“Whoa!” is the word that describes the Havasupai mission. It is a stunningly beautiful terrain and I was humbled to be allowed to access the tribe’s native lands during our efforts to help their horses. The goal of the trip was to head down into the canyon and offer our services to the tribal horses. Between taking a helicopter down in the canyon, servicing the teeth and hooves of as many horses as they brought in, and walking a blind horse 8 miles out, our group of helpers was kept quite busy. We were comprised of a team of people that could not have been more perfect for this worthy mission. We had 2 veterinarians and a veterinarian’s assistant, 2 farriers, the Arizona State Director for the Humane Society, a tribal Liaison, 1 volunteer from the Humane Society, a photographer, Equine Voices’ and Healing Hearts’ Ranch Managers, and volunteers. All played a role in helping educate the tribe and help their horses. Finally, the team worked alongside the Director of Animal Control for the Havasupai tribe, and it took the whole team working together to be successful.
We set up different stations at the fire house according to our team’s expertise and the horses’ needs. These stations included a vaccinations and deworming station, the teeth floating station and the farrier’s station. With all the team members working together we were able to service over 70 horses, all in 2 days. We worked with horses that jumped, reared up, kicked, bit, and had the attention span of a 2-year-old kid with no manners. Many of the team members had thought they had seen it all until this particular mission.
Many of the horses had hooves that were 6 to 8 inches long, 4 to 5 inches tall, and had to be cut off using hack saws and powered saws-all’s that we borrowed from the tribe. Many blades broke due to the severity and thickness of the hooves. Many of the teeth were in such bad shape that the horses were struggling to process their food which probably contributed to much of the lack of weight gain. We also treated many wounds on the horses.
As we worked on the horses, the tribal members who were voluntarily bringing their horses to our group for help with their care, thanked us for working with their animals. We not only serviced the horses, but taught many of the tribal members the proper ways to trim hooves and care for their horses’ teeth and diet. Many of the tribal members walked away with the knowledge to properly care for their own horses.
We attempted to rescue and hike out 2 horses that the animal control officer had impounded, but only one horse, who is blind in both eyes (who we named Samson), could be taken out safely. Even with just the one horse that was taken out of the canyon, it took 2 people (the ranch managers from Equine Voices and Healing Hearts horse rescues) to get the blind horse out through the steep canyon. Coordinated at the top of the canyon was a horse trailer waiting and ready to take the blind horse to its temporary safe home to rest until he is transported to safety at Equine Voices Rescue & Sanctuary.
This is only the beginning of an ongoing mission to help educate the Havasupai tribe and to save the lives of their horses. It can only be accomplished and furthered if we have outside support.
Written By Ricky Williams
If you would like to sponsor this brave, blind gelding, or support the Havasupai Effort, please log on to www.equinevoices.org or call the office at 520-398-2814.