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Old 07-02-2011, 11:39 AM  
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Advice on malnourished horses

Hi All,

Me and my family has came across four very malnourished horses down the road from our lake house. You can count the ribs from the road while they are down in the pasture and their hips bones and basically all their bones are protruding from there skin. My dad went and talked to the owners of these horses and they didn't really have much to say for themselves and by the looks of things they are probably doing good to feed themselves. I swear I don't know why people take on animals when they can't even afford themselves !!!! So my dad asked the guy if we could feed the horses when we are over on the weeknds and leave hay for them while we are gone during the week. The owner agreed and so we went and bought some hay and are going to start giving them grain and possibly worm them if we can get that close. I was wanting some help own what to feed how much to feed and how much wormer to give them. I have never dealt with this state of malnourishment before and I need advice because I do not want to over feed and cause them more harm. Thanks so much.
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Old 07-02-2011, 12:18 PM  
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Is there any grass for them to eat at all?

If not, they to get to the condition you describe basically are starving, sad.

OK... you have hearts of gold and them some. To start these animals off though, due to no food or very little only give hay, NO grain. Even small amounts of hay will be an adjustment that their digestive system needs to make. Horses are made to graze, or eat approx. 20 hours a day while meandering... so even to much hay can cause digestive upset at first. DO not feed them a high protein hay, even though tempted, there bodies can not handle a very rich food right now... a nice grass mix or combination hay they will thrive on as they have had nothing in a long time. Animals do not get this way in a short time... it takes months of neglect for an animal to resemble walking carcasses.

As many horses as they have they need that many piles of hay and then a couple more so squabbling still allows the weakest/lowest on the totem pole to get some food.

A flake for each pile a few times a day while you are there would be best to start them off. Once they start eating and get some digestive juices flowing... increase in small amounts... the idea is to have hay in front of them as much as possible. Eventually, this is over a couple of weeks you would like to be able to see them fed 3 -4 flakes(pieces) per horse over at least 3 feedings, preferably 4 feedings. This amount of hay should actually show great improvement on their thin bodies. I would hesitate to add grain at all as if no way to regulate who gets how much... you could get a grain overload on the bully/dominate horse and have a colic these people can't afford, nor can you to be held responsible.
I would also make sure they have available salt blocks, a mineral & a plain white lick. Fresh water is a must and plentiful supply.
Unless you are going to do the actual feedings and supervise I would not give more than the hay and salt at this point. Carefully think about the worming in a few weeks once the horses have had a chance to get some food in their guts and their guts working again.
I would also not "set-up" any account at a feed store for them to use, but you be the one to call or pre-setup a delivery of needed products. This protects you from outrageous bills and also ensures the horses get the feed, it is not sold off to others.
I had a "starvation" case myself. These were the guidelines the vet gave me to follow. For my 1 horse, averaged 10 bales of hay a month or figure 2.5 bales per horse per week. This was based on good approx. 40 -50 lb solid bales.... it may be cheaper to purchase by the ton for hay only if there is a dry place to keep it (at your house) and then distributed accordingly.
Take some pictures to document what you are seeing and the improvement they make. You should see a difference in about 2 weeks or so of starting to feed them. Remember the inside must first be nourished before the outside shows anything at all.
Bless you for caring and making the effort to give these innocent animals a chance. It will at some time be returned to you ten-fold by someone else doing a act of kindness.

ETA: agree with Slim... If you do anything more like worm or feed grain, etc... get it in writing from the owners that you are not held responsible for adverse effects to the horses. Today you must protect yourself from lawsuits... sad when you only want to do good for the animals.

Last edited by horselover4life : 07-02-2011 at 02:06 PM.
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Old 07-02-2011, 12:28 PM  
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Do not start feeding grain just yet. Good quality hay will help. Putting weight on skinny horses has to be a slow process as their insides have to heal before they are better able to handle other feeds. I personnally wouldn't deworm without a vet's examining the horses. These horses do belong to someone else and you don't want it turning into a legal issue. The owner must be kept informed. Anything else and I'd write it up and have him sign it.
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Old 07-02-2011, 04:42 PM  
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Thank you horselover4life for the information, it was very helpful. We bought fescue bails and spread it in several piles along the fence line. There is a little colt that is very very low on the totemn poll and is the sweetest thing so I stayed for awhile to make sure he was able to eat. The other three is very dominant an unfriendly. There is also one gelding that has a big tumor coming out of his neck and is the skinnest, I am afraid there may not be much hope for him. I believe the other three has a fighting chance, especially the young gelding, I have already fell in love with him lol. We was thinking of going and buying a round bail of hay so they would have food during the week because there is no grass just a few sparse weeds.
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Old 07-02-2011, 05:33 PM  
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The people that actually own the horses won't toss hay out even if you supply it?

Round bales are great... but...(you knew that was coming)... if you have 3 who are more food aggressive, the little colt will be kept away and not got any. Unless you can separate or buy 2 round bales... don't be surprised though if you do the round bale option that you go through them real fast. There is always waste, but more than that, these guys are going to gorge themselves for some time... eating almost non-stop because they also don't understand that the food won't run out. Hunger is a terrible thing in an animal.

As for the guy with the tumor appearance... being all the horses are so poor in condition did you consider contacting the authorities and seeing what they can do for them? Laws are made to protect animals from people that just don't know better or care... it can force and enforce they get medical attention.
Now that you started feeding them, the issue of seizure gets taken out of the equation. They now have food! Seems though they lack vet care!

Oh.. the dominant ones who push the little guy away and seem not so nice... it is survival of the fittest in Mother Natures book. They may be very nice animals once they are no longer so hungry and starving... you would be amazed. They probably though will always be somewhat bullies when feeding time comes around. I don't think any animal ever forgets what true hunger and starvation feels like.

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Old 07-02-2011, 06:25 PM  
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I would call the Authorities. If they need medical attention they should reiceve it. The owner should also be held responsble. Are you going to feed the horses all year round? I'm sure as soon as you stop feeding them the owners will starve them all over again.
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Old 07-02-2011, 07:16 PM  
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I would get a few round bales and set them in the paddock so when you are not there they are sure to ahve food. I would get a mineral block and set if out for them and make sure they have access to water. Water is the most important thing.
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Old 07-02-2011, 07:53 PM  
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I live in Georgia too. Contact this group and tell them what is going on. I think they should be able to help. http://www.gerlltd.org/ You can also contact the Georgia Dept. of Agriculture. They have an Equine dept. that seizes animals in this condition. But the link to the GERL I gave you also works with the Dept. of Ag. here in Georgia. Good luck!!
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Old 07-02-2011, 09:31 PM  
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The horses are located in a very tiny town in Alabama, this town has a total of two cops! We contacted animal control and they were no help they told us to contact the authorities and they would come examine the horses and decide what to do from there. If they deemed the horses in poor shape and neglected they would seize them and charge the owners. We have not contacted the authorities yet because the people are clearly not in a good financial shape and with three very young children and could not afford a fine. They should have not got the horses in the first place in their obvious state, but my family couldn't and didn't want to be the blame for that family being put in more financial stress than they are in especially with those young children. That is why we have started feeding the horses and left the authorities out of it for now. I don't know what will happen in the future and I do believe the horses need to be removed from their possesion. Hopefully we can talk with them and have them agree to surrender their horses and place them in more capable homes. For right now we are just doing what we can without causing the horses and the owners more harm. I hope that is understandable.
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Old 07-03-2011, 01:58 AM  
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Skips... you make valid points regarding the fact that this family is in dire need, should not of gotten horses, so your family has stepped in for the time being to help feed the animals.

The only other thought that goes to my mind about people being in dire need... If the family is that bad off with young children to feed and appears that that may also be an issue or keeping a roof over their head and necessities of running water and electric to keep your food from spoiling in summer... If the authorities were notified, came, investigated and saw how hard pressed these people are trying to survive... there are programs out there in every state of this nation to help out in times like this. I bet this has not been a long term thing, but like so many others who have lost their jobs... it is a sad thing to witness what happens.

I have no answers, wish I did. I can see both sides of what is happening and maybe the good to come from alerting the authorities. I also see your concern that they would be fined for neglect...however, when you haven't got it... you haven't got it. ...I don't know.

In the meantime, the fact that the horses are getting food takes some of the worry off of the people I'm sure. People usually don't go out intentionally to get animals to neglect them... a circumstance of our current economic times... lousy as it is. It is indeed sad, very sad.
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Old 07-03-2011, 05:22 AM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SkipsChic View Post
The horses are located in a very tiny town in Alabama, this town has a total of two cops! .
We live in Alabama....the neglected horse I just took in on Thursday came from a situation similar to yours, they had 7 horses and between March and June- 4 died....it's not just starvation, they could have parasites/bacterial issues that need to be treated...I urge you to call all the local horse vets...there are several horse rescue sites out there who will come and see them...I believe the owner of my horse allowed this vet to take them off the property...it will take a year before I can get this horse to where it should be....but so thankful, someone did something to remove them...that is really the first thing you should do, feeding them only prolongs their suffering at the hands of these neglecting them...talk to the owners and get their feel on that, ask them if you can help rehome these horses will they allow it...then get started quickly.

Keep up the good work, you were there to answer a need!
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Old 07-03-2011, 08:22 AM  
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#1 you feed the horses and get them into better shape. The authorities come and see horses that are not that bad off. You just made it harder to get the horses help!
#2 where is this tumor on the one horse? Are you sure it isn't something like strangles. The horse needs to be seen by a vet!
#3 there will be problems with worms and probably tooth issues. Are you going to worm them and get their teeth floated?

Actually back up to number 1. I have dealt with making neglect calls. First one I ever made the people found out I had called (we won't go into how that happened!!) and got a round bail. Authorities couldn't do a **** thing because food was present. The way the laws are written in most places are ridiculous. If the owner had hay (even if it's crap) and the horse is old, with no teeth, the owners are within the law. The laws don't touch on whether the horse in question can EAT the food, it only has to be feed that qualifies as horse feed.

I'll get off of my soapbox now, I just get soooooo frusterated!! You are wonderful people in trying to help animals in need. Unfortunitely, the way life works, you may very well sabotage getting long term help by trying to help.
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Old 07-03-2011, 08:55 AM  
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I saw that you were located in Georgia and just thought the horses were too. Maybe someone on this forum could give some assistance with vet referrals or even new homes. I can understand not stressing the family more than they are but the horses really need to be removed from the situation and given the proper care they deserve. Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 07-03-2011, 10:31 AM  
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Unhappy undernourished horses

Report them!! You are doing a nice humane thing, but remember once you can't feed them, the owners aren't going to either. That is their responsibility and they need to own up and find homes or a haven for these poor horses.
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Old 07-03-2011, 01:18 PM  
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Bless you for helping.

Take pictures with the dates on them. That way you have proof of their poor condition. Animal Control in my area is a laugh and equine rescues are all over worked. It's a sad, sad situation.

Also be sure to disinfect your hands and change clothes/boots before getting near your own horses. Don't want to bring any nasties home.
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Old 07-03-2011, 01:59 PM  
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Alabama does have a horse rescue. www.dthr.org
Monika can tell you what to do and how to handle it. A phone call might be worth your time. Good Luck.
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