Putting this in Off Course instead of in Horse Care as it's more a general thing.
First: I am a writer, the situation is ENTIRELY hypothetical. The horse does not exist.
So, here's the sitch: 14.3 large-framed 'hony' mare. Picked up at a farm auction. No laminitis, no serious parasites, no acute injury. Neglect--4 BCS, lack of grooming, hooves in need of trimming (no shoes on). Has been handled and is basically good-natured, not a cribber, no ulcers, no aggression problems.
You have picked up this as a likely useable rescue project. How do you go about rehabbing this mare? Assume you have a small pasture (<5 acres) at home available for the horse, a barn with a stall, no other horses (two mini donkeys and a herd of goats--goats do not share the pasture), it's summer in a temperate climate, and you have all day to deal with the horse every day. (Obviously protagonist is a tween and is not in school for the summer.) Funds available: for all practical purposes, unlimited (within reason--not to Barbaro-like extremes, but assume vet and foot care will not bankrupt them and feed is not out of the question.)
I'm especially curious to hear from equine vets/techs/students and from farriers/trimmers, but all responses would be very helpful! As this is fiction, medication generic names would be useable, brand names of feeds/sups would not be, but any suggestions there are welcome anyway and helpful with the research!
Uh...start her on hay, slowly start on feed of choice if tweener feels said hony needs feed (if you want to give props to company for future movie deals, pick a big brand ), call a farrier, have the vet come out for a work up/shots/et al.
Nothing that needs rehabbing IMO. A four on the BCS is perfectly acceptable.
Last edited by TheJenners; Feb. 23, 2009 at 09:40 PM.
Reason: Typo...my "Y" is giving out.
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She's basically been in someone's backyard after the owner died--I've never had to deal with a horse who was even underweight (except that one time the boy had some teeth issues, and then it was just a matter of getting a good floating job.) I've also never fed entirely on hay, nor used a bag feed! He always had oats, maybe some corn in winter, so no experience at all with formulated/pelleted stuff. Or had to buy hay, actually, either the BO bought it or we fed what grew on our field (alfalfa mix of some kind.) The whole thing of beet pulp, sweet feed this and brand-name diet that, is totally foriegn to me!
If you were a vet, and didn't know anything about a horse's background, besides basic worming/required vacs, what would you want to look for? I've read threads here about worming horses without consulting a vet--ours were always on a schedule, from when we got them, so I've no experience with that, etiher. I am (tentatively) thinking no shoes, as far as a farrier goes--does anyone have any suggestions about thrush besides Koppertox (which I can describe well enough not to need to use brand names--I still have green stains on my old tack caddy.)
Don't worry, btw--no super show Hollywood endings. For this kid and horse just getting to a fair show and having a happy relationship will be a victory.
Are you sure you want to get that "into details"? A story about a tweener is going to be have to appeal to the tweener market, and a tweener's eyes are likely to glaze over if a story gets too tied up in horsey minutia. Best to find a way to say this stuff so that the reader's imagination supplies the minutia. That way, everybody can read whatever they want into the story and everybody leaves thinking they had a pretty good read.
Agreeing with GnB. You could give her some melodrama things like earning her pony's trust, getting her to accept an apple or sugar cube, cleaning her up, things that affect the main character's development and grow the youth in maturity. The horse sounds pretty normal.
My farrier likes Lysol for thrush - maybe you can't use that brand name, but I know bleach applied with a spray bottle is also commonly used.
I've rehabbed a lot of skinny horses, and my standard "fatten em up without feeding hot feeds" diet includes LOTS of rice bran, beet pulp and free-choice hay.
Things a vet might do for a rescue with unknown history:
-recommend quarantine from other horses for ~1 month
-check teeth (generally when feet have been neglected, teeth are too, and as you know can contribute to the weight loss)
-listen to lungs - underweight horses who have survived by eating whatever crap is around are prone to respiratory conditions
-run a blood panel - if the horse is a 1 or 2 on the BCS, starvation may have caused some organ failure which the blood panel would reveal
-do a full course of vaccinations, with the exception of strangles, as if the horse has had strangles within the past 3 years, it could cause a reaction
-MAJOR deworming! My vet's protocol is immediate strongid, followed a week later by ivermectin, followed 2 weeks later with a power pack (fenbendazole is the drug name, power pack the brand). My vet is a little more aggressive than I am with this, as I am worried about the die-off causing problems, so I do a half-dose of strongid a week before the initial full dose recommended by vet.
-basic lameness exam
As far as a timeline for progress, it really varies from horse to horse. I got a horse that was a 1.5-2 who is barely a 4 after 2 years (he's about 30) in contrast to a 20-something yo horse who has gone from a 1 to a 4 in about 3 months. The vet should also probably warn the protagonist to limit hony's pasture feeding when she first arrives - don't want to risk laminitis.
Also, just an editor's note. Stay away from the word "hony." Only because it will date your book if it has a life longer than a year or two. Words like this go out of style or may in the future be negative or give a certain impression...
Just my opinion.
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I've never actually seen the word hony used anywhere but these boards! (And I doubt my characters would know it at all as they live, much like Bella Swan, in a happy la la land where the internet and cell phones exist only when the plot dictates.) Do people seriously use it not at COTH?
And I tend to write more like Bellairs, Farley, etc than Ann Martin or Bonnie Bryant. Someone who buys my books is going to accept a higher-level vocabulary than average. But definitely no graphic details on species of parasites, though the vet's a pretty major character and will be in a lot--hence more details.
Thanks, Vandy, that's the sort of thing I've never had to deal with. Up until the EPM, the boy was pretty healthy (except a chronic fungus in the winter--betadine washes and a feed-through med I don't recall ATM were it.) The ponies were well-nigh indestructible. Never even had shoes on. And while we live in an area with a lot of backyarders, I've never encountered one that had any serious neglect.
Why not go spend a day with your vet when he's going to be seeing some neglected horses (all vets do this at times) and then watch and ask tons of questions. Nothing like seeing it first hand to give you ideas of how a vet works - especially important if he's a major character.
Lol, the only vets I have access to these days are either small animal--or, well...maybe the next time they're doing vax and worming at Children's I'll ask if I can watch while they deal with our ponies. (Brownie, whom I think is sweet even if everyone thinks I"m nuts-only pony I've ever met who really does seem to like the Barbara-Woodhouse nose-sniffing thing, and Sage, who has a serious attitude problem. Though if I were gawked at all day, I probably would too!) The only other equids around here are zebras and I think they get handled a LOT differently. Squeeze chutes and restraining stalls with neck-high barriers for the vets as these guys KICK. They get knocked down for anything major, like most animals around here--I suspect vax or tranqs via blowdart aren't the norm!
However, I probably COULD make a legit argument with my boss that hanging out with Hospital all day is a valuable form of employee training. Especially when I have to decipher all their necropsy reports.