I think most of us would like to help as many horses out of bad situations as we can. It kills me to see all of those horses in kill pens waiting to get shipped off to slaughter. Here are a few ways to make a difference.
1. Start with your own horses.
This seems like an obvious one, but unfortunately sometimes people try to help too many and end up doing a disservice to their own animals. It’s better to do a good job with a few than a shoddy job with many.
2. Help out your neighbors.
Get out of your own bubble a little; pay a little closer attention to your neighbors. If you notice your neighbor struggling to manage: offer them help. Whether it’s offering to help them mend their fence so that their horses won’t escape or offering to let them have a few bales of hay until their next shipment of hay comes in: be neighborly. I wonder how many of those horses that end up in bad places or skinny could have been helped by a neighbor just offering a little help. If the help isn’t enough and you can manage the extra mouth, you can offer to take the animal off their hands.
3. Vet your buyers.
If you plan to sell a horse, check references, go visit the new farm they will be staying at, ask the right questions. I know it’s a little extra work, but if everyone tried a little harder to do this, you wouldn’t see as many people getting in over their heads with their horses.
4. Check out those cheap horses on Craigslist.
Chances are, people selling a horse inexpensively are at their last resort and if it doesn’t sell, it will end up at auction. Even if it does sell, most people who find themselves in a rough spot, aren’t going to vet their buyer. Some of the best horses I ever had were found this way.
5. Buy from rescues.
I know the contracts and all the red tape associated with rescues can be unappealing, but buying from rescues gives them space to take in new cases and often times the rescues have done a lot of work with the animals they take in: whether training or just getting them back up to a good weight.
6. Donate to charities and rescues.
Donations whether in the form of money or hay, grain or barn supplies can make all the difference for rescues or charities to be able to help more animals. This is ideal if you don’t know what neighbors might need help or don’t know where to start.
7. Don’t buy from the kill pen.
Generally, the kill buyers have a quota to meet. Even if you buy all the horses in the pen, they’ll just go find more to send to slaughter. All you’re doing is making him rich.
8. Consider going to the auctions yourself.
I know they aren’t a pretty place, but I’d rather buy the horse before it ends up in the hands of a kill buyer. Galahad came through an auction when he was 3. Unfortunately, some really nice horses end up there. If you buy them, they won’t end up being bought by the kill buyers.
Photo credits to Jenny Irish and Shayla Crowley