Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Horses in Need of Intervention

I take agility lessons with my dog and trade caring for the instructors animals when she goes out of town for the lessons. Her horses are in DESPERATE need of a trim. It's at the point of neglect. The horses belonged to her husband who recently died, so I have a feeling she's not intentionally neglecting them, but that it's just too painful a reminder to get them a lot of TLC. I suspect she simply feeds them and doesn't do anything other than that. The feet are TERRIBLE. I mean bad bad bad. One of the girl's feet are so long that they are cracking up and chipping on the edges. When she walk she trips on her toes. The other isn't so bad, and I think it's because her hair seems to not grow as fast or as long as the one who has the chips and cracks, and so her hoofs just don't grow as fast (my poodles hair/nails grow much faster than my mothers- so that's just a guess, I am NOT a horse expert- I don't even have one!). I can't keep sitting by praying she'll call somebody out. It's to the point where I have to say something, even if that means offending her and losing my agility lessons. So my question for you as the hoof expert and someone who deals with these situations is, how should I approach this? I have class with her on Wednesday and plan to talk to her then. So what's the best way to tell her that it can't wait any longer without being rude? I am embarrassed I haven't said something sooner but it's a tough situation. I am really bad about confronting people anyway, and this is more personal than just some random person who isn't taking care of their horses- this is someone I know loves her animals and wouldn't intentionally hurt them. Sorry this got so long! But thank you so much in advance. I love your blog and get excited when I see a new one on my reader! Thanks again!

I'm really sorry for the horses you mentioned and for you for finding yourself in this position. But really, you are likely the only one who can help these horses, so I'm putting the pressure on you to do something. Sorry:0)

Because this isn't an unusual situation, this is a really good question. I thought I would post my response here to insure that you get it.

I’m sure you’re correct that this likely isn’t intentional neglect. I’ve come upon this exact situation myself a couple times. The owner of the horse dies, and the spouse, who knows nothing about them, becomes the caretaker. It’s too difficult to sell the horses, so they end up being neglected.

Since those were your friend’s husband’s horses, she is likely purely ignorant to the fact that horse’s need pedicures occasionally, just like dogs and people do.

If I were in your shoes, I would simply ask, in a sincere way, if she has noticed her horse’s hooves lately. That will give you an idea of what exactly is going on with them.

If she says she hasn’t, then you could ask her if she is aware that horses need regular hoofcare, (not necessarily shoes – but trims) or their hooves will deteriorate to the point where it becomes very painful for the horses to move around, and it can get bad enough, in some cases, that the horses may need to be put down.

If she responds that she is aware of the condition of their hooves, but hasn’t had time (or finances) to get them on the schedule of a hoofcare professional, then you could again let her know that this could be a very painful condition from which it will be difficult for the horses to recuperate.

Maybe you could offer to help her out by calling someone who can help with their feet, and schedule a trim and let her know how much it will cost. Would you be willing to do that? I can provide you names of people to contact in your area.

I don’t think asking her questions in this way and offering to help make a few phone calls would become confrontational at all. She just may not be aware. It’s easy to toss hay to horses without even glancing down at their feet. It happens more often than we’d like to think.

But if you, as a non-horse person, are noticing the condition of the hooves of these horses, then I agree, they must be in dire straits.

Maybe, she would like to get the horses into new homes so she no longer has to worry about them. Again, you could help with that by listing them on craigs list for her. Not as free horses, but as inexpensive horses. Owners of free horses that are listed on craigslist.org run the risk of the horses being sent to slaughter by fraudulent adopters who portray themselves as someone looking for a horse to provide a good home to.

I hope this helps. Please keep me posted on what happens with these horses. My email address is patslark@fairpoint.net

All my best.


Denali said...

Pat, What are your thoughts on this product? http://ridersrasp.com

Pat said...


Great question. One I get frequently. I think it's overpriced and limited in it's use. Most people will likely buy it and toss it in their horse trailer and never use it.

Although, if it's a step in keeping their horse's barefoot, it's a good thing.

My suggestion is spend your money on a real rasp and handle if you are going to rasp your horse's hooves. Get the Heller Legend and an aluminum handle (great for balance) and learn to use it correctly. It's the first step in learning to naturally trim your horse's hooves yourself.

Something to note. Rasps don't last forever. You do have to replace them from time to time depending on how often you use them.