Thursday, January 28, 2010

How Many Horses?

A volunteer new to TREES said something last weekend that took me a little by surprise.  She seemed surprised by how many details we collect about our residents' health, histories, temperaments and personalities, habits, and "personal preferences."

I can't imagine doing this any other way.  A related discussion revolved around how many horses TREES can care for at one time.  Valid question.

The answer may change from month to month and year to year.  In terms of physical capacity, herd size is limited by shed or stall space.  Every horse in the sanctuary is fed separately so we can be sure he or she gets the amount of food required and any medications that might be included, with no competition from other horses.  Feeding spaces are all under cover so no horse stands out in bad weather while eating.

Manpower and finances are obvious factors in determining herd size.

A more subtle, but perhaps the most important, consideration in how many horses TREES houses is how well we can "customize" each horse's care.   If the sanctuary takes in so many horses that we can't care for each in a way that meets that horse's unique needs, we aren't necessarily doing any of the residents any favors.  We need to be able to note small differences in condition, attitude, soundness, appetite, and behavior - something that would not be possible with a larger number of horses - and make changes accordingly.

A side benefit is that learning as much as we can about unique management regimens allows us to help other owners of senior horses adapt their routines to their own horses' needs.

In the end, the more we know about each horse, the better we can apply a holistic approach to preventative health care.  And you know what they say about "an ounce of prevention......."

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