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Horses May Have Been Poisoned

On Oct.12, six horses and one burro were found dead in a pasture in the area of north Calhan Highway and Judge Orr Road.The media first reported that the animals had been shot. However, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department is calling the deaths “suspicious” after initial necropsies and x-rays found no evidence of bullets. The sheriff’s office also says other residents in the Calhan area have reported “sudden and suspicious deaths of healthy horses” in the past three to four weeks.Although the Calhan horses apparently did not die from a bullet wound, Patricia Merkle of Ellicott had earlier reported that her Arabian mare was shot on Sept. 8. Merkle, who lives near Ellicott Highway and Handle Road, heard shots around 3:30 p.m. When she went out to ride later in the day, she found her horse dead with six bullet wounds in the body. She buried the body before the authorities could confirm the cause of her horse’s death.Call Detective Pat Gattenby at 520-7213 if you have had a horse suddenly die. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can call Crime Stoppers at 634-7867. All area horse owners should be alert to any suspicious activity near pastures where animals graze, and report any suspicious activity to the sheriff’s office.Rescue efforts follow hurricanesThis column did not appear in the October issue of The New Falcon Herald because its writer was buried in e-mails and Web sites related to the horse rescue efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina. I missed the deadline, and apologize for not getting information to my readers on how to help.Currently, it appears that most groups helping people and animals recover from the effects of the hurricane do not need supplies as much as they need monetary donations. If you haven’t donated and would like to help displaced horses, your best bet is to contact Lone Star Equine Rescue/Habitat for Horses, a Texas-based nonprofit (; P.O. Box 213, Hitchcock, TX 77563; 409-935-0277).You also can call Days End Horse Rescue, a Maryland-based horse rescue that is working with the Humane Society of the United States (; 301-854-5037); or contact the Humane Society (; 1-888-259-5431).For more information on how to help, go to This site also contains some amazing stories about the rescue efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi.A local woman, Jackie Crippen of Ramah, has taken in two horses owned by a Louisiana family who relocated to the Pikes Peak region. She is expecting to take in five more horses from the hurricane-stricken area, and also is fostering two llamas. Front Range Equine Rescue has established a fund at Farmer Jim’s Feed Store to pay for their hay and feed. Visit the store at 7125 McLaughlin Road or send donations to FRER, P.O. Box 38068, Colorado Springs, CO 80937.Security BlanketsFollowing our first snowstorm, many horse owners may be wondering if blanketing their horse is a good idea. While it’s difficult to watch your horse standing out in the snow while you’re keeping warm inside, it’s usually not necessary to blanket your horse. A horse’s winter coat is an effective natural insulator and has excellent water resistance. The coat traps a layer of warm air between its surface and the horse’s skin. Even if you see a layer of snow on your horse’s back, underneath the horse is warm and dry.The worst kind of weather condition for horses is cold, driving rain, which we don’t have too often here in Falcon. It’s best to bring a horse into the barn in such weather, or put on a waterproof blanket after you have dried him as thoroughly as possible. Putting a blanket on a soaking wet horse will only trap the cold and moisture under the blanket.Blanketing during the fall and early spring can be tricky. On days when daytime temperatures are relatively warm, don’t blanket your horse at night if you’re not able to take the blanket off in the morning. As temperatures rise during the day, a horse wearing a blanket can become dangerously overheated.Older horses and those with medical conditions might need the extra protection of a blanket. But once you start blanketing, you need to keep it up, because your horse’s coat will not grow as effectively. And always provide shelter for your horse so he can escape the worst weather.

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