THINK­ING ABOUT RES­CU­ING? HERE’S WHAT I LEARNED

EQUUS - - Immune Function -

Bring­ing home a res­cue can be a risky propo­si­tion, but it can also be very re­ward­ing. Here are a few things I learned along the way.

• Be clear about why you’re res­cu­ing. Do you want to res­cue a horse to be your next rid­ing horse, or are you bail­ing out a horse that may have a known de­fect, even if it means he will only be a pas­ture or­na­ment? With the daily pa­rade of on­line res­cue equines, it can be dif­fi­cult not to let emo­tion cloud your judg­ment. And be pre­pared to spend as much, if not more, than you would pay for a known horse from a pri­vate party.

• Ar­range for high-qual­ity quar­an­tine. Most horses com­ing out of feed­lots and kill pens have been ex­posed to in­fec­tious dis­eases, in­clud­ing stran­gles. Be pre­pared for a long re­cov­ery pe­riod and on­go­ing ve­teri­nary bills. And choose your quar­an­tine fa­cil­ity care­fully. Many are lit­tle more than ware­houses for sick and fright­ened equines. Their very iso­la­tion can de­lay the heal­ing process, so look for a fa­cil­ity that puts the time and ef­fort into each horse. “You can’t just stick them in a pad­dock and hope they will re­cover,” says An­gela Parham of Spirit Run Equine Res­cue in Gilmer, Texas. “Dig deep and ask for re­fer­rals.”

• Ad­just your ap­proach de­pend­ing on whether you’re go­ing though a res­cue or buy­ing from a kill pen. If you are adopt­ing a horse from a rep­utable res­cue, you will know the horse has been thor­oughly vet­ted and per­haps even has had some so­cial­iz­ing and train­ing. In con­trast, horses from kill pens tend to be un­known quan­ti­ties, both phys­i­cally and men­tally. In ei­ther case, the horse’s back­ground may not be known, and his re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion will re­quire time and pa­tience.

• Your res­cue may not only be phys­i­cally com­pro­mised but also men­tally de­pressed. Be pre­pared to

A res­cue can be the most loyal, lov­ing horse you’ve ever owned. But be aware: You can’t just kick them out into pas­ture. These guys need to de­com­press and know that some­body is there for them.

of­fer near-con­stant con­tact daily with your new horse in or­der to lift his spir­its. Ide­ally, set him up in a pen close to your house so you can in­ter­act with him of­ten. Res­cued horses seem to in­tu­itively sense that some­one has saved them and will re­spond in kind. A res­cue can be the most loyal, lov­ing horse you’ve ever owned. But be aware: You can’t just kick them out into pas­ture. These guys need to de­com­press and know that some­body is there for them. You need to build a bond, or they will re­vert to that life of fear.

“The big­gest hin­drance to heal­ing is their heart and their mind,” says Parham. “An­tibi­otics and flu­ids and good feed can heal the phys­i­cal part, but it’s those parts you can’t see that mat­ter most. You are not just treat­ing their wounds, as they carry so much on the emo­tional side, in their stom­ach—es­pe­cially young ones. And some breeds get ul­cers eas­ily. Oth­ers are more likely to put up a tougher front yet be an emo­tional bas­ket case in­side. Just like peo­ple.”— Bob­bie Jo Lieber­man

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