Friday, June 10, 2011

The Most Common Form of Neglect and Abuse

Last night I attended a great lecture on the causes and prevention of founder. The message kept falling back to one thing. Modern horse care is deadly for horses. Obesity and lack of exercise, or at least opportunity for movement,is at the root of some of the top killers of adult horses. Founder has moved into second place as a reason to put horses down.

The biggest problem is that so few horse owners understand what a healthy horse is supposed to look like. A USDA study of owners' assessments of their own horses came up with an obesity rate of 5%. Actual studies at Virginia tech and in England show rates over 50%.

Vets are starting to catch on and are beginning to hammer the message home to horse owners, but are often dismissed with a chortle that, "Well we could all stand to loose a few pounds." Too many horse owners do not want to be educated. They like to show how much they 'love' their horses by keeping them slick, fat, and over supplemented.

Vets can only do so much with such people. However, if local animal control officers would begin to charge horse owners with the neglect that they are actually committing as they fatten their horses like pigs to go to slaughter, it would catch people's attention. If local rescue operations would call for the seizure of horses that are being abused by being left to a life of crippling obesity, that would catch people's attention.

Lush grass, well manicured, not a weed to be found, heavily fertilized, peaceful and quiet--to many people that is what a horse pasture should look like. Ironic indeed that that is a description of a well kept cemetery.

This is simply another case of the established horse world partnering with agribusiness giants to make horse's miserable.

(Here is a nice shot of Swimmer,a healthy formerly wild Corolla mare. Jacob is a healthy teenage athlete. Neither are encased in fat. Both are as they should be.)


Priscilla said...

The tough thing about moving to Arizona as far as horse feeding goes was that 1) it's really expensive, 2) the hay has very little nutrition because it's barn hay and a bit older, 3) you have to give your horses supplements because of the hay and the ground is gravel and has NOTHING they can get nutrition or vitamins from, no tree bark!

I don't care for perfect pasture anymore, give me ANY pasture and I'd be happy.

I think people need to realize it's easier for a horse to loose weight than it is for him to gain it.

Although this post is true, it doesn't speak to me because we live in two very different places, I live in a place where supplementing is a MUST.

DianneW said...

I have read that as obesity has become more common in the human population, it has also become more common in companion animals - dogs and cats, as well as horses. I suppose that to the obese owner of the obese animal, admitting that the animal needs to lose weight would be admitting that they needs to lose weight, something that they may not wish to admit.

I once removed my ponies from a boarding farm because the owner persisted in overfeeding them.