Rescuing an animal and bringing it into the security of the charity is just the beginning of what may be a long road to recovery. Rehabilitation can take weeks, months or even years but by providing good care, veterinary support and kind handling, most horses will develop trust. The Charity works closely with each animal, ensuring their rehabilitation programmes are tailored to each of their individual needs. Many horses are rehabilitated to a point where they can go on to our Perfect Partner scheme and enjoy life in a carefully selected foster home. Those that are elderly, have ongoing health issues or remain very nervous will stay with us here at the Charity as part of our Sanctuary Care herds.
What does the vet assess for?
An initial veterinary assessment of the equine aims to provide a general health overview. This is often difficult as the horse may have only had limited handling previously, and the equine is usually nervous in a different and stressful situation. The first clinical exam is often brief to identify any major concerns needing rapid treatment. Blood samples are taken and the results are returned within 24 hours to help the vet with their assessment. A plan is then made for ongoing veterinary care, which includes a more detailed examination once the horse has settled in and may include further tests or procedures if needed. Mares are assessed for pregnancy, usually via ultrasound per rectum or blood tests if they are too small to scan. Samples are also taken to test for infectious diseases that could be a concern to herd health as part of our standard quarantine procedure.
What does the equine dental vet asses for?
Horses are sedated to enable a thorough examination of the mouth in a stress-free manner. The equine dental vet will be looking for any evidence of dental pain or damage that requires correction. In many situations, the equines coming into our care will not have had any routine dental work, so their mouths are often painful with sharp overgrowths or damaged teeth. They may require further investigations e.g. x-rays, oroscopy (using a camera to examine the teeth in more detail) to guide further treatments, or may just require a routine rasp of sharp points that are causing discomfort. The equine dental vet then creates a plan for ongoing dental care as needed. In some cases, the severity of the dental disease may require treatments to be staged across several months.
What does the farrier asses for?
The farrier will make an assessment of hoof condition as equines often come into the charity with poor feet due to neglect or a lack of routine farriery. In many cases, the vet and the farrier will work together, as these horses often need sedation to facilitate examination and trimming. They may also need x-rays to assess the underlying bone structure and guide the trim. These equines will usually also require pain relief as part of the procedure. A plan is created for ongoing care which may require more frequent farrier visits than other horses.
All equines are individually assessed on intake to the charity, with a tailored feeding plan developed for each horse as their needs are often very specific. For underweight horses it is important that they are not over-fed too rapidly, as this can induce refeeding syndrome. Refeeding syndrome can be a serious complication when managing any equines who arrive in an emaciated condition, having been starved prior to intake. Their bodies are not used to managing normal volumes of food, so this needs to be introduced slowly with a gradual increase in calorie and nutrient intake. If this is done too quickly, the body can be overwhelmed, resulting in multiple organ failures. When very thin horses arrive at Bransby, the team work with the vet and a nutritionist to develop a tailored feeding regime that is regularly reviewed, and the horse is weighed every week to monitor their progress.
It is becoming more common that equines are brought in with obesity related conditions e.g. laminitis so many require a restricted diet for weight loss.
Whether the equine is on a weight loss or weight gain plan, they are reviewed regularly and the plan is constantly updated in line with their progress.