Is she too far gone? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 02-17-2020, 10:41 PM Thread Starter
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Is she too far gone?

In December a mare came into my life that was severely neglected, she is not my horse. She's been abandoned by her owner who refuses to come and get her off of the property and the property owner is in Florida now and won't be back for several months. I've been left to take care of her to the best of my ability given the crappy circumstances. This mare is not alone on the property, a mini owned by the property owner was left as well.
Her previous owner boarded her at a place that did not take care of the horses, no grass/hay/grain, gross water, overcrowding, and also rode her while she was in this condition.
Now I am trying my best to nurse her back to a helthy weight and once she is at a good weight attempt to put muscle on her from groundwork.
When I saw this horse my first thought was "even if she was at a healthy weight she could never be ridden again because of her back".
Now after talking to people I have been told once she's a healthy weight and wit some muscle from groundwork she could be ridden lightly with a proper pad.
My question is do you think she could ever be ridden again?
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post #2 of 16 Old 02-17-2020, 10:51 PM
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How old is this mare?

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post #3 of 16 Old 02-17-2020, 11:09 PM
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Awe, poor girl! Normally I've heard the same thing.....that with a swayback pad, swaybacked horses can be ridden. BUT this girl's sway is pretty severe! I personally wouldn't ride her. But I am also pretty heavy, so I always factor that in with the horses I ride. My gut feeling is no........but I really have no experience in this area.
But with the sway and the poor body condition I just want to hug her and feed her and love on her!

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post #4 of 16 Old 02-17-2020, 11:36 PM
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I would so no riding, personally. If she can only be ridden lightly (to be perfectly honest I don't trust people when they say you can ride a horse "lightly", at least if they're sellers or people adopting out, because it really limits what you're able to do with them and it's just sketch to me to go to such lengths to ride a horse when they're obviously not very fit for it) with a bunch of extra stuff to help, it's probably safer not to. But if she's otherwise fit for exercise that isn't putting weight on her you or someone knowledgeable could teach her to drive! Just an idea. It would give her exercise, at least. Otherwise I fear she'll end up being a pasture pet. That being said if she's pretty on in years I don't really see the need to push her to be a riding horse anymore or anything. Just let her live out her "golden years" in comfort.
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post #5 of 16 Old 02-18-2020, 12:01 AM
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Could she? Maybe. Should she? I wouldn't feel comfortable with it. After all, why would someone want to ride her? Why can't her presence just be enjoyed at this point in her physical condition?

In hand or ponied hill walking might be helpful to strengthen her back, even if it never does look anywhere near normal again. She looks like a very sweet mare with some great companionship to offer in her golden years. I would just want to love on her. Maybe use her as a ponied trail riding companion for a horse who gets buddy sour.
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post #6 of 16 Old 02-18-2020, 02:36 AM
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Actually, several years ago I met a woman who had a horse with severe lordosis similar to the one in your picture. It made me feel sorry for the horse, which prompted me to research more about the condition.

It turns out that horses have a different spine anatomy than many other animals, and evidence is that lordosis is usually not painful or debilitating.
Unless there are other factors going on, horses with lordosis often function normally, and some even have careers such as jumping.
The biggest issue is usually saddle fit (blanket fit may be an issue as well). Because of bridging, these horses may need a treeless saddle or other considerations. The woman I met rode her horse in a Bob Marshall treeless, and had no issues - they went on long trail rides and her horse could trot and canter normally.

For this horse I would see how healthy and functional she seems after she is at a good weight. Just from the photo, her hooves don't appear to have obvious deformities, which may mean she moves fairly normally.
Give her all the good quality hay she can eat!!

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post #7 of 16 Old 02-19-2020, 06:19 PM
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Agree with others, including Gotta. Along with obvious neglect & lack of condition, this is a condition called 'lordosis', which is a congenital 'sway back', not just that she got that way due to injury or such. Believe it or not, I hear there are those who breed FOR this abnormality! So, she may well be OK for light riding(by a light rider) if she can recover 'condition' & become fit.

I do absolutely agree with the sentiment "Should she? ... After all, why would someone want to ride her?" to a large degree, and that just because you CAN ride a horse with severe lordosis, and people do, that's not to say it's necessarily a good thing for the horse. Whether or not people do it, I would absolutely not feel comfortable doing anything like jumping on a sway backed horse though, even if it were deemed riding would be OK for her.
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post #8 of 16 Old 02-19-2020, 11:30 PM
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Please keep refeeding syndrome in mind, and design a diet to avoid it. If you can avoid refeeding syndrome you should be fine.

The lordosis isn't as concerning to me as her body condition. Yes she probably can be ridden once she recovers. I'm not certain i would put an adult on her, but if she's exceptionally calm, she will probably be good for small children. Maybe have an adult test ride her a couple times first.

You want to consider whether or not she has arthritis or lameness issues before deciding on riding.

First get her healthy! If you feed her the right diet, she may make a full recovery. My Paso Fino was badly starved and he bounced back quickly.

Diet to prevent refeeding syndrome:

Days 1-3: Feed one pound (approximately 1/6 flake) of high-quality alfalfa every four hours (total of six pounds per day in six feedings). Contact a veterinarian to evaluate the medical status of the horse. Note: A scale is essential for weighing the hay in the initial steps of refeeding.

Days 4-10: Slowly increase the amount of alfalfa and decrease the number of feedings so that by Day 6 you are feeding just over four pounds of hay every eight hours (total of 13 pounds per day in three feedings).

Day 10 and for several months: Feed as much alfalfa as the horse will eat and decrease feeding to twice a day. Provide access to a salt block. Do not feed grain, treats such as apples or carrots, or other supplements until the horse is well along in its recovery. Each feeding of grain, treats or any supplements complicates the return of normal metabolic function and can result in death.
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post #9 of 16 Old 02-20-2020, 03:13 PM
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Yes, hope you've spoken to a vet familiar with bringing horses back from starvation. I just wouldn't be feeding only straight alfalfa/Lucerne. That can be problematic. I would be feeding about half & half grass hay - or chop, if her teeth are also bad.

I also would not, at any time, regardless whether the horse was starved, cut down to only 6-8 hourly meals, let alone only twice daily, unless the horse also had free choice grazing or enough hay to last.

After day 10 or so, I'd also introduce appropriate(grain/sugar free) nutritional supplementation & gut support.

I would not feed grain or other high sugar/starch feed, regardless of starvation, without VERY good reason, under advice from an equine nutritionist - and if so, I'd wait at least a month, until there was evidence of her beginning to do well, and feed only small amounts like half lb max, of ground oats over at least 4 meals daily.
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post #10 of 16 Old 02-20-2020, 05:55 PM
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Do you suppose the sway back is not as severe as it looks and that the loins (back straps) have withered away being cannibalized by her own body just to survive? If so with the right care she might amaze you when she has enough feed and exercise to get a topline again. Once more, how old is she?
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