Rehoming horses should be a rare necessity, considering how horses captivate people. As depicted in movies like Seabiscuit, Phar Lap, and the upcoming Secretariat, horses represent strength, beauty and hope. This almost universal fact has been exploited by businesses and organizations for decades. Product ads featuring horses drive sales. Perhaps the best example of this is the Budweiser Clydesdales.
Then why is rehoming horses ever a necessity?
Many people dream of horse ownership. Others consider horses a status symbol. The problem occurs when breeders, horse traders, and owners breed horses beyond the population’s capacity to care for them. With an overflow in the number of horses available, it is inevitable that some horses will need rehoming.
Unwanted horses are not a new phenomenon. According to Marie Rosenthal, MS, there are 100,000 horses in need of rehoming each year in the US alone. In economic crisis, the number of neglect and abandonment cases increase. Equine shelters stay full, and owners needing to rehome a horse are turned away at the gates. Many of these shelters reserve their available stalls and pasture space for county seizures, which are often the worst cases of neglect and abuse. Slaughter houses, once the option of last resort, have closed in the US due to public outcry.
Rehoming horses during an economic crisis
Even owners with years of horse experience and good intentions find themselves rehoming horses during an economic crisis. When funds dry up, so do hay and grain. Buyers become a rarity. When this happens, and preferably before, responsible owners must rehome their equines. Here are a few suggestions that may get those equines into a better situation.
Friends and family
Asking for help isn’t easy for some. If the choices are neglected horses or a bruised ego, horse owners need to decide what is ultimately more important. Friends and family can pass the word that horses are available.
Horse owners should make use of the Internet. Facebook and other social networking sites have generated results for horses needing help in the past. Grace, a neglected horse from Douglas County, Kansas, found fans numbering in the thousands. A well worded posting and pictures can help when rehoming horses.
Veterinarians, farriers, and barn owners
Contact all of the people who have cared for your horse in the past. They have client lists and know how your horses respond to care. If your farrier can tell prospective owners that your horse picks up his feet and stands like a rock, it’s a recommendation that could make rehoming your horse easy. Likewise, if your horse is a bit of a handful, it can weed out those likely to make rehoming again a necessity.
Donating your horse
A nonprofit organization offering hippotherapy may want your equine. If you have a quiet animal in good health, there may be a new career available for your horse. These kinds of organizations help the physically and mentally disabled, as well as those in temporary need of comfort.
Check for non profit status with IRS.gov anytime you work with such an organization. Someone claiming nonprofit status, yet unable to prove it, should not be trusted. There are those who attempt to acquire horses through dishonest means for resale or even slaughter across the US border.
Horse rescues and shelters
Most shelters are full and have waiting lists. Contact them anyway. There’s always the possibility of an opening. Things happen and the waiting list may shorten due to unforeseen circumstances. Also, horse rescues have contacts. Ask if your horses can go on their mailing lists, with photos. Someone may be interested. After all, their main concern is rehoming horses. They want to help.
Another option is offering a dowry. Horse rescues always need equipment. If there are blankets, buckets, hay racks and other stable equipment handy, offer them. Offer horse shelters and portable sheds – you won’t need them if your horses aren’t there anymore. Never mind any possible resale value. Rehoming horses is the bigger issue. Remember that if they horses remain, the cost of feeding the horses will far outweigh the resale value of the equipment.
If able, offer your time. Mucking stalls, feeding and riding are all parts of a good rescue organization’s needs. If you can help share the load, it’s possible the organization will be better able to help you in rehoming horses.
Rehoming horses is never easy
When making a decision that impacts your horses, keep their best interests in mind. If you cannot care for them adequately, it is better to let them go than to let them starve and sicken.