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Who all owns horses who have been starved in the past?

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  • Who all owns horses who have been starved in the past?

    My Diva was starved as a baby, and while I got her this Sunday, in good weight, with a shiny coat, she still has remnants from her past life (its been almost 5 years since she was rescued, as a baby too weak to even stand up). She can be very food aggressive, and is always eating grass, like its her last meal. I feed her a pretty sloppy dinner, because otherwise, she inhales it. I've also been sitting quietly in her stall, as she eats, so she gets used to me being there. She gets very worried when she eats, swishing her tail, and always looking behind her.

    So, anyone else? What do feed your previously malnourished horses now? Do you worry about ulcers? Do you give them any special supplements? How about ground manners? Diva has some issues with respecting space, but she's getting better by the day.
    The Equine Wellness and Nutrition FB Group - Come join us!!
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/equinewellness/

  • #2
    We have brought horses back from starving with the help of our vet.
    We followed the Davis protocol for refeeding, feeding only alfalfa hay, several meals a day for a week, then slowly introducing senior feed.

    That may change some if the initial blood work shows other problems.

    Alfalfa tends to act as a buffer, as it is high in calcium, so ulcers don't tend to be a problem initially and if there are any, they clear quickly.

    Getting teeth looked at and lightly (not aggressively!) floated asap is one of the most important you can do, then when stabilized start a deworming problem if you have a significant worm load.

    Best if you have help from your vet and someone that has been there before.

    Comment


    • #3
      I had one... but the worst he did was pawing when he would eat, so loudly you'd think he would take the whole barn down. A few years later it tapered off.

      After he was back to weight I fed him like a normal horse, nothing special, until he choked years later and then I wetted his food down and switched him off his pellets to a textured feed (TC Senior then Complete). He had no ground manners issues, if he had I would have treated him like any other horse.

      Comment


      • #4
        Like Bluey - we've rehabbed several, and also use the refeeding protocol mentioned. Sounds like yours is much further out than that! There comes a point when you have to stop looking at their past for excuses, though. The behavior you're describing we rarely see after a few months of regularly receiving food. We are still rehabbing one from a herd of 22 that we took in last March - he's still struggling to gain because he "hoards" his food (vet's word). He won't finish his entire meal, instead saving some for later, which of course can be a problem. He's doing better on a round bale, finally.

        One thing we've seen in starved horses after a few years still - behaviors they've retained - includes eating EVERYTHING in sight. Last year I had three out of six horses in my rescue's pasture that had been starved in the past and I NEVER had waste off the round bale. The one that was a feral stallion until he was 7 was my best cleaner - he'd eat every last bit. It's very noticeable in a pasture he used to live in - the other two horses waste SO much and while he was there they never had waste. But really, after a while, and especially after five years of good care, I'd be looking for other reasons for her behavior, and not holding onto the neglect she suffered as a foal.

        We worry about ulcers if they show symptoms of ulcers, sure. Like Bluey, the alfalfa they are originally fed and continue to be supplemented with until up to weight helps with that. We might add some calcium in the form of Tums to their diet if they have anxiety type behaviors such as cribbing, plus often the truly starved have weak bones so the calcium helps there too. We often feed a multi vitamin the first year or so after a rescue of a starvation horse, figure it can't hurt. If they show up anemic on a blood test or have a heart murmur, we may add iron. But after five years - I can't imagine that they'd still need all that. One of our worst cases, a nearly 2 year old who was down and couldn't get up, was up to a good weight and off the iron within 3-4 months of her rescue, though she got vitamins for a while longer and calcium since she started growing like a weed!

        As for ground manners, sorry, neglect/malnutrition isn't an excuse, even when they first come in. We've watched starving herd mares double barrel kick another horse that looked at her funny. They don't treat them different, and neither do we. They are still horses, just hungry horses. While we may give them a little space and may tolerate some grumpiness in the first week or two, manners aren't negotiable.
        If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
        ~ Maya Angelou

        Comment


        • #5
          I was contacted by a friend back in September about a mare with respect issues. Said she was a kicker with an attitude problem. Apparently, the owner was afraid of her and wanted to sell her. Said she might be a little thin. This is what we found....

          Tia Right
          Tia Left
          Tia Butt

          This is Tia today.

          1
          2
          3

          She even has her own blog..which now has family stuff in it too. I originally agreed to take her because I could not leave her there. The plan was to rehab and re-home her. I don't think she will be going anywhere.

          When I first started her on feed, I started her on Blue Seal Sentinel Senior feed. Once she was established on the senior feed, I mixed in Blue Seal Sentinel LS formula. Once her weight got to about normal, I removed the LS, went back to the Senior formula and added in Sport Formula Pellets. She is now solely on BS Sport. She gets 2lbs twice a day. She gets 3 large flakes of hay at night while she is in her stall, and is out on pasture during the day. I have her on a joint supplement as well as a separate MSM supplement for a stifle issue that is now finally looking to be healing.

          She is a one person horse. She tends to give everyone at the barn some sort of issue, except me. The other day she felt it was necessary to lick my daughters face until she collapsed on the floor in a fit of giggles, and then merrily went on her way. My daughter is 3 and just loves Tia to pieces.
          Boomer's Hopes & Dreams
          On Facebook
          Tia - The Rescue
          RIP Boomer - May 21, 1989 - November 3, 2010

          Comment


          • #6
            We do not have any former "starved" horses at present. We've had a half dozen or so in the past.

            There are several good nutrition plans that can be used to address the physical issues of underfeeding. Sounds like the physiological part might be done, or mostly done. Pick a maintenance program that fits with your budget, discipline, and lifestyle.

            The psychological stuff is much harder to address. Horses are simple creatures, mentally, but they have phenomenal memories. That's one thing that has allowed them to survive in a state of nature as a prey animal. The horse functionally remembers what it's like not to have enough to eat and will be aggressive about it. This can happen with horses that have never been starved, too.

            Tincture of Time will take care of some of it, but IME it's not something that ever "goes away." If the horse is otherwise of even temperament the aggressiveness will diminish but will never disappear.

            Consistent, calm handling is your best bet for the future. At the risk of being very un-PC you might also have to impose some physical discipline from time to time to establish your space around feeding time. If this means carrying, and using, a crop then so be it. If "aggressive grazing while being led" is an issue then the crop, again, might be necessary to establish who leads and who follows. Your safety is a higher value that appeasing their "food aggressiveness." You may not have to do this; but, then, you might.

            Good luck in your program.

            G.
            Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

            Comment


            • #7
              Read for meaning, folks. OP isn't trying to refeed a currently starving horse. Horse is fine and has been fine for a few years. The question is regarding ongoing care and handling.
              I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
              I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Sorry, yes, physically, she is great - weight is just perfect actually. I didn't rescue her - actually, I think she rescued me! At this point, I think her issues are all mental, but she is getting better by the day. Yesterday we had Respect 101, and by the end she was doing much better.
                The Equine Wellness and Nutrition FB Group - Come join us!!
                https://www.facebook.com/groups/equinewellness/

                Comment


                • #9
                  The other day she felt it was necessary to lick my daughters face until she collapsed on the floor in a fit of giggles, and then merrily went on her way. My daughter is 3 and just loves Tia to pieces.
                  cringe.

                  Acquaintance bought a pony for her 5 yr old. Child had no fear. Pony was not nasty but a bit green. Lots of photos taken of pony kissing kid, kid kissing pony. I thought it was unwise but none of my business. Couple months later, child got a very bad bite. Child now is terrified of pony - won't go near him. I would not allow a pony to lick the face of a 3 yr old child. Teach them both to have boundaries. Safer that way.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I wouldn't say Conjure was starved, but he was pretty skinny when my former RI bought him. To the point where he required a couple of months TLC before she could use him in her lesson program.

                    Anyway, Conjure used to be pretty food-aggressive. He charged me once in the pasture when I tried to move his hay. And he used to make ugly faces and threatening postures when I'd bring feed out to him.

                    I am happy to say that he's been cured! Somewhat counter-intuitively, with clicker-training and treats.

                    I used the Shawna Karrasch method, which you can see on her website.

                    Briefly, here's what I did:
                    I'd stand at his shoulder with my little treat bucket strapped to my hip, holding my arm over it so Conjure couldn't get into it.

                    Nosing, mugging, spinning, pinning ears, trying to mash the human against the side of the barn and other undesirable behaviors get zero reaction. (This is the hard part!) You may want to start inside her stall at first, so she can't execute a flanking maneuver. If she's really bad, you can even start by standing outside the stall and use a stall guard so she can't reach you.

                    Standing with head facing forward and looking like a reasonably pleasant animal gets a click and a treat.

                    Biting the hand that offers the treat (yes, it happened once) gets a three-second time out (handler acts as if bitey beast has ceased to exist). It was crazy how carefully Conjure took his treats after that!

                    Soon the horse will "raise his own criteria" and start moving his head away from the handler in order to get reinforced.

                    I didn't teach him this, but Conjure decided all by himself that he should start looking in the opposite direction when I bring him his feed and hay.

                    My horse-sitter recently complemented me on his lovely manners at feeding time. She sat for him back when he was an evil foodbeast so she really appreciated the difference!
                    Last edited by pAin't_Misbehavin'; Jan. 16, 2013, 11:16 AM.
                    I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Tif_Ann View Post
                      There comes a point when you have to stop looking at their past for excuses, though. The behavior you're describing we rarely see after a few months of regularly receiving
                      Agreed (with one exception - food aggression). One trainer who came to speak/present at one of our Expos said something I've often repeated: Your horse was abused in the past? So what! Are you abusing him today? Of course not. You have to move on and let him move on.

                      That's not to say that you don't sometimes have to work through issues of past abuse, but I believe true ABUSE is very rare. There's a lot of poor handling that results in pushy and obnoxious horses, but that's not abuse. We've had 1200+ through the two rescues I've run, and I think less than 10 of them (maybe less than 5) have been true abuse cases. In those cases, we've had some issues to work through. But we still don't coddle the horse.

                      Food aggression is my one exception. Over time food aggression normally improves - often in the first few months once the horse realizes food is coming on a regular basis. However there are occasional horses who just cannot let go of that worry. We had one who was fine to ride and handle - except at dinner time. At dinner time, you just had to leave him alone to eat in peace (unless you wanted a good look at his teeth as they came at you). He was an extreme case, of course.
                      Visit us at Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society - www.bluebonnetequine.org

                      Want to get involved in rescue or start your own? Check out How to Start a Horse Rescue - www.howtostartarescue.com

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        You can see in my signature line how my horse looked when he came back from the trainer I had sent him to 2 years ago. He did NOT arrive at her farm that way, nor did he look that way whenever I went to see him. Instead, he dropped a lot of weight over the winter when I couldn't get down there to check on him, presumably because the "trainer" (I use the word loosely) couldn't be bothered to provide him with hay or grain and just threw him out in a pasture for the winter.

                        I was horrified and heartbroken when I picked him up at the end of Feb. 2011. He is a pushy horse by nature and just doesn't care about ANYTHING, so adding the food aggression that comes with not getting fed on top of it, made for some VERY cranky behavior and ugly faces. As far as feeding him goes, I still give him the same type of grain he got when he came home - Triple Crown Complete. I didn't go crazy with the amount of grain he originally got, but he did get a lot of hay, and once spring/summer came with grass, lots of good turnout.

                        Eventually, upon the suggestion of a friend, I added Buckeye Rice Bran Pellets to his feed, and that seemed to help a lot. He's a long-backed, lean/rangey looking horse to begin with, but by the time I took him to Morven Park for sarcoid removal surgery that following November, the vet there said he looked great and was in very good weight. Because he's in regular work now, he gets more grain now than he did when he was malnourished. He also gets lots of turnout on grass with hay thrown out to him.

                        Insofar as ulcers, my trainer and I haven't noticed anything that's given us any signal that he has them. He's not a mean horse towards people, but like I said, he IS pushy, and can be aggressive with other horses when they are initially turned out and are fighting over hay piles. It helps having him out with other geldings who are more alpha than he is. He might make cranky faces when getting his grain, but that's all they are - just faces, and he's not going to attack anyone. Usually a stern voice is enough to make him back up and behave himself. With his ground manners, he's improved, but you can't really drop your guard with him or he'll walk right over you, especially if there is food in sight. He requires someone who can be very firm with him and sometimes, depending upon the behavior, he really needs those "come to Jesus moments." But under saddle, he's pretty awesome and relatively uncomplicated.

                        Anyway, I don't know if everything I did with him in regards to his "aftercare" was 100% correct, but it seemed to work for us. In general, he's a pretty happy horse who lives up to his name, and while I beat myself up for sending him to the hack trainer in the first place, I'm so grateful that I got him out of there when I did and that he's bounced back.

                        Good luck with your mare!
                        "I was not expecting the park rangers to lead the resistance, none of the dystopian novels I read prepared me for this but cool."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I have 2 -- one was starved as a weanling, the other after the track and before he was picked up at a cattle auction.

                          Many years later, they eat what the rest of the horses eat -- a balanced diet. They don't get special treatment. One is an easy keeper, the other a medium. Neither is food-aggressive, ill-mannered or anything else. In fact, they are both divas who like their creature comforts, like the rest of the horses.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            We've had a few in the past and have a couple right now that are guest horses. One is a sweet older mare that we bought at the Dept of Agriculture Impound Auction and we use her for kids on trail rides. Another mare we bought at a sketchy auction many years ago when she was skin and bones and we just felt sorry for her. She turned into one the absolute best trail horses and is still heavily requested today with our adult guests.

                            Neither are treated any differently today, but we did slowly reintroduce them to hay, then senior feed, then we stuck them out on a lush pasture.
                            Southern Cross Guest Ranch
                            An All Inclusive Guest Ranch Vacation - Georgia

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Lori B View Post
                              Read for meaning, folks. OP isn't trying to refeed a currently starving horse. Horse is fine and has been fine for a few years. The question is regarding ongoing care and handling.
                              Sorry, I was needing to go and just read and posted in a hurry, thinking I could come back to edit to add to that, more in context, but didn't make it back until now.

                              Some times, "we" don't quite get it right, don't I.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                My most beloved TB mare (ironically, I also called her Diva ) came from an abuse/starvation situation. She was a body score of about 2, and this was after being at the initial rescuer's farm for over a month. Luckily, she had no food aggression or anything else, but some trust issues. IIRC, I started her on about half a scoop of TC Senior twice a day, and she was out on great pasture 24/7. At some point, I switched her over to Seminole's Calm & Cool, because she was a really easy keeper. So for her to have gotten as skinny as she was, she had to've literally been starved, not just deprived or fed erratically.

                                She and I bonded almost instantly, and after a couple weeks her trust issues practically disappeared. Whenever a new situation would come up, she simply pause for a moment, realize I'm not asking her to do something horrible, and follow right along. Absolutely the smartest horse I've ever owned. Good luck with your new girl!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Crockpot View Post
                                  cringe.

                                  Acquaintance bought a pony for her 5 yr old. Child had no fear. Pony was not nasty but a bit green. Lots of photos taken of pony kissing kid, kid kissing pony. I thought it was unwise but none of my business. Couple months later, child got a very bad bite. Child now is terrified of pony - won't go near him. I would not allow a pony to lick the face of a 3 yr old child. Teach them both to have boundaries. Safer that way.
                                  I agree with you whole heartedly. The entire incident occured in less then 3 seconds. My daughter knows she is not allowed to touch the horses unless I am with her, it was Tia who over stepped, and her and I had a talk about it. (Child was in feed room with the gate up. Tia stuck her head in to talk to Child. ) It was just nice to see Tia show affection to someone else. If that makes me a bad person, so be it. No harm was done. And Tia is now very aware, again, of where her boundries are.
                                  Boomer's Hopes & Dreams
                                  On Facebook
                                  Tia - The Rescue
                                  RIP Boomer - May 21, 1989 - November 3, 2010

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                                  • #18
                                    Dexter came through a sherrif's auction at one point in his life and from what I can tell was part of a pretty ugly seizure. So he may well have been starved. He's a pony-sized draft cross, but I have no way to know if he was stunted, is slow growing, or is just a shrimp.

                                    He certainly loves his food, but so do lots of horses. He gets mouthy sometimes, but I've known lots of mouthy geldings. He generally had good ground manners when I got him, and any problems we've had since then were more baby things (he only just turned 2.5) than anything. He's so affable and wants to please so much that an easy correction or two is all it takes to fix things.

                                    So no, nothing special. He gets fed and treated appropriately for who he is now, not what was in his past. But he also couldn't hold a grudge for five minutes, much less years, so he's about as easy to work with as anyone could hope for.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      My old STB Beau came to me from a situation where he was not very well cared for... not outright abuse, but neglect. He's not an easy keeper and he would suffer for that in the winter. I don't know if this behavior is a result of that- or if it's just his personality- but he has, what I call "A phantom kick" and that is a reflexive kick that he HAS to let out every time he's fed. He's the lowest in the herd pecking order- so he is always fed in a safe protected unharrassed place- but every single time the feed pan goes down- that leg is going to shoot out with a serious kick. The kick is not aimed at the person feeding- or anything in particular- it's just a crazy reflex, that's why I call it the Phantom- because he's just kicking at some shadow in his mind. I don't discipline him over it or even make note of it- I just wait for it and go about my business. It's always just one shot. I just make sure everyone working with him knows about the kick and knows to wait for it after feeding and before moving around him. Typically kicking is NOT something I would ignore- but for Beau, I think I can let this one slide.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Plainandtall View Post
                                        My old STB Beau came to me from a situation where he was not very well cared for... not outright abuse, but neglect. He's not an easy keeper and he would suffer for that in the winter. I don't know if this behavior is a result of that- or if it's just his personality- but he has, what I call "A phantom kick" and that is a reflexive kick that he HAS to let out every time he's fed. He's the lowest in the herd pecking order- so he is always fed in a safe protected unharrassed place- but every single time the feed pan goes down- that leg is going to shoot out with a serious kick. The kick is not aimed at the person feeding- or anything in particular- it's just a crazy reflex, that's why I call it the Phantom- because he's just kicking at some shadow in his mind. I don't discipline him over it or even make note of it- I just wait for it and go about my business. It's always just one shot. I just make sure everyone working with him knows about the kick and knows to wait for it after feeding and before moving around him. Typically kicking is NOT something I would ignore- but for Beau, I think I can let this one slide.
                                        That is a nervous habit some horses acquire and not especially from neglect.
                                        If it gets bad enough, like a horse stressed from a pushy neighbor that makes faces at it in the stall next door, it can become more than one kick and if it gets to hitting walls, it can cripple a horse.

                                        A few horses are more apt to get into such a bad, nervous habit, a bit like cribbing and other such.

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