Fighting Chance Rescue
Save a Horse         Ride a Rescue
What Happens When We Bring a Rescue into the Barn

There are an abundance of neglected horses in the United States today. This situation was exacerbated by the past economic downturn that caused many horse owners to give up horses they could no longer afford to keep. Some other common reasons for the abandonment or neglect of horses include illness (of the owner or horse), injury to the horse, old age and improperly trained horses posing a threat to others or becoming a burden. Neglected horses can be any age and of any training level or background.

With the abundance of neglected horses today, it has become important for those wishing to aid these horses to have a good understanding of the special needs and steps to rehabilitate these magnificent animals. With the proper nutrition, veterinary attention and caretaking, you can give a neglected horse a second chance at a healthy, productive life.

Worm horse with Safeguard
 Determine what nutrients’ they are lacking and get supplements
 Put in quarantine round pen or stall depending on season
 Determine brand of feed or just hay products
 Scrub body for lice and mite infestation
 Determine f starved to give Vitamin B shot
 Start on electrolytes
 Put Salt block in area freechoice
Take video / photos for recording initial condition


Determine the horse’s Body Condition Score Body condition score.  (BCS) is an important indicator of the rehabilitation steps the horse may need. Determine the BCS of the horse using the Henneke System to understand the severity of its weight loss. 

The ideal BCS for most horses is 5. A BCS of 4 to 6 is good — the back is level and the ribs are not visible but can be easily felt. The shoulders and neck should blend smoothly into the body. General BCS definitions list 1 as Poor (emaciated with no fat and with bony structure visible) to 3 as Thin (limited fat with some skeletal structure visible). A BCS of 7 to 9 is considered overweight, with a crease down the back being present. It is difficult to feel the horse’s ribs and there is soft fat around the tailhead. The neck and inner buttocks will be thicker, and there is bulging fat over the ribs, tailhead, withers, shoulders and neck.

You can see more about the Henneke System here.

Days 1-3: Feed one pound (approximately 1/6 flake) of leafy alfalfa every four hours (a total of 6 pounds per day in six feedings). Contact a veterinarian to evaluate the medical status of the horse.

Days 4-10: Slowly increase the amount of alfalfa and decrease the number of feedings so that by Day 6, you are feeding just over 4 pounds of hay every eight hours (total of 13 pounds per day in three feedings).

Day 10-several months: Feed as much alfalfa as the horse will eat and decrease feeding to twice a day. Provide access to a salt block. Do not feed grain or supplemental material until the horse is well along in its recovery; early feeding of grain and supplemental material complicates the return of normal metabolic function and can result in death.
Trim or put shoes on  

Hoof Care Normally, hoof care involves farrier visits every four to eight weeks, but for a neglected horse unique issues can require special measures with shorter schedules. It is imperative that we work closely with a credible farrier, especially to address the special needs of neglected horses with little previous care. Radiographs of all hooves may be needed to detect any internal damage and to create a plan to address angles and trims. Note that neglected horses must have enough weight to stand for farrier care (readiness can be determined by your farrier). Neglected horses will need a long-term program for hoof care. Since the hoof capsule regenerates, a healthy hoof can be grown in less than a year if proper nutrition and veterinary care are provided.

Buy new halter and Lead

Size for blanket

Vaccinations. Frequently, the medical history of neglected horses is unknown, and previous deworming information and vaccination records are unavailable. Working with the veterinarian, the horse can be vaccinated for endemic diseases in your geographic area. There are five core vaccines (from the American Association of Equine Practitioners) that will most likely be administered: Tetanus, West Nile Virus, Eastern and Western Equine Encephalomyelitis and Rabies. The vaccines should be spread over several days to avoid overwhelming the horse’s system, especially in neglected horses, as most often have a heavy parasite burden and compromised immune system. It is also normal for neglected horses to receive primary doses (two doses spread several weeks apart) of the vaccines as an added precaution.

Buy new brushes if the horse has mud fungus / Scrub entire body with shampoo

Pull mane and trim face

Get video / photos to update on progress and update profile online

Determine what nutrients’ the horse is lacking and get needed supplements

Continue on  quarantine round pen or stall depending on season

Determine brand of feed or just hay product changes

Deworming. Once the horse has enough weight and body condition to be dewormed work with the vet for a larvicidal treatment controlling strongyles, roundworms and pinworms may be used. After four weeks, ivermectin or moxidectin may be administered. The veterinarian should also create a parasite control program (often this will utilize tools such as fecal egg counts to optimize dewormers). If the veterinarian suspects heavy parasite infestation, particularly with roundworms in young horses, a reduced dose may be considered for the first deworming. This can reduce the risk of intestinal blockage

Typically start working starved horses only when they get to a body condition score of 3 or 3.5.

Lunge them for five to 10 minutes or hand walk them from once to three times a week  want to start building some muscle once they are well on their way to gaining weight.

Determine if the horse can be taken off supplements or change them if necessary.

Make a profile for rehoming and determine the adoption price.

Fighting Chance Rescue, Inc. is a 501c3 Nonprofit Organization