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Monday, July 4, 2011

Help Those That Saved a Horse and Maybe Find a New Buddy

On this Fourth of July, I am posting an esssay from Diana Tuorto, Vice President of Horse Rescue United.  I had previously suggested to Diana that they go to New Holland and rescue a horse there instead of taking in a surrender, knowing how quick people are willing to donate to save a horse from immediate slaughter instead of supporting rescues which have saved horses from imminent slaughter and try to get them adopted out; after all they are safe.  At that time, Diana mentioned to me while they would love to rescue a horse from imminent danger, they have a responsibility of being able to take care of the horses already in their care and the best way to save a horses is by getting them adopted out; then they can take in another horse from their waiting list and possibly even from New Holland (after all, after a while some of the people on the waiting list can't keep waiting).  Also, HRU also tries to keep room for an emergency rescue should the need arise.

Unfortunately, the need for an emergency rescue has come up as another rescue ran into financial problems and their horses were found starving.  Horse Rescue United has taken in one of those horses who is currently in quarantine before being sent to a foster home to complete its rehabilitation and rescue.  How bad was this horse?  It had soil in its teeth as it was trying to eat the soil for nutrition.

Many well-intentioned people are ready at a moment's notice to rescue a horse from imminent slaughter but once that moment has passed, they forget about the on-going need of rescues or won't bother looking at a rescue for a new horse because they don't want to bother with the home checks or the semi-annual vet reports, yet this is the best way to save a horse; adopting a horse so they can take another one in.  This is not to say HRU is the only rescue worth helping. SRF and others are deserving.  Just make sure they are legitimate. 

Here is Diana's essay.  Hopefully, it will speak to you as it spoke to me.

There is a growing, common misconception that any horse in a rescue is 100% safe and secure--I've even heard some people go as far to say that a rescue horse doesn't EVER need to find a home and they can simply spend the rest of their lives there.

Here's the truth of the matter:

Most rescues have some room set aside for one or more retirement horses--however, if they never adopt ANY horses, they simply can't save other horses from slaughter, neglect, or abuse. That means even more horses heading into the slaughter pipeline or unfit homes.

Almost every responsible rescue I speak to has a waiting list, anywhere from a few months to a year or more. While physical space is often a factor, most report that there just simply aren't enough donations to care for more horses. More and more rescues and private individuals seem to be getting in over their heads and there have been several instances of horses being "rescued" that are later found starved, neglected, or sent back to auctions or kill buyers.

Anouk [Busch] and I are contacted on a daily basis with people trying to find homes for their horses--many have lost their jobs and are considering humane euthanasia rather than sending their horse to auction or worse. Our waiting list is now over a year long. If our healthy, vetted, up-to-date rescue horses don't find homes, we simply can't help additional horses--we try to run this rescue responsibly and don't ever want to be in a position where we don't have enough funds for board, hay, grain, etc. for the horses already under our care.

In addition, rescues like HRU rely 100% on public donations to care for their horses--in recent years, any rescue I talk to has reported a huge drop in donations. The only way that donations seem to be offered freely is if you say you're saving a horse from slaughter. Some people will donate to anyone, a private home they don't even know, or a rescue, if they hear a horse is in danger of shipping to slaughter--sadly, many scams have also popped up as a result of this trend.

Meanwhile, if a horse already under the care of a rescue needs a vet, dentist, or farrier visit, many people sadly don't feel that's a worthwhile investment.

I run a website and Facebook page called Horse Welfare Organizations--the site has been up since 1998 and hosts over 500 horse rescues from all over the world. Until a few years ago, I generally would find that about 10 of the featured horse rescues would go out of business every six months. When I last updated the site (after the usual six month interval), there were 52 rescues removed who were forced to close their doors. Yes, 52.

Less rescues mean less safe places for horses in need to go.

Private homes are also becoming more and more picky about the horses they are willing to offer homes to--the majority of people who contact me personally looking for a horse want something beginner-safe, able to jump, and ready to show in any number of disciplines. Most won't consider a horse over the age of 10, and won't take a horse less than 16 hands (granted, some need horses who can carry taller, heavier riders, but many don't). Most don't want to spend more than $500 on a horse, no matter how bombproof or talented--but other times, it doesn't seem to matter--a perfect example is our own Red Cookie--5 years old, 16 hands, sound for any discipline with an intermediate rider--available for $250 WITH a 30 day trial period. Despite many videos and photos showing her progress, Red's had lots of inquiries, but not a single application submitted yet.

So if the "perfect" rescue horses can't find homes, what about the ones who have riding limitations, are older than 10, or under 16 hands? You guessed it--they tend to wait a lot longer or not get adopted at all.

Some people are more experienced and realistic and they are able to handle any issues or riding limitations that an auction horse or otherwise unknown horse may have. But I hope that the many who aren't willing or able to take a risk will consider adopting rescue horses that are thoroughly evaluated and kept up-to-date on medical/farrier/dental needs--if the rescue is reputable and honest, they will tell you exactly what a horse's good features and limitations are. It's also important to ask about a trial period and return policy.

To lie or mislead someone into adopting a horse doesn't help that horse--HRU, and other rescues like us, want to find the right match so our horses can enjoy loving, dedicated homes for life.

If you're interested in offering a home to an HRU horse in particular, please consider Red, Jessica, or Cooper.

If you haven't already, please take a look at our adoptable horses' photos/videos at

You can also visit our website at to compare horses' descriptions and photos.

Thank you for supporting HRU and other rescues like us!

Diana Tuorto
HRU Vice President

You can check my blog for a list of horse rescues who can use your help and have horses to adopt out.

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