What is Horse Abuse? Critical Information You Need to Know

Last Updated on February 23, 2022 by Allison Price

A friend shared with us a story about a horse that he saw recently. He knows the owners and feels they are good people so he is confused about the horse’s condition. We decided to investigate the horse’s abuse and took some measures to do so.

Horse abuse refers to the infliction of pain or injury on horses for any purpose other than self-defense. Animal cruelty and abuse are dealt with by both federal and state laws. Horse abuse is most often caused by ignorance.

Horses can become sick and may look at an outsider to be abused. However, it is better to take steps to protect an animal from abuse and to avoid any potential mistreatment.

Cruelty to animals could land you in jail.

Enforcement and enactment laws protecting animals are typically the responsibility of the state and local governments. Louisiana has anti-cruelty laws that follow most state laws in the United States. This provides a useful reference point for horse abuse.

Louisiana defines “cruel” as “any act or failure of to act that causes or permits unjustifiable pain or suffering.” The statute categorizes the crime as simple cruelty and aggravated cruelThe entire statute can be viewed.

An animal abuser can be sentenced to jail for simple or aggravated cruelty. A first-time offenders may also be required to undergo anger management or psychological treatment. For a second offense of the crime simple cruelty to an animals, the court will order such a treatment.

The law in Louisiana against animal cruelty can be broken and a person could have his or her animals taken away. Many animal cruelty laws in Louisiana have similar provisions.

Each state has its own felony animal cruelty charges.

All 50 states currently have a felony for cruelty to animals. However, they don’t have a common criminal definition or penalty. Companion animals are subject to the most restrictive laws.

companion animals usually include cats , dogs , and sometimes birds and horses. The protected class also includes marine animals in Florida.

The companion laws regulate the time an animal shelter can keep it, as well as the frequency of vaccinations. Hot Car laws have gained popularity to protect rescuers from civil liability if they remove a pet from a vehicle that is too hot.

Anti-tethering laws set a limit to how long animals can be kept in extreme weather. The local animal protection laws are the most effective in protecting animals.

They may not be as broad as federal and state laws but they offer protection for animals living in their local communities. These laws often transition from local law to state law.

Horse abuse is most often caused by ignorance.

Horses were originally used to work on farms or for sport. People who owned horses in the past were often raised with them and learned how to properly care for them.

Horses became more like companions over time, and many horses were kept in homes without basic knowledge about horse care. It is estimated that approximately 5.1 million horses are kept in their homes as pets.

A horse owner who doesn’t know how best to care for their horse can lead to poor health. Animals who don’t get the proper treatment are more likely to sustain serious injuries or illnesses. Many horse owners are not familiar with basic care.

What is Horse Abuse?

Many horse owners are not familiar with the basic principles of right, wrong and cruel. Horse abuse can be more often caused by ignorance than intentional abuse.

Horse abuse is most often caused by ignorance. Most horse owners want to care for their horses properly, but they lack the proper education.

It is important to teach horse owners basic care and education about the signs and symptoms of abuse and neglect in order to prevent them from abusing their horses.

Horse abuse refers to the infliction or suffering of injury or pain.

Let’s begin by explaining abuse . To use or treat in a way that injures or damages: as defined by Merriam Webster dictionary. Animal cruelty is defined by Wikipedia to be the infliction or damage on animals other than humans for reasons other than self-defense.

It can also be detrimental for certain gains such as the killing of animals for fur. All over the globe, jurisdictions have divergent views.

Understanding basic horse health is crucial.

Once we have established a definition for abuse, we can now establish a baseline that will help us determine what a healthy horse looks like. Temperature, pulse, and respiration are the three essential elements that determine a horse’s health.

Healthy horses have a temperature between 99 and 101.5

Rectal thermometers are the most popular and easiest way to determine body temperature. Horses in hotter climates will have a higher body temp.

A horse with a temperature above 102 degrees is considered to be fever. This indicates that your horse may have some form of disease. A higher temperature can also be caused by bacterial infections. This could be due to respiratory illnesses or infected cuts.

A healthy horse’s body temperature is between 99 and 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Horses should rest at a rate of 60 bpm.

Pulse refers to the count of arterial palpations and the rate at which the heart beat beats. You can measure the heart beat by listening to your heartbeat with a stethoscope, or placing trained fingers on specific areas of the body.

For a more detailed explanation of pulse, see Wikipedia. The pulse of a horse can be felt under the jaw, underneath the tail at bone or on the side of the horse’s hoof.

At rest, the average horse’s heart rate is between 28-40 beats per hour. Maximum heart rates may exceed 180 beats per hour, but resting rates above 60 are cause for concern.

Healthy horses should rest for between 8-10 minutes.

Respiration Horses use their lungs for inhaling (breathing in), and exhaling (breathing out). Healthy horses spend the same amount of time exhaling and inhaling.

High respiratory rates are a sign that there is pain, excitement, high temperature and other possible infections. A head cold can increase the horse’s ability to breathe and cause thick mucus in their windpipe. Horses can’t breathe out if they have allergies or heaves.

Healthy gums for horses should be pink

The presence of mucous membranes in the mouth can help to determine the horse’s overall health. You can easily check for mucous membranes by lifting your lip and looking at the horse’s gums.

They should be pink. If they are not, or if they look very pale, reddish, or “muddy”, this could indicate a problem. Press gently on the gum to count how long it takes for blood to return.

This is the capillary fill time. A healthy horse should be able to refill in a matter of seconds. Any longer refills are a sign that the horse needs veterinary attention.

Signs of an Abused Horse

Simple neglect is the most common form. It is possible to neglect your animal for many reasons: ignorance, laziness and apathy are all common.

Signs and symptoms of abuse:

  • Too many horses in the area where they are kept;
  • They are not allowed to live in a clean area.
  • They are kept in an unsafe facility with broken fences and other deteriorating conditions. ;
  • Horses are very thin and have little energy. They are also not socialized.
  • The owner is able to isolate himself and his pets from the rest of the community.
  • When it is obvious that his animals are unhappy and not well cared for, he insists that he does.

While some people may try to help horses in need, they can also cause more damage than they realize. These are signs they could be guilty of abuse:

  • Refuse visitors to your site
  • Refuse to reveal the number of animals on your property.
  • Inability to properly care for horses that are already in good health, constant addition of horses.
  • It is a failure to adopt a horse for others.
  • Availability of volunteers or staff to handle the animals.

You must also be aware of intentional abuse in horses. These could include:

  • Blunt Force trauma, or trauma caused by a sharp object.
  • Gunshot to the horse
  • Horse death by asphyxiation, or suffocation
  • Poisoning.

If you want to determine if a horse has been in abusive circumstances, there are two types of horses: pasture- and stall-keeper horses. Five things are important to think about if the horse is field-kept: food source, water source and fencing. Terrain, shelter, and shelter are also important.

Also, consider safety and sanitation when looking at horses kept in stalls. To learn more about horseflies, and how they transmit disease, click here.

If you suspect animal abuse, contact the Sheriff’s Office.

What should you do if your horse is being abused? Contact the authorities: animal control, humane enforcement, police department or sheriff’s.

Different jurisdictions designate agencies to collect information on animal abuse reports. You can report anonymously in most cases. To check your state’s laws, click here. For assistance, you can also contact the humane society .

Send authorities the photos.

All information should be provided. You should give all information you have if you are able to take photos. You should not put your safety at risk by taking photos.

You should not share your photos with anyone. This could jeopardize your case. The authorities now have the responsibility to handle the situation properly. You cannot determine whether the abuser is guilty.

A pet owner who abuses an animal can be charged with a criminal offense.

Horse abuse is a crime. Once you give the information, an officer will investigate the property and take it to court. If the officer finds evidence of abuse or neglect, he can issue a warrant for the horse’s removal and arrest.

Although animal cruelty reports can be responded quickly, prosecution and investigation will take a while. It will take patience.

Animal abuse can be considered a civil matter in some states.

If the horse owner is found guilty of abuse, he could be sentenced to a fine, ordered to make restitution, or even jailed. Some states consider abuse a civil matter, so an abuser can’t be sent to jail.

Some states allow individuals to rescue horses in cases of imminent death. Call the local horse rescue group if you are uncomfortable calling law enforcement. These rescue teams are familiar with the best way to help horses.

Follow these Steps when you call to make a complaint:

Enter the horse’s location

If you are unable or unwilling to give an address, please provide a description of where the animal is located.

Keep a record of the conditions

Take photos or videos from a public street. Do not trespass to obtain evidence.

Write detailed notes

Please describe the horses including their markings, condition and number. Note the dates and times you observed the horses, as well as their physical condition. Note their environment, such as whether they had access to water, grass, or shade.

If it is a critical situation

If the situation is life-threatening, inform the authorities and meet with them at the horse‘s location.


You can follow up on a case and talk with a supervisor if you feel it isn’t being dealt with properly.

Avoid These Things When Helping in Horse Abuse Cases:

Don’t trespass

Trespassing can lead to you being arrested. Now, the focus will be on you trespassing and not the animal being abused.

Do not provide assistance

Don’t give aid to horses before the officer arrives. It will be harder for the officer to prove the owner’s case if he or she sees a horse that has access to water and food. A horse might react negatively to food that you provide. You don’t know his past, even though he might appear in dire need.

Do not remove the horse

You could face theft charges and possible criminal prosecution if you remove the horse. You can capture the horse safely and restrain him until authorities arrive.

Post no information on social media

Avoid sharing the information on social media. It can lead to problems in the investigation and may even result in a lawsuit.

You have completed your abuse report. Now what?

Horse abuse complaints will be addressed by law enforcement agencies. Although they may differ in some cases, most will follow the same general guidelines as the ones below.

Once the initial complaint has been filed, it is assigned to a case officer. They may have agents who specialize in investigating animal abuse cases depending on their size and location. Smaller forces may not have any agents specifically assigned to animal abuse complaints.

The officer assigns to investigate begins by interviewing the owner of the animal and then viewing the horse. He examines the horse and takes photos or videos.

If necessary, he will request a second opinion from a professional veterinarian or horseman to check for clean water.

Investigators inspect horses for abuse.

The Henneke Body Condition Scoring System (BCS) is a common test used by law enforcement to determine horse health and determine if the animal has been neglected or abused. The Henneke Chart is used to assign standard scoring to objective variables in the BCS.

Six parts of the horse are evaluated using the Henneke Body Condition Scoring System: the neck, withers and shoulder, as well as the ribs, loin and tailhead. Each body part must be firmly pressed by the evaluator.

The examination of the ribs must reveal the amount of fat that covers the bones in order to determine their fat content.

Each area of the horse being tested is assigned a number by the investigation officer. He then adds up the numbers for each area and divides them by six.

This is the Henneke Body Scoring Conditions for animals. The score is determined by a rank of 1-9. One is considered to have no body fat and nine is considered obese.

A score of 4-7 is acceptable, while five is the ideal. To determine the horse’s ideal weight, the BCS can be applied for any breed of horse. You can find more information about Henneke Body Scoring Conditions here.

Usually, the vet for animals is contacted.

The officer will ask about veterinary care if the horse is presently ill or has suffered an injury. If the owner confirms that the horse is under the care of a veterinarian,

The officer should contact the veterinarian to confirm that the horse is in his care. To ensure that the horse is properly healing, a follow-up appointment should be made.

It may be the best way to educate the owner.

If abuse is due to ignorance, the officer will inform the owner and give him a timeline for getting his animals up to acceptable standards.

These directions may require the need for vet and farrier visits, or general upkeep of horse’s living space. These situations may require the officer to return to the horse’s home and assess the horse’s health.

What happens if a horse is abused and the animal is taken away?

Authorities can’t just take someone’s animal away by rushing in, they have to follow certain steps.

Some conditions require the owner to seize a horse:

  • If an owner fails to take any action to improve the horse’s condition after repeatedly asking, and the situation is getting worse,
  • The owner refuses or is unable to take the necessary steps to improve his horse’s health.
  • The horse is in imminent danger.

An officer must have a plan before removing a horse.

  • Place to keep the horse;
  • An instrument for transporting horses, trucks, and trailers;
  • Help with loading and unloading horses;
  • A veterinarian who evaluates the animals.
  • To obtain the seizure warrant or any other legal documents,

After everything is in order, the officer can legally take the horses from the owner. They serve the owner with a warrant and then catch the horses.

Photographs of horses and their living conditions are taken. The animals are photographed and a complete vet check is done. This is not only to ensure their health but also to record their condition if they are required to testify in court.

It is not an easy job and can sometimes be dangerous. It can be very rewarding if you work with the right officials and follow the established laws to ensure that horses in need get the help they deserve.

These horses are happy and settled in loving new homes.

Horse training can lead to abuse.

Trainers feel pressured to win and will use their horses to achieve their goals. These are unacceptable training methods:

  • Hang-tying – This training method promotes a lower head carriage.
  • Extensive riding or lunging
  • Spurring to the point where it causes bleeding or indentations
  • Joking on the reins, especially with a severe bit, causing injury to your mouth and tongue.
  • Forcing pulling or jerking on the lead shank.
  • Whipping (or beating) the horse from the saddle or ground
  • Hit the horse on the head with a solid weapon.
  • For hours, you can tie a horse in a bent position.
  • To teach submissiveness, restrict food and water.

Horseracing is a place where animals are abused.

Mistreatment of racehorses may include drug abuse, injury, or overtraining. Owners and trainers often place purse money above the horses’ health. These are some examples of abusive behavior:

  • Too young racehorses were racing on the track, resulting in injury.
  • Horses can be kept afloat by drugs to manage pain and injury.
  • Ex-racehorses being sold to slaughterhouses

Statistics on Horse Abuse.

Dogs, cats, livestock and horses are the most frequently abused animals. Because there is no standard reporting mechanism, it is difficult to obtain accurate statistics about horse abuse in the United States. Below are some interesting statistics.

  • Intentionally injuring horses is more common for men under 30.
  • Horses are more likely to be injures by hoarders than abuse or neglect.
  • There are four states that do not have a first-time felony for animal abuse.
  • Seven states don’t have a zero tolerance policy for animal abuse.
  • Most state laws don’t address neglect issues, but they are designed to punish cruelty to animals.
  • Certain states have animal cruelty laws that do not cover livestock.
  • Domestic horse slaughter was outlawed in 2006. It generated more than $65 million before that.
  • Since 1989, horse slaughter has fallen by half
  • 70% of horse rescue organizations are fully operational;
  • 40% of horses that are brought to rescues do not have enough space.
  • In some states, horse abandonment has increased to over 60%
Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!