I was reading a blog of a popular horse rescue expert. She’s at the Homes for Horses Roundtable and she posed the question about how a rescue chooses horses to save and how to say no when you have more animals than you can feed. I expect that her questions will elicit a lot of chatter and I’m eager to hear what people have to say.
This week, we brought in a new horse to the program. He’s not staving, he wasn’t headed for slaughter. He’s young and healthy and he’s played a lot of polo. He’s sweet and he’s cute and he’s nice and small. He’s going to be great for our riding program. But each time we bring in a horse, we have to answer to the public, to our board of directors and most importantly, to the kids who participate in the program – “why this horse and not another?” It’s one of the hardest questions we have to answer. Here’s my attempt:
I think the question that ALL rescuers ask themselves late at night when they replay the phone conversation in their minds from the “take my horse or else” people is
“if you can’t save them all (and you can’t) whom and why do you save?”
The answer we came up with sounds trite, but it’s true – education. We pick the horses that we can use to educate the next generation that animal ownership is for LIFE and that taking on any animal into your family means that you have a responsibility to that being. So we have 14 horses, two goats, some cats and two retired foxhounds. Each day, those animals reach out to kids in the community to teach them about responsibility and second chances for animals, most of which were “thrown away.” Maybe, just maybe, we can change the thinking of the next generation and then the problem will be, if not solved, then at least much more manageable. So some of them are old and lame, some are young and adoptable, most are in-between. We don’t actively solicit for adoptions, we use the horses in our program to teach important lessons and we hope to find sponsors for them. Then we hope those families that sponsor will go on to be responsible horse owners, or owners of any pet. We get flack for not “leasing” or adopting out more horses. But each day, our rescues change lives and each day they are guaranteed the care that they need. It’s the only way I can answer the question of who and why do we save a particular horse.
I’ll step off the soap box now.