Thursday Thoughts – I Rescued A Horse
You see it all the time. Someone talks about their horse, and says “I rescue this horse and…” For this Thursday Thought, we want to talk about our thoughts on the many phases of what it means and does not mean to rescue a horse, and then our esoteric view of when does a rescue horse cease to be a rescue horse.
First, what does rescue mean? By Definition….
- 1. save (someone) from a dangerous or distressing situation:
So let’s break that down. In our case, the someone is a horse or livestock animal. To say I rescued this horse you are saying I saved this horse from a dangerous or distressing situation. Have you saved the horse if you put it on a trailer with no resources for food, vetting, safe surroundings, or a plan for the future? Have you saved the horse if you plan to try to rehome the horse as quickly as possible after taking it in to your care? In our opinion, probably not.
Yet, we still get emails regularly and messages that say “I rescued this horse, but have nowhere for him/her to go. I was sure you would take him/her.” Well, the reality is we can’t necessarily do that. If we have room for an auction horse we will go to the auction to rescue the auction horse. Rescue does not mean possession of an animal. Rescue means that you have the resources to call a vet, follow veterinary recommendations, get dental care, chiropractic care, vaccines, coggins testing, feeding protocols, training, hoof care, and time to let the horse heal emotionally as well as physically. It means that whatever it takes you will do. Rescue means a horse may be with you for years before he or she is ready and equipped to face the outside world again. Rescue means you will not idly rehome a horse–that you will vet the home and follow up to assure the safety of the placement. Rescue means applications and contracts for placement. Rescue means that you have truly SAVED a horse, not just been a stopping point from one bad situation to a subsequent risky situation.
Do you have to be a 501(c)3 organization to rescue a horse? Absolutely not. Every day wonderful people individually rescue horses from bad situations. They rehabilitate them, and sometimes keep them, sometimes place them in new appropriate homes after their rehabilitation in processes very similar to ours. Individuals are the army, the 501(c)3 are the villages who are working in more concentrated fashions to end neglect. We applaud the individuals who truly rescue. They are a critical component of the equine welfare world.
The next group of “rescuers” are the people who we love that carry the banner for rescue horses as adopters. Now the adopters aren’t rescuing in the true dictionary sense of the word. We certainly don’t consider Safe Harbor to be a dangerous or distressing situation, and once a horse is with us they are here to be saved. Yet, adopters are the largest voice for rescue. They have, of course, adopted a rescue horse whether they themselves were hands on in the act of the rescue or not. There are two types of adopters in regard to rescue horses. There are those that want to show off what their rescue horse can do, and there are those who are afraid to explore the potential of their horse because they were a rescue. As a rescue organization, if you adopt from us, we want to be the assurance that the “rescue” in rescue horse is historical. At the time you adopt you are adopting a whole horse. You are adopting a well horse. You are adopting a sound horse. Do carry that banner that your former rescue horse can do anything a horse from a perfect life can do*. Do realize that the process of rescue means that your horse is ready for the world. We want to show the world that a rescue horse is a horse. We don’t want to enhance limitations that may or may not exist. We train rescue horses the same way we train non rescue horses. We treat rescue horses the same way we treat show horses. We treat a horse as if they are whole to help make them whole.
If rescue is in your heart, then explore what rescue means to you. Do you want to go it alone and micro rescue on your own farm? If so, just remember that rescue is a true start to finish process, and it is not inexpensive and it is not short term. Do you want to partner with an organization in your area? Many rescues love foster farms. Many love volunteers. We love both. Keep your eyes wide open, explore the possibilities and engage yourself in following your passion to give life and end neglect. In the process the rescue horse that you adopted may just rescue you.
*Horses from all backgrounds are at risk in their lives for performance limiting injuries. If you adopt a special needs horse from us, we will disclose the special need, but please always respect the limitation it may cause. It is not there inherently because the horse comes from a rescue, but rather because of something that happened in the course of that horse’s lifetime. Sometimes injuries or debilitating illnesses that we see pre-date the horse falling into neglect, and there is no tie between neglect/abuse and the permanent performance limiting issue. Additionally, only a small percentage of the horses in rescue have performance limiting issues.