“Old” is no ex­cuse for skinny

EQUUS - - Eq Letters -

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

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