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Old horse finds new home Owner said Coco was neglected at Lyndeborough’s Feel Good Farm

Thursday, January 9, 2014

By KATHY CLEVELAND

Staff Writer

MILFORD – Feel Good Farm is what Laurent and Sharon Boisvert call their place in Lyndeborough, but for the owner of a horse who boarded at Feel Good for five weeks, the name is not fitting.

Gale Bodurtha, of Lyndeborough, said her small bay horse was underfed and had lost significant weight before county sheriff deputies and the town’s animal control officer returned the animal to her Dec. 19.

On Monday, Jan. 6, there was a show-cause hearing scheduled for Milford Circuit Court to determine the horse’s ownership, but an hour before the 2 p.m. hearing, Laurent Boisvert came in and gave up his right to the horse. Bodurtha and about a half dozen supporters gathered in a courthouse conference room and celebrated with tears and hugs.

Bodurtha is moving to Florida this year to live with her daughter and needed to find a new home for the 28-year-old horse she’s owned for 17 years.

After the Humane Society in Stratham told her Coco’s advanced age made him unadoptable, Bodurtha went to the Boisverts’ farm, two miles away, and they agreed, she says, to care for him and said she could visit Feel Good and ride him anytime.

Bodurtha said she gave the Boisverts a 60-foot metal pen and all the equipment they would need for him, as well as a $1,000 donation for the farm.

That was on Nov. 11.

“I made arrangements to go back on Nov. 29 with my daughter,” Bodurtha said. But instead of a happy reunion, Bodurtha said she and her daughter found a water trough with a thick cover of ice no horse could have broken through and no food visible for Coco and the other animals: five horses, one llama and a pony. Coco was caked in his own manure, she said, and one eye was swollen.

So the next day, Bodurtha went back to Feel Good where, she said, the Boisverts told her she could not take Coco home and would not allow her to have a veterinarian check his health, something she said she offered to pay for.

Bodurtha called police and on Dec. 19, officers from the county sheriff’s department took the horse from the property, and the town’s Animal Control Officer Sherri Finch and a volunteer helper, Paul Haupt-Renaud, walked the horse home.

What Bodurtha hadn’t known at the time was that Coco, apparently hungry and homesick, had left the Boisverts’ farm on Nov. 16 and disappeared for five days until the Boisverts found him Nov. 21.

A Dec. 22 bill from Mountain View Veterinary Service of Milford indicates that Coco’s condition on a scale of 1-10 was a 4, and that he was “thin” with “ribs easily visible” and one eye was slightly swollen.

In a court affidavit, Bodurtha’s daughter, Jennifer, said the horse was “thin and haggard looking. His spine and hip bones were more pronounced than I have ever seen. I would estimate Coco had lost 50 pounds.”

In a hand-written statement submitted to the court dated Dec. 19, Laurent Boisvert said Coco had not been exercised properly, and “we are slowly turning this around with a special senior fee (feed) bought at Agway – with oil added 3x a day feed … all the hay he can eat.”

Boisvert also described himself as a 50-year member of the National Ski Patrol who knows how to apply first aid both to animal and horses, who has been “raising horses my whole life on this very farm.”

“The horse is in a better place,” he wrote. “We were the last stop.”

Haupt-Renaud was in court with Bodurtha on Monday, Jan. 6, and he said Coco seemed hungry, thirsty and tired on the two-mile walk on Dec. 19, and “flipped” when he saw his home, “he was so happy.”

Bodurtha is happy to have her horse back. He will go to a new friend: Marlene Paulsen, of Greenfield, a volunteer with Bay State Equine Rescue.

Finch, the animal control officer, was in court Monday and said she is glad the horse is happy where he is. She said she’d been acquainted with Coco before he went to the Boisverts, and he had appeared to be a well-fed and well-cared for.

The Boisverts did not return a call for comment.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 304, or kcleveland@ cabinet.com.

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