View Full Version : Starvation to Show Ring in ..... ?

Oct. 14, 2009, 09:37 PM
how long? I know it obvs differs from horse to horse, but ballpark? Assuming there are no other health issues.

Long story short, these people basically just dumped this horse off on my neighbor. Day before yesterday. It was at most, a couple weeks away from dying of starvation. So in 48 hours she (neighbor) is totally in love. She asked me how long does it take, and I have no experience with starvation horses. What do you guys think?

Oh, sorry. Its a mare, they think a PMU. Maybe 6? a paint/ pinto/ draftie type. she is thinking hunter. (cute mover, even without energy)

Oct. 14, 2009, 09:49 PM
It could take up to a year+ for some, depending on health issues. First, they have to gain weight, which is a slow process in itself. Then there is getting the horse in shape enough to start basic training (depending on how much training the horse previously had). There is going to be time where just walking is all she is going to do until the horse is even fit enough to trot. Then on top of that the horse has to be schooled to a point where it can be shown.

We got 2 horses at our barn at the beginning of July. They were skinny, but not starving, and both are very green (basic w/t/c jump a cross rail). Even today they still need to gain lots more weight and muscle, and are just really starting to jump. Just small stuff. But there is no way they will be ready to show until at least April/May and be competitive. We might take them to a few local shows this winter just to get them out, but that's it.

It takes time, but in the end it almost always turns out to be worth it.

Oct. 14, 2009, 10:16 PM
I would think it would all depend on the horse.

Tell her to throw a blanket on it, feed it, shaw it and remove the blanket in the spring and see what she has then.

Oct. 15, 2009, 12:53 AM
Getting the horse up to a decent weight can take 3 - 6 months. If the horse was already trained before hand I suppose you could have it fit in another 6 weeks and be in the ring. You could start riding the horse before it was completely fattened up, so potentially a horse could be in the ring as quickly as 3 - 4 months. However that would be the exception.

It also depends on what you mean by "show ring". Are you talking showing over fences at rated shows, or are you talking W/T undersaddle at a local schooling show. Clearly one will take longer than the other.

Oct. 15, 2009, 01:20 AM
shaw it
What does this mean?

I agree that it totally depends on the horse. I've had some that have literally changed from emaciated to fat and shiny in a few weeks and others that have taken more than a year. A young, healthy draft cross would most likely take a few months, assuming nothing else is going on besides lack of feeding. If it was literally dying of starvation, is your friend sure there is no organ damage? That would definitely complicate things.

Oct. 15, 2009, 08:53 AM
My rescue was presentable in 3 months, did some small shows at 6 months but it was a year before we thought he was in acceptable condition to face AA rated company.

He was in embarassingly bad shape when I got him. Regular hatrack-and he stunk from a filthy coat and skin and horrific thrush.

Oct. 15, 2009, 08:57 AM
Weeks away from starvation = at least a year to get the horse healthy, if you're doing everything the right way. Its a very slow process. Have you ever been super sick, like throwing up for a whole day? Remember how long it was before you could eat normally after that without feeling like you ate too much or getting sick again? Now think about that in a horse. Plus there will be feeds and supplements that you'll try and will fail and you'll have to start over with a different course.

After you've spent a year getting him back on track, its going to take awhile to get him fit (muscle wise) to ride, and from there its all about what kind of training schedule you put him in and how much experience he has.

And I just realized you said it was a mare, so change all those him's to her's.

Oct. 15, 2009, 09:05 AM
If this horse is a 3 on the body condition scale or less:no: you need at least a year. Aside from being able to see the weight gain, she will need to rebuild muscle and soft tissue. When horses starve they deplete their own muscle mass.

I have a WB mare that we brought back from a 3ish. She had someone else feed her for about 45 days before I saw her. It took about 4 months to get her weight close to being right, then she grew. We were showing a calendar year after bringing her home.

3-4 months of her under saddle work was walk and trot only for short intervals. Remember they have NO fitness levels.

Good luck and tell your neighbor to be patient.:yes:

Oct. 15, 2009, 09:10 AM
Please have your friend go to http://SavingFaithGWS.blogspot.com

It took about 8 months to turn this mare around. I saw this mare at the show pictured at the end of the blog, and she certainly looked as nice as all the other quality horses there.

It takes a lot of very hard work to rehab a horse in such bad condition, and God Bless those who take on these cases. Good luck to your friend!

Oct. 15, 2009, 09:24 AM
Oh, yeah, excercise.

We left mine alone for a week, he was a little, er, "protective" of his stall and space initially but that went away in that first week once he started filling up regularly and quite worrying that he would run out of food. It was about 2 weeks before the vet could really take a good look at him-poor horse had a tough time for awhile and trusted nobody, not real safe to be around the first few weeks.

After that it was handwalking starting at 10 minutes and increasing to 40 over about 8 weeks. Didn't ride him until about 10 weeks and then it was timed walking going to a little trot increasing gradually...and, yeah, he needed a little help staying quiet after the first few rides as he started to build condition but was not strong enough to do any kind of work that would wear him out a little. Turn out, weather permitting but it was the dead of winter most of the time-think I got him right around this time of year-late fall.

Make sure to tell your friend that the vet needs to come check her teeth ASAP or she will be feeding a horse that cannot chew properly and a million or so worms. Pulling blood to check for anything major would be a great idea as well.

Oct. 15, 2009, 09:49 AM
Be sure she knows that even after the horse starts gaining weight it is still possible that she may lose the horse... I have dealt with 2 rescue horses who were fine and dandy when they came to my barn and were gaining weight and then BAM everything fails. Possibly something the vet just missed in the check ups, but we kinda think things just appeared... Malnutrition is really hard to deal with.. Prepare for the worst because when you think everything is going to be fine you get your hopes up and then they are taken away!

Just a forewarning.. Good luck though!

Oct. 15, 2009, 09:57 AM
To go along with the above thoughts...

Some horses that get kicked to the curb have issues and chronic ailments that lead to them being forgotten or allowed to deteriorate. Not right but some owners just give up on them and chuck them out in a field somewhere or abandon them and they get siezed for back board and get sold cheap or just given away.

People who rescue them sometimes find there were reasons the previous owner did not continue to support the horse.

Sometimes it's health or unsoundness, sometimes behavioral and they cannot all be fixed. Mine was a jerk prone to blow suddenly for no reason, probably why he did not sell and nobody wanted him when they tried to give him away-something we found out later when backtracking the history.

War Admiral
Oct. 15, 2009, 10:35 AM
If this horse is a 3 on the body condition scale or less:no: you need at least a year. Aside from being able to see the weight gain, she will need to rebuild muscle and soft tissue. When horses starve they deplete their own muscle mass.

Good luck and tell your neighbor to be patient.:yes:

Please listen to this. It's possible to do permanent damage by asking for too much too soon. They may LOOK phenomenal and still not have enough muscle/soft tissue.

Nobody EVER broke a horse down going too slowly with it.

Tell your neighbor good luck & have a blast!

Small Spark
Oct. 15, 2009, 11:19 AM
Don't forget about Calcium! Horses need a huge amount of calcium to support muscle contraction and homeostasis; to the extent that the body will begin to metabolize the skeletal structures. Ergo, starving horse= high possibility of bone loss, so DO NOT push it too fast.

Oct. 16, 2009, 10:09 PM
Thanks for all the responses, we were thinking a year so we were right on I guess :) She has the vet coming monday for a complete blood work, and checkup etc. (She was waiting for the original owners to fax her a BOS, didn't want to fall in love and pay for vet for them to show back up again).
Horse has no prior training, but has learned to wear a halter, lead and pick up her feet in days. smartie :)

Oct. 17, 2009, 02:41 AM
My guy started out looking like this


After about 4-6 weeks we started light lunging. We lunged and did ground work for about another month before we finally started riding. So it took him about 2-3 months to be healthy enough for light work. He was very green though and unbelievably uncoordinated so it wasn't til nearly a year later that we went to our first show (Intro Dressage). And it has taken much longer than that to build the muscle back up and get him to a competitive level. But it was definitely well worth it. :D