Rescue Horse -- Need Advice - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 10-02-2016, 09:59 AM Thread Starter
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Question Rescue Horse -- Need Advice

My background: I don't have a lot of horse experience. I care for my neighbor's horses from time to time but that only amounts to feeding & watering them twice daily. I live out in the country and will have help from my neighbors once they return (They go up north over the hot summer and takes their horses with them).

The horse: Male foxtrotter (I think). He's over 6 foot tall. He's an older horse but not quite sure how old. We found him abandoned down the road. He was all skin and bones. He's very friendly. He's been worked before. He knows to back up when told and gets on and off a trailer with out issue. He doesn't seem skittish at all. We have chickens, dogs, cats, goats and he doesn't bat an eye when they have a fit on occasion. Loud noises doesn't prompt him to suddenly run off just turn his head in the direction of the noise.

What's been done thus far: A friend of a friend helped me rescue the horse. She said he had worms so I've given him two "doses" of de-worming pellets over three days. I had the horse's hooves trimmed. He has all of the prairie grass he could ever want to eat. I feed him about two cups of horse grain in the morning and evening. Also put down a couple flakes of hay at feeding time. He has a salt lick that he just loves. Plenty of water is available for him too. He was very dehydrated when he first arrived. His dropping where bone dry. Now they are "normal". He seems to have a swollen ankle and knee yet he walks fine. I applied what amounts to icey hot for horses to those two areas. If it seems to get worse I'll call a vet.

My concern: I have an enclosed area for him to graze and feel safe at night. I also have a corral I can lock him in if ever needed. I have a stable area but it's been re-purposed for firewood storage and other things. He doesn't really have an area that would be sheltered from wind, snow, or cold rain. It's not possible for me to clear out my existing stable area. I live in the southern western part of Missouri. Last winter was mild but I've heard this winter could be harsh. Is it an absolute must that he have shelter from the elements? ...or would a water proof turn out blanket be sufficient? We don't get blizzards here. Typical low temps are around 15-25 at night. I've seen it get into single digits but once a few times and that didn't last very long.

Any advice for me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.

-Mike
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post #2 of 21 Old 10-02-2016, 10:56 AM Thread Starter
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I may have just answered my own question. Found this article: Winter Shelter | TheHorse.com
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post #3 of 21 Old 10-02-2016, 01:00 PM
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Shelter from wind us pretty important. Can you build a simple lean to ? And, is he alone? Could you get him a companion like a goat or old pony ?
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post #4 of 21 Old 10-02-2016, 03:41 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
Shelter from wind us pretty important. Can you build a simple lean to ? And, is he alone? Could you get him a companion like a goat or old pony ?
We have goats and poultry. He hangs out way out in the pasture away from my goats. An old pony may be a good idea. I can build a lean to but the materials to do so are costly. And if I get a companion I'll need something large enough for both. I feel like I need a gofundme page...lol
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post #5 of 21 Old 10-03-2016, 02:33 AM
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He doesn't neccisarily need a new structure. A wind block is needed but it can just be walls of an existing structure, a dip in the paddock, a patch of trees. He doesn't need an actual shelter.
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post #6 of 21 Old 10-10-2016, 09:31 AM Thread Starter
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We've decided to keep him. As far as shelter I could probably clear out one side of our stable during the more harsh winter times (Jan - Mar). Thanks everyone for the advice.
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post #7 of 21 Old 10-10-2016, 10:26 AM
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Kudos for rescuing the horse, but there are some issues with your knowledge of horses that need to be addressed.


First, horses should be fed by weight not flakes of hay or cups of feed. Normally horses need 1 1/2% to 2% of their ideal body weight and should have hay or good pasture available 24 hours per day. A horse's stomach produces acid even when no feed is present so there's a great risk of ulcers if left without feed.


Second, horses are a herd animal and need a buddy to help with watching out for predators, playing, protection when sleeping, and just companionship.


Third, horses do need protection from the weather, especially in ice, snow, high winds, extreme cold----that protection can be a good shelter belt, a stall, a 3 sided shed, etc as long as it offers protection and doesn't leak.


Fourth, any rescue horse should be examined by a vet, preferably one who specializes in equines, to assess his overall physical health, run a Fecal Egg Count so you know what type of worms he has and what class of wormer to use (the pellets you gave him for worming were probably useless), update his vaccinations, and treat any injuries. The vet can also advise you about feeding and care.


Fifth, horses need to have their hooves at least trimmed by a knowledgeable farrier usually every 6 to 8 weeks so you need to ask any horse people you know for recommendations.


Good luck and enjoy horse ownership!
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post #8 of 21 Old 10-10-2016, 12:11 PM
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What Prairie said!

A fecal egg count is easy. You collect manure in a container and drop it off to your local large animal vet. It's cheap too. You need to worm for what this horse has - it may not be cheap to buy a proper de-wormer, but paying a little more for one or two treatments beats feeding a wormy horse because his body will not be able to absorb the nutrients.

Have him looked over by a vet and get a farrier in to do his feet. He probably desperately needs it. That doesn't mean you need to put shoes on him. Neither of my horses wears shoes, but they have their feet trimmed once every 4-6 weeks. It only costs me 30$ per horse to do it, so again, not super-expensive. Hooves are important so they do need to be looked after diligently.

I would also provide a shelter. A three-sided shelter is fine, but you have to have something with a roof. Snow is one thing, but freezing rain is the worst. I have seen horses suffer a lot more from a really cold rain than from snow. If he cannot get away from the rain/sun/flies, he will not thrive.

While you have the vet there, ask about what kind of grain you should feed him. There are lots of feeds on the market that contain useless fillers. Better to feed something like beet pulp (which is good for putting weight on a horse) rather than processed feed that is full of junk. Don't get me wrong - some processed feeds are good, but some are not. Ask your vet to recommend something suitable.

I'm glad this horse will no longer suffer and have to fend for itself! It sounds like you're providing him with a lot of the basics. You don't have to do much more to make sure he has the best possible chance to get better soon.
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post #9 of 21 Old 10-10-2016, 03:22 PM
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The advice I was given by my equine vet when I got 2 very thin horses:

Feed them according to the weight they should be, not the weight they are. A vet can tell you a good approximate weight to feed for. I'm not sure that a couple of cups twice a day is enough. Mine still eat about 6 pounds of quality pelleted feed per day. My vet recommended Purina Strategy. I'd ask your vet what and how much he advises and follow that. Also, I was told 24/7 access to good hay was imperative as was access to clean drinking water.

I was fortunate enough to be able to offer mine a barn so I decided not to blanket them. I can't speak to that issue with any authority.

The other important thing you can get from your vet is a proper worming rotation for your area. He should be able to tell you which wormer to give and when. Once I got that from my vet, I went on horse.com and ordered a full year and give the wormers according to my vet's schedule.

Finally, I'm not sure about where you live, but here I am constantly surprised how cheap the vet is relative to what I spend on my dogs. You may find like I did that the initial investment (shelter, hay supply, vetting etc) stings a bit, but in the long run they're not much more expensive to keep than a house pet.

Congrats on rescuing! I think you'll find that rescues are overall a very rewarding experience. Take pictures along the way so you can always go back an see the progress. :)
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post #10 of 21 Old 10-10-2016, 03:37 PM
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I volunteer at a horse farm that specializes in rescuing abused and neglected horses. One of the biggest problems we come across is colic. We slowly increase the amount of grain to allow their bodies time to adjust to it. We also water down all of the grain for two reasons; some horses have lost their teeth and can't chew properly and the grain expands when it absorbs water which can cause stomach problems. By watering down feed it also helps to make sure the horse is getting some water.
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