Rehabilitating the neglected horse.
Battleford sent me a private message asking for constructive advice when taking on a neglected aged horse. My reply was too long for the system - so herewith my reply. Please feel free to chip in with anything I forgot to mention.
Battle, that’s quite a task you have taken on for yourself. Here are a few ideas sent over the Internet but my not having met with the horse. You need to know what you are dealing with. If you can afford a vet, then call one to give the horse a once over - including checking for ulcers and advice about best brand of wormer for local environment.
The feet are very important - so keep the horse off hard or stoney ground until the farrier gives the OK.
Ask him to check for lameness - farriers know as much about legs as they do feet.
Teeth - have an equine dentist check the teeth for wear. Ask for advice on what the horse can eat.
Skeletal - even if the horse is not lame, then ask a horse physio to run their hands down over the spine
Probably you can’t ‘cure’ any ailment but you should know of the horse’s medical problems in order
to assess as and when or if the horse is in pain. As carer that’s your job: to speak for the horse
Ask about local ailments which should be innoculated against.
Don’t allow the horse to over graze. Putting on weight too quickly can induce colic.
Check with local feed merchant for suitable feed supplement to provide balanced diet.
Two small meals a day are better than one big meal.
If you ever need hay - then check for quality as well as price
Don’t confuse body fat with muscle.
Keep a diary.
Measure the horse‘s weight by tape around the barrel.
Take a few photos from all angles to check for progress - especially from the side, the front and the rear.
Watch the horse to ascertain ‘normal’ behaviour
Provide shade against hot sun. If necessary buy coat to protect against UV and flies.
Remove all bots eggs
Provide shelter against wind and rain
Bring into stable against cold and snow.
Check all fencing for loose wires - and remove if possible all barbed wire
U se electric tape energised by a car battery if necessary
Check grass for poisonous weeds eg ragwort & yew ++++++r
Collect dung at least twice a week.
Water Check water and ask yourself whether you would drink a glass of it.
Clean water tank out on a regular basis
No horse should be left alone but take care to introduce your horse to any new companion
If necessary divide up field and allow the horses to meet but insert a barrier - fence , between them until they know each other.
Establish a routine which you can adhere to every day
Groom the horse lightly - every day if possible.
Work Introduce slowly an in-hand work program, horse in training halter..
Simple walk, stop, stand, start, turn right, turn left, back up.
Horse’s head by your head, restrained on a loose lead rope.
Don’t work on the lunge until the horse is working well in hand.
Have lessons on lunging and the purpose thereof.
Buy, beg, borrow, steal a cavesson with rings.
Treats I am a treat fan. Horse feed pellets and pieces of juicy pears, apples and carrots
Keep them in your pocket.. Reward the horse often.
Handling. No whips. No shouting. Whisper. Get close (when you feel safe to do so)
I realize that you may not be able to afford all of what I have suggested. So be humble, plead poverty and beg.
The horse has to come to trust you.
You must be able to ‘speak’ for it.
You must be able to assess and deal with its needs.
Your reward will be a horse, with a shiney coat, rushing to the gate of the field upon your arrival, asking for a treat which the animal knows is in your pocket.
The horse will then bend its head to accept the halter and will walk back to the yard at your shoulder without pulling on the lead rope.
Patience, care, observation and continuity is everything in handling horses. Take your time.
Let us both hope, the horse comes to reward you for your generosity and self sacrifice. Best of luck.
PS Everything I have said applies to a horse which does not shown aggression. An aged aggressive horse
can present you with a need for a risk assessment by an experienced horse handler. So take care in the early days. An aggressive horse may be in pain and finding out why could be very difficult.
Last edited by xxBarry Godden; 06-06-2012 at 08:30 AM.