Ten days ago I received a call from someone wanting to know who much they should feed their horses since they were thin. She stated she found out she was giving them poor quality hay and now was feeding hay pellets, but wasn't sure how much to feed them each.
Through the call I found out that an inspector had been out there and stated they were too thin, body condition score 2 of 9 and she needed to feed them. She told me they were over 35 years old and we discussed at length how much of what she already was feeding she would need to feed daily to get them up to a normal weight and that those instructions were clearly printed on EVERY bag of hay pellets she was buying. I went one step farther to tell her with the hay pellets she was feeding it was going to cost her $30 per horse, per week to feed them enough. She had 5 horses in total, just the 2 skinniest would cost $240 a month for pellets only, $1200 for all five per month....just for pellets. It was then I offered her the option to bring them to us, thus saving the funds to purchase for the 3 horses in her care. It did not take long before she called me back and offered to GIVE us the two skinniest horses.
On 4-25-20, they brought us three horses instead. What arrived in two separate trips was absolutely heartbreaking. The first two horses were hundreds of pounds underweight, filthy, bad feet and weakly able to walk. The extent of their long-term malnutrition was so obvious. These horses were skin and bone!
Sable and Rain Dancer were the first two to arrive and we put them in our quarantine stall so they would have room to move around, could be together and we could monitor their food consumption yet they could see other horses so they would not feel so alone. Their winter coat was so long that it was hard to tell just how thin they were. After a few days of grooming the lack of muscle mass or any fat on either was so very obvious.
Sassy, now called Willow was in the best condition of all and that was not good either. In this picture the photo on the left was her on arrival, you can see the filth all over her body. And as we have gently cleaned her over the last days we have found embedded crud, scabs and dermatitis along her back and legs which we have found on the other two also.
On 4-27-20 our vet was out to castrate Rimson, Buddie and Willie, and while here did an exam and pulled blood on all three of the mares. When she saw the extent of the malnutrition Rain and Sable have endured we both stood their crying and she said the only skinnier horses she had seen were dead. Pulling ourselves together we discussed the feeding plan and needed future treatment. The blood work is back and shows anemia consistent with long-term malnutrition and explains the weakness in walking, depression and listlessness upon their arrival, the stocking up (swelling of their lower legs), dull, long hair and so much more. Additionally we determined the age of Rain and Sable to be in their early 20's, not 35+ as the owners stated and Willow (Sassy) to be a little over 10 years old.
We have slowly changed their feed from the pellets that had little nutrition to a good senior horse feed, and have increased they amount of good quality grass hay to a large bale they can eat freely from 24 hours a day. None of them have to worry about when their next meal is and the relief is obvious on each of their faces.
They have many months of needed care. Because Sable and Rain are so weak we will wait to get their feet trimmed, 30 more days after who knows how long is not going to matter much. We will treat the sores and clean the debris mired in their skin and matted on their coats a little at a time to not over stimulate and wear them out.
We also want to weigh them weekly and for that we need a livestock scale that will digitally give us their accurate weight rather than a weight tape which gives you and idea of weight, but not the true weight. The cost of the scale with shipping is $1200, the cost of the feed $110.88 a week plus their hay, topical medicines, supplements, etc. Donations have already come in to cover the blood work, initial feed and care but they will need more blood work in 60 days, farrier care, dentistry, etc.
I will be contacting the inspector to let him know we are getting a scale so we can accurately tract their weight weekly and we are keeping records of all their needs and treatments. While I am still very worried about any organ damage to Rain and Sable and worry daily till they get show signs of recovery we are so hopeful that they will make a full recovery and everyone will see that it was not their age that caused them to not gain weight.
On this Giving Tuesday if you would consider a donation to help us restore these three horses back to health so they can live happy lives and hopefully forget the years of neglect inflicted upon them it would be so appreciated. Funds also help the other 21 horses, donkeys and minis in our care and others we try to help. EVERY donation makes a difference.
We also want to say a special thank you to all over our volunteers who assist here at the rescue, help with administrative work, planning committees and everyone who helps in so many ways. We are 100% volunteer organization with no staff so funds donated go so much farther to help so many more in need.
Thank you so very much!
Your support is so greatly appreciated, we simply can't thank you enough!