Personality changes following rescue/rehab? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 09-27-2013, 01:13 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Wisconsin
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Personality changes following rescue/rehab?

I am considering purchasing a 7 yr. old gelding which was rescued 2 years ago. It was found tied to a tree w/ bailing twine w/ no food and a Yearling halter was imbedded in its face (at 5 yrs. old!). The horse had eaten away all the bark on the tree it could reach.

Subsequently, the rescuer has been riding the horse on trails regularly and it sounds as if it is a real sweetheart of a guy.

My question is if anyone has any experience w/ rescues such as this and how their personality evolves after they have recovered.

I am aware that starving horses can seem very docile at first because of the unhealthy condition they are in. Then, as they put on weight and become healthy again, they can have a very different personality, even quite "hot".

Is there any "general" statement that can be made from these sorts of scenario's where it has been 2 years since the rescue? Or is it understandably, a case-by-case thing?

I have had several rescue horses in the past, but never emaciated ones. I am at the point in my life where I don't want to get another project horse, if that is even possible.

Thanks for all your input.
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post #2 of 6 Old 09-27-2013, 10:37 PM
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Georgia USA
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If it has been two years, he should have his past behind him. The horses that change are the ones that are really calm while emaciated and then go psycho once they are in good shape. They never were trained, they just were too weak and sick to do anything bad such as buck or bolt.
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post #3 of 6 Old 09-28-2013, 12:33 AM
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I've taken in several emaciated horses over the years and not a one of them ever turned out to be any different to handle once they got in shape. About the only thing I've noted is that most of them always felt like they could never get enough to eat. Not food aggressive (well it's possible they could have been but I separate all mine at feeding time so it's a non-issue) but more food obsessed, just wanted to eat all the time.

To give you an example of what I mean...We go camping/trail riding. Take one horse that has never known hunger and one who has. The one who has never been deprived of food will spend all night munching on the hay in it's hay bag. Eat a while, nap a while, just watch the goings on around camp a while and then eat a little more, etc... The one who does know what it's like to be hungry isn't going to stop eating until that hay bag is empty and then it's going to try it's best to figure out how to get to that other hay bag that still has some in it.
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post #4 of 6 Old 09-28-2013, 09:19 AM
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I think it is case by case. Kenzie never really did drastically change her personality even after being so emaciated, with the exception of a few weeks of "I'm really not so sure that I like you right now" when we were dealing with the not-fun business of treating wounds. Then again, I never did let her get away with anything and dealt with any and all behavior problems as they came up. So that being said, maybe it depends on who rehabbed them and whether their new owner decided to play it soft with them and let them get away with murder, or if their new owner TRULY rehabbed them, both mentally and physically, by training them at the same time. I've met many rescues who were total snots, not because of what happened to them in the past, but because what happened in the past messed with the HUMANS emotion, and the human babied the horse.

I'd say if he's quiet and social now, and he's in good condition physically, chances are he has that personality naturally and isn't going to suddenly go beserks when you get him home. Just in case though, I'd get a vet to look at him and evaluate him. I know you've had your share of project horses and the last thing you need is another, so I'd really look at him carefully before deciding.

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post #5 of 6 Old 09-28-2013, 09:20 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Wisconsin
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Thanks so much for the comments. Very informative. You're right, Allyson, I don't need another project horse!!! This is the last one. I hope I get it right this time.
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post #6 of 6 Old 09-28-2013, 09:44 PM
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Baytown, TX Close to Houston
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I have a mare that was very emancipated when I got her, she has gain quite a bit, and her personality has changed a lot. When I first got her, she was very lethargic, not really unfriendly but very standoffish. She wanted nothing to do with the other horses. The healthier she gets, the more friendly she's becoming. She hangs out with the other horses all the time. She is also very loving to my 4 grand kids, and automatically drops her head anytime a child approaches her.
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