Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation, Inc. ----Discussion Forum

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Scott: MHWF
Hi Yohn, right now just about everything is up in the air, at least for a few more days. We can care for them, trim them, de-worm them, feed them, vaccinate them and even float their teeth (although a couple of them are not even in good enough health to be able to handle vaccines or teeth floating at this point). We cannot geld them until and unless we get ownership of them...until then we sit in a frustrating holding pattern.

As far as fostering, that will probably not happen. As you know, we try not to foster any horses at all. In a foster home there it is very hard to monitor their care and document what they are getting and how they are being treated. Most legit organizations do very little or no fostering for these exact reasons.
I mention foster as I know there are a few fellow adopters you trust well that are somewhat nearby.  Just wondered if it was a possibility to help take some of the burden off of you guys and if they had some pasture space to help nourish a few.  Receiving 6 equines at once I know must put some stress on resources.

Because some of these horses are obviously starving, do you have to slowly introduce feed such as grain for colic or founder concerns?

These horses at least have a chance now under MHWF and supporters.

We have the two studs at a friend's place, as we are not set up properly for studs.  

John, re-feeding syndrome is a huge problem with emaciated horses, and I will provide some links here for anyone who is interested in reading about what re-feeding syndrome is and how to properly care for a starving equine:  

We see far too many horses who were rescued only to succumb to refeeding syndrome and die within days of rescue. DO NOT FEED A STARVING HORSE GRAIN.  Grain Will Often Kill a Starving Horse within 2 - 3 days  Education is the key!  Grain Kills.  


From DVM360: Simple diet recommended

Because of the importance of reducing insulin elevation while re-feeding and because of the extreme sensitivity of starved horses to concentrations of potassium, magnesium and phosphorus, the best diet to use is surprisingly one of the simplest.

"The best approach to re-feeding a starved horse is to give frequent (every 4 hours) meals of high-quality alfalfa hay," Stull says.

One pound or about one-sixth of a flake at each meal will provide a good source of protein to begin rebuilding the body. Because alfalfa is high in calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, it helps provide electrolytes that reduce the risk for catastrophic system failure."


The link is to the article from UC Davis that explains the reasons why in great detail but basically, if you feed a starving horse grain, you are likely to send it into insulin shock, it's organs shut down and it dies 2-4 days after it's meal.

http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/ceh/docs/horsereport/pubs-July2012-bkm-sec.pdf RE-Feeding Resources


http://veterinarynews.dvm360.com/refeeding-starved-horses?id=&sk=&date=&%0A%09%09%09&pageID=2 http://www.starvinghorses.com/Refeedingsyndrome.html 




I had heard about simply feeding good alfalfa but I did not realize the amount would be so small at first. One pound every four hours?  That's only one flake in the first day- how is that enough? What about ulcers?  Or maybe they are assumed to already have ulcers on top of everything else. Or is it more that their system is so compromised it takes four hours to process the smidgen? 
Some of the links didn't work, but don't bother answering; you're busy.  I'm just wondering.
Donna M
2 of the 6 are blind? Are there other blind horses at that place? What might have caused the blindness? Malnutrition, injury, genetics? 
No other blind ones, not sure on why they are blind, but untreated injury is a guess.
Karen and Scott are definitely experts at this.  

I followed their careful advice last year with my two starved cases.  We just fed four or five feedings of hay for 3 weeks.. it's hard as you want so badly to do more.  I started putting mine out on a small pasture for 30 minutes a day and the mare coliced after 3 days so we had to back track on that route.  When I did start with the grain (Triple crown senior), it was a very small amount.   Addy lost a lot of her hair in patches like this old mare, but it came back beautifully.  The gelding had an icky rain rot issue on his legs that actually took more work to clear up then anything else.  It's why I asked about the lice.   We felt a lot of their skin issues were due to lack of nutrition.  They both still eat all the salt/mineral mixes I put out for them and of course every bit of hay daily.  Addy has become much less obsessed about food but Toby is still very pushy and concerned about his food source.  (Might be a guy thing. HA.)

Is there such a thing as "starved horse syndrome" where they become obsessed with food in an unhealthy way?  Have you seen horses that you couldn't rehab because they were mentally too far gone ?
WOW!  What great info Karen, I kind of suspected as such on the feed.  Glad you guys do so much homework, and some from the school of hard knocks on these things and share with all of us.

One of the greatest things about the MHWF forum are all the tid-bits of real experience from so many.  I can read pages and pages of Vet things, which I still do, but within several posts here I can gain a bunch of ideas LOL - the Cliff notes of Equines

Back to what is important so I don't hijack, getting these horses to health.  I know you and Scott, you will be in love with them within a week or 2.  You both and others thrive on seeing happy equines.
I hope all will come through this and I know no other place I would put them to give them best chance.

You know what?  I am excited to see the pictures 6 months from now of this group.  I remember a friend I followed by the name of Reb about 5 years ago and the amazing transformation.  I was also so glad to see an amazing women adopt him.  The same will happen with this group.
Deb, you did an amazing job with those horses!  
You are right about skin issues and from being malnourished.  When these horses are so malnourished, their immune system is in the dumps and little things such as bacteria, lice, other parasites and any variety of things that would be nothing to a healthy horse can cause issues.  That is why it is so common to see rain rot and lice and other things like that in these emaciated horses...no immune system, and most likely they were in bad conditions as well.  You know what it's like even when you see a horse that has a bad worm load and how unhealthy their hair coat looks.  Cherokee also had 3/4 of her body bald when she came into us and hardly any mane.  

We've never had a starvation case too far mentally gone to save.  Starvation cases always bounce back mentally, some within days, some weeks, some months, some maybe a little longer.  I think those food hogs that you speak of Deb, were probably predisposed to being that way anyway.  We've rehabbed a lot of starving horses over the years and they usually don't have any lasting effects emotionally from that.  
We have had one cruelty case that never bounced back all the way mentally some years ago...from severe mistreatment that inflicted a lot of pain over many years.  She lived out a happy life with us in a herd situation, but never truly trusted people.
BetC, I didn't see your question earlier....the answer is in the articles I posted.  This link should work: 

I will copy/paste some info from one of the other links here as well that answers your questions:  

Horses typically consume 1.5-3.0% of body weight in forage per day.  If additional calories are needed, concentrates can be fed, usually at no more than 1.5% of body weightper day,  and often much less.   So what happens when horses are chronically malnourished?  Horses that have little to eat obviously lose weight, and may be in various states, having body scores that range from 1-3 on a scale of 1-9, with 1 being severely emaciated and 9 showing severe obesity.  When a malnourished horse comes into the care of a responsible party, the first step is to have the horse evaluated by an equine veterinarian.  This will help to guide the refeeding process, so that weight gain can be accomplished while mitigating complications that can occur during refeeding.   

The most common reasons for horses to be malnourishedare ignorance and economic hardship.  In some cases the party may be an animal hoarder, having more animals than any one person can reasonably provide food and basic attention to the individual horse.  At minimum, each horse requiresabout 30 minutes per day to feed, water, and monitor for wounds, illness, or other malady.  

 Starving horses receive little or no food.  They may suffer from various medical conditions including parasitism, poor dental care, and systemic illness such as pneumonia.  Cold weather, pregnancy, and growth compound the situation.   

Horses at risk for malnourishment and refeeding syndrome include those with body condition scores below 3/9, those that have fasted longer than 5-10 days, those with 10% or greater weight loss over 60 days, and those with endocrine diseases. Ponies and miniature horses may have hepatic lipidosis and hyperlipemia;pregnant animals are also at risk for this disorder, and they may abort.  They may have a pendulous or large abdomen, ahead disproportionate to the body, no fat covering over boney protuberances, dull and shaggy coat that does not shed, depression, low hanging head, and lethargy.  Subsequently, there may be colic, dysphagia and subsequent esophageal obstruction, weakness, inability to rise without assistance, and sterotypical behaviors such as cribbing and weaving.   

Refeeding syndrome, then, is a complication of refeeding severely malnourished horses, which can happen 3-10 days following the introduction of feed.  Eating triggers the production of insulin, which is needed to send glucose into the cells of the body, but it also is responsible for some electrolyte movement into cells, most notably magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, leaving a lack of them outside the cell, which can cause severe metabolic disorders and failure of the heart, lungs, and kidneys. In severe cases, the brain will become affected.  Horses with normal stores of the electrolytes and other minerals are equipped to handle changes; starved horses do not have body stores of minerals, and cannot respond appropriately.  Signs of refeeding syndrome include increased weakness, neurologic dysfunction, irritability, and aggression.  Any of these signs warrants immediate evaluation by an equine veterinarian who can monitor fluid and electrolyte shifts, correcting imbalances via intravenous fluids and electrolytes.   

When the animal is starving, the body indiscriminately uses tissues to survive.  This may lead to long-term consequences when the heart or kidneys become damaged.  In contrast, well fed horses have a fat and carbohydrates in their diet, providing calories.  The body will build stores that are used when the horse lives, works, plays, and sleeps.   

Once a horse loses 50% of its body weight, the prognosis for survival is poor.  Those that become recumbent and unable to rise or even stand without assistance, and the use of a sling may be warranted.   

Refeeding the horse thus requires a slow and steady provision of food in order to avoid overwhelming the impaired digestive tract and metabolic system.  Long periods of starvation affect the lining of the GIT, leading to impaired absorption of nutrients and water.  There is also an increased risk of sepsis, as bacteria are more likely to enter the bloodstream as they translocate across the intestinal wall.   

Dehydration is common in neglected horses.  If water is suddenly allowed, this may cause sudden and severe shifts of fluid into the cells, which is inappropriate and can cause permanent damage.  Thus offering small amounts of water frequently may be warranted.  Once thirst has been sated, then the horse can be allowed free choice water.  In some cases, intravenous fluids may be necessary, while in others a diluted electrolyte solution may need to be provided via nasogastric intubation.   

For the first 7-14 days, no grain or other supplement should be provided.  Small amounts of alfalfa hay is ideal.  Grass hay may be substituted.  Some horses may not be able to masticate properly, due to muscle loss, and soaked alfalfa pellets may be used.  Triple Crown Senior is a complete feed that also works very well.  Again, small meals are given frequently.  Once the animal has stabilized, then deworming may commence, and the teeth may be floated and other dental problems corrected.  

Scott: MHWF
Just a quick update on the new horses that came in as rescues this past Sunday.

The out-pouring of support on Monday and Tuesday was incredible and we want to thank every single person who offered their help in one way or another.

So far, all six horses are doing well. All of them are very obviously appreciative of having food and water in front of them at all times and all of them nicker to us when we go out to do chores. So far each horse has eaten every bite of every meal we have put in front of them and they are drinking tons of water. Because of all the water intake, they already look a little better, having been so dehydrated before coming here. The little colt at momma's side is even starting to let us pet him a bit. He is super laid back. It has been a very long time since we have had such a young horse here, kind of nice to see first thing every morning.

Vaccinations are here, de-wormers ready, but we do not feel as though any of these horses are in good enough shape yet to do much with them except feed them. Worming them now is still too risky, vaccinations are out of the question until they are a little stronger and dental work is also out of the question until they can handle the sedatives.

So for now we are waiting it out, hoping they get strong enough soon so we can start all the care they will need. We are also anxiously waiting for a call from the authorities to let us know that their owner no longer has any legal rights to them. That call may come in 15 minutes or it might takes months and months. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

Until then we have been asked not to share any more photos or video of the horses until formal charges are filed. We also cannot geld the studs until ownership is released. What we can do is get them as healthy as possible in the time that we have and hope that there is not a long drawn out legal battle.

Until then, thank you and hang tight. We will update as soon as we can.

NEILLSVILLE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Investigators say they will recommend that a homeowner be charged with animal neglect after they removed almost 50 animals from her home.

On Thursday, the Clark County Sheriff's Office named Carolyn Christie, 53, as the suspect in the case. As WEAU 13 News first reported Tuesday, investigators responded to the home on Marg Avenue near Neillsville Saturday, and found more than 50 animals were left out on the property with no food or water. The sheriff's office served a search warrant the next day, and found animals in the home on the property, the basement, and barn area. Deputies said dogs were living in deplorable conditions, and that floors inside were covered in fecal matter and urine. They also said there was an overwhelming smell of ammonia emanating from inside the home.

Investigators also found several horses that were in "extremely poor health." They ended up removing 43 dogs and six horses from the property. The Clark County Humane Society took the dogs and the Midwest Horse Welfare Federation took the horses. 

Some photos of the horses that were turned over to our care on Sunday, 8/16/2015:  

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This made the Mpls news.


My heart goes out to all of them.. but that poor blind pony mare.. I just want to take her home and give her love.. so wonder what her story is. 
Scott: MHWF
We just did a long interview and onsite video of some of the horse for channel 13 out of Eau Claire today......now, the Marshfield News Herald and Channel 18 out of Eau Claire, as well as channel 9 out of Wausau are running stories as well.
This was run on channel 3 out of Madison


Wait. That news clip from Minneapolis keeps showing a pasture with horses in it. I hope that doesn't mean that there are still horses at that place. 
Michelle S.
The fly mask on the horse in the picture of the property makes no sense.  Don't feed or water the horses but protect them from flies?

I noticed in one of the stories that I had read last night it mentions 2 foals being rescued.  Is that a mistake?  I know the blind paint mare has one but what about the other one?
Scott: MHWF
Yeah, that was a mistake. We caught a few in the various newscasts that ran last night....no surprise to us [smile]
Karen K
Why does this have to happen?  It makes me so sad to think of those poor animals out there in that heat with no food or water.  Thank you for saving them.  Made a donation a few minutes ago, hoping it can help a little.
I have posted this on the Vegan Vegetarian Central Wisconsin Facebook group hoping to get some more people interested in donating to help with the rescue.
What's happening with all the other horses still there? Or any other poor animals for that matter. Child and animal neglect/abuse two things I can't understand
Scott: MHWF
I know we have not been around on the forum and website lately, rarely posting a photo of the day, etc. We have the six new rescues come in last week, are working on putting up a permanent building for fundraisers and meetings, have been bringing in hay, vets, farriers, the Fun Show and now working a Packer game this coming Saturday.

We wanted to let everyone know that we are still here, barely, but still here. It's been a busy and exhausting couple of weeks and it will be that was for at least a couple more.

Channel 9 out of Wausau has asked us to do a follow up story on the 6 new rescue horses tonight, so we will squeeze that in yet today. Look for us on Channel 9 WAOW at 10 pm tonight!
We have some really fantastic news to share with all of you regarding these horses.  We got word from the sheriff's department this morning that there has been no petition filed for return of theses horses, which means that we now have official custody of them.  I know that I will be able to sleep a little bit better at night now knowing that we do not have to face any more nightmares such as having to fight to NOT put these horses back in the neglectful situation that they were in.  They are now ours, and we can pursue even further medical care with them.  Let the true healing begin.  

Thank you all for your outpouring of support and love through this horrendous situation.  We will continue to keep you updated on all of the horses and their healing process.  
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