While the needs of needs of homeless dogs and cats are often featured in the press, the needs of other homeless animals are expressed more rarely. The sad reality is that over 100,000 horses end up at slaughter in Mexico and Canada every year. The majority of these horses are well trained and sound. So why do they end up facing such a terrible fate? There’s no shortage of circumstances.
The average horse will go through at least a half dozen homes in its lifetime. Many of these horses are bred to race but don’t make the cut. Horses are like people – not everyone is going to be a prime athlete. If the horse goes to the track for a year and doesn’t show enough potential, they are removed from the track because they won’t make money. Thousands of horses are released from the track each year for this reason, and they need a home. Typically this is a horse around 3 years old who now knows how to run, but may not have been taught many of the other vital skills which are required of a pleasure horse so they need an experienced owner who can supply that training and give them sound balance.
There are many other reasons so many horses end up homeless every year. Some were acquired as working horses, but are no longer needed for that job. Some are pleasure horses, but if they get injured or ill and are no longer rideable, they are not worth holding onto and paying the upkeep for. Other times, it has nothing at all to do with the horse itself. The owner may have become ill themselves and are no longer able to care for the horse, or perhaps they lost their job and can no longer afford to simply feed and provide the most care for the horse. If they cannot sell or give away the horse, they typically end up at auction – and many of those horses end up at slaughter. Humane euthanasia may seem like a better option than the risks of auction, but that can easily cost hundreds of dollars and if the issues are financial, it may not be possible.
Horses typically live 30-40 years and can even live years beyond that. If you or someone you know may be looking to adopt a horse, keep in mind that research is required. This will be a very bonded relationship you will have, and making sure the right horse comes to your life will also ensure the safety of that horse in the long run. Bonds are not instant. But over some time, the bond with a horse can be an incredible experience. There is a lot of trust between a horse and a person, and it is an intensely rewarding relationship. But keep in mind if you are looking to adopt a horse for your kids – that horse will still be with you long after the child leaves for college, so be prepared for a long term commitment long after your child has grown.
If you would like to donate to a horse rescue, you can find a list of rescues here Just enter your zip code and the key word Horse or Equine, or another farm related term. Always do your research before donating to any organization. A responsible horse rescue can use all the help they can get. The cost to keep a horse can range drastically depending on its health and specific needs, but it’s not unreasonable to have bills of $150-200 a month per horse, and that is if you have a barn. If the horse is boarded, that drastically increases. Rescues can use all the help they can get for the amazing work they do. The horses thank them!