There are many reasons why a horse could end up as a rescue horse. These reasons not being limited to a breeder overproducing, the horse not being able for the intended purpose they were bred for, a hoarder situation, a horse not being the color a breeder wanted, or countless other reasons that seem silly to us. Unfortunately, many of the 160,000 homeless horses in the U.S. Also come from abuse situations, so you never quite know what you’ll be getting. Also unfortunate is that equally often, you won’t be getting much of a medical history with your new horse if you get any history at all.
Presumably, the rescue will have put your new to you horse through a quarantine already, but if not, it’s a good idea to keep your horse away from others for two to three weeks. Let them be near enough the other horses to smell them, see them, and hear them, but not to pass on contagious disease or parasites. After that, it’s probably safe to introduce them to the rest of the herd.
You’ll find yourself spending a lot of time working with your favorite veterinarian. A rescue does a basic overview, but time and resource limitations mean they often don’t do much for a horse unless a horse is showing symptoms of illness. So, a good place to start is with a fecal test rather than diving straight into deworming. It’s always a good idea to see what’s going on before treatment. After you get the poop on your horse’s poop, you can set up a dental exam, a foot exam, and vaccinations. You’ll probably want to set up booster shots (or two) to protect your horse from diseases. While you can get a titer test done, it’s an additional expense and not always one hundred percent accurate. Chances are, especially if your rescue horse has an abuse history, no such necessary care was every done anyway.
Your favorite farrier or your vet will help you examine and evaluate your horse’s feet. They may be okay, or they may need to work on balancing and restoring your horse’s hooves. The rougher the home they came from before the rescue got them, the rougher the shape their poor feet are probably in. Again, only so much a rescue can do for all that they do their best.
A physical exam coupled with an oral exam will be necessary for evaluating your horse’s health and help to decide what sort of diet to get them started on. If possible, mix in the new with the old food and slowly replace the old, so your rescue horse isn’t getting too many shocks to system and psyche all at once. If you have no clue what the old food was, start it with your hay, pasture and feed slowly. Good teeth, or at least, repaired teeth, will seriously help your horse gain condition.
Your horse’s last home may not have been the best, but your rescue horse and the new one will be awesome.
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