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Big Ben - The Art of the Rescue

To all of you horse lovers out there that have ever taken in a rescue, I thank you.

I have broken down the steps I take when a new horse arrives and have created a checklist that may be helpful. There are three aspects to diagnosing the issues you may be faced with.. Abuse can be physical, psychological and nutritional.

Upon arrival at my ranch, each horse is placed in a quarantine paddock. A full body check is done to check for obvious injuries. Fresh water and good quality hay is given immediately. I never offer grain right away to a horse that has been starved. I will watch the horse eat and walk to the water trough. I note any abnormalities such as lameness, labored breathing or difficulty chewing the hay.

If the horse is so weak that even chewing is too difficult I will take a pair of scissors and cut the hay into 1/2 inch lengths to help the horse eat. The next thing to do is collect a fecal sample to be checked for parasites. When grain is introduced with the appropriate supplements, it is given in very small amounts several times a day to avoid any digestive upset. I bring in a blacksmith first unless there are obvious medical issues. The vet is next to make sure the horse has all necessary vaccinations and to assess the general condition of the horse.

The equine dentist is then called in to do a full dental exam and give me an accurate age. Please do not have your blacksmith or vet do your horses teeth. No matter where you live, you should be able to access a directory to find an equine dentist. With all that said, this is the story of Big Ben. My vet called and said that 2 horses had been confiscated from a property in my area and asked if I could take them in. Of course the answer was yes.

Both horses were terribly thin, but it was Ben that caught my eye. He could barely stand and had such severe tremors that he seemed to have a parkinson"s disease type illness. I was not sure I could help him, and the vet didn't hold out much hope. Ben looked directly at me and I could see that he still had the will to live. He was a quarter horse and so I began my research of symptoms and their causes.

Quarter horses that have a lineage that can be traced to Impressive are prone to a disease that causes tremors. Another possible cause is an illness caused by exposure to opossum waste. Ben was tested for both of these and the results were negative.

Love, good nutrition and a bit of chiropractic care brought this gentle giant back to good health. That is Big Ben in the photo with me. It was a long hard road back, but his will to live and my determination to help him has resulted in a wonderful recovery.

Christine Ponte
Ranch Owner
Published on 17-09-2019
My name is Christine and I own and operate Legacy Ranch, an equine rescue facility in Green Sea, SC. I am dedicated to undoing the damage done to these wonderful animals and giving them a second chance to be loved and cared for properly. I have many stories to tell about rescues that passed through my gates. Many success stories will warm your heart, and some of the failures will make your heartache. I am looking forward to being a contributor to this site, and through my articles, raise awareness about the neglect and cruelty that happens in the horse world.