No more treats could help save a horse’s life

Paula Antunes stands with Black Pearl on her parents farm, February 1, 2021 (Dan Gray/

On a farm just on the edge of town, Old Garden River Road, roams a beautiful horse named Black Pearl.

Since 2013 she has been the grateful recipient of treats, usually provided by passers-by and locals alike. Unfortunately the gratuities must come to an end in the interest of her health.

Black Pearl has developed a significant issue with her insulin, now affecting her hooves and ability to stand.

Owner Paula Antunes posted on Facebook last weekend asking people to please stop feeding her horse. She’s put up a sign and tried other things, but nothing seems to have worked.

“Basically, her body’s producing too much insulin. And the body doesn’t have the mechanism to stop producing it like it does in humans,” said Antunes. “In humans, the pancreas shuts down after a while when there’s an insulin overload, but in horses it doesn’t.”

This means she can’t handle the sugar she is getting through normal food sources, noticeable with the significant damage it is causing to her hooves.

“The hoof capsule disconnected from the connective tissue, and the bone in her foot rotated downwards, so she’s standing as if she was, were a ballerina,” said Antunes. “So the sole and the bottom of her foot becomes really sensitive.”

A local individual has made some orthotics, but with Pearl being 20 years old, the healing process is slow.

Black Pearl has spent years as a riding horse, first with a trail riding company in Blind River and then helping kids at Strathclair, a local riding establishment.

So next time you take the drive out past the little farm on the right, if she is standing there long-faced looking for a treat, please drive on by with a kind gesture instead. You may be helping to save her life.


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