Meet Bear, a 27-year-old quarterhorse who was severely malnourished when he arrived at the HARPS rescue. On a scale of 1 to 10, Bear was barely a one, struggling to stand. However, over the past six weeks, Bear has made remarkable progress, gaining over 150 pounds. HARPS has been providing him with a specialized rehabilitation diet, consisting of a combination of alfalfa hay, timothy hay, beet pulp, and equine senior pellets. They take care to break up the large cubes, soaking them in hot water to ensure softness, and mixing them with beet pulp for added roughage. Bear now eats three meals a day, with each meal consisting of two large scoops of equine senior. With the dedication and care provided by the team at HARPS, Bear is steadily regaining his health, his muscles are starting to fill out, and he is well on his way to a full recovery.

The Arrival of Bear

Bear’s state of starvation

When Bear, a 27-year-old quarterhorse, arrived at the facility, he was in an extremely emaciated state. On a scale of 1 to 10, his body condition was barely a one. He could barely stand and needed immediate intervention to survive. His cheeks were raw and bloody, and he was experiencing constant pain every time he tried to eat. His teeth were in such poor condition that he would bite down and injure his own tongue and cheeks. It was clear that he had been starving for a long time and needed urgent nourishment and care.

Initial weight measurement

To assess Bear’s progress and monitor his recovery, the team began by taking his initial weight measurement. Bear had already put on about 150 pounds in the six weeks since he arrived at the facility. This significant weight gain was a significant improvement and a positive indication that Bear was responding well to the rehabilitation efforts.

Visible physical wounds

Bear’s physical condition was alarming when he first arrived. His cheeks were raw and bloody from his attempts to eat despite the pain. His gums and teeth were severely damaged, making it difficult for him to consume food properly. The poor darling was in great discomfort, and his wounds were a visible reminder of the neglect and abuse he had endured. Immediate medical attention was given to treat his wounds and alleviate his pain.

Early Phase Rehab Diet

Introduction of soft pellets

In the early phases of Bear’s rehabilitation, the team introduced soft pellets as part of his diet. These pellets were easier for Bear to chew and digest, considering his dental condition. They provided him with some much-needed nutrients and calories to begin his journey towards recovery.

Use of vitamins

To support Bear’s overall health and well-being, the team incorporated vitamins into his diet. These vitamins helped replenish the essential nutrients he had been deprived of during his period of starvation. They played a crucial role in improving his overall health and helping him regain strength.

Requirement for Equine senior feed

As Bear continued to make progress, the team introduced Equine senior feed into his diet. This specialized feed, a combination of alfalfa hay and timothy hay, provided Bear with the necessary nutrients and energy to aid his rehabilitation. The alternating mixture of these hays ensured a balanced and nutritious diet for Bear.

The Right Combination of Hay

Alternating between alfalfa and timothy hay

Bear’s diet was carefully planned to include alternating between alfalfa and timothy hay. This variation in hay provided him with different textures and flavors, making his meals more interesting while ensuring a diverse nutritional profile. It also helped him gradually adapt to different types of forage and expand his dietary options.

Switch to alfalfa leaves

Once Bear was able to eat alfalfa leaves, the team decided to switch to a timothy-alfalfa combination. Alfalfa leaves were easier for Bear to consume and provided an additional source of nutrients. This transition in hay helped Bear continue his journey towards recovery by providing him with a nutritious and balanced diet.

The challenge presented by hard cubes

One challenge the team faced in Bear’s rehabilitation diet was the presence of hard hay cubes. These cubes, while nutritious, were difficult for Bear to chew and digest due to his dental issues. To overcome this obstacle, the team had to soak and break apart the cubes, making them soft enough for Bear to consume safely.

Preparation of Rehab Feed

Soaking and breaking apart hard cubes

To ensure Bear’s safety and comfort, the team soaked the hard hay cubes in hot water. This soaking process softened the cubes, making them easier for Bear to chew and digest. Additionally, the team took care to break apart the cubes, further ensuring that they were manageable for Bear.

Mix with beet pulp

To enhance the nutritional content of Bear’s diet and provide him with additional roughage, the team mixed the soaked hay cubes with beet pulp. Beet pulp is known for its high fiber content and ability to help with digestion. By incorporating beet pulp into Bear’s diet, the team ensured that he received optimal nutrition and maintained a healthy gastrointestinal system.

The right ratio of water and pellets

Finding the right ratio of water to pellets was essential in preparing Bear’s rehab feed. The team aimed for a consistency that was neither too dry nor too wet, ensuring that Bear could easily consume the mixture. Careful measurements and adjustments were made to create a balanced and palatable feed for Bear.

Presenting the Feed to Bear

Feeding on the floor to mimic grazing

To create a natural and stress-free environment for Bear, the team decided to present his feed on the floor. This mimicked the grazing behavior of horses in the wild and allowed Bear to eat in a manner that felt familiar and comfortable to him. Feeding on the floor also minimized the risk of unnecessary excitement or anxiety for Bear during mealtime.

Avoid triggering unnecessary excitement

During the presentation of Bear’s feed, the team took precautions to avoid triggering unnecessary excitement. They created a calm and peaceful atmosphere, ensuring that Bear could focus on eating without distractions or disturbances. This approach helped maintain a stress-free environment and allowed Bear to fully enjoy his meals.

Addition of high Holton vitamins

To further support Bear’s health and recovery, the team added a handful of high Holton vitamins to his feed. These vitamins provided essential nutrients and contributed to Bear’s overall well-being. The team carefully selected vitamins that were tailored to Bear’s specific needs, ensuring that he received the best possible care.

Adjustments in Feed Frequency and Quantity

From seven to three feed times a day

As Bear progressed in his rehabilitation journey, adjustments were made to his feed frequency. Initially, Bear was fed small amounts of grain seven times a day to acclimate his digestive system to regular meals. As he grew stronger and more accustomed to regular feeding, the team reduced the feed frequency to three times a day. This adjustment allowed Bear’s body to adjust and fully utilize the nutrients from each meal.

Gradual increase of grain quantity

To ensure steady weight gain and overall improvement in Bear’s condition, the team gradually increased the quantity of grain in each feeding. This gradual increase allowed Bear’s digestive system to adapt and prevented any digestive issues that might arise from sudden changes in his diet. The team closely monitored Bear’s response to each adjustment, ensuring his safety and comfort throughout the process.

Introducing equine senior at three times a day

As part of Bear’s rehabilitation, equine senior feed was introduced into his diet. This feed, with its balanced combination of alfalfa hay and timothy hay, provided Bear with the necessary nutrients and calories for his recovery. To optimize its benefits, the team incorporated equine senior feed into Bear’s meals three times a day, ensuring a consistent and adequate supply of nutrition.

Observing Physical Improvements in Bear

Growth of muscle in his flanks

As Bear’s weight improved, the team noticed significant physical improvements, particularly the growth of muscle in his flanks. Previously, there had been no muscle tone in this area, but now it was becoming more defined and developed. This positive change indicated that Bear’s body was responding well to the rehabilitation diet and that he was regaining strength and vitality.

Prediction for further weight gain

Based on Bear’s progress and response to the rehabilitation diet, the team predicted further weight gain in the coming months. His body’s ability to efficiently absorb and utilize nutrients was evident, and this gave the team confidence that Bear’s recovery would continue on a positive trajectory. With proper care and a continued nutritious diet, Bear was expected to regain his health and vitality.

Signs of Bear filling out

One of the most promising signs of Bear’s recovery was the visible evidence of him “filling out.” Previously, his emaciated state made him appear skeletal and gaunt. However, with the consistent and nourishing diet he received, Bear’s body began to gain weight and fill out. This physical transformation brought great joy and hope to the team, as it signaled that Bear’s journey towards full recovery was well underway.

Noteworthy Strides in Bear’s Recovery

Mastering solid food

In just a short period of time, Bear had made significant progress in his ability to consume solid food. When he first arrived, he could barely eat without injuring himself due to his poor dental condition. However, with the help of carefully prepared meals and gradual adjustments, Bear had mastered the art of eating solid food without causing harm to himself. This achievement marked a major milestone in his recovery process.

The ability to consume alfalfa hay

Another important stride in Bear’s recovery was his ability to consume alfalfa hay. Initially, Bear could only tolerate soft pellets and had difficulty chewing anything more substantial. However, as his dental health improved, Bear was gradually introduced to alfalfa hay. This provided him with additional nutrients and expanded his dietary options. The successful inclusion of alfalfa hay in his meals was a testament to Bear’s resilience and the effectiveness of the rehabilitation diet.

Leaving some leaves behind

As Bear became more comfortable with his new diet, the team noticed that he would sometimes leave behind some alfalfa leaves. This behavior indicated that Bear was able to eat selectively and had developed preferences. While it was important for Bear to consume a well-rounded diet, the fact that he could be selective with his food choices was a positive sign of his overall recovery.

Expectations for Bear’s Future Health

Potential health concerns

While Bear had made remarkable progress in his recovery, there were still potential health concerns that the team kept in mind. Given his prior state of starvation and neglect, Bear might be susceptible to certain health issues. It was crucial for the team to remain vigilant and proactive in addressing any potential complications that might arise. Regular veterinary check-ups, along with the continuation of a tailored diet, would help ensure Bear’s continued improvement.

Anticipated recovery timeline

Based on Bear’s current progress and the team’s observations, a predicted recovery timeline was established. Barring any unforeseen issues, it was estimated that Bear would reach a healthy state within the next month or so. The focus would then shift towards maintaining his optimal weight and overall health. The team was optimistic that Bear’s journey towards recovery would be a success story to be celebrated.

Weight gain within the last two weeks

The last two weeks of Bear’s recovery had shown particularly remarkable weight gain. This sudden improvement was a testament to the effectiveness of the tailored diet and the diligent care provided by the team. Bear’s body was responding positively to the consistent and nutritious meals, and his weight gain was evidence of a steady and robust recovery.

Conclusion: The Journey of Recovery for Bear

The transformative power of a tailored diet

Bear’s journey of recovery showcased the transformative power of a tailored diet in rehabilitating starved horses. The careful selection of food and the meticulous attention to Bear’s specific needs played a vital role in his recuperation. The team’s dedication to providing him with optimal nutrition and a stress-free environment created the foundation for his remarkable progress.

Tracking Bear’s progress

Throughout Bear’s rehabilitation, the team diligently tracked his progress, monitoring his weight gain, physical improvements, and overall well-being. This data allowed them to make necessary adjustments to his diet and care, ensuring a personalized approach tailored to his specific needs. The tracking process provided valuable insights into Bear’s recovery and allowed the team to celebrate each milestone achieved.

The importance of patience and care in rehabilitation

Bear’s recovery was a testament to the importance of patience and care in the rehabilitation of starved horses. Each adjustment in his diet and every step in his recovery required careful consideration and a gentle approach. The team’s commitment to providing him with specialized care, along with the support of a nutritious diet, exemplified the role that patience and compassion play in helping animals heal and thrive.

As Bear continued on his journey towards full recovery, the future held great promise for him. With each passing day, his physical condition improved, his weight increased, and his spirit grew stronger. The efforts of the dedicated team at the facility, along with the transformative power of a tailored diet, ensured that Bear’s future would be one of health, happiness, and a life free from starvation.