She is a super nice, do anything for anybody type and I really don't understand what is going on. We are at a self care facility. There is absolutely nothing in the fields to eat right now, and she is not feeding hay everyday. When she feeds it, it is just barely enough for a meal. Since she is a novice, I sent her an email last week explaining what horses need nutritionally. She took it fine; she thanked me and for the next few days fed appropriately. Yesterday they were not fed again. I don't think it is a financial problem; I've offered to pick up hay for her and she didn't take me up on it. She only has a couple of bales left now to feed them. I just don't get why she thinks feeding horses is an optional part of care! WWYD?
I would first make sure she really isn't feeding. If her schedules changed she might be feeding at odd hours. Then have a heart to heart without making her feel like she's being ambushed. Maybe over lunch somewhere. Tell her your concerns and that you don't mind being the voice for her horses. Someone has to speak up for them. Try to find out what is really going on with her. On the surface she might be fighting hard to keep her true financial situation hidden when the reality is she's having money troubles. She what she says and go from there.
Ask her if she skips meals often! Sounds like a case of benign neglect - like people who don't take care of their dogs and cats well. Little do people like this realize how fragile horses are and how quickly they can colic etc if not given enought to graze on. I'd tell her one more time and then maybe get the facility owner involved, and from there to maybe her vet and last stop would be Animal Control.
Maybe she has some problems that are hindering her from getting out to the barn daily. Why not offer to feed for her?
If the horses are not losing weight perhaps she is feeding early in the morning.
Don't jump to conclusions until you know all the facts.
Now if the horses are showing all ribs and hip bones are sticking out then maybe get worried.
But offer to help her out in feeding if there is a problem at home.
Don't look for the worst in people.
You will find what you look for.
Be a friend.
If you don't want to become involved in the daily care of your friend's horse, then I would air my concerns with the BO and let her take it from there for the moment. This could be location, financial,transportation problems, or a misunderstanding about the terms of the boarding contract. Or, the person could be a flake.
"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein
This is one for the Barn Owner. You need to have a talk.
If she does not think it's a big problem, wait and see if those horses start dropping weight? I'd get a plan B lined up and leave if they do and BO is uninvolved.
There maybe a reason. Maybe not. At any rate, what happens at alot of self care places is yours is fine but stalled next to one with 3 shoes and a bad cough standing on a foot of sh%t. I don't tolerate that.
Talk to your BO. Sooner rather then later. Let her handle it.
When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.
Thanks for the replies everyone! Believe me, I know what is going on. And I don't want to do anything to hurt her, but I can't let the horses go hungry either. She is an animal lover; she goes above and beyond when it comes to vet bills and farrier care, etc. She doesn't put an animal to sleep until every last option is exhausted. That is what makes this so puzzling. I do know exactly what she is feeding; we share a hay stall so I see when a bale is gone. We take turns feeding sometimes already. I always feed for her on Tuesday nights. She texts me when she wants me to feed other nights. I have no problem asking her to feed for me, and I am pretty sure she feels the same way.
The condition of the horses is what complicates matters a bit. They are air ferns and really haven't lost a ton of weight. I really can't see AC stepping in until they get fairly thin. I am more worried about colic and just their general comfort. BO is not in the picture; they are not horse people and never around the barn.
I talked to her today; she said she is getting a load of hay in tomorrow and some round bales for the field. Hopefully this is the case.
If she is a relatively inexperienced owner does she actually know/understand how a horse is different from a carnivore?
maybe explaining how their gut needs to be processing food the whole time and the risk of ulcers/colic etc when they don't get continuous food would help. She may simply not know.
You say in your first post that she is a novice and then in your last post you suggest she has had a lot of animals, having to make decisions previously about euth'ing etc. If she has had other animals, but not horses, try just explaining the differences.
Just make it very simple. Tell her that if her horse does not have hay in his belly more often than not that she will be up for a 10k vet bill when her horse colics. Maybe that will make it sink in for her. It is hard to get people to understand how sensitive horses are to being fed properly. She probably won't worry about her air fern losing weight but she might be able to learn to be wary of a severe case of colic.
I just don't get it...how do you sporadically feed anything???? I don't own birds, or reptiles, but I know they would need some kind of care and feeding, and ask a vet or a knowledgable person, or google care and feeding.
So, by ignoring this, I am thinking the woman is nuts and has some kind of mental disorder. I mean how else do you explain it, unless she is broke, and if that was the case, I shouldn't say this, but I'd probably be pinching other people's hay for my horse.
I hope you can help her, er rather help her horse. Some people do manifest stress with a mental disorder.
Some people just don't seem to "get" responsibility. They can appear to be totally normal in all other ways, but they are just incredibly flaky. While I wouldn't call it a "disorder" necessarily, I think fivehorses is right in that it is a "mental problem."
Why not offer to feed her horse when you feed yours - **for a small fee** (don't want you to get taken advantage of). If hay purchasing is an issue, heck, up the fee and do that for her, too.
People who respond to life by withdrawing and skipping basic tasks, like feeding the horses, are not people who should be doing self-care.
Horses require very specific care, and I could see how a novice might not "get it" that their horse that wore a muzzle all summer might now really need a regular hay ration. You are doing the right thing to gently and repeatedly communicate with her about it. Perhaps you could ask another boarder to talk to her too, in a friendly way, just to reinforce the same themes.
Since you say your friend is a novice, maybe as other posters have written, she does not know the importance of a regular feeding schedule for a stalled horse. Since you are more experienced, maybe you could try to find out what horse care books she has, if any. Maybe you could then offer to lend her a good basic horse care book so she can "learn" more about caring for horses?
Today, many people are so used to eating at irregular times because of jobs etc. that they just don't realize the importance of a feeding schedule. Many pet owners I know who have dogs and or cats just fill up the food and water bowls when their animals "ask" for food. Since she isn't at the barn, her horses don't have that opportunity.
Also, lots of people new to owning horses don't seem to realize how important feeding enough hay is. They really think that as long as they are feeding grain or pellets, hay is not that "important." I think that's because they really haven't learned how a horse's digestive system works.
I agree that by explaining the possibility of causing colic and the expense involved in treating it, by not feeding enough hay on a regular basis, you will be doing your friend and her horse a favor. Good luck.
Thanks again for the suggestions everyone! I am beginning to wonder if there is a mental disorder going on here. This is someone I've known for 5 years. She has 4 horses in the field. We boarded at a different place until last summer. The other place had decent pasture pretty much all year, so they always had something to eat. The grass is totally gone from the field they are in now, so they have nothing out there. I am really upset this morning because (based on the number of hay bales) she did not feed them on Sunday. I fed them Monday morning and didn't tell her. I figured she would feed them again last night, as she goes out there after work. But this morning, there was no hay gone. I fed them again this morning. I just keep telling myself there has to be an explanation; good people just don't do this.
Does anyone know of an article online I can send her about the importance of feeding horses hay?
^ Yeah, I am a bit confused...do you have horses there too or are they just her horses? Why are you not concerned about your own horses being fed...and if her horses are staying fat- what exactly is the concern...it's kind of a basic thing- like a furnace, if they are getting enough calories to stay fat- then it seems they are being fed enough...maybe I am missing something???