Apache was a shabby gray Arab cross horse who came into our care in November 2018. We estimate his age between 10 and 15 years, and at the time we found him in an automotive repair shop in the industrial district of San Antonio he had been there over a decade, left to suffer a life of solitude and depression.
His living quarters when we found him were abysmal, and seeing him there was heart-wrenching. Apache was surrounded by broken cars and abandoned trailers. We found a line of deadly barbed wire strung across the auto yard cluttered with tangled, dirty white hair. The tale it told was sad.
A dark, broken down shabby little stall lay in the back part of the yard where Apache had been kept.We learned that until 3 years earlier Apache’s life hadn’t been so bleak. His previous ‘owner’ was a young man who’d expressed interest in caring for Apache, and had sporadically tended to his daily needs as he could. As we picked Apache up to bring him to the sanctuary we asked the old auto yard owner what had happened to the young man. “He hung himself,” he told us, “right over there,” pointing to Apache’s stall. “The police found his body two days later.” Apache was the sole witness to this tragedy. Only HE knew the darkness and anguish that his caregiver had felt. Only HE knew what those final moments were like. HE had to live there with his caregiver hanging lifeless in his small stall.
For the next three years Apache lived in the skeletal remains of a haunted memory. His health declined rapidly in that first year. After the second year Animal Services served the owners of the property with two citations for keeping a horse in city limits and negligent care. The fine was paid, but 12 months they were fined again for the same violations. After the third fine they were given a court date to appear in front of a judge. That’s when We Care Wildlife Sanctuary was notified. This was an animal we would dedicate our lives to.
As a sanctuary we weren’t too concerned with Apache being absolutely filthy with tangled hair. Not even that his feet were scaly with evidence of fungal infections. What alarmed us was his declining health. His ribs and hip bones protruded out past the marked limit of emaciation. He limped on his hind left leg, and he couldn’t chew food. Worst of all, he showed no will to live.
We discussed a treatment plan for Apache, which included a daily, specific dietary regimen, immediate veterinary care, and proper and adequate housing with space to roam and run. What he needed most was TLC. Animals that exhibit depression need to be handled in a most gentle and loving manner. We had to make Apache feel wanted, feel loved and eventually, feel needed. Well, after his 30-day quarantine Apache would meet a special animal that would instantly bring a whole new personality out of him.
The winter months loomed over our sanctuary with a slow, steady pace. The days were short but the sense of time seemed slower outside the sanctuary grounds. It was a crisp January morning and Apache just finished getting brushed and eating his breakfast. Armando carried a leash with him and chuckled as he nudged Apache’s head. “Today’s gonna be a great day for you Big Boy.” We walked him over to a pasture on the far corner of the grounds where the morning mist was still hovering over the tall grass. We walked right up to the gate but before we reached the latch, Apache pointed his ears, shook his head and shouted out so loud it scared the horse on the other side of the gate!! Sierra is another horse rescue of ours who was being rehabilitated for social anxiety and who’d been expecting to meet Apache for a whole month. She was equally excited, trying to open the gate herself! We had all anticipated this day for Sierra’s case because she wanted another horse to follow and learn from. Their connection was instant. They had an exciting introductory period and before a week’s time they were running together in the pasture, nudging each other’s heads and taking naps together under the oak trees. When you see them together it’s as if they’d known each other their whole lives.
Apache was now going into his second month of rehabilitation and showing the progress we’d hoped for. His veterinary care was well under way and he was being managed exactly according to our treatment plan. All of his medical issues dissolved before the first few blooms of spring. Since he and Sierra kept well together, their progress into healthy and emotionally stable animals has been enjoyable and truly, truly rewarding.
We are still investing in Apache’s rehabilitation and well being, and invite you to share in this journey by making a donation. Thank you!