Old, ill horse at center of corral-side protest | TheUnion.com

Old, ill horse at center of corral-side protest

A sickly horse touched off a debate this week over who knows best about his health.

Spring Bo, a 28-year-old horse, was moved to the front-yard pasture at James Martin’s Penn Valley home early this week after the animal took ill with diarrhea.

The horse’s thin look drew attention, and neighbors called Nevada County’s Animal Control and eventually Oroville-based NorCal Equine Rescue.

The attention generated good news for Spring Bo. Veterinarian Dr. Sarah McCarthy accompanied Animal Control officers to Martin’s land Wednesday to see the horse.

Spring Bo was unacceptably thin, McCarthy said, adding many of Martin’s problems in caring for the animal stemmed from his finances: He couldn’t afford the more expensive senior horse feed Spring Bo needed, though Martin was supplying him with what would be adequate feed for a younger animal.

Getting the animal proper medical care has been tough, said Martin, who said Thursday he lives on Social Security payments while caring for his sick wife, who came home from the hospital this week after surgery.

A Grass Valley nonprofit, Sammie’s Friends, has stepped in to help out with feed expenses, and McCarthy said she’s cautiously optimistic the elderly equine will recover.

“He doesn’t have a lot of problems older horses have, like having no teeth,” McCarthy said. “It’s not an out-and-out case of neglect, but (Martin) should have noticed it sooner.”

Calls to representatives at animal control familiar with the situation were not returned Thursday.

Norcal Equine showed up at Martin’s home Thursday with a handful of protesters and a Chico television news crew to complain about the animal’s treatment.

The group’s founder, Tawnee Preisner, said Martin is letting Spring Bo waste away. The horse is simply ill, Martin said, and despite that, still gets around well.

“We want him to surrender the horse,” said Preisner, who added she has traveled as far as Nebraska to participate in wild horse roundups.

She first visited Martin’s home Monday to see Spring Bo.

“It’s impossible for the horse to stay warm right now because it’s got no body fat,” Preisner said.

Martin acknowledged the horse isn’t healthy now and isn’t eating much, but said Spring Bo would come around when the weather turns warmer. After owning horses for close to 50 years, Martin said he knows the animals.

“He is underweight, but he’s sick and he’s pushing 30 years old,” Martin said. “He’s a ranch horse and a range horse, and he’s been running around all winter. I think they’re way out of line. He’s not on his death bed.”

To contact Staff Writer Kyle Magin, e-mail kmagin@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4239.

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