Jockey Club Launches Thoroughbred Connect Program

May 16th, 2011

Today the Jockey Club announced a new, free online service to help Thoroughbreds find new homes when their racing careers are over. The Thoroughbred Connect program allows people who are interested in helping a particular horse to attach their contact information to that horse’s electronic records. If that horse is in need of assistance or a home in the future, the horse’s owner can log in and request the contact information.

Thoroughbred owners and racing fans: the Jockey Club has provided you with an easy way to help ensure that the horses you love end up in a good place when their racing days are done. PLEASE take advantage of it.

To learn more, read the Bloodhorse news article here, or go directly to the online tool: thoroughbredconnect.com.

Education is key, and SDSU is doing it right

March 30th, 2011

As I’ve mentioned in the past, one of the keys to solving the unwanted horse problem is to educate the public. South Dakota State University (SDSU) has begun doing exactly that by offering a course called “Equine Issues and Leadership,” which examines the issues facing the equine industry.

The first semester’s students focused on the unwanted horse problem and presented their findings at the 2011 Black Hills Stock Show in Rapid City, SD. (Details of the presentation can be found here.)

Kudos to SDSU, Professor Rebecca Bott, and all the students involved! I’d love to see a class like this implemented at every college and university that offers courses in equine studies or agriculture.

How we can improve horse rescue

March 28th, 2011

A Google search on horse rescue news currently turns up page after page of stories about rescues gone bad, fake rescue organizations stealing money from well-meaning donors, and starved/neglected horses with nowhere to go.

These stories are incredibly disheartening– not just because of the suffering of the horses involved, but because they damage the credibility of all horse rescue efforts, making an already difficult task even more difficult.

As I was attempting to write up a post to cover the current issues and propose ways to prevent them in the future, I was thrilled to discover that someone else has already said it better than I could. Dr. Sheila Lyons wrote a lovely article last week for Dressage Daily, titled Equine Rescue Under Fire – How to Make Things Better.

Please read it when you have a chance. I’ve covered some of her points here before, but they’re worth covering again. Others are new to me, and I’ll be discussing them in detail here soon.

Help needed for 300+ abandoned horses in Montana

February 2nd, 2011

As I’ve mentioned, the economic downturn has had a devastating effect on the horse industry, causing thousands of horses to be abandoned when their owners can no longer afford them. This story is further proof of that.

After his ranch was foreclosed on in November, a Quarter Horse breeder in Montana apparently left all of his horses (as many as 700) on the property and disappeared. The malnourished horses have been without adequate food and water since then.

The Northern International Livestock Exposition (NILE) has efforts underway to airlift hay to the horses. As you can imagine, it takes tremendous resources to feed so many horses, so NILE is currently accepting donations of hay, transportation assistance (for donated hay), and money (to purchase hay and rent equipment). If you can help, please contact NILE:

Email: info@thenile.org

Phone: 406-256-2495

Mail: NILE Foundation, PO Box 1981, Billings, MT 59103

You can receive updates on this situation via NILE’s Twitter feed and Facebook page.

Horse Rescues

November 23rd, 2010

There are hundreds of horse rescue organizations in the United States, so odds are good that there’s at least one near you. Most rescues depend heavily on donations (of money, feed, tack, etc.) and volunteers. Whether you can spare a $20 donation, a few bales of hay, or a couple of hours per week cleaning stalls, you can help save a horse.

I’ve compiled a huge list of horse rescue organizations, and I’ve broken them down by state below. (more…)

Buy a painting, save a racehorse!

November 23rd, 2010

ReRun, Inc. Thoroughbred rescue is about to launch their latest Moneigh art auction on eBay.

Moneighs are paintings created by famous racehorses, using their noses, hooves and even paintbrushes. Equine artists featured in this auction include Curlin, AP Indy, Big Brown and more. The proceeds help fund ReRun’s efforts to help ex-racehorses find a second career.

You can see examples of past paintings here.

The auction runs Nov. 28 – Dec. 5. Watch ReRun’s homepage for details and links!

Adopting a rescue horse: Is it right for you?

February 17th, 2010

My dream is that every homeless animal would be adopted by a loving owner and allowed to live out a happy and productive life. I understand that taking in a horse simply isn’t possible for everyone, but if you’re one of the lucky few with the resources and experience to allow it, I urge you to consider adopting a rescue horse.

At one time, a “rescue horse” was almost guaranteed to have fairly severe mental or physical issues. That’s because in a good horse economy, sane, healthy horses rarely needed to be rescued. But the situation is different now, and many good, trained horses end up in rescues simply because their owners can’t or won’t support them financially anymore. These horses can be a great fit for anyone with a reasonable amount of horse experience.

(Of course, there are still plenty of special needs horses out there as well. Adopting one of these horses can be incredibly rewarding, but I strongly discourage novice horse owners from doing so. These horses require a lot of patience, knowledge and skill. Starting out your horsey career with a difficult horse can break your heart and ruin your confidence. And it won’t do the horse much good, either.)

If you think adoption might be right for you, here are a few things to keep in mind: (more…)

Can’t afford to own a horse? Sponsor one instead!

February 17th, 2010

Always dreamed of owning a horse but don’t have the resources? Sponsorship may be the answer!

If you sponsor a horse, you pay a monthly fee for a needy horse’s food, board and vet care, and a rescue organization takes care of the horse on your behalf until a permanent home can be found. (In some cases, sponsored horses are not good candidates for adoption and will live out their lives at the rescue or sanctuary.) Your sponsorship fees are tax deductible in many cases (please check with the rescue organization to be sure), and often you can even arrange to visit your horse if you’re in the area!

Can’t afford to sponsor a horse alone? Recruit your family or friends. Groups and even businesses can sponsor horses. And sponsorship makes a great gift!

Here are some rescues that promote sponsorship on their websites. However, most rescues will happily accept sponsors for horses. There is a much longer list of rescues here. (more…)

How YOU Can Help Save a Horse

February 17th, 2010

Anyone can help save a horse’s life!

Here are some of the many ways YOU can help:

  • Purchase an item from this website [coming soon]. 100% of the profits will be donated to non-profit horse rescue organizations.
  • Make a direct donation to a horse rescue organization. In most cases, you can deduct the donation from your taxes!
  • Sponsor a horse for as little as $5 per month.
  • Volunteer at a horse rescue near you.
  • Adopt a horse.
  • Link to this site from your own web site or blog and help spread the word.

So How Can We Fix The Problem?

February 14th, 2010

As I’ve stated before, there is no simple solution to a problem this big. But if we ARE going to fix it, it’s essential that we do two things: 1) Educate the public about responsible ownership and breeding, and 2) Take responsibility for the horses we produce.

Education

People need to understand the consequences of overbreeding horses, just as they are beginning to understand the consequences of overbreeding dogs and cats. Horses live a long time (often 30+ years) and require a lot of expensive care. (It costs $2,000 per year or more to maintain a horse.) A pretty color and a sweet personality are NOT enough to guarantee a good life for a horse. Careful, quality breeding and training are essential to ensure that today’s cute foals will be valuable and useful decades down the road.

Responsibility

Those contributing most to the problem should help solve it. I don’t support legislation to control or ban breeding, but I DO support measures that would help provide for the animals produced. Example ideas include:

  • Earmark a portion of winnings to be donated to horse rescue/retirement/euthanasia.

Approximately $1,165,000,000 in Thoroughbred racing purses were paid in the United States in 2008. If 1% of that was donated to help retired or injured racehorses, $11,650,000 would be raised. That amount could support about 5825 horses for an entire year. (Alternately, it could pay for the humane euthanization of 29,125 elderly or injured horses.)

(more…)