Windchill the Miracle Colt

Windchill

There’s a new bright star in the heavens, and its name is Windchill.

“On the evening of February 29th, 2008, one of the bravest souls we have ever had the honor of knowing crossed over the rainbow bridge. He passed quietly in his sleep, surrounded by his two sisters, Kisses and Sunday, at the only real home he had ever known.”

“We accepted each day with him as a gift, we watched his progress in awe – as did the entire nation. This little horse became a beacon of hope for so many who had lost their faith in humanity. He taught us that no matter what happens in your life, no matter how unfair, you can still have faith and you can find love to carry you to a better place. He found the good in the world.”

Horse-lovers worldwide have been following the story of Windchill, the nine-month-old Walkaloosa (Tennessee Walker – Appaloosa cross) colt who was near death when he was rescued in early February.

Windchill had been left outside with no shelter for at least four hours on February 9, when whipping winds made it feel like 30 below, and he had been without access to proper food or water. His owner relinquished rights to the 9-month-old colt that nearly froze to death in subzero temperatures to Kathi Davis, one of his rescuers.

Charges have been laid against Pam and Shane Javenkoski, who were boarding the colt at the request of his owner, Theresa Farmer. No charges have been laid yet against Farmer.

When he was rescued and brought to Jeff Tucker’s Raindance Farms in South Range, Wisconsin, Windchill was suffering from dehydration, malnourishment, hypothermia and frostbite.

Windchill

Veterinarians visiting the colt in those first few days were unable to find a pulse in his forelegs, and were pessimistic, giving him a 1 percent chance of survival and suggesting he be put down. Windchill had bucked that death sentence by standing and walking around his stall for hours at a time. He had yet to get up on his own — he had to be hoisted to his feet with the help of a sling and six volunteers — but it’s more progress than anyone could have imagined when he was found.

Credit plenty of help from neighbours and friends — and the animals of Raindance Farms —for Windchill’s caretaking. They were cautiously optimistic that the colt would pull through, thanks to the prayers and good wishes from people across the world who offered advice and sent donations.

Tucker and Kathi Davis, who works at the farm, took time off from their regular jobs to spend time with him. Neighbours brought over horse blankets and alfalfa hay. Volunteers helped with barn duties and raising Windchill every evening. And many folks dropped by to give Windchill their best get-well wishes.

Tucker’s mares took turns keeping maternal watch in the stall next to Windchill. Walker, Tucker’s Australian Sheepdog, gave Windchill’s nose the occasional encouraging lick and Olivia, the barn cat, slept on him each night.

Windchill and WalkerOregon artist Deborah Sprague, painted a portrait of Windchill and Tucker’s dog, Walker, to auction off to pay for his care. Sprague came across Windchill’s tale on an online message board. She often auctions her paintings to benefit pet rescue, and Windchill touched her heart.

The details of the silent auction, which closed on February 29, along with other Windchill art by Deborah are on her website.

When veterinarian Jamie Meagher came to examine Windchill on February 16, the colt had a healthy appetite and had tried to stand up a few times.

Davis said Windchill had gotten used to the process of being hoisted up. When he heard the sling’s chain rattle, she said, he perked up and started pushing with his legs and making “puppy noises” — a definite sign of progress for a colt whose frozen forelegs had prevented him from standing on his own. After lifting Windchill into a standing position, the sling was loosened so that Windchill was supporting his own weight. He could stand for hours, and didn’t want to lie down again.“He took it in stride. He was very calm,” Tucker said. “He perked right up and drank a bucket of water right away.”

Windchill

Still, Windchill had a lot of recovering to do if he was going to make it.

“I haven’t seen one this bad,” said Meagher, who has been a vet for 20 years. “Unfortunately every year we see a few, but this one is bad.”

Meagher estimates he weighed only 400 pounds. A nine-month-old horse should be around 750 pounds.

On the evening of February 29, Windchill lost his battle. As Kathi Davis said, “He was just too broken to recover.” His brave heart, damaged by starvation, could not keep up with his grand spirit, and he crossed the Rainbow Bridge peacefully in his sleep.

The Friends of Barbaro have registered a star in Windchill’s name – appropriately in the Pegasus cluster!

Windchill

“Windchill’s eyes are what capture people’s hearts,” Tucker wrote on the Raindance Farms website. “They shine with that quiet determination. They hold wonder, sadness, intelligence and love. I’m not making that up because I’m one of those insane ‘horse people’ – non-horse people have been out to visit in droves and they see him, they kneel by him and he touches them with his innocence and fierce desire to see all this through. It’s not an in your face sort of thing – it’s more powerful than that. It’s this quiet determination he has to keep breathing. ”

Windchill

How you can help:

Raindance Farms is setting up a foundation for equine care in Windchill’s memory. Donations can be made at the Raindance Farms website.

Join in the vigil for Windchill by lighting a candle.

Deborah has made posters and other items available on her website, with a portion of the proceeds going to the foundation. Details are at her website.

Visit Windchill’s Legacy site and forum. It’s a community for all of us who have been following this story.

Windchill

God speed, little Windchill

23 responses to “Windchill the Miracle Colt

  1. May God bless you for your efforts because the Bible says that not even a sparrow falls without his knowing it.

  2. I have been following this heartwarming story, God Bless you for being so caring. How could his owners be so cruel? I hope they never get him back he deserves better. I cant give much but if you let me know where to send, I will send something to help with his care.
    Thank you

  3. Anyone who is interested in sending a donation can do so by going to the Raindance Farms website. There is a “donations” link on the home page for Windchill.

    http://www.raindancefarmsusa.com/

  4. Windchill passed away February 29 at 9:30 pm – Midnight. He passed in his sleep surrounded by his horse family at Raindance Farms.

    Condolences to all who loved and cared for him. God speed little colt.

  5. Rest in peace sweet little one. Run free in the green pastures with a full belly and know that you ARE LOVED…
    You, one forgotten colt captured the hearts of thousands and YOU will make a difference.
    Thank you Jeff and Kathi for sharing him with the world.
    I will never forget you.
    Deb
    Bend, OR

  6. There is a special place in heaven for you Jeff and all who helped you. God Bless you all for all you did for that little baby.

  7. such a beautiful horse, such a great sadness but you little one have found your place in heaven and always will have a special place in everyones heart!

  8. Why? Why? Why? We are the guardians of life. If you are uncomfortable then your animals are mostly uncomfortable too. BASIC NEEDS OF LIFE: FOOD WATER AND SHELTER. In Canada animals are considered property. My understanding is the law hasn’t changed since the 1890’s. Neglect charges are no way severe enough. That needs to be changed world wide. My Heart Breaks.

  9. Thank you so much for a beautifully compiled and written article on Windchill. While Windchill’s body may have passed away last Friday night, his spirit will live on here at Raindance and with his Foundation. His death will not go unanswered or unchallenged.

    Jeff Tucker
    Windchill’s dad

  10. WindChill bright shine will forever shine down upon all that loved and continues to love him
    sending lots of love and many hugs to Jeff, Kathi and all

    ann

  11. Thank you for writing such a beautiful piece on Windchill. If only he was still with us. Hopefully more people will read this and become aware of the tragedies that come from any type of abuse and neglect!

  12. It is with a heavy heart that I enter this space. I have followed Windchill from the beginning of his story. It is uplifting to know that so many truely care about a little brave colt. What a warm, loving article. Thank you . . .

  13. I have been following this story from day one, he was such an innocent little guy. I have horse and could not imagine leaving her out in those temperatures, we are in Florida and it would be like leaving her out in the middle of a hurricane!!
    This little will have a positive impact on a lot of changes of things to come in the future. Thank you Windchill for your true bravery. We miss you!!!

  14. I hope you people that help feel that you did a great job

  15. It’s been over a year now since Windchill’s passing, but Windchill , you will always be remembered, for your gallant fight to live….. and you did not have to die in vain… Maybe this will stop animal abuse….Raindance Farms , you are all angels for helping , and are a blessing, at least Windchill died being loved, not hungry or cold. Lets hope his legacy lives on and animal abuse is stopped… Diane

  16. it is now 2010 and on this cold spell in ny,feb 2,2010,i feel a nano second of what he must have endured– his deep quiet courage will to live and try again with humans
    .his brilliant eyes and the blessings he received of such pure unconditional love
    he made so many more human
    that windchill
    and his law may it also shine pass forever-into our books to protect others
    as in the sky in many hearts to curb get rid of
    abuse and neglect
    cease cruelty torture onto those so fragile and dependent upon our good graces
    . bless you windchill and your foundation. as always, fan of barbaro- martita-

  17. Feb of 2010……2 years of Windchill’s passing… still miss him.. and hope you all are lighting candles for him in his memory.. Donate what ever you can in him name to help stop animal abuse.We have to be the voices for those that can’t speak.. Love to you Dear Windchill…. xxoo Diane

  18. Dear little Windchill, you were truly a miracle, May God be watching over you now in heaven and may you have Gift, Rain, Dance & Fear.. by your side.. eating plenty of carrots, sugar cookies, hay and in a warm place….. Candles are lit for you … shine bright on this 2nd anniversary of your passing You are truly a beautiful horse, that anyone would have wanted & you’r e missed and will always be remembered.. xxoo

  19. In 6 days we go before the WI Criminal Justice Committee to do what we can to convince them that they have to vote yes on WindChill’s Law. (Assembly Bill 747)

  20. Kathi, good luck to the WCL task force on enacting these changes.

  21. KATHI , GOOD LUCK IN PASSING THIS BILL.. KEEP UP THE FIGHT!! WE STAND BEHIND YOU !!! KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK AND KEEP WINDCHILL’S NAME ALIVE…. GOD BLESS YOU !! DIANE

  22. DID WINDCHIL’S LAW GET PASSED ?

  23. Updates at the Windchill Legacy blog:

    http://www.thewindchilllegacy.org/blog/

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