Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: South East Texas
I would be pretty frank about it as well. Your new friends sound a LOT like the farm that I work for as a volunteer back a year or two ago. Not purposely abusive, but definitely lacking in knowledge. If you're never taught, how can you learn?
I had a pretty crazy situation too. As I began learning about proper horse nutrition, health care, and hoof care (still working on that one xD) I became more and more aware of how negligent the farm was being. They fed Sweet Feed and All Stock even to their miniature horses, the hay was bad quality, they used barbed wire or high tensil wire to keep the horses in, and they rode in Mechanical hackamores, Tomb Thumbs, and twisted snaffles. The horse's feet were trainwrecks and they always had flies/were colicing. Most of them were ribby, and some were downright skinny. I was just a lowly volunteer though, and a young one at that. I couldn't just start telling the owners they were doing everything wrong!
So what I did, is I made myself a list of what I thought was most important that needed rectified, and I slowly began to inform them, in a tactful way, of 'new' ways that I had learned to do things, and I told them of all of the wonderful benefits that we would have if we did those too. For birthday or Christmas presents, I bought them horsemanship books/dvds, nutrition books, snaffles, and other such things. At first they only changed the feed and left everything else as it was, but once they realized how much the change of feed benefited not only the horses, but also their pocket books (higher quality feed can be fed in much smaller amounts than sweet feed and keep horses in even better condition) they quickly wanted to start changing other things.
Don't strive for perfection, but don't be afraid to be blunt if you need to be, especially when it comes to them being skinny. Offer helpful advice and benefits of changing, as well as specific brands and costs to them, and they might be more willing to try it. Be tactful ofcourse, and if they just flat our refuse to try, back off. You don't want to push them away. It sounds like in their case it is a case of just not knowing, not purposeful abuse. Be an advocate for their horses! ^_^
Everyone in your life is meant to
be in your journey, but not all of
them are meant to stay till the end.