Horse rescues have a tough job. It is nice to think that every rescue has all the room needed to rescue every horse which comes their way but the sad truth is it's not the case; after all money is an issue rescue groups must always consider, either consciously or subconsciously. Unless a rescue is sitting flush with millions of dollars, most rescues must consider money in the equation, after all without financial resources, a rescue can help no one.
Unfortunately, at times rescues, especially those which go to sales have to play God; deciding which horse is to be saved, which one is to be passed on at auction.
Which brings us to an article, written by Dot Morgan of New Vocations, which appears in May's edition of Hoof Beats, titled "A Shift in Focus". This article talks about the difference between retirement and adoption. Many consider them the same but they are not. Retirement suggests a horse being turned out into a paddock for a life of relaxation, until the end of their life, an option which perhaps the largest commercial breeder or an owner who has done very well in life is able to afford. Adoption is the retraining a horse for a second career making the horse desirable to a new owner. By career, it doesn't mean a life of plowing fields; it can be a horse who may be ridden on trail rides but still has plenty of pasture time.
Unfortunately, not many people want a horse as a lawn ornament so the amount of money needed to keep a retired horse can be tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the horse. For that amount of money, how many horses who are adoptable can be helped by a rescue instead? One can argue a prudent rescue will be wise to avoid horses ready for retirement due to a permanent injury or other reason and focus on those horses who can reasonably be assessed as serviceable, given a second job thus making their time with a rescue shorter. After all, while there are those who can afford and are willing to take on a horse who is only pasture sound, it is a small minority of the adoption pool.
This is not to suggest those horses who have no future as an active horse should be sent to slaughter. If possible, these horses should be rescued from the sales and euthanized. It may sound harsh but a fear-free end is much better than a torturous ending.
It is a tough decision rescues need to make and I'm glad I don't have to. Playing God is not my cup of tea. I bring this article to your attention as food for thought. Do you have thoughts on the matter? If so, let me know.