7 ways to rescue a horse

Too many horses live in dire straits. You may not be in a position to adopt, but you can still help rescue a horse from a life of neglect.

Milagro (which means “miracle” in Spanish) after receiving plenty of TLC at Whispering Hearts.

Horse rescues rely on public support to “keep the barn doors open”. Many people believe that the only way to help is to adopt a horse, but that’s not the sole option. In fact, if someone takes on a horse without being in a position to meet the animal’s needs, it can be detrimental to the horse’s well-being. A lack of finances, space and especially education can make a bad situation worse. But here’s the good news – there are many other ways to support a horse rescue!

1. Donate cash

One of the biggest challenges for start-up horse rescues, and the individuals behind them, is a lack of resources, both financial and educational. It requires much more than a caring heart to operate an efficient non-profit organization.

Horse rescues rely on public funding and support in order to operate. Making donations is one of the best ways you can help them provide the necessary care to the horses they take in. Before you give your hard-earned money to any organization, though, do your homework to make sure they’re legitimate and reputable. If possible, visit the facility. Bring a questionnaire to help you with your research (see below). Think about whether a monthly or one-time donation is right for you. Remember, if the organization is a registered charity, you should get a tax receipt.

Before supporting a rescue, ask these questions:

  • Are you a registered charity? (If they are, be sure to get a donation receipt to offset your taxes at the end of the year.)
  • How long have you been in operation?
  • How does your organization operate?
  • Do you adopt horses out? How are homes found?
  • What type of care is provided to new horse arrivals, and by whom?

Also, consider the following:

  • Are there many malnourished or injured horses on the property? If so, ask why and when they arrived.
  • Is the facility over-populated?
  • Is the facility well kept? Does it have proper fencing, bedding and hay?

2. Become a foster “parent”

If you have some space on your property, keep in mind that many horse rescue organizations offer foster programs with varying degrees of duration and responsibility. If you are not in a financial position to take on a horse of your own, fostering is a way to help without committing to the long-term responsibility of horse ownership. This can be a win-win situation for both horse lovers and rescues.

As with donating, do your homework to find a reputable rescue facility that will provide the necessary support you need, both financial and educational. It is not in anyone’s best interest if you take on a horse without proper support in place.

3. Sponsor a horse

Sponsoring a horse can be a very rewarding option for those who don’t have the space or time for a horse of their own. Sponsoring provides much-needed financial support to the rescue, while giving you a sense of pride and responsibility. You are able to witness the effect your sponsorship has on your horse, as you keep yourself updated on his journey. There are varying degrees of sponsorship available, so seek out what’s best for you. Sponsoring a horse on someone else’s behalf is a great gift idea for any horse lover.

4. Attend or host a fundraiser

Attending or hosting fundraisers that benefit an equine rescue is another great way to “step up”. It requires many hours to organize and put on a successful and profitable event. Without volunteers, it wouldn’t be possible. There are many types of fundraising activities, including concerts, farm visits, bake sales, garage sales, etc. Subscribe to a rescue’s newsletter or mailing list to stay informed of upcoming fundraisers. If you like to plan, why not host one of your own?

5. Donate supplies

Horse rescue organizations require lots of supplies. Make an in-kind donation of hay, feed, tack or other supplies. If you have the resources, you can purchase much-needed provisions. Some rescues even have “wish lists”, where you can see specifically what supplies they lack, and donate accordingly. Donating supplies, instead of the money to buy them, provides assurance that your money goes directly to the horses in need.

6. Volunteer

It’s true what they say – many hands make light work! Volunteering at a horse rescue facility is one of the most rewarding ways you can contribute. If you do not have the knowledge or experience to work directly with horses, it’s okay. There is so much else to be done on a daily basis — stalls and paddocks to clean, hay to be distributed, etc. The list can seem endless, and that’s why rescues need your help. Volunteers are one the most valuable resources to a properly-run horse rescue facility. If you have a special skill or area of expertise, such as marketing or design or website maintenance, you may lend your talents in other ways too.

7. Spread the word

Last but not least, if you are not in a position to help in any of the above ways, there is still another option…educate! Educate yourself about equine welfare and spread the word. Choose a legitimate horse rescue organization, learn as much as you can about it, and share the great work they do. Word of mouth, social media, websites and blogs are all effective ways you can spread the word.

Remember, one person’s power to effect change is often underestimated. Helping any way you can, whether financially or through your time and talents, can make all the difference to horses in need.