The neglect of a horse comes in many forms. The “less severe” cases are too often ignored. I do not understand why.
When you mention neglect or abuse, one’s mind automatically goes to “worst case scenario”, thinking of the severely emaciated horse who looks like nothing but a skeleton with skin. One imagines sores on the body and hooves that have curled up to its knees. One thinks about a horse that is out of water, has no hay or food and is knocking on death’s door. We see these pictures and are horrified.
Yet, unfortunately, there are less severe cases that are looked past every day. Hooves that are upward of 1 ½ to 2 inches longer than they should be. I consider that a form of neglect. Horses that are kept in a stall 24/7, rarely (if ever) seeing the light of day. I consider that a form of abuse. Too many horses in one area? Not the worst form of abuse, but abuse nonetheless, neglect to provide for their needs. Those needs do not only include food and water. If you look at the conformation of a horse, you will see that they are meant to MOVE, not to stand idle. Their entire system (digestive, metabolic, etc.) is created to MOVE.
It breaks my heart when I run across these scenarios, and as a trimmer, it happens all the time. I trim hooves that are so shameful, I would be embarrassed to let anyone see. People will call me every 5 or 6 months to trim instead of keeping their horses on a regular schedule. By this point, the hooves are terrible, chipped, cracked, and so long that the sensitive laminae are stretched. Though the horses may not dead lame, they are still suffering and uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, in most cases, there is absolutely nothing that can be done for these animals. If the case is not severe enough to warrant legal action, the animal will continue to suffer. Sometimes it may be lack of knowledge or money, but there are many times in which the owner/caretaker simply doesn’t want to do what it takes to keep their horse cared for properly. They are seeing the horse as simply a piece of property and either don’t know or don’t care about the life or spirit of the horse. It is sad and it is very difficult for me to look past.
To those of you who do go that extra mile and put in all those hours properly caring for your horse, I send a personal “thank you”. Thank you for caring.