WAIPOULI — Shido the horse has an irritated patch of skin on his forehead because he’s minus consistent shelter at Healing Horses here.
The condition is called “rain rot,” resulting from horses being out too long in wet weather, and Healing Horses’ animals are starting to show signs because Christmas storms destroyed most of the tents and tarps the organization was using for shelter.
It’s not the first time Healing Horses has lost its tent shelters.
“This is the fourth time the wind has taken our tarps away in two years, and it’s a problem,” said founder Karin Stoll. “Right now, we’re up to our ears in mud.”
Currently there are nine horses using the eight stalls on the property — five of them are boarded and four belong to Healing Horses, which is focused on equine therapy and horsemanship camps.
The nonprofit organization leases land from Bette Midler, who requests no permanent structures be built. Since moving to the property in 2012, they’ve “moved through the gambit” of carports and tents available at places like Costco and The Home Depot.
Rain rot, Stoll explains, is a skin disorder that causes hair follicles to clump and then collect bacteria. It’s painful for horses and can spread. Treatment involves antibiotic shampoos and spot treatments.
Healing Horses is also buying probiotics to help the horses recover and stay strong.
“They become quite ill if you’re not on it right away,” Stoll said. “With the weather we’ve had, I’ll bet a lot of horses on the island are dealing with it.”
It takes about 13 tarp and tent combinations to keep the horses, equipment and people covered over at Healing Horses, and “they shred every time the wind goes,” Stoll says.
So, this time they’re upgrading, buying tents that are rated to survive 100 mph winds — carport tents that cost $1,300 each.
“The problem isn’t going to put us out of business, but it’s a pain,” Stoll said. “We’re going to spend the money so we can cover these horses up, not to mention all of us. We’re getting soaked, too.”
Proceeds from the recent Healing Horses winter camp bought one tent, and one of the Healing Horses borders bought another, but the organization still needs 10 carport tents to provide full coverage.
A donor has also stepped up, offering to match any tent donations that come into Healing Horses.
“The first line of defense is to get these horses covered,” Stoll said. “Get them consistent stables, out of the rain, out of the sun, with a roof over their heads.”
Healing Horses has started a gofundme account to raise money for the tents.
Jessica Else, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or firstname.lastname@example.org.