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Two New Rescues - new to horses - advice/suggestions sought
We know little on horses but have just adopted two rescues in severe need.
"Thor" is a 16.1 Saddlebred/Belgian cross whose 14, has been abused and came to us emaciated. Sweet, gentle giant who we're not only treating for the malnourishment, but at 14 some idiot decided there wasnt much to castration and did a poor home job on the big guy...didn't have a regular disinfectant, so doused him with pine sol, which left chemical burns on the skin. Vet says the damage is only cosmetic, so we're applying cocoa butter twice a day to help minimize scarring.
"Venus" is a 2 yr old mare, growth severely stunted from malnourishment. She came in severly emaciated and suffering from a nasty case of rian rot.
We are currently maintaining the diets the rescues started them on which is 1/2 a large coffee can of Safe Choice feed, 1/4 can sweet feed, 1 scoop weight builder and 2 oz. corn oil X twice a day with free choice hay at all times. Water...they arent overly fond of the heated water trough...have tried adding kool aid but have seen no more appeal from them towards it. Both would seem to prefer trying to find small muddy puddles to drink from. They have a mineral block out and available. We were prepared to blanket them due to their low body weight, but we were advised against it by the shlter operators, as there were concerns it could interfere with their ability to regulate their own heat
We're making sure to spend a lot of time with both each day...frequent brushings as tollerated. For her we're using the anti-fungal spray on her and working on tracking down a good Vitamin A supplement. The 4 acres or so that we have fenced for them...perhaps 25% of it has a good grade to it (20 - 25%) so we're hoping the hillsides will help gently exersize them and help increase muscle.
While this is all very new to us, we would welcome any opinions or suggesstions on additional things we might do for their benefit. We plan on this being their forever home and want to, not only get them back to a good physical health but also hope they will become secure and at ease in their new world.
I think just doing what you're currently doing for them is excellent. Spend as much time as you can with them. Don't lose faith in them even for a second when the going gets rough. At some point they will regain all their sparkles in their eyes and will be eternally greatful that you rescued them.
Blankets would be good for this winter. They need every calorie they can get. Shivering burns a lot of calories.
I think your feeding program is really thought out and they should be gaining weight in no time. But I do second blanketing them.
Have you de-wormed them? I definitely would. Chances are they have worms and the nutrients of the food could be going to the parasite instead of the horses.
Thank you for rescuing them. Sounds like you know more about horses then you give yourself credit for, or you have a great mentor. :)
I also vote to blanket them. even though they have winter fuzzies, as another poster said, shivering burns calories.
I also want to commend you on your excellent first foray into horse ownership! it certainly sounds as though you did your homework, and those two horses are very lucky to have you. Please post pictures as they improve - I love happy endings!
One caution on the worming: You will want to consult with your vet and probably do a fecal egg count before you worm them. Worming is going to be extremely important to their respective recoveries, but you want to be careful that you do not kill off too high a load of parasites all at once, as that can lead to impaction colic or allergic reactions from the antigens released by dying parasites. Your vet should be able to give you a good idea of a worming program for these two based on their needs and existing parasite loads (if s/he has not done so already).
I think for a person new to horses, you are doing splendidly! You really should pat yourself on the back.
Worming/Blanketing/Aggression/ and THANK YOU
On the worming...both horses were vet checked before coming in from the rescue and dewormed. We just got them and our regular vet will be back from FL the first of March. As long as nothing more concerning comes up, as soon as he's home,. both horses get a thourough once over from our regular doc (whose specalty is horses)..will see if his teeth need "floated" etc.
Anyone here have any opinions on using a bit of Diamataceous Earth in their feed? Wouldn't try it without some reason to, but I use it in my goat and chicken barns to keep away any external parasites and have used it on them and us (food grade only) as a mild cleansing agent). Wonder if that might be a good thing for them?
Thank you all for the opinions on blankets. I REALLY felt it was a good idea, as southern OH gets pretty cold in the winter. I'm assuming if I use the heavy winter turn out blankets for them, we can remove them (and get a good washing in) on days when we get some decent sunshine and the temperatures are warmer. The rescue owner advised against blanketing, but I'm also factoring in...she has 25+ horses right now and doubt for a small rescue thats real viable for her so maybe that had an influance on opinion.
Any suggestions on agression issues? Our new boy is very gentle aside from two occassions...when we feed, we have found we must feed them in different areas or he wolfs his down and comes for hers. Enough size different he can just push her out of the way. He also shows that over attention from "mom"..if I take out apple slices...carrots or just come out to pet and brush...I think two hands..one for each..he thinks if I have two hands both should be for him and he will push her out. Will this improve over time or should I just adjust to having to keep them more seperated during such times to insure they both get enough attention?
Ditto on the blanketing, otherwise you're feeding all those calories into thin air with shivering. When a horse is as thin as yours is, he can't regulate his body heat, PERIOD. Think of little old folks who smear on Ben Gay and wear heavy sweaters when it's 85 F outside and complain about how cold they are all the time. Most of them are just skin stretched over their bones, like your horse.
I actually like to have 2 blankets per horse, with a liner and a sheet so you can add and subtract layers as the weather dictates. Since you're where it's snowing, I'd buy each a nice, waterproof heavyweight blanket with a hood or neck rug. If you have 2 blankets per horse, if there's a wet storm and they soak through (most 'waterproof' blankets are good up to about 3 days of wet storm in my experience) you can change to a dry one and not let the horse develop a chill. More toward spring, I'd buy a liner and a waterproof sheet, that way when it's warmer, but still not warm enough, you can put the liner under the sheet and they'll stay dry and warm. For a horse in good weight, wind and cold aren't such a big thing but wet and cold are killers. For an emaciated horse, cold can be bad enough. I'll add some links to my favorite blanket line so you can see what I'm talking about. Just fyi, I've found these blankets to be the most durable and nicest on the market for the money. The only things I've found better are blankets that were $300 when I bought them 15 years ago. Since horses are VERY destructive, I don't buy $300 blankets anymore.
I'm not crazy about the feed regimen. I'm ok with the SafeChoice but I really have no use for sweet feed, it' like feeding a kid a KitKat Bar, IMO! I'd give them more SafeChoice and cut the sweet feed entirely. I would add Empower by Nutrena, it's very high fat and high calorie without being huge on the starch. I'd also add 1 oz fine white salt to their feed, 2X/day and they would get less picky about the water in a hurry. Give them a little time, they may not understand what warmed, clean water is, they just know drinking out of puddles (if they were reeeeeeallly neglected and it sounds like they were, why give them water if you don't feed 'em? That's probably what their old owner thought anyhow).
And a personal rant, which you can feel free to ignore if you like, COFFEE CANS instead of weighing or using quart scoops, in which case I STILL weigh their feed. Coffee cans can leave too much to interpretation. In my grocery store I can think of at least 3 sizes of 'large' coffee cans, which one are you using? The 5 lb one or the 2.5 lb one? and small coffee cans, is it 10 oz, 12 oz, or 14 oz? For an emaciated horse getting fed with the wrong coffee can, can be disastrous. If you read the feeding directions on the bags of feed they either adivise feeding a percentage of weight or a range in pounds, of feed for desired outcome. Coffee cans do not fit in there at all because 5 lbs of Safe Choice is not the same as 5 lbs of sweet feed and fed in the same 5 lb can you will get 3 lbs (just an example) of Safe Choice and 7 lbs of sweet feed due to density and shape of feed. Please buy yourself a hanging scale (like fishermen use) and weigh an empty bucket and then add the amount of feed you should be feeding.
Good luck & God Bless you for taking in these 2 poor babies, they are very lucky to have you!
StormShield® 1680D EURO EXTREME Turnouts in Euro Fit at Schneider Saddlery
This is my favorite blanket & sheet for the money. They have a guarantee and Schnieder's tack stands behind their products 100%. They wash up like a dream and so far, I still have the first one of these I ever bought, probably 5 years ago. Don't go by the warmth guide, they are for horses in good weight. Buy the heavyweight or extra heavyweight blanket and a liner. Later in the season, I'd buy a sheet from the same line.
Occasionally, their manufacturer will mess up something pretty inconsequential and you can save big money. This liner is an example. It got made of a 'noisy' nylon, stiffer and crinklier than the soft, silent one that was supposed to be used. For the money, my horses could learn to live with it!
Adjusta-Fit "Crinkly" V-Free
Way to go! Thank you so much for taking them in!
Your feed schedule sounds great, like Dreamcatcher said, be sure to weigh the feed. I would dump the tank water, and gradually introduce them to it by filling additional buckets 2X a day then slack off when it's dry. They need all the fresh water they can get and you don't want them having to drink from the puddles. I would build them a shelter or lean to. Try and feed the hay in there to keep them out of the rain/snow. A light rain proof sheet would help wonders and won't overheat them if you can't erect a shelter. Like said above they need every calorie they can get!
Hang in there and keep us updated! Welcome to the forum!
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