Tips for Dealing with Rescue Horses

Whether you are planning on rehoming it or adding to your herd, rescuing a horse can be a rewarding experience. It can also be a significant challenge, and is  best for those who have resources and a support network available to them. Rescue horses, like children, often “take a village.”


You may be eager to get started, but make sure the horse is in good physical and mental condition first or your rescue attempts may backfire. Rescue horses often need a lot of physical and emotional rehabilitation before you can work with them. This includes assessing what type of training they’ve had.

For proper rehabilitation, you will need:

  • Vet care. Many horses in a rescue situation will be in desperate need of veterinarian care. Whether they are sick, injured, or have been severely neglected, a veterinarian check is a good idea to find out what they’ll need in the coming months.
  • Feed. A common theme with rescue horses is about weight problems. They are often underweight, due either to illness or severe neglect. Your vet will make feeding suggestions at the exam. Horses that are old, ill, or have dental issues may need to be fed a mash of soaked hay pellets.
  • Farrier care. Lack of farrier care is also seen in many neglected horses, so frequent trimmings may be required to make the horse comfortable and rideable again.
  • Love. Keep in mind that you may not know everything the horse has been through, and he may have good reason to distrust humans. Be gentle and patient, and don’t push the horse too fast. It may take longer than you realize to rebuild his trust.
  • Help. Last but not least, be sure to get help during this important stage of rescuing a horse. The advice of a vet is invaluable while helping the horse regain his health, but you may also want to consult with a trainer and/or a local horse rescue.


Once your rescue horse is in good shape physically and emotionally, it’s time to work on training. Even if you are planning on rehoming the horse, training is important as it will help the horse secure a good home in his new life.

  • Safety first! The first rule of rescue is to always make sure you are safe. You can’t go on to help other horses if you get hurt or killed! This means not only wearing a helmet, but also practicing caution until you get to know him, as you don’t know what his triggers may be. Be honest with yourself.  If he’s more than you can handle by yourself, get help if needed.
  • Start with the basics. When training an unfamiliar horse, especially a rescue, it’s best to start as though you are training the horse for the first time. Not only will this give him a chance to learn your cues, but you’ll also be able to assess what he knows and what he doesn’t. His training can’t progress properly without a solid foundation.  Take the time to refresh his ground manners, lunging, and riding basics.
  • Fine tune as needed. Once you’ve ensured that the basics are there, you can fine tune his training as needed. Whether you want to train him for a discipline you’re interested in or give him a good all-around education to help him find a home, training will help him put the past behind him.

Rehabilitating rescue horses can be extremely rewarding, but it’s also easy to get in over your head. Make sure you have a support network that includes a good vet, feed supplier, farrier, trainer, and other horse rescue professionals.  For more information on how our feed can help meet your rescue horse’s nutritional needs, contact Sacate Pellet Mills at 602-237-3809.