Last week, we at Idaho Horse Rescue received more than one report of the possible abuse and neglect of five horses out in Owyhee County. We were informed that it seemed as though they weren’t getting food or water but only every few days and that no one had been around to make sure that these fundamental needs were being met. When we contacted Owyhee County Sheriff’s Department, they drove out to the property to conduct a wellness check and found the horses in squalid conditions. The sheriff’s department then requested the Idaho Department of Agriculture to have their veterinarian assess the situation. Upon this report, the Owyhee Sheriff seized the horses and contacted us to ask if we could take ownership. Over the weekend we were finally able to drive out to rescue these animals.
The conditions they had been subjected to were abhorrent to say the least. There were two studs, two mares and a filly confined together in a pen no larger than about 24 feet square. The stud horses had been allowed to run with the mares which can be a disastrous situation. All had been neglected to a point where their spine, ribs, and hip bones were visible. Our Director, Robert Bruno body scored three of them at a 1 and the two studs at a 2, using the Henneke Body Condition Scoring System. It was obvious they hadn’t seen a farrier in quite some time, the filly probably never had. In fact, the yearling’s feet were so neglected that her joints didn’t seem to be functioning normally.
I had not been on a rescue previously and when you see first-hand the state that these horses have been kept in, your first instinct is to hug and love on them. However they have been so badly abused that the slightest movement will make them flinch. It is truly heartbreaking to witness. When animals suffer abuse and neglect, they (rightly so) lose all trust in humans. By nature horses are herd animals and in cases of abuse, they become even more tightly herd bound. Upon arriving back at our facility, the two mares, filly and one stud would run together keeping barely any space between them. The filly we rescued hasn’t been weaned yet, she was born into her situation and it is so sad to think that up until this point, she hadn’t known any other way of life. They didn’t know what grain was, or even apples or carrots but they do now. In fact it wasn’t until we put out some alfalfa hay that they cautiously made their way towards the flake.
We at Idaho Horse Rescue strive to rehabilitate these beautiful creatures and help them to heal both physically and mentally from their abuse. Our overall goal is to find a kind and loving home for each one of our rescues. In a safe place, with humans they can put their whole trust in again. We know we can undo the damage, but it is going to take time and we can’t do it alone. Help us help them! Together we can make it a little easier, a little better and help them feel loved.