, but apples are only ok.
Because Sammy is still working on gaining weight back, we are blanketing him already. The perfect home will be willing to blanket him if needed to maintain his body temperature and help him to continue to gain weight. So far, Sammy has not struggled with staying warm and he is growing a great coat, but we've chosen to help him continue to gain weight by blanketing - though it is removed regularly to help him continue to grow a coat. The perfect home will understand Sammy will likely need blanketing at least this first winter (he is a size 80). Sammy's heavyweight blanket will be sent with him, but we'd appreciate a donation being made to replace the blanket for the next horse at GSH - either an actual blanket or the purchase price of a new home.
The right home will respect that Sammy still enjoys the social aspect of a herd, but will make sure he has quiet time to eat away from other horses to be sure he gets his share. Sammy loves the freedom of going in and out of a shelter on his choice, and spends quite a bit of time standing in the shade and out of the wind, so the right home will have a quiet enclosed place that he can get into when he needs. Finally, Sammy is a loving horse who truly enjoys the company of people ... and still enjoys having a job. The perfect home for him will treat him as a friend and companion, talk to him and give him attention, and hopefully have small children that can occasionally take short rides around the yard on him and give him a purpose. Sammy is extremely well broke and kid-safe, and the right home will give him enough work to make him feel useful but not enough to cause him discomfort.
Finally, the right home for Sammy will understand that their home will be Sammy's final home, and commit to Sammy for life. The only exception is that Sammy can come back to GSH at any time, however, the perfect home will recognize that this boy deserves his stability and retirement and hopefully open their hearts and home to him as a final reward for a life well lived, and be willing to be there for Sammy when his final days are here. With luck and good care, hopefully that won't be soon, but Sammy's advanced age and his body condition when he came to GSH means it could be a short relationship. The perfect home will know that it's not the amount of time that we have with someone that matters, it's the quality of the time we have that matters.