A MALNOURISHED horse has a hard road to rehabilitation. It faces the lingering effects of kidney failure, weak bones, joint problems and tooth decay.

Worst of all, starvation can drive the most gentle creature mad.

Taryn McIntosh, from Save a Horse Australia, said the physical effects of severe malnourishment could be reversed in time, but the mental anguish was far more persistent.

It is the deciding factor to whether the equine rescue re-homes a horse or puts it down.

"Their brain gets affected because it has been starved, they have behavioural issues and lots of aggression," Mrs McIntosh said.

"About once a month we come across a horse that can not be saved because they are too aggressive.

"We work with them as long as we can but if they show no progress that is when we have to make the difficult decision to put them out of their pain."

With most of Queensland trapped in one of the worst droughts in memory, an increasing number of landholders are dumping horses they can not afford to feed.

The emaciated animals are sold through the saleyards or surrendered to a rescue farm, like Save a Horse Australia.

It has 99 horses in care, which is a record amount for the charity.

Katrina Morris (left) with Hamish and Olivia Owens with Magic of Save A Horse Australia horse rescue and sanctuary at Withcott, Monday, May 20, 2019.
Katrina Morris (left) with Hamish and Olivia Owens with Magic of Save A Horse Australia horse rescue and sanctuary at Withcott, Monday, May 20, 2019. Kevin Farmer

Like the farmers who surrender horses, Mrs McIntosh and her co-workers struggle to find enough hay to feed their stock.

Save a Horse relies on donations from the public to feed and care for its animals.

Almost every animal that passes through its gates has illnesses or injuries related to malnourishment and neglect, leading to high vet bills.

They often need chiropractor work or massage to repair injured joints and muscles.

Then there are the twice-daily courses of hard-feeding to the nurse the animal's digestive system into working order.

Mrs McIntosh said it was a costly, but necessary endeavour.

"I feel so sorry for the farmers," she said.

"They do not want to surrender their horses but they have no choice, it is that or they have to shoot their stock.

"My heart goes out for them but the best we can do is get animals healthy and find them a second home."

Olivia Owens with Magic of Save A Horse Australia horse rescue and sanctuary at Withcott, Monday, May 20, 2019.
Olivia Owens with Magic of Save A Horse Australia horse rescue and sanctuary at Withcott, Monday, May 20, 2019. Kevin Farmer

The charity has been inundated with horses in need and is buckling under the pressure of high feed costs and water scarcity.

It has until the end of the May to raise about $300,000 or face tough decisions, like off-loading horses or suspending care.

To raise the money Save a Horse Australia is raffling a Toyota Hilux SR5.

"The money we raise will go straight to our feed bill," Mrs McIntosh said.

"We are always in debt and always have creditors we need to pay."

"The price of feed is ridiculous, and it is hard to find," Mrs McIntosh said.

"Our supplier goes from Melbourne to Rockhampton looking for anything we can get our hands on."

Click here to buy tickets.



Tradie had ‘no idea’ how meth got in his underwear

premium_icon Tradie had ‘no idea’ how meth got in his underwear

CQ drug dealer started taking cannabis at just 10 years old, only to start...

UPDATE: Breakthrough in Rocky supermarket robbery

premium_icon UPDATE: Breakthrough in Rocky supermarket robbery

Police have arrested a 19-year-old following Tuesday's armed robbery

How to watch the AFL QLD Schools Cup

premium_icon How to watch the AFL QLD Schools Cup

Some of state’s finest young Aussie Rules players will take the field