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

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As far as any of the legal aspects of this, that isn't something we can comment on.  
Wendy W - WI
Yay poop!
Jenni O.
Hurray for poop! And that is one cute mush mouth.

I'm still wishing bad things on his previous owners.
This re-feeding syndrome-I never heard of it, but then I never ever seen any horses this thin except Faith.  I was sooo new to your program at that time that I must have missed this term.  But I spent time with Wikipedia yesterday and read all about it.  They said the most critical time was 3 to 5 days, does this hold out with the knowledge you have Karen and Scott?

The pic looks great, thanks Karen.
Denise S - WW
Really happy he found his way to you guys. If he will recover anywhere, it will be with you. GOD Bless you both. And Roy too!! Maybe I missed it in skimming the earlier posts but do you have any idea how old he is? Happy he is eating & pooping!
Love the mash covered muzzle! His eyes look happy and bright which is good because I'm thinking he hasn't given up and is a fighter. He reminds me a lot of the shape Faith was in when you got her. Hopefully, he will continue to improve. Like everyone has said, I can't imagine how anyone can do this to a helpless animal! 
Avoiding re-feeding syndrome is something that we deal with in every starved horse that comes to us.  It is a very real problem.  It is not uncommon at all to see people rescue a severely malnourished horse and then see that horse die from 3 days to about 2 weeks into care, and the reason often times is re-feeding syndrome, even though the people had no idea that is what caused it...they think the horse was just too far gone, which can be the case, but more often than not when someone rescues a horse who does not know about refeeding syndrome, they generally "kill the horse with kindness" by feeding them too much.  I've seen that happen many times.  In talking with our veterinarian regarding Roy, he said that Roy is in danger of re-feeding syndrome for up to a month because of his extremely poor condition and his elevated liver enzymes.  A lot of times when people take in a very skinny, malnourished horse, they instinctively want to throw food at them right away to get them to gain weight, and that shocks the horse's system, and a lot people did not realize what could happen and don't realize what happened when the horse dies.  

Here is some basic information about re-feeding syndrome and a link to read in depth about it.  The important part when reading the article this person wrote is to remember that each horse needs to be treated individually.  





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. 


This is so interesting and excellent information to have.  
I am coming into this very late, but my heart goes out to Roy.  Thank you, Scott and Karen, for being there for him.  The words may seem little, but the emotion behind them is intense.
Scott: MHWF

In a program like MHWF, there are days that make us feel very lucky to live this modest but very rewarding life, but with that also come days that make you question it all and fill you with a mix bag of emotions; frustration, a sense of being overwhelmed, anger, and even failure and sadness. Yesterday was an ugly mixture of all of those emotions.

It is with great sadness and much frustration and hurt that we let you all know that Roy passed away yesterday, despite our efforts to get him through these first days.

On Saturday morning we went out to do morning chores, and we decided it was time to get Roy out into the sunlight for a few minutes while we cleaned his stall and got his breakfast soaked and ready for him. We took him out to the round pen and went in the barn to clean his stall.

When we had his stall cleaned, new fresh bedding laid and his food and water ready to go (about 10 minutes), we came out to get him and found him down. Knowing how weak he was in his back end and knowing that he had next to no muscle to even hold himself up, we did not waste any time working to get him back to his feet. Despite hours of trying to get him up and even using the sling and skidsteer to pick him up and let him get his feet under him, Roy gave up. He refused to try to stand and had that all too familiar look of defeat on his face. We knew what had to be done. We put in an emergency call to the vet and he was here within a half hour, Roy was put to rest after a short exam, listening to his heart, etc.

There are so many things we want to say about Roy and this case, too many to write and a few things we probably should not write. What we will say is that we were very concerned about Roy from the start and knew this his recovery was going to be touch and go and that luck needed to be on his side, but we still wanted to give him every chance we could and hopefully be able to share photos of him fully recovered, like the case with Faith. To have failed with that is not only frustrating, infuriating, more than that, it is heart breaking. Roy lived out his final year in absolute torture, being starved to death until his organs shut down. He had enough fight left in him to get free of that situation and get help. If only we had gotten him a month earlier, his chances of recovery would have gone up a great deal. In the condition he was in, it appears he was just too far gone.

Roy was a very sweet old soul and we truly wish he had more time with us to know what it feels like to be cared for, loved and fed. He only got a few of those days, sadly. He passed away very quietly laying in the sun and eating a huge bowl of feed. Hopefully he knew that people cared about him. There were so many people that showed their support for Roy that we cannot even mention them all. Hopefully Roy knew that so many people cared and so many people were pulling for him. His loss is a very bitter and sad pill to swallow for us all. He deserved better.

In honor of Roy’s willpower to walk down that highway and live, we promise to share the support and love you all sent Roy’s way and pour that into another horse that needs our help. In his honor and in his memory another horse will get a chance at a new life. We can think of no better way to honor Roy. We are so sorry to share this sad news with all of you tonight and could not be more saddened at his passing. We vow to turn this horrible story into a happy ending for another horse.

Scott and Karen - I am so sorry that Roy didn't make it. I was so hoping he would recover like Faith did. I can just imagine the range of emotions you must both feel over a situation like this. Roy passed knowing love and compassion. Thank you for all you did for him.
Faye - WI
Wow. I am truly sorry for the loss of Roy, and for the sadness it has brought to the both of you and to the followers of this forum. Hopefully Roy in the end understood he was loved and cared for.
Sue J
Words cannot even express how I feel right now.  Thank you Scott and Karen for trying to save him. Just a very heavy heart and sadness from all of us... RIP sweet Roy you will no longer feel the pain of hunger.
Thank you everyone for your kindness and compassion for Roy and for us.  It truly is appreciated more than we can express.  This is absolutely heartbreaking and devastating to have a horse come to you like this and not be able to save him.  To see a horse literally starve to death is heartbreaking on so many levels, I feel so bad for Roy that he had to go through this and as hard as this is to deal with, I am glad that he did make it to us for his final days.  
Wendy W - WI
I can't stop crying.  There was something about Roy that really touched me.  You know they all do, but there was really something about Roy.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for rescuing him and showing him love.  I think about your words on how he nickered and whinnied to you every chance he could.  He was happy and knew love....and he wasn't hungry anymore.  You gave him a wonderful gift even though it was a short time and a loving peaceful end.  RIP buddy.  
Donna R
Thank you Scott and Karen for taking Roy in.  He was in the best hands possible and lived his last days finally knowing love and care.  It was just too late to be able to turn things around. This is totally heartbreaking.  I'm so sorry.
I am so sorry!  So very, very sorry...
Jan N
Karen, Scott,

Roy made his way to loving, knowledgeable people. They gave him warmth, the physical care he desperately needed and the simple, tender human touch he had no doubt been denied for so long. Best of all, they provided food - lovely, wonderful, food... food which he could actually eat! Roy's awareness of this had to be so very very comforting to him I can hardly imagine how emotionally relieved and full of joy this allowed him to feel.

To some folks, perhaps the efforts you made on his behalf might be termed "unsuccessful". For Roy I imagine it felt like there was absolutely *nothing* better than where he found himself. For this I thank you from the deepest reaches of my heart.

Goals are important. They help drive us towards where we think/believe we should go. Your efforts didn't save Roy, but they did the next best thing... by giving him exactly what he needed to keep on trying, one tough day at a time. Then, you gave him the great gift of recognizing and accepting when he'd had enough. The path we follow in pursuit of our goals is generally more important than wherever we end up. I have utmost respect and appreciation for the path you both have chosen. I honor you for it, more than I know how to say.

Sending my sympathy your way..,
I am saddened to hear that Roy has passed.  He was a brave and gentle soul that found love and compassion from you, Karen and Scott.  You gave him a few more days of life that he wouldn't have had if he stayed where he was.  Yes, we all loved him, prayed for him and wished that he would recover.  Now we will weep for him along with you.

May GOD give you peace, for what you do to GOD's creatures, you do unto him, and GOD will hold you in his arms forever.
Barb S.
The two of you made his last days filled with loving care. You gave him his dignity back even if for a brief time. That's extremely important! Thank You for all you guys do!
Denise S - WW
These kind of goodbyes must be the absolute worst. My heart is breaking for you both. I am so sorry. Know that you did all that you could. Hugs...
So sorry about losing Roy. Scott and Karen, you did not fail him. He knew in his last days that he mattered and he felt loved. Maybe that was all he wanted before he left this world. You two gave him that.
Sorry to hear this but don't blame yourselves in any way for what others had done to him. He was too far gone and I think maybe Roy just escaped and came to you so he could have a place to go peacefully and with love.

Keep in mind he left this world at MHWF in a warm,dry place in the sunshine. He was with people who cared and he had the comfort of horses nearby. Think of what it would have been like for him to pass away at his last home. I won't put into words about that here on the forum as it isn't necessary. You know what that would have been like that for him. Peace.
thank you for trying to do what appears now to be the impossible.

Roy is at peace even though we are not, because the reptiles who did this to him don't feel a thing.
You have done so many miracles in these situations.  Roy was just too far gone unfortunately, thanks for making Roy's last days comfortable and with a full belly.
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