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Something that drives me nuts about some people is how they'll buy a a farm, a horse, sometimes several horses, and not do ANY research and make no effort to educate themselves about horse ownership. It makes me want to tear my hair out!

I was talking to someone recently who needs help putting weight on their very skinny, kill pen thoroughbred. My conversation went like this:

"what kind of grain do you feed him?"

"I don't know"

"okay, how much grain do you feed him?"

"oh I don't know, a couple of handfuls"

"well because he's so thin, he will probably need to be blanketed for the winter. How heavy is the blanket you currently have?

"I don't know"

"Has this horse had its teeth floated? Vaccines? A vet check?"

"what? You have to do that every year?"

It took me all of 30 seconds to check what this person feeds and the weight of the blanket. The blanket turned out to be a lightweight one with 100g of fill, and they feed the cheapest sweet feed their local feed store has to offer. These were very basic things a horse owner should know! Upon saying they should give this horse a higher quality feed if they wanted to see more weight gain, and they were incensed. They claimed to not be able to afford the extra ten bucks per bag of feed, yet they got this emaciated horse who's riddled with rain rot.

And this is a common occurrence!

I don't want to bash people who are trying, but come on, there's no excuse in this day and age to be so uneducated about an animal you purchased! You have a supercomputer in your back pocket, can't you Google how to put weight on a horse? Or why your horse has crust all over its back that bleeds when you pick at it?

It's not rocket science... It's so easy to educate yourself.
 

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Lack of available information is rarely the reason people remain ignorant these days. You know that saying about leading a horse to water?

There are probably other reasons, possibly legitimate reasons, that she isn't treating her horse right. Lack of money, for example, or pressures on her from some source you don't know about.

Maybe you could ask her if there is anything she needs in order to help her horse.
 

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Getting a horse when you're new to them, it's a steep learning curve. I've been there. You just can't learn everything about everything all at once. At least this horse isn't on a truck to Mexico. She's trying to help him.

You can try to give her advice, but you want to be tactful. And compassionate.
 

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I’m with @Ratlady on this one.

Don’t be bringing home a half starved 1,000 pound animal that you know nothing about without some Experienced backup. A vet might do for starters. If you don’t have money for the basics and your finances were on shaky ground to begin with, don’t “save” a horse because you will end up causing the horse more grief.

I no longer have any sort of patience for this kind of “saving”, or people who buy nice horses and don’t have a clue what to do with them in terms of training — and blame everything on the horse instead of squarely on themselves where it belongs.
@Ratlady, if the person won’t take any of your suggestions, it’s going to be tough but you will probably have to turn your back. Animal Control will likely think feeding a gallon of cheap-butt sweet feed is better than the kill pen, so long as the horse has water and some hay, regardless how crappy it looks and how much lack of energy it has:(:(
 

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@walkinthewalk I understand where you're coming from, but criticizing someone because they feed cheapo swill brand and not frou frou equine brand, and aren't using the kind of blanket you think they should be using -- I mean, this owner IS feeding him and she IS blanketing him. All of us can criticize others because we don't think their choices are adequate. I could criticize someone because they only blanket and don't add a neck covering, or because they only feed frou frou equine feed, and not frou frou equine extra feed, y'know?

It's not surprising to me that someone would be "incensed" if you come at them with an attitude of criticizing their choices. Maybe I'm sensitive because I'm a relatively new horse person, but I never really appreciated being criticized for my choices, especially since, as we all know, most things aren't that simple, and most horse people will never agree that there is one answer for every situation anyways.

There's a difference between actual neglect and someone just not making choices you agree with.

The vet, the farrier, of course. Those need to get done. But you can mention these things nicely. I think people are more receptive to kindness than criticism; and just like with horses, you need to pick your battles. If you pick someone apart for every choice that they make, then they are going to dismiss everything you say. So what's the point?
 

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It is a skill. Offhandedly asking "oh when was her teeth last done?"

Them : "what you have to do it ever year?!"

Me: "well I didn't think so either but when I got my vet out she told me off and said it needs doing sometimes every 6 months or yearly.. mine had ulcers because I'd left it over a year. It explained why she was so reluctant with the bit..." (even if its a complete lie or twist). I make up some horror story it makes me out to be a partner in ignorance, so to speak, and I'm just passing on my hard learned lessons...

me continuing... "and I also had no clue about rugs you know how it is to be overwhelmed when you're new.. So expensive too! Here... here's a handy chart I still use to figure out when to rug."

And THEN (weeks later)... "I'm gonna get a fecal exam and/or worm, do you want me to see if they do a discount if we both get them? Yeah I have do mine twice a year the worms are bad here and it's way easier to keep weight on when I changed do *insert feed plan* and stay ontop of worming. You should have seen her before"....

The above is a complete fabrication but that's how I approach almost most owners (of many species) when you have to toe the line so to speak. But inside I'd like to shake and scream at them too :p But in reality I'd rather be on their side and do some good for the animal that way. Berating and judging rarely improves a situation in my experience. But it's hard. And emotionally exhausting.
 

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There a big difference between someone trying their darndest to shorten the learning curve and someone who is trying to bring a horse back to good health as cheap as they can and in the most minimalist of ways. Cheap doesn’t cut it when the horse already has three strikes against it.

It’s one thing when someone honestly listens and tries, as opposed to that person who does what I call the bobbing dog head, turns around and keeps doing what they are doing because it’s cheap but by gosh, they saved the horse from the kill pen for at least 90 days until they figure out they don’t know as much as they thought they did, and they’re now looking for a free home for the horse.

And yes, if I could lobby to successfully ban that gawd-awful sweet feed, I would do it in a New York Minute. Horses do better on a lesser amount of quality feed than a gallon of Hi-C and a bag of Hershey bars, which is what sweet feed pretty much is to a horse:)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
With the person I'm referring to in particular, money is definitely an issue. However, that's definitely not always the case. Sometimes I wonder if they just can't be bothered to change their ways. Many, many poor horse people take fantastic care of their animals!

I would never admonish someone for not buying the most expensive brand name tack or feed for their horses. I'm the queen of cheap, my saddles are all dinosaurs, I buy blankets on clearance or used and douse them in tent waterproofing spray until they stand up on their own. But I can read labels and Google what the heck 450 grams of fill means if I'm confused.

But when it comes to horse keeping, there's things you can't cut corners on. Like healthcare, a well fitting saddle, things like that. If money is really that big of an issue, can you do a Google search first and see if bringing home an emaciated OTTB is right for you?

I probably could've been more tactful in my approach... And I recognize that it's a huge learning curve to own horses. But people all too often buy horses without leasing, taking lessons, or so much as petting a friends horse first. If I held the hand and helped buy feed for every first time horse owner with a basket case on their hands, I'd go broke myself.

It's exhausting.
 

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Hmmm....my horses had their teeth checked for the first time in 4 years this summer. First time in years I could FIND someone to do it. Oddly enough, they needed very little. Checked them for beans at the same time. First time in 4 years. Didn't have any. Mostly live on Bermuda hay, with a snack of pelleted hay feed once/day. No grain. Ever. Had a "chiropractor" out once. She poked Mia in the withers and said Mia's reaction showed Mia needed work. I offered to ram MY thumb into HER shoulders and see if SHE needed work. She left in a huff, unpaid.

I agree folks need to take their responsibility seriously, and that too many do not. But...my horses have never seen a saddle fitter. I don't know of any within 150 miles of me anyways. They have something of a no-frills life but they all seem happy enough. All are in good health. Did I mention they haven't had shots in years?

PS: I took lessons for a few months. Can't say I learned much useful from them. Certainly nothing I use in my daily riding.
 

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Well, I used to think only old horses need their teeth floated-- not so. They at least need to be checked once a year. By the time I had my 17 year old looked at he was about to loose 2 back teeth. You can learn to grab and pull their tongue out and have a flashlight on your head if someone shows you how, what you are looking at and checking for.
 

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There are so many fine lines here that I believe it would be hard for everyone to agree on everything. There is a fine line between getting a horse you know you can't afford versus trying to save a life with the little you have. There is a fine line between being intentionally ignorant versus trying your best to learn but still falling short. There is a fine line between horses/situations that can do well with minimal care versus those who can't. There is a fine line between surviving versus thriving. And on and on...

Personally, I think it is absolutely irresponsible to take on any animal whose care you cannot adequately provide. However, I can't blame someone with good intentions for trying their best to save a life - after all, you don't know how much you don't know until you start learning. Am I in a position to decide whether it would be more humane for this horse to be in the hands of an unenducated owner or be dead? No, I can't make that judgement.

I think the key here is: is the horse okay? If not, is the horse improving and on its way to being okay? Sure, most horses do completely fine without blankets, and I would never be upset at someone for choosing not to blanket their healthy horse (I don't blanket). Sure, some horses do fine on sweet feed (though never ideal). Sure, some horses do completely fine without yearly dentistry. This year, my horse's teeth were horrendous despite religiously annual floating. She acts, eats, and looks 100% so I would have never known without getting them checked, so thank god I did. What exactly is suitable to this horse, none of us could tell without being there. Some horses need certain care for adequate maintenance. Others could be forgotten in a pasture and live to 35. It depends on the individual.

This is all very situational and it's hard to assess without seeing the horse or meeting the owner personally. Maybe a light blanket is adequate for this horse. Maybe the horse is putting on weight but this uneducated owner doesn't have the eye to observe the minor changes. We can't tell. It would be inaccurate to preach "all horses will thrive with bare minimum care, stop babying them" and it would be equally inaccurate to preach "all horses need x, y, and z or else you're a horrible owner."

As for OP, everyone needs to rant every now and then, so don't take anyone's disagreements as a personal offense! We are all here for the same reason. :runninghorse2: :loveshower:
 

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To me the issue is that the horse in question is a skinny TB with rain rot.

Blanketing or doing dentals on healthy, hardy breeds can be optional. Some horses in dry climates get enough grit in their diets and have teeth fairly well aligned so dentals can be occasional.

A TB already showing signs of malnutrition with rain rot will not be a rescue that will regain health and thrive on a low budget or ignorance.

Friends of mine have "re-rescued" TBs from those who did not have the experience or funds to rescue them, after the horses had been reduced from poor health to near death.

You will not be able to casually throw these horses a couple flakes of hay and call it good. They usually require vet help, sometimes medications and expensive diets for a while to prevent further deterioration.
 

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I see a couple of issues arising in this thread that I find interesting.

The first is this whole fad of "rescuing" animals. Whether it's dogs, horses or some other exotic animal, our society values the virtuous "rescuer" so much that it has actually been detrimental to the animals in some cases. I've seen videos of animals being "rescued" that actually looked staged. One was a guy who pulled dogs out of a frozen pond after they supposedly broke through the ice. The weird thing is that there was a big of dog food on the ice and he filmed them for like a minute flailing in the water, trying to get out while he narrated this big story about how much of a hero he was... why is it that when people see an animal in distress, they go for their phone and start recording rather than just help them??? There's something very disturbing about this trend. Don't get me wrong, my last two dogs have been from a reputable breeder who had to take in dogs that were in very bad shape because they had been neglected almost to the point of being at death's door, or because they developed some serious behavioral issues. I don't go around telling everyone I rescued them, but in essence, I took these dogs in because they couldn't be easily rehomed, and the breeder knows me well so trusts me to be patient and do what it takes to make sure these dogs can live a full, healthy life. A lot of "rescues" are in fact, scams that are meant to tug at people's heart strings. There are also people who think that this is a great way to get a cheap horse... and we all know there is no such thing as a cheap horse.

The other issue is whether or not people need to have significant financial means to own a horse. Honestly, I don't know how you could possibly own a horse without having enough disposable income to meet their basic needs and to deal with the unexpected additional expenses. It's sad to say, and I feel privileged to be able to own horses, but I don't see any way around it. Horses are a luxury, and they are large animals that require food and care, none of which are cheap. However, there are lots of ways for people to be around horses without owning one, and maybe ownership is a bit of a settler mentality that doesn't apply all that well to a living being anyway. I co-own Rusty with a friend who has always wanted a horse, but frankly, couldn't afford one and didn't have the space and lifestyle to keep one. I offered for her to buy half of Rusty and cover half of all his expenses. I don't charge for boarding. However, realistically, she only comes out to ride him about once every two weeks, sometimes less, so I get a lot more use out of him than she does, and only half the expenses. The way I see it, we are more caretakers than owners. It's working out great for both of us! And she and her husband often come help us with big jobs, like fencing off a new pasture, picking rocks out of the riding ring, feeding and picking manure when we're away, spring cleaning, etc. It's also a great way for her to learn about keeping horses.

There are a lot of options for people who want the "ownership" experience. Leasing, sharing, co-ownership, volunteering, etc. Jumping in head first without any prior knowledge, especially when taking on a horse in poor health is a terrible idea.
 

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We run into this situation here A LOT. People buy a small plot of land and assume since it is the midwest and grass is plentiful that they 1. Don't have to feed anything extra 2. that the horse will wear down its feet naturally 3. and not need any vet care unless it is to stitch something up

For those that say they don't need a dentist every year or there horses had nothing wrong - I would point out that just like vaccinations are a preventative so is dental care. Yes, my horses are seen every year to year and half and this last time the work needed was very minimal but the time before that there was a lot of work to be done to correct the beginning of wave mouth. Our local dental expert travels and you have to book months in advance

In our local area its not just horses but cows and pigs as well that people throw into a small pasture and walk away patting themselves on the back, Not realizing that there is maintenance for all animals. The pandemic has made it worse where folks were scrambling to buy calves to raise their own meat. Not knowing that that touch of green in your pasture is not viable forage for any animal.

I feel for the OP and the new horse owner - there is so much more to horse ownership than most realize
 

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@Ratlady, if the person won’t take any of your suggestions, it’s going to be tough but you will probably have to turn your back. Animal Control will likely think feeding a gallon of cheap-butt sweet feed is better than the kill pen, so long as the horse has water and some hay, regardless how crappy it looks and how much lack of energy it has:(:(
Hi Team

I promised myself I'd stay away from this kind of thread, but here I am anyway :-(

Just a comment from another old fart from the Krones and Kodgers gang:
I'm in full agreement with Walk on this topic, "You can't save them all.", and if you can't (or won't) learn to pick your battles, it will eat you up. Just sayin'.
 

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"We don't know what we don't know"

As much as we may want to, we can't force feed people information that we think they need. Some people may become highly resistant or resentful and will just stop listening or hide when they see you coming lol. Being a little blunt about it, we don't need to "Karen" everyone we think isn't doing it right. Mistakes will be made, and we just have to accept that horses are a life long learning process.

Playing devil's advocate, it is technically true that all a horse really needs is fresh water, free feed on decent grass, hoof maintenance and a pasture where they are unlikely to get seriously hurt by objects or other animals.

Of course a rehab situation is a little different, but even when done by someone who knows what they are doing it takes time to see the change.

My suggestion here is to take the triage approach and focus one thing at a time on what will improve the horse's condition and work in an amicable way to teach and help them out. Some people will still be resistant to that, they may be getting different advice from a bunch of different horse people or not thinking in terms of riding or using the horses at all so try to remember that.
 

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I hope people realize there are lots of places where no "equine dentist" is available. Rural Arizona & Utah...equine dentist? Good luck! Ain't happening in most places. Period.

I understand there are people who neglect their horses. Totally get it. Drove past a place last week that is legal in Arizona but I hated looking at the horses. It happens.

But things like saddle fitters, chiropractors, equine dentists, etc often don't exist outside of major population centers. Heck, a good FARRIER is tough to find in many places. My wife & I have learned to do a lot of treatment on our own out of necessity. Which in turn means a simplified standard of care. And it has worked for the 5 horses to date who have needed to survive our care.
 

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At the end of the end spending your time getting frustrated venting online isn't energy well spent. These types of issues aren't new and there is a reason kill pens are sometimes a good thing.

The situation is clearly not a good one-it's obvious and I think we can all sit and agree with you on your general feelings and emotions HOWEVER what I would suggest is to take your efforts and approach this person in a caring and open manner to see if there is anything you can offer in a form of education to help promote the care of this horse instead of a snarky questioning/interrogation approach like you did initially. because they didn't know any better.
 
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