• Kimber Watkins

Prayer Request for Blackhawk

There was a warmth in the air and a gentle breeze as I walked through the pastures in the moonlight. Vegas and Wildfire were the first to greet me. Their hoof beats against the earth as they trotted up to me sent a vibration to my own heartbeat. I stood there in the middle of the pasture lit clearly with bright moonlight and felt peace and calm wash over me. It is quite an incredible feeling being out there in nature in the middle of the night in the midst of the herd. I looked at the near full moon and drank in her vibes. Welcoming, receiving, cleansing. The last month especially has been incredibly busy. Oh how I needed recharged! Wildfire stopped in front of me, head held high and blew out hot breath as a greeting. She is quite an adorable little spunky filly; playful, sweet and feisty! I moved on through the pasture to find Blackhawk so I could give him his nightly medication. Vegas and Wildfire took off to the barn and the rest of the horses were alerted that I was there, one by one they trickled up to me, stopped to say hello then trotted off to the barn.

Blackhawk was recently diagnosed with Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM), a neurological disease caused from a parasite passed in opossum feces. EPM is a serious disease that can have permanent effects; however, if caught early enough treatment can have positive outcomes. Treatment is lengthy and expensive and will require additional monitoring and TLC. EPM is not transmitted from horse to horse. Rather, the protozoa are spread by a definitive host, the opossum, which acquires the organism from cats, raccoons and skunks. Horses can come into contact with the infective sporocysts while grazing or eating contaminated feed or drinking water. Once ingested, the sporocysts migrate from the intestinal tract into the bloodstream and cross the blood/brain barrier. There they begin to attack the horse's central nervous system. The onset of the disease may be slow or sudden. If left undiagnosed and untreated, EPM can cause devastating and lasting neurological damage. We are not certain how long Blackhawk has had it but we are hopeful from his symptoms that with medication he will be able to fully recover.

Blackhaw is a four year old quarter horse gelding that we rescued when he was 18 months old. Lani provided Blackhawk with a purpose and hope; these two have quite an amazing bond! Blackhawk could not be any happier than in her pocket helping with whatever great adventure Lani has in store for them. Blackhaw has such a sweet calm personality, he is eager to please, loves attention, loves kids and loves Lani! I am pretty certain this horse will do just about anything that girl asks him too. Lani and Blackhawk have made quite a team, introducing and providing many first horse encounters to youth, helping with groups, trail rides and classes at HOPE.

We ask that you please keep Blackhawk in your prayers and join us as we believe he will recover fully. This amazing gelding’s story is just beginning to unfold and there are so many more hoofprints he has yet to leave! If you would like to donate to help with his treatment or towards the care of the rest of the herd you can do so online at https://www.findinghoperiding.org/sponsor-opportunities. Your donation no matter how much… $5, $50 or $500 will help offset the cost of treatment for Blackhawk and care for the HOPE herd throughout winter.

You can find out more about EPM at https://aaep.org/horsehealth/epm-understanding-debilitating-disease

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