WHEELING - Grazing outside the Oglebay Stables, Moochie the pony doesn't want to lift his head.
Only a few weeks ago, however, he couldn't lift his body off the stables' ground.
"He's much better than he was when he first came here. He was really, really sick," said Melanee Sinclair, Moochie's owner.
Photo by Rebecca Olsavsky
Melanee Sinclair stands with rescued Moochie at the Oglebay Stables.
Despite his desire to graze, she is carefully monitoring his food intake - a diet of too much grass is dangerous for recovery.
When Sinclair purchased the 19-year-old pony this January from the YMCA Camp Tippecanoe in Ohio, Moochie weighed 400 pounds under his normal weight. Veterinary tests at Valley View Animal Hospital in Dover, Ohio, revealed many health concerns. Paired with the pony's cut-off tail and frozen legs, his life was at risk.
Had she not bought Moochie, Sinclair believes the pony would either have frozen to death in the winter ice storm or been sold at a livestock auction, ultimately for slaughter.
"Quite frankly, we didn't think he could survive. You could see every bone on him," Sinclair said, comparing Moochie's emaciated appearance to that of a sheet draped over the stables' horse skeleton used for education.
After three weeks at the stables, home of the Bethany College Equestrian Team, the Welsh Cob became comfortable enough to lay down. Getting back up, however, was another issue. Moochie's weak legs and the stables' lack of heavy equipment left Sinclair seeking the manpower of friends, Bethany students and park employees for lifting assistance.
If laying too long, horses can crush their organs. That, according to Sinclair, is why she and others closely monitored Moochie's position for three weeks. A little over one month ago, he finally stood on his own.
Now that the pony is healthier and 100 pounds heavier, his owner is focusing her efforts on Moochie's continual recovery. Additionally, she has communicated with the camp to discuss ways of improving animal care, while maintaining what she believes is a good opportunity for children to meet horses.
"On one hand, we're making progress. On the other hand, there are still some concerns. It's really a tough situation," Sinclair said, encouraging people to visit the "Moochie the Pony" Facebook page for a "first-person" pony perspective.