Heart of Phoenix: Our Expertise? The Extremely Starved Equine

Out of the nearly 300 horses saved by Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue,  most have been body scores of 1.

Rescue can mean animals come from all types of situations, and in horses, this often means auction, owners unable to afford care anymore, off track race horses and the like.

For HOP, it almost always means saving from the brink of utter, complete starvation.

In body condition scoring, 1 is the lowest universally accepted, though some of us absolutely believe .5 scores do exist and can survive.

The ideal score is 5-6, generally, so body score 1 horses have lost hundreds and hundreds of pounds. They have sometimes have lost so much muscle they have deep holes as big as your fist throughout their muscles. You can always see their neck vertebrae, spinal vertebrae and their belly / spine circumference is so small, some adults can nearly wrap their arms around their entire girth. Their necks are pencil thin, their heads appearing gigantic and dangling like big boxes on a mere twig.

Why does this matter? Refeeding the grossly underweight horse is precarious and many find it extremely difficult, unfortunately. Many rescues, actually, do struggle with this process even in horses of a body score higher than 1.

I believe because HOP has since our inception been covered up by the sheer scale of the need in Appalachia for helping horses in this condition, we were forced to mull over every possible aspect in a way few would ever need to, and as a result, we can say out of nearly 300 cases of rescue, we have only lost 2, body score 1 or less (we believe both were body score .5) horses. Both cases were very senior and extremely large horses at or over 16hh. V-Anna and Friday had suffered for many, many years and their bodies had to go through more than a smaller horse would to lose that much weight. They were beyond hope, and though rarely, that can happen. They aren’t indestructible, but they are resilient!

These are a few of our many cases at intake, and if you would like to learn about our refeeding process, please visit our blog here.

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