4 Tips for Rehabbing Rescue Horses
It can be rewarding to “rescue” a horse from an uncertain fate by giving him a good home or a better start on a new life, but it’s not like a quick fix. Rescue horses have certain needs that must be met, and rescuing isn’t for the faint of heart, as sometimes it doesn’t work out the way you think it will. Here are a few suggestions for keeping your horse on track.
Consult Your Vet
Your vet should always be on speed dial when you’re dealing with rescue horses. You’ll want your vet to look the horse over first thing, and to let you know what his medical prognosis and needs are. He’ll do a fairly thorough exam: check all four legs, listen to the heart and lungs, check the horse’s teeth, and make recommendations for remedial farrier work if the hooves are overgrown or the horse has foundered. Also, if the horse is underweight, your vet will talk to you about a feeding plan for bringing his weight back up, as well as any special needs. For example, if the vet determines the horse’s teeth are bad, he might need to be on a softened pellet diet, either temporarily or permanently.
Provide Good Nutrition
Often the first step of rehabbing rescue horses is simply to feed them well. As we’ve already mentioned, your vet will probably want to make special recommendations, especially if the horse is severely underweight or has a health condition, such as bad teeth, laminitis, or a metabolic disorder. Often, neglected horses have simply been denied a sufficient diet, so good nutrition and adequate calories to help them regain lost weight can go a long way toward rehabbing the horse.
Focus on Positive Human Interactions
If you’ve just brought home a horse from an auction or a bad situation, it might be tempting to see what skills he comes with, but remember to take it slow. Focus on feeding, healing, and building a positive relationship first. Because you don’t know their histories, rescue horses can come with excess baggage that makes them a little distrustful at times, not to mention you’re doing them no favors if you work them before they’re physically ready.
Work With a Trainer
While it’s good to give rescue horses a little time to rest and recuperate, once they’re ready, you’ll want to have them assessed by a trainer. It’s best to have a professional do this part, just to make sure you’re not in over your head. Your trainer will see what skills the horse has and what gaps there may be in his training, or where he could use some refresher courses. The initial goal is to make sure that he’s safe to work with, but the end goal is to turn him into a model equine citizen. A well-trained horse will have better luck finding new homes throughout his lifetime, which means he has less of a chance of ending up needing to be rescued again.
When Food = Love
While normally it’s not advisable to feed horses as much as you love them, with underweight, underloved rescue horses, some extra food can go a long way to making them feel loved again. Contact Sacate Pellet Mills today for information about our pelleted feeds that make providing complete nutrition the easiest part of rescuing horses.