The term "unwanted horse"
describes horses within the domestic equine population that are
considered no longer useful or needed, or whose owners are either
uninterested or incapable for providing care for them, physically
or financially. This is not a new problem, but it is a growing concern
for a number of reasons. Perhaps one of these reasons is an increased
public awareness of the problem, as shown by the recently formed
coalition to deal with this issue. It could also be due to society's
demand for fair treatment of animals. Like child abuse and abuse
of women, abuse of animals is not acceptable and there is no need
to tolerate it. In the past few decades, concerned citizens have
spoken out and been instrumental in the passage of laws to address
animal cruelty and neglect.
New Mexico has laws to protect
horses along with other domestic animals. Unfortunately, like all
other law enforcement matters, the laws are only as good as the
manpower to enforce them allows, and as law officers are made aware
of situations that need to be addressed. It's important that we
support the system that is in place when we learn of an abusive
situation. At the same time, it is the duty and obligation of law
officers to investigate alleged reports of abuse and neglect.
There is often a difference
between an unwanted horse and an abused horse. Just because a horse
is unwanted, it is not necessarily an abuse case. More often, an
unwanted horse is one that may have suffered an injury and is no
longer sound for riding or working; it may be a pony that was outgrown
by the child he was originally purchased for; it may be a perfectly
sound, healthy horse whose owner simply lost interest in it, or
who lost his or her job and can no longer afford to care for it.
There are many reasons why a horse falls into the catagory of being
unwanted, but for whatever the reason, this horse needs help. If
it is not sold to a new home, it may end up at a sale barn, going
to slaughter, or simply neglected, abandoned and left to die.
The unwanted horse problem is
an issue of personal interest to me. I love all horses. I can't
stand to see a horse abused or neglected. I've never been able to
just look the other way when I see a problem. I've worked with horse
rescues, adopted and rescued a few horses on my own, and have always
dreamed of forming a horse rescue to try to save horses. That dream
is becoming a reality, in the Equine Spirit Sanctuary.
But it's not enough to just
run a horse rescue. I've learned, over the years of often heartbreaking
work with horse rescues, you can't save them all. I grieve for every
horse that I couldn't save and, believe me, there's been plenty.
I agonize over the ones that deserve a better life, the beautiful
spirits that have no hope of a good life on this earth, and the
unfairness of it all.
When I was younger, I'd dream
about what I would do with my life if I won the lottery and had
all the money I needed to do whatever I wanted with. I've always
known that I would start a horse rescue. I'd devote my life to saving
and caring for horses. Now that I'm older and a bit wiser, I've
learned that there's way more of a problem of unwanted horses than
one person could ever hope to solve, regardless of how much money
or resources they have available.
So my goal and intention for
the past 20some years has been to try to promote responsible horse
ownership. I've worked with various youth groups and horse clubs
and animal welfare associations, doing what I can to impress upon
fellow horse owners and enthusiasts how important the horses are.
Now, with the formation of the Equine Spirit Sanctuary, promoting
responsible horse ownership is a primary purpose of our organization.
It is gratifying to see persons from across the United States who
are also concerned about the unwanted horse problem and to know
that finally, after all these years, a concerted effort is being
made to address this. Little by little, I have faith that we an
make a difference and someday things will be better for horses everywhere.
Following are links to PDF files that relate to the unwanted horse
Unwanted Horse Summit
Plight of the Unwanted Horse
Current Status of Rescue
on Slaughter from the Field