Recognizing Neglect and Abuse


There is a great deal of information on the internet about identifying animal cruelty, state and federal laws protecting animals, and how to report it to your local law enforcement. Information listed below outlines basic information about neglect, and physical characteristics you can identify if you witness a horse that is suffering because of neglect or abuse.

What is Neglect?

Neglect is defined as failure to provide sustenance and care sufficient to maintain an equine's good health. This includes food, water, shelter, veterinary and farrier care.

Recognizing Neglect:

  • Poor body weight: A chart is provided that outlines levels of horse body condition - click here
  • Poor Hair Coat: a long, dead haircoat reflects poor nutrition and/or internal/external parasites.
  • Dehydration: Pinch the skin over the shoulder blade. If it takes more than two seconds to return to normal, the horse is dehydrated. Other signs of dehydration include: dry gums, sunken eye sockets.
  • Shelter: Inspect the area. A horse should have at least a stand of trees to provide shade in summer and block the cold winds in winter.
  • Veterinary Care: Equines need regular veterinary care to ensure their health. If a horse has signs of disease or injury that are not being attended to by a veterinarian, it may be considered a case of neglect.
  • De-worming: De-worming is essential for horses' health. Signs a horse is not receiving de-worming medication includes abdominal bloating, rub marks on tail and points of buttocks, poor body weight and poor hair coat.
  • Farrier Care: Equine hooves need to be cared for and maintained on a regular basis. If not, they will eventually experience difficulty walking, or more serious hoof abnormalities. Inspect feet for condition, length and presence of thrush. If they appear to be too long, cracked, infected or the horse appears lame, it may be considered a case of neglect.