SLP Animal Control Supervisor Patricia Guillory said it’s fortunate neighbors alerted the authorities to the horse’s situation.
“If somebody didn’t pay attention to this horse, and give him water and care quickly, he could have died,” Guillory said.
While Eunice Police are still trying to sort out who’s responsible for the horse, parish animal control have brought the four-year-old stallion to the Opelousas shelter.
Guillory said the horse is not as emaciated as authorities originally thought, but is approximately 200 pounds underweight.
“He’s moderately thin,” Guillory said, ranking the horse as a 4 on the Henneke Body Condition Scale, which varies from 1 to 9. “He still has muscle mass, body mass.”
The horse appeared to be in worse shape, Guillory said, due to poor breeding.
Guillory said the horse also has rope burns on his back legs and a cut underneath his chin.
With proper care and feeding, Guillory said, this horse should be healthy in two months or less, reaching his optimal weight of 900 to 1,000 pounds.
Guillory said that Animal Control has been seeing an increasing number of mistreated and neglected horses.
“Horses are so cheap right now, they’re practically giving them away,” Guillory said. “The problem is, horses are really expensive to care for, and a large percentage of these people do not know how to take care of a horse.”
Guillory said horses need adequate food, housing, fencing and “lots of water”.
Guillory said many people do not realize how much water a horse needs; horses need an average of four-and-a-half to eight gallons of water every day, depending on body weight and other factors.
Guillory said it is vitally important that horses receive plenty of water during winter months, as well as the rest of the year.
Guillory said that many of the horses that have been picked up by Animal Control have been due to lack of water.
“There have been a lot we’ve picked up, when we bring them here, they go straight for the water,” Guillory said.
Horses also need to eat a varied diet, including hay, grain and roughage, to keep their digestive systems in functioning health. The exact amount varies between horses, Guillory said, and requires careful monitoring of their diets to keep them at their optimal healthy weight.
Horses also need to be regularly dewormed and receive at least yearly veterinary visits; state law requires that horse are tested yearly for Equine Infectious Anemia, a contagious, potentially-fatal disease, Guillory said.
Guillory also said that a horse’s hooves need to be regularly trimmed and kept healthy, and checked often for problems.
Horses also need to be regularly groomed and bathed, using a shampoo designed to prevent and treat rain rot, an infection caused by exposure to rain.
Guillory said that anyone having questions or needing advice about caring for horses is encouraged to call the shelter at 948-6184.