Beating Equine Skin Cancer: Lakota’s Story
Okay, so you may have noticed that I’ve fallen behind on my ‘Horse of the Month’ series (although I do love doing it!). I’ve decided to change my tactic a bit. Instead of featuring one horse per month, I will now feature one every few months or so. Therefore I am renaming this series as Highlighted Horses (which you’ll be able to locate on the blog menu).
And guess what? I have a very special horse to share with you in this newly named series. She’s a double registered (Paint/Pinto) 15-year-old mare named Lakota. She has quite a story, and you might want to grab a kleenex or two.
You see, not long ago, Lakota was at an auction barn in Arcadia, Florida, destined for the slaughterhouse. But seventeen-year-old Sammi Colley had just convinced her parents to let her buy her very first horse. And by chance or fate, the paths of these two would soon intersect.
“I looked at multiple nice horses, but just never had that ‘feeling’ when I tried any of them,” said Sammi.
But on December 13, 2014, Sammi and her father drove to the auction barn, and Sammi noticed a skinny paint mare hiding in a corner by herself. When she asked one of the sale workers if she could ride her, the man laughed at her. But Sammi persisted, so he got the mare out and saddled her.
“She was moody, unresponsive, disrespectful, and extremely underweight,” said Sammi. “But I just had a feeling that she was one I needed to take home and give a second chance. So we did.”
Sammi found a local boarding stable and first focused on getting Lakota to gain weight. She also did some research on Lakota’s history, and learned that she had originally come from Michigan before being shipped to a new owner in Florida. The white-faced, blue-eyed mare was then left in a pasture for about nine months and unfortunately, developed skin cancer on her left eye. This is how she had ended up at the auction barn.
A vet advised cryotherapy (freezing treatment) and hoped the cancer would be gone a few months. All appeared to be going well, so Sammi began trying to work with her new horse.
“In the beginning I couldn’t even touch her,” said Sammi. “It took me months to be able to put a halter on her, but eventually she began to trust me. Riding with another issue. She would buck and kick and scream.” Sammi suspected that Lakota had been abused at some point in her life. She didn’t seem to trust humans at all.
The following summer, more problems arose when Lakota began to suffer from bouts of colic. Sammi took her to the vet again, and it was determined that Lakota had sand in her intestines. Sammi changed her diet (including giving her Sand Clear) and began to watch her closely. The next month, she colicked again.
“It’s only been a few weeks, but I can already see a difference,” said Sammi. “She is learning to compensate for the loss, and more importantly it’s obvious she isn’t in pain anymore.”