“Old” is no excuse for skinny
I read the “Neglected or Just Thin?” (EQUUS 467) with interest, and after reading some of the follow-up letters, I felt compelled to write. I am retired from law enforcement and have had considerable training in animal, particularly equine, neglect and abuse cases. It was difficult to see horses who were in poor condition due to ignorance, but my first concern was for the horse, and I tried to educate the owners to ultimately improve their horses’ lives.
Almost nothing would frustrate and anger me more than when I was dealing with a neglect case and the owner would tell me, “Well of course he’s skinny. He’s old.” Old age is not a disease. To some extent, with long-term dedication and care, the deterioration of an aged horse is preventable. I have owned horses that lived to be 34 and 37 years old, and they were both in good condition when they had to be put down for issues unrelated to their advanced age.
Please do try to see as much of the picture as possible---if you spot a thin horse, but you are comfortable that all is actually well, then great. But if you still feel that something is just not right, even if the horse “looks old,” then please do report it to the proper authorities. There are laws and provisions in place, particularly in Colorado, that protect owners against improper seizures of their animals. I have found that conscientious, caring owners who are rehabilitating neglected horses do not mind a visit from an animal-investigating professional---it reassures them that someone else out there is being watchful and cares about the condition of animals, too. Tina King Westcliffe, Colorado