Mare with screws drilled through gums rescued

Wide Eyed Wander had a Body Score of 1 1/2 and two screws in her mouth when she was picked up from a California feed lot. After months of care, she is doing much better.

Wide Eyed Wander had a Body Score of 1 1/2 and two screws in her mouth when she was picked up from a California feed lot. After months of care, she is doing much better.

The flat end of a surgical screw looked grotesque jutting from the soft mouth of a starving broodmare.

Driven deep into the fleshy gums, wedged between the lower-front teeth of Wide Eyed Wanderer, the alien protuberance was covered with bubbly saliva—shrouding the mysterious object like the silence that surrounds the life of a racehorse whose life comes to no good end.

There were no answers November 5th when Thoroughbred advocate Jenny Earhart showed up to the California auction where Wanderer waited, emaciated and doomed in the slaughter pipeline.

There was only Earhart’s practiced routine: Flip the lip, identify the Thoroughbred, and then get her the hell out of there.

When Jenny Earhart of California flipped the lip of emaciated broodmare Wide Eyed Wanderer, she found this screw.

When Jenny Earhart of California flipped the lip of emaciated broodmare Wide Eyed Wanderer, she found this screw.

“I’d never seen anything like it,” says Earhart, proprietor of Royal Star Ranch, a California-based facility for rehabilitating and retraining Thoroughbreds. “I was disgusted. It’s the most barbaric thing I’ve ever seen!”

Acting quickly and carefully, Earhart loaded the starving dark bay onto a trailer and drove her straight to her veterinarian, who fostered the physical wreck of an animal for a month.

“She was about a one-and-a-half on the body scale, so my vet, Dr. Bryn Moser, agreed to foster her temporarily because she was in such poor condition,” she says.

Wanderer was gently returned to a better weight, her health restored, and that screw, that hideous instrument used for god-knows-what, was gently loosened by her kind hands. “We worked for several weeks to loosen the screw little by little, to ensure it did not had an adverse effect, and hurt her,” Earhart says, noting that it was surgically removed in December during two-and-a-half hours of surgery.

The screw was so deeply drilled that it took more than two hours of surgery to remove it.

The screw was so deeply drilled that it took more than two hours of surgery to remove it.

Prior to surgery, an X-ray of Wanderer’s head was done revealing a very faint line that could possibly indicate the mare may have sustained a broken jaw at some point in her life. If that was the case, it’s possible the screws were used to help repair the jaw, but Earhart notes that they believe the screws were not professionally inserted.

And her suspicion is that they were more likely used as an attempt to stop the mare from her compulsive wind-sucking habit of cribbing, a habit in horses that can lead to medical side-effects, including colic and ulcers.

Regardless of why the screws were driven into the mare’s mouth, the one in front was successfully removed, while the secondary screw on the side of her mouth is now so permanently overgrown with calcification that removing it would pose too great a risk of injuring the horse.

Though Earhart made a few calls to try to get to the bottom of the mystery, even contacting her original breeder to ascertain that the screws were definitely not installed on their watch, the Thoroughbred advocate decided not to dwell.

What was important was that Wanderer survived her darkest hour, and the hand of fate brought her a pasture pal she would remember by scent and by feel: Her last foal!

On March 11, by a total fluke, Earhart was asked if she was interested in taking a racehorse named Helimark. She knew the name well, having researched Wanderer’s pedigree, and tracked her progeny online.

Wide Eyed Wander, left, meets her son Helimark again.

Wide Eyed Wander, left, meets her son Helimark again.

“When I got the text telling me that Helimark was available, I dropped what I was doing—we were just getting ready to geld a horse, but I dropped everything—I got in my truck, and I floored it to the racetrack” holding Wanderer’s last son. “I showed up and they gave him to me at the track. They asked if I had a halter, and I said yes, and they said to go ahead and take him.”

She adds, “He’s injured. He has a bad suspensory on the left front and his right front ankle is bad, but he’ll be okay.”

Later, when Helimark finally touched noses with his mother Wanderer, there was no mystery, only love.

“They definitely recognized each other,” she says. “I’m going to turn them out together.”

And from a shared paddock, Wanderer and her son will bask in beautiful California sunshine, the dark days of a former life left mercifully behind.

17 responses to “Mare with screws drilled through gums rescued”

  1. Rebecca

    That is truly a tremendous blessing!!!!!!!! What a wonderful story!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Debra B

    She is beautiful. She looks like her G Grand Sire, Hoist The Flag, one of my favorites. How wonderful to know she has been reunited with her son. So many stories end badly, a happy ending is nice for a change.

  3. Delrene in Carlsbad, Ca.

    What a happy ending for this beautiful mare and her son. Thank you Jenny. Kisses and peppermints to Scoffield Barracks another one of your great retired thoroughbreds.

  4. Deidra Darsa

    Lucky horses. It’s a Hollywood movie ending!

  5. Maureta Ott

    This is one of the most heartwarming stories I have ever read! That poor beautiful mare had suffered so much. Whoever inserted the screws in her mouth, is a complete barbarian. I am so happy for Wanderer and her son. I hope they can stay together forever. Thank you Jenny and Dr. Moser for coming to their aid. Thank you, Susan, for sharing this story.

  6. Elvira

    Justice prevailed!! Happy for Wanderer and her son!!!! May you have a happy and safe life with plenty of goodies.

  7. Daryl

    I have my eyes but, I love the ending. What a wonderful thing you did to get both of them.

  8. Shannon

    OMG she looks exactly like my OTTB gelding. Same kind eyes, same coloring. They could be twins. Lucky girl. What a terrific story.

  9. Susan Crane-Sundell

    Talk about the universe providing! What a wonderful reunion and two saved horses that were meant to be reunited.

    As for those screws, whatever monster who did that should spend the rest of their days in misery. How overtly cruel and senseless an act.

    I hope Wander does not suffer with pain or nerve damage due to that unnecessary inhumane procedure. I am grateful to Jenny and her vet Dr. Moser for their rehabilitation efforts. That poor mare could have perished in agony, instead she is living the best life possible with caring people who love her.

  10. TBDancer

    After the “fecal” week I’ve had, capped off by my receiving a “love letter” from the IRS, I was NOT in the mood to read a story about cruelty to animals–particularly my beloved Thoroughbreds. BUT … I took you at your word on the Facebook post that this story had a happy ending and am SO GLAD I forged ahead. Bless Jenny and her veterinarian for their actions, and many wonderful days ahead for Wanderer.

  11. Patty Hamilton

    Thank you for sharing this story. Thank you for saving this defenseless beauty from her death. Live well and live a long, healthy and happy life, beautiful Wanderer. 🙂

  12. ann fox

    This story give me hope & I wish this for all the horses out there that find them selves in the darkness.

  13. Colmel

    What an absolutely beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it and thanks to all who made this beautiful reunion a reality.

  14. cheri vaughan

    Great story!! Keep them coming!!

  15. marti

    May God double His blessings for you in rescuing these two deserving horses. What a horrible thing to have screws inserted like that–the poor mare. Thank you for reuniting the mare and her son and giving them the care and freedom they earned. You are, indeed, an angel.

  16. SusanA

    I hope you realize that was NO fluke! 🙂
    Hope they’ll both live very long and happy!

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