Appalling neglect - whats the best thing to do?

Cluny

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I was invited to help handle some horses to get them ready for sale yesterday so i went down to this farm where the horses where. The farm belong to an old farmer/breeder who is in his mid 70's and has been very poorly, and has a very dicky heart and is due back in hospital soon. The old chap was lovely but clearly could not cope with the amount of horses he has (in the 40's with a number of foals due this year).

The farm is pretty run down but the horses that are living in herds in the fields are OK, he also has quite a few Section A's living in groups in small barns just standing on their own muck.

Then there were a number of horses kept in an old cow barn with concrete floor and no bedding and some hay. It's divided up into cow stalls by metal railings so there is nowhere for the horses to lie down, it's dark and bloody cold in there.

In there I saw a sight that shocked me, there was a young 3 year old mare who I would score as a 0 for body condition. Every bone is her body stuck out, there was not one ounce of fat on her, it was horrific. Then we got her out and looked closer, from her shoulder backwards her coat was just covered in the most appalling rain scald I have ever seen, except the scabs were just matted into her coat. It was horrific. We tried to do the best we could in removing the worst of the coat and taking the scabs off and bathing with warm salt water. Throughout this bless her she just stood there.

Then I saw another sight I wish I'd never seen, another mare (they were all TB's) with a five month foal at foot who was very thin. The mare herself was another score of 0, but she had a very damaged back leg which she could not weight bear on, her other legs were shaking with the weight. It was heartbreaking.

We got the scabby mare transferred to a stable and given her hay, but i know that the old man can't cope and he has two girls that help him, but they are not experienced enough to help. One had suggested feeding the starved mares conditioning mix!!!!!

I talked further to the old chap and he was shocked at how bad the mares had got and said he would call the vet out (he'd already been advised to put the mare with the damaged leg to sleep). However, these malnourished mares need round the clock treatment and specialist care.

I'm not going to report to the RSPCA as I don't have any confidence in them, I tried the ILPH but they are closed until Monday, and I tried my local BHS welfare officers but they are not answering their phones.

I am going to try and BHS ladies again tomorrow, but do you think this is the best route to go, or ILPH. This man needs alot of help and to stop breeding horses, his family have no interest to it's really him on his own along with the two girls who get there when they can.

Your advice would be appreciated. These mares need help immediately.
 

angiebaby

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As long as the old man is ok with you trying to help by calling these people, I would call RSPCA, IPLH and BHS welfare. I don't see what else you can do, unless you have the time and money to do it all by yourself!
 

ajn1610

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Are there any other charities in your area? Maybe try Redwings local vets or similar to see if they can offer emergency care and advice.
It sounds as if it isn't a case of ignorance or intentional neglect but that the Owners ill health has prevented him caring for the horses and he hasn't been aware of how bad the situation has become. You say he was shocked so he should be open to receiving help
 

Cluny

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The old man would not know that I had called them, but these two mares are in such appalling condition I'm afraid their welfare comes first. I do feel for the old man, he was a lovely guy and probably has more horse knowledge in his little finger than I have entirely. However he just cannot cope and is not realistic about stopping breeding and is not in good health. I'm not looking for the horses to be taken away from him, nearly all the others look good and healthy but these two mares need help immediately. I'm hoping whichever authority gets involved will guide and help him rather than punishing him, one of the reasons I am not contacting the RSPCA.
 

T_K

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Is there any chance of you helping out for the time being....the ILPH will only take away the worst of the horses....or even advertise locally for an understanding knowledgeable person.

ATM I myself would take on something like this until I found employment....I couldn't let the horses suffer if I knew I could help(if it's near and I can please let me know).
 

Cluny

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T_K thanks so much for your kind offer of help, sadly we're the opposite end of the country to you. I would help if I think it would help, but I can't get there regularly and I think I've rather upset one of the ladies who is helping already by what I said yesterday, diplomacy isn't my strong point when faced with horses in that kind of condition.

I suggested that one of the mares are fed little and often with high fibre and oil feeds, but the old chap couldn't do this. The other mare with the foal, tragically needs to be put to sleep, she can't even stand up properly and has given her all to feed the foal, but even the foal is very thin.

They both need professional help and round the care nursing.
 

YorksG

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Please do not contact RSPCA, they are all too keen to prosecute, please contact ILPH and/or Redwings, who will respond more sympathetcally than the RSPCA
 

Cluny

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Many thanks FestiveG, I'm afraid I dont' have good view of the RSPCA so would never contact them.

Has anyone gone down the route of going through the BHS Welfare officers?
 

LCobby

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BHS county rep will help, but are volunteers, often workng full time day jobs too.
ILPH field officer will help, can you be there with the vet tomorrow?. It may mean having the injured one PTS and making arrangements for her foal first - beyond the experince of his two helpers.
Is there straw for fresh bedding for those in, and some rugs for the thin mares?
 

Cluny

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The mare with the foal has a rug on and the foal also does and seems bright enough but needs the correct nutrition, I also don't like the look of his hind legs conformation, very long pasterns, and very cow hocked.

I can't be there with the vet tomorrow (if he does call him which I think he will, luckily he does use my vet), as I have to be in work, but even if the vet does treat these horses, the old man and his helpers cannot give the care that is needed. It's so very sad.

Tharg, I'm afraid I dont' know any of this friends, and chances are they will be as old as him.

If I had the money, land and time, I'd take the two mares and foal myself, but with two horses already, two DIY livery bills to pay and a full time job, I just couldn't afford them or give them the care they needed. They deserve better.
 

chunklovescooks

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Tharg, the ILPH and Redwings deal with these types of cases a lot, its what they do! dont you think they will understand that he is not neglecting the horses, but is just unable to care for them? the RSPCA are silly sods if they take legal action against a struggling old man. A friend may not be willing to take on 40+ horses, some in a bad condition.
 

Cluny

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Sorry LCobby I forgot to reply to your post. He doesn't seem to have any straw that I could see and those that are in (he has about 5 stables) are on a little shavings, but it's pretty thin and dirty.
 

PeterNatt

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This sounds a very tragic case but the horses must not be allowed to suffer any more.

Please contact the Horse World Welfare (Formerly I.L.P.H.) first thing on Monday Morning on 08000 480180 as they are the best equipped organisation to deal with this matter.

Peter Natt British Horse Society
 

Tharg

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chunklovescooks I meant those such as the RSPCA who would go into a big prosecution if they think there is publicity in it. In this case communication and help is what is needed, not self righteous eejits.

Cluny is he a member of a farmers union?
 

Cluny

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Peter thank you, I have just tried both my local BHS welfare officers again, but they aren't answering their phones, but as volunteers I cannot blame them. I will call the ILPH first thing tomorrow morning when they open at 8am.

Chunk he's in North Somerset.
 

Shilasdair

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What a difficult situation to be in.
I think the most important thing is to prevent further suffering to the mares you have described. Having had to look after an emaciated horse before, I'd strongly suggest you give ad lib hay initially, with free access to water, put lightweight, loosefitting rugs on, and make sure they have plenty of bedding.
Resist the temptation to pour hard feed down them, but start them on small amounts of high fibre feeds, such as Speedibeet, and gradually increase, adding a more nutritional mix when they are ready.
THe 5 month old foal could be fed on Foal mix, starting with a half handful, and building up to the recommended amounts, to prepare for weaning, when the mare is PTS.
I've had experience with SSPCA (ok) and the BHS (better) in the past when I was reported to them years ago for spray painting a horse blue, and starving it (long story
).
I'd try BHS and ILPH, or any more local charities if you can't resolve the situation without intervention.
S
 

LCobby

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IF ILPH can't get to them tomorrow, try BHS main welfarer number.
There may be a 'green yard'' in the area who'd take the mare and foal cases.
 

Cluny

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Tharg, you summed up perfectly what I feel about the RSPCA. I don't know if he's a member of a farmers union I'm afraid. I also don't want him to have any nasty shocks as his heart is not good.
 

Weezy

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If the guy is so lovely then please, please, talk to him and tell him that you are trying to get him help. You have said that he has a dicky heart, and to have officials turning up at his place unannounced could finish him off - old farmers have HUGE pride, and they can take intervention without knowledge of it in a bad way. I understand you want to help the horses, but it sounds as though he does too and didn't realise that things had gotten so bad, so please, have a heart and tell him what you are doing x
 

Cluny

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Weezy, thank you for your thoughts, my OH is an ex dairy farmer and is still in farming and I've met alot of clients and realise that pride is very much a factor. I don't want to hurt this old man in any way, I did suggest him signing the mares over to an animal charity, but he didn't want to. But how do I approach him, he cannot provide the care that these mares need and neither can his helpers, he won't sign them over and they are both in a very bad way. I also suggested that he stops breeding, but with 10 foals on the way this year, he's not willing to stop.

Oofadoofa, thank you.
 

YorksG

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Is the man starting to show signs of dementia? I ask because it is not unknown for this situation to occur as mental capacity fails
As a concerned neighbour there is not much you can do about his health, but again the risk of a prosecution if this was the case would be awful
 

GirlFriday

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These people
www.hillside.org.uk
aren't that close but I know they both look after horses (bought a shire horse sanctuary) and have some arrangements with elderly local farmers (latest is with semi-feral highland cattle which are staying on the farm of the infirm owner but being cared for under supervision). They may be able to suggest a good way of approaching the farmer and they do have a 7-day phone number for gift ordering which I'm sure would put you in touch with someone helpful.

Best of luck - sounds like you're a real blessing for these animals!
 

niagaraduval

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Very sad indeed. I would get the vet out and send the bill to the old owner!
or wait until monday (tomorrow) and phone first thing, maby you could take pictures? I wish I could help in some way
 

checkmate1

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Cluny Im in north somerset. Ring horseworld (Horse rescuse charity, whitchurch) first thing in the morning they maybe able to take them in, I hear all the time they are full but for REAL neglect cases surely they can make an exeption. If I can be of any help let me know. Where are you more specifically? (pm me if you want)
 
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