Helping Horses
March 1, 2013

 Elton, a pony adopted from Nevins Farm, with his new friend in his forever home

Are you a horse-lover? I’ve always been one of those gals who grew up wishing for a horse of my very own. Just seeing one running free in a field leaves me awestruck by their incredible beauty. Horses make great pets for those willing to make such a big commitment. They are highly intelligent beings with immense sensitivity. But, when I was a kid, my family had neither the land nor the finances to care for one, but still, every year for my birthday, I would ask. Today, Jupiter and I are fortunate to see many horses out and about on our daily walks. But these busy and difficult economic times have filled up our animal shelters and rescue sanctuaries with these majestic creatures. 
Most people don’t immediately think of animals as suffering in a bad economy, but, in truth, animals are often some of the first victims when people lose their jobs. When families struggle to put food on the table or pay the rent, people often feel that the best thing for their pets is to give them up, as good quality pet care can be costly. So, very often, horses end up at shelters because people can no longer afford to care for them. Keeping a horse at home--with hay, grain, veterinary care, and horseshoe costs so high—takes a family with a steady, healthy income, able to pay anywhere from $350.00 per month on up. And if there is no room at home, boarding facilities charge on the average of $500.00 per month for food, bedding, and exercise, alone.
But horses are also given up for a variety of other reasons. It takes a lot of time to properly care for a horse and some people underestimate that. Feeding and watering twice a day, cleaning (or mucking) stalls, putting down fresh bedding, brushing, and taking care of veterinary, shoe, and dental care all take up a good chunk of anyone’s day. And, such a big, muscular animal has to have plenty of exercise and socialization to be happy and healthy. You’d have to really love horses to be so dedicated every single day.
And did I mention that healthy horses live a long time? Well, if you’re lucky, your horse can live over 35 years! That’s about three dog lifespans combined! People’s lives change a lot in the lifespan of a horse. Kids grow up and go to college, where they generally can’t take their horses or have the same free time to care for them. People get married or divorced---and their priorities sometimes change with regards to what pets they want to have or can afford to care for. And people get sick or even die, leaving few options to care for the animal. 
Horses end up at shelters and sanctuaries for a whole host of reasons. And because of their size, they require a good deal of space, which is often quite expensive. Many shelters are full and have long wait-times to accept all of the animals that need help. These animals can suffer while they wait for space, as their families may not be able to provide the costly basics that horses need to keep healthy. As the economy slowly improves, horses will have better chances of staying in their homes, and the ones in shelters will have more opportunities for another chance at a forever home. Horses make fabulous companion animals for horse lovers wanting to make the big commitment. Consider helping horses in these troubled times. There are lots of things you can do!

A Few Things You Can Do To Help Horses:
1.    Support or Run a Fundraiser to Help Horses! It costs a lot to keep a horse so get creative raising money for a great cause. Your local animal shelter or rescue group can help you. Raise money or help acquire items from a wish list. Every little bit helps.  The MSPCA has a special fundraiser that kids can help host, Thunder's Lemonade Stand, named for a long-time resident steer!  Money raised through Thunder's Lemonade Stand benefits Ashton's Fund, used to treat farm animals and horses with special medical needs.
2.    Volunteer at Your Local Shelter or Rescue Sanctuary! There is a lot to be done. But if you don’t mind a little hard work and getting a bit dirty his might be great for you. If you are old enough, ask how you can help. Or ask a neighbor with a horse if there is something you might do. There is much reward in working to help animals.
3.    Consider Adopting a Horse! If you want a horse, think through all of the details of responsible pet care with your family! Add up the pros and cons. Think about long-term finances, basic daily care, and the possibility of setting up a rainy-day emergency fund to help in an unexpected financial pinch. And please, don’t buy a horse from breeders or others when you can offer a wonderful and loving home to an animal who needs you.

Learn More About Horses:

MSPCA at Nevins Farm

National Geographic