Nanci Beyerl pulled back a blue tarp in the barn at the Peaceful Acres Farm on Thursday. Behind the tarp stood a frail-looking mare, called Hope, covered in a blanket.
A small space heater pumped warm air into the stall where Hope, fitted with an itravenous tube, eagerly munched on hay.
“She’s eating just about constantly,” said Beyerl, who’s stayed in the barn since Sunday when she and other volunteers picked up three of the horses rescued from a barn in Palatine Bridge.
Authorities last week charged Deanna J. Larochelle, 67, of Palatine Bridge, with 13 misdemeanor counts of animal neglect. They found 12 horses and one dead foal in unkept stalls in a rented barn. Larochelle is due in Palatine Town Court on Monday.
The Montgomery County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals started finding homes for the horses following the discovery, and the most frail of these animals wound up at Beyerl’s farm.
Beyerl, a social worker, uses rescued horses for an equine-assisted therapy program at the Peaceful Acres Farm in Pattersonville.
She said she had the space, so she decided to pitch in. Now, she and a loose-knit network of volunteers are working to nurse three horses back to health.
Veterinarians still aren’t sure whether Hope will survive. The horse spent an unknown number of frigid days in a barn stall with shattered windows, next to her foal which died at the mother’s feet.
Since Hope arrived, Beyerl said, she has been stranded twice while lying down because she’s not strong enough to stand up without assistance.
Volunteers set up “bumpers” around the inside of the stall because Hope starts thrashing while unsuccessfully trying to stand. That can lead to further injury, Beyerl said.
“It takes six people to get her up. That’s going to go on for days,” Beyerl said.
Veterinarians are giving Hope a nearly 50 percent chance of survival, Beyerl said. The animal has liver and kidney damage from the lack of food and water. Bones are visible because the horse’s body started breaking down to survive, Beyerl said.
In another part of the barn at Peaceful Acres is a horse named Angel, whom Beyerl said was found trapped in darkness and is now unaccustomed to people’s attention.
Covered with burrs matted in the animal’s hair and unsteady on her feet because her hooves weren’t maintained, Angel shies away when Beyerl gets close.
“You can’t even touch her. She’s disassociated and afraid,” Beyerl said.
Beyerl said when she arrived during the horse seizure last week by emergency responders, the only company Angel had were rats living there.
Beyerl hopes one day to have Angel more comfortable around people.
“It needs to be very gradual and slow,” Beyerl said.
Throughout the day, volunteers check on the horses, fill their water troughs and do what they can to make the horses comfortable.
Volunteer Cathy Barrans said Angel will likely have to live with the burrs until she becomes comfortable enough for people to drag combs through her mane and pick them out.
“You want to make it more of a peaceful [process],” Barrans said.
Both Angel and Hope will stay at the Peaceful Acres Farm. The third horse, Spirit Boy, will be put up for adoption when he recovers.