Saturday, April 1, 2017

Ike and Luke: An interview with Karen Miscovich

Ike and Luke at home in Florida.

Luke and Ike: An interview with Karen Miscovich
by Gina McKnight
Archived Interview from the March 2017 Issue of Florida Equine Athlete

In January I visited Victoria Goss at Last Chance Corral, Athens, Ohio. Victoria is magical. She rescues horses from deplorable conditions, gives them a loving home with plenty of food and care, then rehomes them.  

Victoria shared with me the incredible story of Luke and Ike, two beautiful white Percherons, rescued carriage horses from Dayton, Ohio, near death, only to be revived and relocated to live with another magical horsewoman Karen Miscovich of Picalata Farms.

Now living in Florida with Karen, Luke and Ike are happy running through Karen’s pasture. I am thrilled to share Karen’s interview…

GM: When was your first encounter with a horse?
KM: My first encounter with a horse...was actually with a pony my dad bought for me and my brother when we were in grade school. His name was CoCo...and he was the meanest little thing you could ever come across. LOL.  Needless to say, it was a short relationship.

GM: When did you first meet Luke and Ike?
KM: Well, I first met Luke and Ike when they stepped off the transport trailer at my farm on January 10th, 2017.  I had been following their story on the
Last Chance Corral Facebook page, never even imagining that I would step up to be their forever Mama. I had only seen pictures of them and never had a face to face meeting with them until they came through my front gates.

GM: Knowing Luke and Ike’s history and the challenges they face as they grow older, what impressed you the most about their situation?
KM: What impressed me the most was their will to survive when all odds were against them. Anyone could have taken them in and tried to save them, but it was within Luke and Ike to want to fight to live. The fact that anyone could do this to an animal is sick. They are innocent, loving creatures who depend on us. Along with that is the fact that they still have the ability to love and trust.

GM: They are beautiful horses. Their comeback is really impressive. Now that they are retired, what is their daily routine?
KM: Oh gosh, their routine? Eat, eat, and eat some more… LOL. They love to eat! We have a 120-acre horse facility and I have given Luke and Ike their own pasture, filled with jolly ball toys, mineral blocks and food.  They are obviously big boys, but still have some weight to gain and some muscle to build due to their abuse. Their daily meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) each currently consists of 8 quarts of alfalfa pellets, 8 quarts of Triple Crown Senior feed, 1 quart of balancer pellet, 1 cup of GastroGuard and Kombat Boot hoof supplement. Additionally, they eat about 1/2 bag of alfalfa cubes each day.  Because of their size, and the amount of feed they receive, I feed them in muck buckets. This amount of feed, and their heads, would never fit in a standard horse feeder bucket. Also, all of their food has to be made into "soup," which means everything has to be seriously watered down. This is due to the condition of their teeth, which is awful. We have an excellent equine dentist and she feels these two boys never had their teeth floated in their lives before they arrived here. Their canines were so long, pointed and curved, they were actually cutting into their tongues. Thank goodness that was addressed, but they will live on soupy feed the rest of their lives due to the condition. They could easily choke otherwise as they can't chew very well.

They exercise daily. We walk them around the farm (or they walk us) and they love running around their pasture and kicking up their heels, and occasionally playing with their toys.

GM: How are Luke and Ike today? I know Ike has cancer of the penis, a terrible disease…
KM: Luke and Ike are definitely gaining more weight, thank goodness, they are filling out nicely and seem to be very content.  They love staring at the mares in the pasture across from them. They seem to be very happy. Luke is a lover…he likes to hang his head over my shoulder and have his head scratched. Ike is a little more hesitant, but has still warmed up to me and loves for me to comb his mane and brush him.

Ike did have penile and sheath cancer. There was no chance for remission and it was spreading.  It was more severe than first thought, but the vets believed that he stood a chance of a full recovery with surgery. It scared me to death...putting him through this, but otherwise, they gave him 6 months to live. Prayers said....the surgeon really went above and beyond for both Ike and Luke.  These two boys are totally inseparable and I was granted permission to take Luke to the hospital with Ike where they stayed in side by side stalls for 4 days while Ike was there.

GM: How did Ike handle the surgery?
KM: You should have seen people's faces at the Ocala Equine Medical Center when these two strutted in to the surgery barn together...these gentle giants were so impressive walking in there...literally everyone stopped and watched them. They dwarfed everyone! They settled in nicely. It was very hard to leave them.

Ike had his surgery on a Thursday. There was more cancer then they thought and they had to remove more than anticipated so they had to completely put him under anesthesia, which they were trying to avoid because anesthesia is really hard on large horses.  He did well in surgery and the surgeons are optimistic. He will have to have 2 rounds of chemotherapy over the next month.

When the boys were scheduled to come home, Ike was having some breathing/respiratory issues due to the anesthesia and they were afraid he might begin to develop pneumonia. The doctor preferred he stay at least one more day for observation and they wanted to monitor his heart and lungs and do an ultrasound. Additionally, he had no appetite. Now, all seems to be going well. His breathing leveled out and his appetite has returned.   

GM: Do you have advice for those who would like to adopt a rescued horse?
KM: Yes. I urge everyone to rescue/adopt when looking for a horse, and once you do...make sure you keep your commitment to them for giving them a forever home. They are not disposable. They can't help what an irresponsible human did to them. Always have patience and compassion...and a lot of love. They deserve it and they will love you back. Did I mention patience, compassion and a lot of love?

GM: What does horsemanship mean to you?
KM: The definition of horsemanship is basically the skill, art or practice of riding horses.
What it means to me is love. Pure love. Love of a beast that is so big he can squash you like a grape...but won't...because he loves you, too.
Connect with Karen…
Facebook: Luke and Ike

Gina McKnight is an author and freelancer from Ohio.


Anonymous said...

You are truly an Angel... God Bless you for what you are doing.. lke and Luke are two blessed horses..

Anonymous said...

Wow! That's a lot of horse feed! Is it actually measured out with a scale or just using a scoop? 8 quarts of anything is 17.6 lbs if actually weighed out. I can't imagine that they would be able to eat THAT much feed 3x a day! :o My guys would blow up and float away like a balloon lol

Karen said...

@ Anonymous........To answer your feed question, yes it is a lot of feed. It is measured by quart scoop, not by scale. Hard to imagine for some, I'm sure, but every horse is different and when you have been starved and have a lot of weight to still put back eat....and eat....and eat. I'm certain it will level off and decrease at some point, but for now, THAT is what they eat, along with peanut hay.

Anonymous said...

Great article! I follow Last Chance Corral, and Luke and Ike. It is amazing what these people do,to help the unloved, unwanted horses.

Sheila McKell said...

I follow L&I religiosly and am so touched in the Heart by the steadfast Love and Caring they recieve from KM. A lesson for All Relations.

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