Friday, September 17, 2021

Ranch Hand Rescue says farewell to Spirit

Spirit with his rescuer.
Spirit with his rescuer.

Spirit, a horse originally beaten with a baseball bat and had the first ever documented double fusion in his leg in an attempt to repair and straighten it, has been humanely euthanized.

In the last couple of weeks Spirit developed a severe infection around the plate in his knee. It was being treated with antibiotics and regional limb perfusions.

Spirit started having trouble walking about ten days ago. Up until that point, he was doing amazing. His attitude was good, his appetite was excellent and he went into the pasture daily. In addition, he saw clients in the counseling program daily.

Last Monday, his infection had worsened.

“I could tell he was in pain. I immediately rushed him up to OSU and arrived at midnight. OSU started to assess him immediately and got his pain under control. Upon further evaluation in his surgical leg, Sprit had developed severe hyperextension and fibrosis of the coffin joint that could not be manually reduced. This was causing Spirit to bear weight in his heel bulbs rather than on his hoof capsule, which was causing him a significant amount of pain,” said Bob Williams, founder of Ranch Hand Rescue. “In order to try to relieve this, additional surgery to cut the tendons and the joint capsule in the front of his foot would have been required. This type of surgery would have required more pins to be placed in his already demineralized upper leg, which would not likely hold up to the additional stress.

“Considering these problems and other complicating factors, the prognosis was very poor for short and long term comfort.The bottom line was that he most likely would have chronic pain. I had never seen Spirit in this level of pain. After all he had been through, he was always alert and had an amazing will to live. He wanted to live. This time, I saw a sadness in his eyes. I think he knew that there wasn’t any hope. I sat with him and I explained to him that I tried everything to save him. I told him that I loved him and I was sorry for what I was about to do. We spent the last hours crying, eating treats, getting massaged and took some special photos.  I thanked him for all of the people around the world that he has helped,” Williams said.

“I thanked him for all of the clients that he has seen in our counseling program that he has helped. I thanked him for all that he has done for me. I asked him to say Hi to my Dad, family, Gert and all who are in Heaven. I told him I would miss him. God brought him to us and I believe with all my heart that God needed him in heaven. This decision, although difficult, was in Spirit’s best interest. I could never ever let him suffer or be in chronic pain. I asked him if he was ready and he nodded his head as if to say yes and nuzzled in my chest. I wanted the last face he saw to be mine. I held him as he crossed the Rainbow Bridge into Heaven. He is probably helping many children right now.

“Spirit gave all of us “Hope”. People would say to me, ‘If this horse can do it, so can I.’ He touched people around the world. His fan base extended to China, the UK, India, Canada and Australia just to name a few countries,” Williams said.

Spirit will be cremated and his ashes will be buried at Ranch Hand Rescue. A memorial service will be planned at some point in the future.

On January 26, 2012 Ranch Hand Rescue was notified by Meadow Haven Horse Rescue in Seguin, Texas that they had received a court ordered horse seizure from San Antonio (Bexar County) that was neglected and allegedly beaten with a baseball bat. The horse has suffered a broken leg and was in critical condition.

Ranch Hand Rescue was contacted because of the history it made by placing a prosthetic leg on Midnite “The Horse of Hope” in March of 2011.

Ranch Hand Rescue is known for running a critical care unit and has a great deal of expertise with these critical cases and recently announced a procedure with Stem cells and Nano fibers that has never been used in a horse anywhere in the world. They also provide Equine & Animal Assisted Counseling.

Williams agreed to accept the horse and the horse was transported to Ranch Hand Rescue. OSU performed the first ever double fusion on Spirit in February of 2014.

“His will to live is the most amazing thing I have ever seen, he knows he has been saved and I want to do everything possible to save him. That’s what we do here at Ranch Hand Rescue. I believe we are his best and last hope and I decided to accept him from Meadow Haven Horse Rescue,” Williams said.

For more information about Ranch Hand Rescue and its mission, visit

CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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