There are so many horses in need and if you are like me, you adore horses and you will feel compelled to support at least one horse rescue charity at some point in your life. This is something very close to my heart. Not only because I have rescue horses in my care but also because I have been involved with and attempted to help a number of rescue organizations.
What I have experienced first hand over the years has worried me, because often what has appeared on the surface to be a well-intentioned outfit, has often been not only far from perfect and bordering on the horses needing to be rescued from the rescue organization.
I have seen times when people who are doing the rescue don't have the best intentions at heart, or they may not have the ability to meet the needs of the horse(s) even if their intentions were originally good. When I have come across these people or organizations, I have had to walk away. I still think of the horses I met that I wanted desperately to help but by being present and enabling people who should not be involved with rescue or rehabilitation, I was actually doing harm.
There is a really, really fine line and it is a controversial subject because we all have slightly different opinions on how to look after animals. When I see horses without enough food, with inadequate shelter, and with huge emotional and mental issues on top of their physical needs not being met, to me it is obvious that there is something seriously wrong. These are things I have observed first hand at a number of rescue charities. People may ask me why I didn't do more to help or why this is happening at all, but the truth is that anyone can call themselves a rescue. There is no legislation and no way to keep tabs on the horses going to these places. Most people love a sob story and too many people are buying into the people running these organizations without looking at their capabilities to look after the horses.
We are actually doing a disservice by helping people who are not the right people continue to rescue, or collect more horses. We are not helping to educate and meet the roots issues but instead creating more abuse and harm to the horses. It makes me both sad and angry when I hear people heralded as heroes and selfless but then meet the horses, only to see and feel first hand that the horses are not at the heart of the organization.
Horse welfare has a long, long way to go but in my mind, if you cannot meet the basic needs of the horses in your care then you are part of the abuse cycle and you are misleading people about what equine welfare actually looks like. We need to raise our game. In order to do so, we need to stop supporting people that feed into the abuse by not supporting the horses as they should be supported.
There is no magic solution but please make sure when you support any rescue, charity or organization that claims to help horses, really try understand what a well and happy horse looks like. Try to understand what the basic needs of horses are before giving your time or money. Otherwise you may be feeding something that only serves to keep horses down allowing welfare standards to be much lower than they should.
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