When saving an emaciated horse we first isolate the horse. We control the intake of feed going to the horse and see the amount of water consumed. Other horses will push a down horse off feed and water, and run the lower horse forcing more weight off. the down horse may have a disease and it could spread to the rest of the herd. Over feeding a emaciated horse can kill it rich feed can cause scours, founder and bring on colic or shock their system and feed becomes toxic.start by feeding small amounts of grass hay increase the amount of feed a little at a time.This can take weeks or even months. Over eating can cause impaction so avoid free feeding. You will need to watch stools color of urine, gums, eyes and eye sockets. Hydration test is done by gently pinching the skin at the shoulder and letting go if the skin does not spring back the horse is dehydrated. Many people believe in free feeding grass hay we do not, we have witnessed to many cases of founder from mild to extreme. This horse is already down making it lame you will increase the agony the horse is going through.
Take your time when saving a horse. Make sure your horse has plenty of fresh water at all times a salt block we like to give loose minerals over a block. Spending time with your horse is very important it is not in a herd environment and can become depressed keep him mentally stimulated and love on him, having your horse look forward to seeing you is one of the best signs. Getting that nicker as you walk up to feed is worth all the work involved and every time it happens it just means more, it’s something one should experience. When your horse is showing signs of recovery introduce grain maybe a cup a day again gradually increase grain or full feed pellets until full ration achieved. You can start to exercise your horse at this time moderation is important you do not want to take all that weight you just put on. Expect your horse to crash at any time, weather, a change in feed, a bug that has no effect on a healthy horse can throw the horse off keep trying, he is in better shape than when your started and he has a friend to help him though. As your horse progresses it is time to float teeth give shots and worm we space these apart to avoid a set back at least 2 weeks apart. We stay away from power packs until the horse is well on it’s way to full recovery. We now reintroduce the horse to a herd less dominate horses from our herd we observe to be sure that the horse is not bullied or pushed away from feed. We do not want the other horses to run weight off the horse if this is happening it pulled from the herd or the bully is put in another pasture.
Being part of a herd is so important to the mental health of the horse we want them in the herd as soon we can. The herd will teach your horse how to be a horse and this cuts down on training issues. A horse can teach a horse how to behave better and quicker than we ever could. Your horse can go from abused to spoiled and it is easy to let him get away with more because of all it has gone through. This can make your horse dangerous so get your horse to respect you and your space. The both of you will be much happier!
- Eye sockets should not be sunken.
- Eyes should be clear not dull or glassy.Dark colored urine is a sign of dehydration.
- Stools should be well formed not pasty or cow pie like.
- Gums should be pink. White gums are a sign of shock or low blood pressure.