September 1, 2008

Starving Horse - What Would You Do?

Click on photo to enlarge
Sweet, affectionate, pretty
and so hungry.


Not far from my barn is a wonderful horse with a dreadful owner. The girl is young, doesn't know much about horses, doesn't have time, and is not willing for anyone to help her or this wonderful horse.

Yes, he is old, in his twenties, but still has much to give, if only someone would feed him.

I have offered to put him on our well proven feeding program for senior horses, to put him under veterinary care, do the work ... and pay the bills. She has said ... no.

Animal control was called, but were much too kind to her. All she needs is a statement that a vet has been there. She called her friend, a cat-dog vet, to provide the "off the hook" statement.

Shadow is surround by barns filled with well fed, healthy horses. He stands out in the crowd!

All of us in the area that love our horses are not allowed to touch the horse or help the horse.We can only stand by, feel sick, angry and helpless.

This is no way for a sweet, loving horse to end his days, far too soon.

Help! What would you do?


  1. Well, Since traditional methods have failed thus far and you have the money, I think I would call an equine vet and the county sheriff out there at the same time as well as keep reporting her to the Animal Control. And I'd probaly throw a bale of hay out there every chance I had. What a stupid cow! God luck!

  2. Marvel - I got your message about the horse. I would call the Grace Foundation - a great rescue group in Northern California and ask their advice. See if they can recommend a rescue group near you. Their website is I think that this is a problem that rescue organizations face on a regular basis, unfortunately. It's horrible - maybe someone should offer to buy the horse from the owner. It breaks my heart to see this!

  3. This poor horse. I can't believe there are other horses on the property that are being fed. Do you think that perhaps she is letting him starve to death? What a shame,he deserves better.

    If it were me I think I would call animal control again and again and I might also report the vet(her friend) to the proper authorities for falsifying a health claim on an obviously starving horse. Do you think this girl would actually sell him for a small fee to you or a friend then you could get him help and keep him temporarily? I might also call the police, actually the girl who supervised the Arabian adoptions had called the state police and they told her they couldn't get involved taking the horses unless they were starving, so that's what led her to find homes for them. I don't know how the law in your state works. It seems no one will help because it's no one's official problem. Another route might be to contact a reputable local shelter, I am sure they would have much more information than I do and may be able to tell you which way to go with this. Perhaps a TV camera crew from a local network might light a fire under the owner too. I'm probably not much help here but I guess just getting information from local organizations might lead you to an answer.

    Hope you have some luck, let me know how you make out. In the meantime I might sneak over there and give him a few meals (but I'm not advocating that) you could be arrested I guess.

  4. On a different note, have you checked for a virus on your computer. More than likely a virus that has changed your DNS resolver. Run an antivirus on it and it's also a possibility your router has been attacked.

  5. p.s. also if you don't mind I can direct people from my site to yours in hopes of getting more helpful suggestions. I know you are having computer troubles and can't reach as many people as you would like to.

  6. Call your local SPCA or Humane Society (HSUS)and ask that one of their investigators come out.

    Perhaps call the Police -- do they have a "mounted" unit? (Perhaps you could ask the Animal Control what the hell is going on?)

    This is really upsetting. If the horse is not otherwise in need of veterinary care (cancer, parasites, etc.) for which it is receiving care, then there is no reason it should look like that.

    It's enough to make you want to steal the horse. This must be very difficult for you.

  7. I have fought for animals in the past...horses and dogs. Contact someone from Peta...have a TV station come out, Put the photo in the paper...letter to the editor about what you have done so far and how the system is not working. Did you ask the girl why she is not feeding him? I have actually dropped hay off in the dark. Just leave some hay and grain on her property and I bet she will feed it. Don't give up. The horse needs an advocate.
    Lori Skoog

  8. that's horrible. poor guy. i'm not really sure what can be done, but maybe you could organize some kind of intervention with a bunch of people from the other local barns, neighbors, etc... or maybe just keep harassing/petitioning animal control, the local police, aspca or whoever (and get the neighbors involved too) until someone does something....? (i'd also report that vet that said he was fine and signed off on it - that is clearly not someone with the welfare of animals at heart and probably has no business being a vet!) good luck. keep us posted.

  9. Here from Grey Horse. What a sad fellow and a shame to see him in such poor conditions.

    This is a hard one. The "wheels of justice" in the case of animal cruelty can be painfully slow. I don't have a lot of experience in this area but a couple of ideas:

    -Can you form a rotation with your neighbors to continue to report the issue to Animal Control? A different person or two each week. Be the squeaky wheel.

    -Veterinarians, like people doctors, are bound by an ethical code of conduct. If this dog/cat vet came out and actually provided a false statement that the animal was receiving adequate care - report him/her to the state licensing board. It will take some time for the ethics committee to investigate. Once the paperwork is underway, notify Animal Control.

    -If you can do so without entering the owner's property, take photographs and date them. Note decreasing condition and report to Animal Control. You'll need to be subtle about doing this as otherwise the owner will likely just move the animal to a place on the property it can't be viewed.

    -Contact a local hooved animal rescue in your area. Ask them for advise on how to document and get Animal Control to act.

    I'm sure others will have better ideas to follow. Good luck.

  10. Difficult situation. The horse is clearly emaciated. I would approach animal contol again.
    The horse needs to be evaluated by an EQUINE vet; there is a body condition scoring system that is used to determine the degree of malnutrition. Is this horse being boarded? If so, can the owner of the boarding facility be approached with your concern about this starving horse?

  11. I'd be trying to sneak a little feed to him when she isn't looking. The down side of that is that it would make it look as though she is actually doing something to take care of him and that would make it harder to get smething done.

  12. I got here through Grey Horse Matters blog...and I don't care how old that horse is skinny is skinny! The farm I worked at had a 42 year old that we just lost this spring who didn't have teeth who was fatter then that poor pony. Now I would be careful about feeding it grain. Not only could you get in trouble, but for a horse who is that thin they need a gradual bring up in the size of the meal because you dont want them to founder or colic. My advise to you is the same as several other people. Call a local rescue and explain the situation. They might have a specific contact from animal control that they can recommend who is more helpful then "get a vets note". I also like the idea of you and all your neighbors taking turns calling in. At some point Animal control is going to say enough is enough and get something done about this. That poor horse. Keep us all updated on how it turns out. I hope for the best. And with a horse that skinny I doubt that a vet has been out to see it so the poor thing might have worms and bad teeth on top of getting hardly any food. And that is really nice of you to try and talk with the horses young owner and make a feed plan out, I am sorry it didn't work out. I am sure it is hard to call Animal control on a neighbor, but that poor horse really could die because the young girl is ignorant about proper equine nutrition.

  13. I trotted over here from Grey Horse Matters blog, and I am just so terribly sad for this guy.

    How can this happen? How awful to feel as if you're hands are tied.

    When I discovered some horses near me that were being given 'natural hoof care'....basically never getting trims, and with the 6 horses only living on 2 acres. Not enough land to wear down their hooves, so they had slipper feet and could barely walk.

    I called the Livestock Board and they had an agent go visit them and put them on probation observation to make sure their horse's feet stay trimmed and cared for.

    Do you have a Livestock Board in your area that can visit this poor sweet, hungry fellow?

    My heart is breaking knowing this is happening there because it doesn't have to. You and others are willing to help.
    He is going to die of starvation if something is not done soon.


  14. I'd be in touch with the local City or District Attorney about this, and educate them that a dog/cat vet is not the appropriate kind of care. I'd also suggest that teeth might be a problem, that the poor thing might not be able to each properly. Much as I think the PETA people are extremists, this is the kind of thing to get them in outrage mode.

  15. Just thought of something else....

    Call the California Dept. of Food & Agriculture. Perhaps they would send an investigator out?

  16. You've gotten some really good advice from lots of caring and knowledgeable people and I hope you take it.

    By all means, follow all the legal and procedural things suggested. But if time is of the essence and delay may mean irreparable harm to the horse, while various bureaucrats are passing the buck, I might consider something else.
    I'd first consult a good attorney to determine the details of the applicable laws.

    Then I might write the girl a check for $100 and a letter saying, "pursuant to our discussion, enclosed is a check for $100 for the purchase of HORSE'S NAME." Then I might just TAKE the horse at some opportune moment and leave her the letter & check. She'd probably call the cops and charge me with theft. I'd claim she sold me the horse.

    While it's in dispute the horse might remain with me (and get fed) or go to foster care or SPCA care (and get fed).

    If it came down to it, I'd ask for a jury trial during the course of which I'd bring out the details of neglect which might just result in charges against her.
    And I'd use the "greater good" defense to explain my actions. I'd only need one animal-lover on the jury for me to be acquitted, anyway. Meanwhile, she's charged and with luck, the horse gets saved.

    I'm not recommending you do this. I am not in any way advising you to break any law. I'm not saying this is what I would do, myself. Only that, if all else fails, rather than watch the horse die, I might take direct, even if unorthodox action.

    It all depends.


  17. Go to the media!

    And to the owner of the equestrian center.

  18. I galloped over from grey horse the local TV station, get the press out, send a picture of him to the local careful about slandering the vet...whats wrong with the girl? does she have parents?

  19. Marvel,

    I cannot believe that the other people at the barn where Shadow is kept are just looking the other way! We have a few Hooved Animal Humane Societies in Northern Illinois. There has just GOT to be one in California with all of the horses out there. Best Friends is in Utah, perhaps they can contact someone that they know in California. I agree with Callie - I'd keep calling the County Sheriff, Animal Control. Good luck and God Bless you for trying to help poor Shadow. Let us know if we can help in any way. I'd be willing to send in a donation to help you!

  20. Hello, Came over from Grey horse, That girl needs a good spanking! The animal control needs to be updated. The girl has had a she needs to show improvment. No improvement, more harsh circumstances. Involve the media. They won't let it slide. Please keep us posted on the outcome!

  21. I also loped over from Grey Horse. I cant believe the idiot will not accept any help. From the looks of the poor horse, you probably dont have much time left to save it. It makes me very very sad. All of these folks have given you some good advice - go with your heart.

  22. Get everyone you know to call the AC and sheriff. They have to respond everytime they get a report and eventually they will do something. The same person constantly calling won't work, they need new reports. Have the calls spread out to one a day or everyother day-depending on the number of people you have calling.
    This information on how to get a response was given to me by a friend who is an AC in Washington State.

  23. Please let us know if you've made any progress.........

  24. Good luck tomorrow, I hope this girl will listen to reason. If she knows you are trying to help she might just be up for it. I'm sure it will be hard to keep your temper in check but I have a feeling you will.

    The first thing to do is get him out of there.
    If you have no room in your barn maybe he can live outside for a while, the weather is still warm, and when he is feeling better I'm sure a good home can be found for him. He looks so sweet. These things usually work themselves out.


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