I don't think I have ever seen a year this bad for horses. Everyday I have someone asking me if we can take a horse or if we can do something about a horse who looks to be in bad shape. This has been a year when people who have always had horses have cut back due to expenses, or the loss of a job. I could have had fifteen GREAT horses in my barn for free. These are horses who were not starving, not really in any danger....but their owners wanted out of the relationship. I could have also had maybe 50 horses who were in dire straits.....emaciated, exhausted and unloved. I hate to say NO. I want to take every unwanted horse home.......heal it, feed it and make it feel good again. I want their coats to glisten again, I want them to know a soft hand, a full tummy and I want to see a little fat jiggle while they walk. I want to hear the "hello, I am glad to see you nicker" rather than an blank depressed stare. I want to see the buck and squeal of "gosh, I feel good."
There is nothing that haunts me so much as a horse who had been neglected to the point of giving up....the pride gone, the eyes glossed over.....the head hung low. Sometimes when we pick a horse up, the owner will say "he is hard to get in the trailer", however I always find a neglected horse usually jumps into the trailer or leads quietly like a good soldier...there is no fight left.....no energy put up a struggle. They know when help arrives....they really do. These same owners will say "he or she is hard to keep weight on....I have tried everything"...and funny, but I NEVER have a hard time getting these horses to pick up weight...not even the old ones. It takes management , committment and maybe a little know how...or maybe just common sense. I think a lot of the neglect cases are owners who have no common sense....and then there are some who seem to be less than human......I mean, I wonder........how do you look out your window day after day and look at a horse that you are not feeding? Does he not nicker and follow the fence and plead for you to feed him? Do you not see him becoming a skeleton with patches of his hair missing? Do you not see the fence pushed against, the wood eaten.....the quiet desperation of a hungry animal who is trapped and can't ask anyone else for help? All my life......I still don't get it.
Sadly, we cannot take every horse. We certainly cannot go and "make" someone take care of them. We must follow the law, no matter how outraged we feel.
So what can you do if you see a horse who is neglected or starved? Call the authorities. Document what you saw, when you saw it, the address and if you have a cell phone, take a picture (from the road...do not trespass)......call Animal Control or if your rural county does not have a Humane Society or an Animal Control..........call the sheriff's department. Please do not think that someone else should do it. If this was a child......would you hope someone else would make the call? You might mean life or death to the horse or burro or cow. Do the right thing. Make the call and ask them to follow up with you. If they don't call you back........call them back....and have other concerned folks call. Keep asking for resolution. Be polite, don't exaggerate.....animal control has a hard job......help them do it.
We hope to start a food bank for equines and other farm animals this year, after seeing how a bad economy affected our animal friends......we are looking for advocates and ideas. We welcome your comments or suggestions.
Thanks and enjoy your day.......practice a random act of kindness.........and take the brakes off your heart!