There are many, many rescue organisations, both large and small, with no regulations on rescue centres and little to no money out there to help support them; some horses are finding themselves in need of being rescued from their rescue homes!
In our quest to 'do good' are we really doing what is right for the horses and are the people who are becoming the rescuers actually capable of taking on that role? Any horse is a great responsibility but taking in a horse that has suffered in any way will often have even more challengers. Much like foster caring can involve looking after children that have suffered emotional, physical and mental damage, taking on a horse with a difficult past can be incredibly challenging.
In some cases I have met people who rescue horses, who are clearly suffering from some mental and emotional disorders themselves and who as a result have been incapable of providing even the most basic of care. Whilst I have some slight sympathy for that person, I have much more sympathy for the horses who have not been given enough food, have not had their feet trimmed and who have clearly got a severe worm burden. My fear is that for some people their intentions may originally have been good but that perhaps it has now become more about them and less about what is really, honestly good for the horses.
I have seen rescue horses who are being ridden who are clearly in a lot of pain and discomfort and yet the places who are 'looking after them' claim to have only the horses' best interests at heart.
If we are to be rescue people, or to ask for donations from people, or make claims in public about how worthy our cause is; should we not be looking at the horses in our care and actually making sure that every decision we make is for their good? It seems like, even with these organisations who at the heart are meant to be about the horses, we are still putting ourselves and people first. I have seen many pictures and videos from rescue centres where I am horrified by what I am seeing and yet they are proud of what they are doing.
If a horse is in pain when being ridden, should a rescue organisation just choose for it not to be ridden? If they don't know that it is in pain and somehow mistake the obvious signs that it is, then should they be rescuing horses in the first place?
Difficult questions and maybe controversial in asking them. I understand that no one is perfect, I am sure there are bright coloured, dancing skeletons in my closet that will give you lists of my own mistakes. I am not trying to judge anyone, or point the finger of blame to shield my own problems or insecurities. I want a better and higher standard of care at rescue centres; we need as horse lovers to ensure that the ones that we support and give praise to are actually, really helping horses and making their lives better.
There are some incredible organisations and individuals out there making a difference and without them many horses would be suffering and remaining in horrible situations. There are unfortunately many more who are continuing the damage and abuse of horses, whilst promoting that they are helping them.
Next time someone says they rescue horses or asks for your money, or for any sort of support, just scratch the surface a bit to ensure that what they are saying really is true. By supporting the right organisations and turning our backs on ones that are not positive, we can make sure that horses lives are changed and that the standard of care for horses is raised.