I am in the process of buying (or, as I call it, the $2500 rescue) a 6 y/o Walker mare. She's about 16.2hh, most gorgeous bay you've ever seen, and she reminds me of a VERY tall teddy bear. Unfortunately, her last two owners have not been kind to her. The man who owned her before the guy I'm buying her from was feeding her one small alfalfa flake and some low grade pellets once a day or every other day, while she was constantly stalled with water that sometimes worked, sometimes not. She was about 150lbs underweight or more, and was never brought out of the stall or touched other than at feedings. Her current owner has used soring, weighted chains, and various other "aids" to get he to pick up her front feet. She is a versatility mare with a gorgeous natural gait that is being forced to work as a performance mare. Her trainer flat out told me that she was being treated this way and that she was the only horse in the barn he "had to do it to" because she wouldn't "relax" enough to perform. As I was preparing to leave the place, they almost put a kerosene mix on her legs right in front of me, and it took all manner of BS and lying about being interested in buying her and leaving it be a few days and blah blah to convince the guy to stop.
She has not been in a pasture since she was two years old, probably since she was weaned if that, and other than in passing hardly has contact with other horses. She has been living in a 10x10 stall for two years, never leaving except to train an hour a day. What amazes me is that she has been through all this, be retains a grace that I have seen in very few horses and amazing disposition. She found me, and now it's my turn to give her a helping hand.
I have dealt with horses that have been neglected before, my other Walker mare was rescued by a friend before she came to live with me, and she was dangerously underweight. My Anglo-Arab gelding was also neglected before he found me. But I haven't dealt with an abuse horse before, or an abuse performance horse. My farrier is coming the day she is being delivered to work on her hooves, and my vet the next day to make sure all is alright.
My questions are these: Is there anything I can do to help her with the transition from pads to flatshod/barefoot again? I know they have been soaking her legs in chemicals, should I leave them alone or try to wash them? What is the best way to help her adjust in general to being in a pasture with other horses? Should I corral her off by herself? Is there anything I can do to help her psychologically or should I let her figure it out?
Please consider going and buying one of these horses. Any other breed would not be gentle enough to put up with this, these horses know exactly what is going on and have no out of this sport. They start calling them old somewhere before 15, that's halfway through a typical horses life. These are sweet, gentle horses that will win your heart over! If you do know a trainer or barn that does this, please report them to the USDA. As soon as this mare is legally mine and I have her safe I am filing a report/complaint.
[EDIT]: This is her picture.