Liz is a licensed veterinary medical technologist. She acquired a B.S. in veterinary medical technology from Lincoln Memorial University.
The Significance of Equine Abuse, Cruelty, and Neglect
It is difficult to comprehend the depth of the surrounding situation that produces such a depressed, devastated creature such as an abused horse. Few people understand the true definitions of words such as neglect, abuse, or cruelty, and even fewer know how to identify these scenarios and appropriately intervene.
Neglect is defined as the failure to provide proper food, water, and shelter, and may also include the failure to provide proper veterinary care for a horse that is ill or has been injured.
Abuse and cruelty include the intentional act, omission, or neglect that allows any unjustifiable or unnecessary physical pain or suffering to be caused; this includes, but is not limited to, acts such as:
- intentionally scaring a horse
In many abuse/neglect cases, the responsible person may deny ownership of a horse in order to avoid responsibility and criminal charges. However, an owner is defined as any person who cares for, possesses, controls, or otherwise assumes custody and responsibility for the care of a horse.
When experiencing abuse and neglect cases in the veterinary world, it is hard to imagine what would drive a person to cause such significant misery to an animal as majestic as a horse. An estimated 100,000 horses per year in the U.S. are categorized as unwanted. General ignorance or lack of husbandry skills accounts for more than 50% of neglect cases. In ideal situations, these cases can be resolved with proper education, and the animal may be later returned to the original owner and live out a healthy life. However, economic hardships can precipitate neglect, especially in cases where the horses are kept solely as companion animals. Illness, injury, or substance abuse may cause owners to make compromises to their horses’ quality of care over a long period of time. Apathy and laziness of the owner will almost guarantee improper care. In worst-case scenarios, individuals involved with domestic violence may use the abuse of an animal as a strategy to “punish” a child or spouse.
The Role of the Veterinary Team and Other Appropriate Agencies
When presented with an equine abuse case, the role of the veterinary team is to provide an evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, and any treatment or supportive care that the animal requires. This is best administered under the direction of an equine veterinarian. In cases where education can resolve the issue, the veterinarian or veterinary technician must be ready to take the role as the lead educator.
The reporting of cases of neglect to the authorities must be reserved for offenders who intentionally ignore educational interventions, or fail to initiate therapy altogether. Reporting obvious neglect to the authorities will often on its own serve to prevent any further neglect or abuse, and maybe mandatory under some government authorities. For the veterinary professional, “good faith” reporting may be necessary where reporting is not compulsory. A strong connection between domestic violence and animal cruelty has been found; if conditions suspicious or obvious of human abuse become apparent during the management of an equine abuse case, it is mandatory of the veterinary professional to report such findings to the appropriate agency. Veterinary professionals are frequently called forth to testify as expert witnesses in the prosecution of animal abuse or neglect court cases and should be prepared to do as such.
Different agencies have different roles in handling neglect cases. Investigations are usually performed by humane or animal protection agencies. Animal control officers, sheriffs and deputies, local and state police, and governmental veterinarians may also investigate and serve to enforce existing laws and regulations surrounding animal abuse and neglect. Law enforcement agencies are also concerned about public health and safety, and so social services may assist with neglect cases if human violence, health, or safety is suspected to be at risk.
Initial Assessment of Neglected and Abused Horses
When first assessing the abused or neglected equine patient, safety is the number one concern for the veterinary team. If the cause for abuse or neglect is unknown, and especially if the suspected perpetrator is unstable or at large, one must proceed with caution. Never trespass on private property to help a horse, as this may result in criminal charges, jeopardize your credibility, and/or damage any existing legal measures against the owner.
Maintaining a log book is useful, and should record all communication, visits, dates and times, and both positive and negative objective observations. If possible, photograph the conditions of the facility in which the patient was found, including barns, flooring, bedding, food and water sources, enclosure conditions, sanitation, and any other conditions that may affect the horse’s health. The history in the weeks of months prior of the neglected patient should be gathered from the owner; however, owners may falsify information in order to avoid persecution. Contacting the feed supplier, farrier, or local veterinarian may be more useful when forming an accurate timeline of events. When multiple horses are involved, each horse should have its own written record and photographs for accurate identification. These records should include gender, breed, age coat color, any special markings or brands, and any other unique characteristics. Any signs of illness and all injuries, along with their locations and severities, should be documented.
The horse’s body condition should be assessed upon initial exam and at every weekly interval during rehabilitation. Body condition is often scored using the Henneke method under field conditions. This method utilizes visual appraisal and palpable fat areas, with scores ranging from one to nine. A score of one is considered “very poor” with no fat observable, and a score of nine being considered “extremely fat” with bulging fatty deposits. A score of five or six is most desirable in horses. While heart girth tapes may be used to estimate a horse’s weight, scales offer the most accurate weight measurements. While on-site, the amount and condition of feed available to the horse should be documented, included plants on pasture. The presence and physical condition of any other animals on the premises should also be recorded.
When assessing the health of horses in neglect cases, each horse should be evaluated by a veterinarian with consideration to any necessary diagnostic tests. A physical exam should be performed promptly, as the conditions of starved horses may deteriorate very quickly. The symptoms of a starved horse include:
- behavioral changes
- depressed reactivity to external stimuli
- immune compromise with a decrease in circulating lymphocyte count
- compromised phagocytic response
- excessive weight loss
All aforementioned symptoms will become noticeable within 1 to 2 weeks of nutritional deprivation. Parasite control programs should be evaluated. If there is not one, then one should be started. The dental condition should be examined, as the ability to chew food effectively is vital to weight gain during the rehabilitation process. The condition of the hooves should also be examined, and overgrown hooves should be photographed with a ruler to demonstrate hoof length.
If the animal dies during rehabilitation, a necropsy should be performed, with special attention paid to atrophy of fat deposits in adipose, subcutaneous, and abdominal depots. Muscle atrophy and wasting begin to occur after prolonged starvation. Any parasites should be identified and recorded. Tissue samples from the liver, kidneys, thymus, pancreas, intestines, and lymph nodes should be submitted for histology. Cancers such as lymphoma and adenoma can often be identified on necropsy.
Starving Horses, Refeeding Syndrome, and Feeding Regimens
Starved horses are depressed, with bones so prominent that the skeleton appears too large for the horse, and the tail is always low and motionless. The head hangs low, and the ears hardly respond to any sounds around them. The eyes are dull, and the horse has no interest in interacting with any horses around it.
During starvation, horses initially lose any carbohydrate and fat stores to supply their energy requirements. This is normal for any healthy horse; carbohydrates and fat are used first for energy and brain function, they are replaced with nutrients absorbed from food. This cycle is constant, even in sleep. In a starved animal, however, once the stores of carbohydrates and fat are gone, the body must turn to the breakdown of protein to obtain energy. While protein is present in every tissue in the body, there are no actual stores of it, as there are with carbohydrates and fat. Therefore, a starved horse must use the protein not only from its muscles but also from vital organs. A starved body cannot select from which tissues to metabolize protein. Over time, this situation becomes dangerous.
The causes of emaciation in horses may be multi-faceted. The most common cause is a lack of quantity and quality of feed with insufficient calorie intake. If the feed is provided in sufficient quantities, it may be deficient in nutritional content and balance. Deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals, and also the excessive use of supplements, may contribute to emaciation over a long period. Primary feed sources at pasture naturally decline during the fall and winter months, and emaciation may result when owners fail to provide supplemental food sources in compensation for this seasonal decline.
Nutritional malabsorption is often associated with diarrhea from a poor quality feed, parasites, and poor dental conditions. Parasites and dental conditions may serve as primary or secondary contributors to a horse’s emaciated condition. In mares, pregnancy and lactation will increase their dietary needs, making their nutrition a priority during rehabilitation in order to avoid poor body condition and be able to maintain productivity for the foal. Certain pathological diseases associated with cancers, diabetes, infections, or conditions of the liver, kidneys, heart, or pancreas may elicit progression toward emaciation.
The nutritional rehabilitation of starved horses is a delicate science within itself. In human starvation cases, a condition called refeeding syndrome occurs when an emaciated patient is given concentrated calories in excessive amounts in the form of glucose, either enterally or parenterally. Refeeding syndrome can cause cardiac, hepatic, and respiratory failure, seizures, coma, and death within a week. These patients will have normal electrolyte ranges at the initial start of refeeding but will develop severe hypophosphatemia, hypomagnesemia, and hypokalemia due to the effects of insulin on the meager stores of electrolytes present in the body.
Emaciated horses with a BCS of 1 to 3 may also experience refeeding syndrome when given too many concentrated calories at one time. Studies from starved horses have demonstrated normal serum phosphorus levels during initial treatment, but then being to decline through a 10-day trial. At the initial start of refeeding, serum magnesium levels were low, and showed an increase during the trial in horses that were fed a diet high in magnesium content (alfalfa). Therefore, the general recommendation is to gradually increase the amount of high-quality forage over time, and preferably offering forage that is low in bulk and high in magnesium content. Grains, such as oats and corn, are not recommended, as they are high in soluble carbohydrates and may produce an elevated post-prandial insulin response. Alfalfa hay is preferred due to its high phosphorus and magnesium contents, low carbohydrates, and low bulk. These are the qualities of feeds that are supportive of successfully rehabilitated starved horses.
Successful feeding regimens are based upon the digestible energy (D.E.) requirement of the horse at its recommended normal body weight. The daily D.E. requirement of a horse differs with the changing body weights and production levels (as with growth, pregnancy, and lactation) and with the kind of feed being given. As a general rule, small amounts of high-quality feeds should be given at 4-hour intervals to allow the horse’s insulin response to return to normal. In general, and with a proper feeding regimen, a severely starved horse will gain about 10 pounds during the first week and regain a normal body condition by 6 months, albeit no other medical conditions interfere with progress. When refeeding a starved horse, consider this general guide:
- For the first 3 days, feed 50% of the D.E. requirement divided across 6 feedings, with 4-hour intervals between each feeding. If no complications arise, the horse may be advanced further through the regimen.
- 75% of the D.E. requirement may be given on days 4 and 5, again over 6 feedings with 4-hour intervals between each feeding.
- On days 6 through 10, 100% of the D.E. requirement may be given in 3 feedings with 8 hours.
- After day 10, continue to feed 2 or 3 times a day, increasing the quantity offered if the horse consumes all feed that is given. It is not recommended to feed any grain at all until the animal’s body condition score is a 3 or above, which is usually about 2 months after initially refeeding an emaciated horse.
A previously starved horse will begin to show signs of increased energy after about 2 weeks of refeeding. A difference in their eyes, ears, and head movements will be noticed first. The eyes will become brighter and more expressive, and the ears will be more responsive to sounds around them. The head and tail will be held higher. The horse will move around more, and be more willing to interact with horses around them. This very thought is rewarding, however, rehabilitating a starved horse can be difficult, as many complications can occur.
Once a horse loses more than 50% of its normal body weight, the prognosis for recovery becomes very poor. Horses that have been recumbent for long periods of time also experience a poor prognosis, as they often fail to positively respond to refeeding therapy. Horses that experience an onset of respiratory distress or neurological compromise by the 4th to 6th days of refeeding are usually elected to euthanasia if they do not die on their own, as these symptoms are characteristic of refeeding syndrome with hypophosphatemia and hypomagnesia. If the immune system is significantly compromised, salmonellosis and other enteral bacterial infections may occur, resulting in significant diarrhea and electrolyte losses. Diarrhea may also result from consuming large bulks of grains. Initially, a horse may lack an appetite, but this is usually transient. Repeated attempts at offering small portions of fresh forage usually establish consumption.
Sample Rehab Feeding and Medication Chart
|Horse Name or ID||Morning Feeding +/- Medications||Mid-day Feeding +/- Medications||Evening Feeding +/- Medications||Turnout and Other Special Instructions|
Diseases and Secondary Health Problems
Many other problems can result from abuse and neglect, whether they are a direct result of the abuse or a secondary result of neglect and starvation. Dental problems can contribute to weight loss, although it is unusual to find a horse that is underweight solely due to dental issues. Dental problems typically contribute to a poor body condition in combination with an inadequate calorie intake. Horses are hypsodonts, meaning that their teeth grow continuously throughout their lives. Over time, chewing creates sharp enamel points on the upper buccal and lower lingual edges of the premolars and molars. These points can become so sharp that they create cuts on the gums and the insides of the cheeks, making it very painful for the horse to chew. Horses with severe enamel points may suddenly drop feed from their mouths while eating (called quidding) and toss their heads around, and pace in an attempt to escape the pain. Floating is required to correct this problem and should be performed by a veterinarian.
In addition to enamel points, missing teeth, fractured teeth, or malocclusions may also impair a horse’s ability to properly chew food. Because chewing is the important first step in digestion, food that has not been properly chewed will pass through the body whole, resulting in improper digestion and inefficient nutrient absorption. The body must then turn to its own stores to meet energy demands. Correcting any dental problems can increase the efficiency of chewing and therefore, the absorption of nutrients from food. During rehabilitation, a horse’s teeth should be examined and floated to correct any enamel points and malocclusions.
Another common problem of neglected horses is overgrown hooves. Horses’ hooves grow continuously, and when left untrimmed, they can grow and curl backward, impairing the way the horse walks and even injuring or crippling the animal. In one rescue case in Maryland in 2015, an emaciated stallion was found to have hooves that were 3 feet overgrown. The horse was hardly able to walk, as he would nearly entangle himself in his own hooves with each step. Transport of horses with such overgrowths is nearly impossible, as they can often hardly walk or be loaded onto trailers. Therefore, horses whose hooves are so grotesquely overgrown must have them trimmed immediately. Horses in these cases must be allowed to rest afterward, as such drastic changes to the feet can cause pain as the hooves reattach and legs readjust to the changed weight distribution.
Horses recovering from overgrowths must have their hooves trimmed and adjusted every 1 to 2 weeks, which is far more often than the typical once every 8 to 10 weeks in a normal horse. Unfortunately, many horses who suffer from overgrown hooves over long periods of time often suffer from coffin bones that have detached from the hoof wall and rotated downward; no amount of trimming or special shoes can correct this condition. These horses will forever have an unsound gait and will never be able to carry a rider. Some horses will develop severe laminitis due to coffin bone rotation and collapse, either causing the hoof to detach from the coronary band or causing the coffin bone to erupt from the sole of the hoof. This condition is extremely painful and cannot be reversed, so these cases often result in euthanasia.
During periods of neglect, infections and infestations are allowed to wreak havoc on a horse. The body must expend extra energy to ward off bacterial and parasitic infections, resulting in weight loss and an unthrifty hair coat. Horses that are sick as a result of infections may refuse to eat just as a human would, even if sufficient feed is available. Chronic infections as a result of neglect may include pneumonia, pyometra in mares, peritonitis, internal abscesses, and especially pyoderma. Skin diseases, dermatophytosis, and rain rot are typical of horses that have nutritional deficiencies or have been left out in the weather for extended amounts of time without being groomed. Many neglect cases will display crusting, scaling, and alopecia, with lesions distributed across the chest, back, rump, and limbs. Treatment of these conditions varies upon the causative agent of the lesions.
A physical exam performed early on in case management can greatly improve the prognosis of these cases. These exams may also illuminate parasitic infestations. Blood or fecal testing can determine if and where the infestation is occurring, as parasites may play a major role in a horse’s poor body condition score. With this being said, the mere presence of parasite eggs on fecal examination does not necessarily mean that parasites are contributing to a horse’s poor condition; almost all horses have some parasitic infection at nearly all stages of their life, but as long as the parasite load is managed, the horse should not have any complications. As a satisfactory general deworming, I recommend using Ivermectin Paste at least once every six months to manage the most common parasitic infections. As with other types of infections resulting from neglect, the treatment, and management of parasitic infections depends upon the parasite and factors of the individual case itself. Most veterinarians will perform a fecal egg count once every six months to a year to determine what type of parasite the horse(s) are harboring and what deworming method would be most beneficial in that case.
There are hundreds of chronic diseases that can cause a horse to become emaciated if one neglects to manage them. This includes various cancers, Cushing’s disease, gastric ulcers, enterolithiasis, bone fragility syndrome, mandibular fractures, neurologic conditions, mineral deficiencies or toxicities, and various organ dysfunctions and failures. This is only to name a few. These diseases each have their own mechanisms by which they cause increased metabolic demands.
Some diseases cause the horse to lose its appetite, and it loses its body condition as a result of refusing to take in calories. In others, an extreme metabolic demand is placed upon the body by the disease process and the horse is unable to keep up with such demands, thus creating a negative balance between energy intake and expenditures and resulting in weight loss. Each condition involves its own diagnosis, tests, treatments, and management considerations; for these reasons, underweight horses must be thoroughly examined early on in the rehabilitation process. It cannot be stressed enough that early diagnosis and correct treatment is key in the survival and success of abuse and neglect cases.
The Importance of Training Rehabbed Horses
One aspect of horse rehabilitation that many people do not initially consider is training. Many horses brought in to be rehabilitated have health conditions that require physical therapy in order to fully overcome. Some may have developed fear and aggression towards humans as a result of previous abuse, and others may have been without human interaction for so long that they require retraining. Still others may have behavioral issues that caused them to be abused or neglected in the first place. Either way, many horses require training or retraining in order to obtain the physical and psychological well-being to facilitate the re-homing process, which is the desired end-goal of the training rehabilitation process.
Rehabilitation trainers often use either positive or negative reinforcement training strategies before horses are released to their new homes. In a recent study, most horses benefited most quickly and effectively from positive reinforcement techniques. This education should be passed on to fosters and new owners of re-homed horses. Not only does this increase the chances of a horse being re-homed, but it also makes the handling of the animal safer and more enjoyable for the horse, and the rehabilitation staff, and the future owners.
The Rewarding Results
In successful rehabilitation cases, it is extremely rewarding to watch horses go from depressing, scarred, emaciated beings to the healthy, gleaming, majestic beings they were meant to be. Successful rehabilitation cases are always made possible by people who care for the animal’s well-being, diligent veterinary care, and proper nutritional support. This takes a team of many people, thousands of dollars in management, and months of time, but the end result makes it worth it; a beautiful living being with another shot at life and happiness.
- Nutrition for rehabilitating the starved horse
A guide to proper feeding and nutrition for horses that are starving and/or malnourished.
- Equine pyoderma associated with malnutrition and unhygienic conditions due to neglect in a herd. -
A case study of pyoderma due to neglect in a herd of horses. J Vet Med Sci. 2003 Apr;65(4):527-9.
- Negative versus positive reinforcement: An evaluation of training strategies for rehabilitated horse
Using positive and negative reinforcement when training rehabilitated horses.
- Pony With Overgrown Feet Rescued : The Humane Society of the United States
After years of neglect, Herbie was found with hooves so overgrown they resembled snow skis. After having a combined 28 inches of foot removed, his rehabilitation is slow but steady.
- Pair of horses with grotesquely overgrown hooves taken into care - Horsetalk.co.nz
Most extreme hoof neglect seen in organization's 26-year history.
Equine Rehab Quiz
For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.
- How many horses are categorized as unwanted in the U.S. each year?
- An estimated 50,000
- An estimated 100,000
- An estimated 250,000
- Suddenly dropping food from the mouth secondary to tooth problems is called:
- What medical condition may occur if an emaciated patient is given too many concentrated calories too quickly?
- Muscles tying up
- Refeeding syndrome
- An estimated 100,000
- Refeeding syndrome
© 2018 Liz Hardin
How to make a complaint
When making a complaint about neglected, abused or abandoned animals, please adhere to the following lists of dos and don’ts. To help a case proceed as smoothly as possible, here is what you want to do:
• Provide the address where the horse is located. If that’s not possible, give directions that are as precise as possible. For example, heading north on highway 77 from the interstate, go two miles to county road 100 and turn right, then drive about a mile. The horses are on the right side of the road, behind a barbed wire fence next to a mobile home that appears to be abandoned.
We often get directions such as, “The skinny horses are in Moody, Texas, on highway 7,” but highway 7 may be hundreds of miles long. I’ve even received directions that say, “There is a starving horse behind the yellow house in Emory.” Without specific information, we cannot locate the horses and get them help.
• Take photos or videos from a public road, if it’s allowed in your state. These images will help law enforcement and/or the rescue identify which horses you are reporting and decide how dire the situation is before they act.
You may not trespass to obtain images. If you want to go onto neighbor-ing property to see the horses better, you must first get permission. Some states have “ag gag” laws---anti-whistleblower measures that make it illegal to record incidents of alleged animal cruelty in farming practices. You might be able to make the case that an ag gag law doesn’t apply to photographing a neglected or abandoned horse, but a judge may disagree if the owner sues or presses charges.
• Document as many details as you can. Write down the number of horses, their colors and distinguishing markings you can see from a distance, the condition of each horse, and any other pertinent details. If you see the horses frequently, start a log and record the date and time you see the horses, and note any changes in their condition.
• Give the authorities time to work. If a neglected horse’s life is not in immediate danger, most law enforcement officers will give the owner an opportunity to correct the situation. They will educate the owner on proper care practices and set guidelines for improvement, then visit again to see whether the owner has complied. Law enforcement may also take the time to get a second opinion from an expert, such as a veterinarian or farrier. All of this takes time---weeks, at least, or maybe months. If, after all of this the owner has not complied and the horses are still neglected, only then will law enforcement begin procedures to remove the horses.
If you see a horse whose life you believe is in immediate danger, call the authorities and ask them to meet you at the scene. Dire situations would include horses with no water in the summertime, a horse who is down and cannot rise, one who is tangled in the fence and struggling, or a horse who has been seriously injured.
If you’ve reported a case and are worried that it isn’t being handled in a timely manner, you can check back in with the agency you called. They most likely won’t discuss the details of an ongoing investigation, but they may let you know if they determined that there was no legal neglect or abuse. They might do this because the case was borderline and didn’t meet a prosecutable legal definition of neglect or abuse the horse might have been ill and already under the care of a veterinarian or the horses might have been gone when the authorities investigated.
We serve all of Haywood County, North Carolina being easily located at exit #20 off of I40 west of Asheville, NC.
STAR Ranch is an all volunteer animal rescue looking for more volunteers and good homes for dogs, cats and horses.
We are Jim and Karen Owens, retired from Ohio and Florida as you will see on the web site. We started STAR primarily for horses because there was no place for them to go in Haywood Co. if animal control did actually seize, which they seldom do. We work closely with AC and provide education, hay, feed to owners who simply don't know about the horse they have. OR we provide a safe haven for the abused, starved and neglected horse an owner no longer cares for. We prefer to have the owner relinquish to STAR and sometimes 'buy' a horse out of bondage.
- Horse Abuse
- Abuse in Racing
- Abuse in Rodeo
- Abuse in the Show Ring
- Abuse in PMU
- Stories of Survival
- Poetry & Essays
- Guest Book
The types of abuse
There are different kinds of horse abuse in this world. Below are some examples and explanations to the types of abuse today's horses face.
1) Training Abuse- When pain is inflicted on a horse to make training easier. This could include abusive equipment in dressage- such as cranks and pulleys. It could also be when a horse is "tied and sacked". This is when young horses are tied to posts and struck over and over again with a sack. These horses then have their back legs tied up and a forced to stay in the same position for hours or days at a time to become more submissive toward people. Sacking can also include hitting your horse repeatedly with any object in order to spook train them.
2) Neglect- This type of abuse is caused when a horse isn't given adequate food, shelter, water, or care. Thousands of horses live in terrible conditions and are starved because they cannot be payed for. Winter is a prime time for unwanted or malnourished horses. Causes for a neglected horse can be a lack of money to pay for proper care, laziness, a lack of horse knowledge, or many other reasons.
3) Riding Abuse- When a horse is forced to work for excessive amounts of time. This is often the case with camp horses, who are ridden hard for hours at a time in the heat of summer. Riding abuse also occurs when performance horses are excessively whipped or spurred.
4) Backyard Breeding- Backyard breeding is a form of abuse, though it may not look like it on the outside. Backyard breeding is when people breed their mares to either pass on the bloodlines (some people want their mare to experience the "joys of motherhood"), sell the foal to make a quick buck, or just want a "cute little foal" to play with. Either way, backyard breeding creates millions of unwanted horses.
There are only a few reasons to breed your mare.
1) Your mare has perfect conformation.
2) Your mare is a rare breed that you wish to help preserve.
3) Your mare has superb bloodlines.
4) Your mare excells in a sport/sports and has won numerous competitions.
Some people ask why others choose to abuse horses. There is no really good answer for this question but I will try to help some people understand the subject a little better.
In many cases it is lack of knowledge. A small child wants a pony and the family gladly gets him or her one, but do they know what it really takes? More often than not they don't, they see it as just another pet that is really easy to take care of.
"All we have to do is give it some water and a little food, and it will be fine"
But that is not the way it is. Horses are complicated animals that take special care. There is a different diet for each horse and each needs a different amount of love and care. Not realizing these things the family then unintentionally abuses the horse. Others cannot afford to care for their horses but refuse to sell them because they love them.
Along with the diet and care is the training. It seems to be a growing trend to buy your child a horse that they can grow up with, but this is very bad. A young horse does not have the manners and training to be around young children. A rule of thumb to remember when buying your child a horse or pony is that the child's and horse's combined ages should be at least twenty.
The young horse is then left without proper care because the family does not know how to handle it. Others that try to train the horses without the proper knowledge get frustrated and begin to beat the horse for wrong doings. They do not realize that they were the ones that taught their horses the bad behavior.
Many men see themselves as dominant beings over their horses. They also get frustrated and act out physically at their horses. Physical action toward a horse is not the only abuse. There is also mental abuse. The "dominant being" may call the horse stupid or treat the horse with disrespect. The horse then becomes withdrawn and inactive. The work the horse usually does becomes a strain, and work is despised. This despise turns into a behavioral problem, which causes more physical abuse.
Before you buy a horse, please consider all of the care and costs of owning one. If you think you can't afford it then don't try to support one. If you insist on owning a horse, ask a friend that also wants a horse if they will split the costs with you. Horses are very expensive so splitting the costs and care is very helpful. You may not have any horse loving friends and that is okay. If you love horses and want to be around them, but can't afford it, then get a job with horses. If you search your area there is probably a barn that needs help grooming or feeding. Many barns will even give you riding lessons in return for work. This is the way to be around horses. There is no need to have another abused horse in the world.
If you don't know the abuse laws in your state please visit this site and read to see what they are.