If you go to any equine rescue facility, you will find many horses that have been abandoned or rescued and are being cared for by a team of horse lovers and volunteers. Some are ex-racehorses. Others have a birth defect or degenerative disease. There will be some that were neglected or abused, but most are horses that have been given away because the owner can’t spend enough time with them or afford to take care of them.
How to Rescue
If you are interested in horse rescue, start by volunteering at an equine rescue organisation. Muck out a few stalls, help with barn duties and get to know the horses. Ask if you can exercise one. Take it slow and be patient. A rescued horse will need a lot of time to settle in and a lot of love to learn to trust. In time, their outlook and any negative behaviour will hopefully fade away, leaving a more content horse. If your rescue comes in the form of adopting an off the track thoroughbred (OTTB), then contact a thoroughbred adoption organisation. Not only will they find you an OTTB but they can also give you sound advice for successful retraining and re-homing of an OTTB. It is also imperative that people understand that not every horse adoption will be a success, some horses will adjust and others depending on their background may struggle to adapt. Perseverance, love, time, patience and kindness are all traits that you need to have on endless supply before you undertake an adoption.
Remedy – Build me up!
Remedy starts with dealing with a horse’s physical condition and working out an exercise routine that allows for their limitations. Most rescued horses will need to put on weight, but even with good nutrition, it could take up to 6 months for malnourished horses to lose their scruffy look. If the horse is very weak, their rehabilitation and exercise routine might be nothing more than a walk, a few times a week. You could start out with a 20-minute walk and gradually work your way up to a 30-minute walk/trot and then a 40-minute walk/trot/canter. The trick to success is to not give up. Celebrate every step you make towards building up their tone and strength. Live in hope that you will be able to see them galloping in the field with the other geldings or enter an event when they are physically able.
Many horses will also have abstract fears like being left alone in the barn or being put to pasture. Racehorses spend most of their competing lives in their stalls when they are not being raced and find open grazing in a field confronting. An OTTB that paces up and down the fence line and whines can be showing signs of stress and anxiety. Limit their turnout time to 10 mins to begin with then lead them back to the security of their stall. This time can be gradually increased as the weeks tick along. Over time, they will grow to love being turned out, but for now it can be very daunting. Don’t be surprised if your rescued racehorse associates the pasture gate with a start gate and bolts when it sees it. Running is their natural response to being frightened and the anxiety of a strange environment. Also be ready to hold on when you take an ex-racehorse out for a ride. Something as insignificant as losing your stirrup in a jump could mean you are in for the ride of your life. Also, keep in mind that 90% of racehorses suffer from gastric ulcers, caused by a high grain diet and a stressful environment. Abler’s Omeprazole/Probiotic combo Abprazole Plus will help to improve their intestines to becoming well balanced and restore intestinal flora.
Can I keep him?
Ultimately, a horse needs a home. Somewhere he belongs. If you are keen to adopt a rescued horse or even an OTTB The process for adoption of horses is to, get to know him first, see if his personality is a fit and check out his farrier needs. Get the vet to have a look at your potential horse, so that you will fully understand and accept his physical limitations before you dedicate yourself to his care. Make sure you can afford it. A horse is a lot bigger than a dog, so everything costs a lot more. If you can check all the boxes, and then take him home. Your horse will become your friend and your partner, and while you started out being the rescuer, you might end up being rescued right back.