These are actual things I hear regularly:
“If you don’t take my horse, I have to put him to sleep.”
“I can’t afford a horse I can’t jump/play polo on/race etc.”
“This horse is costing me a fortune and I can’t afford it anymore.”
“Aren’t you a non-profit? Then that means you HAVE to take him.”
“It sure would be nice to be on the payroll of some non-profit that gets free horses all the time.”
I try. I really try not to be rude or angry. I don’t want anyone to come to me and leave feeling like they weren’t heard and that they don’t have options. People are fundamentally good. So I try to listen and I try to offer alternative solutions. One woman was telling me that she can’t afford a lame horse. She said she’d already spent a lot of money for fancy shoes on the horse and now he’s just barefoot.
“But if what you are telling me is correct -he needs some support.” I offered.
“Yeah, but he’s not working so he’s fine.”
“If he was not lame – would he be worth it?”
“He’s never going to be able to jump so no.”
I look out the window – it’s supposed to be my one day off. I’m spending it doing paperwork and that’s fine. I look out the window and one of our staff is working with a horse in the round pen. He needs support, physically and mentally. He’s not a horse we could re-home. But he’s down there and he’s trying to learn new things. He gets worried and she re-assures him. She pets him and I watch him lean into her. He’s a good boy.
I’m sure this other horse is also a good boy.
It sucks to have to say no. Recognizing that there is only so much space, time and resources to properly care for the ones you have. Knowing that even then, there will be chores left undone at the end of the day because time and limited resources won’t allow it.
I’m not particularly complaining. I have a brilliant life. I’ve surrounded myself with animals and humans that inspire me to be kinder and harder working every day. We searched for and competed for and nurtured donors who believe in what we do. We opened our hearts, our account books and our lives to serve those we choose to serve and it’s good.
But that doesn’t mean that when I get off the phone with the “take my horse or else” folks that my heart isn’t heavy and I feel like I haven’t done enough. I can’t help but picture the horse in question and what his alternatives might be.
So here’s what your local horse rescuers want you to know:
A horse is a responsibility – an expensive one. If you aren’t taking care of him – someone else has to pay for him; feed, farrier, vet, bedding, staff to care for him, fencing, blankets, supplies and just the time to attend to the needs of a large animal in an enclosed space. So *donating your horse is not a gift – it’s a giant, expensive responsibility. He might live to be 35 years old – and those last seven or eight years he is going to need a lot of support and medicine and special feed. The vet who has been working with the rescue is almost certainly working at cost or less and he’s also attached to the horse. Someone like me and the kindhearted vet is going to be there with this horse crying on the day he dies and someone will have to come up with hundreds of dollars in cash to render his giant body.
Nobody wants to tell you no. It gives us no pleasure. The good rescues and sanctuaries are almost always full. If someone is super eager to take your *FREE horse – be careful – there is a few hundred bucks in it for the kill buyer.
And yes – the 52 FREE Thoroughbreds is an old post from 2011 so please don’t send it around social media – please – I know you are just trying to help.