On November 6th, 2006 I volunteered to assist in moving 2 dozen horses off of a condemned horse rescue property. It wasn't long into that first day before I discoverd that "rescuing" isn't always synonymous with "helping". The days I spent there were some of the hardest & most emotional of my life. It was also a real eye-opener.
Please read on ...
For those who would lend support to a facility that takes in & rehabilitates horses, I urge you to evaluate the situation carefully. Just because someone "rescues" horses does not mean they are able to care for them properly. If you wish to donate to a rehabilitation facility or shelter, please take the time to check out the place first! Donating money to a worthwhile charity is a noble thing to do; so make sure your money is being used in the manner in which you intend.
My hat's off to anyone who has undertaken the monumental task of assisting horses in need. There's a lot more the taking care of neglected horses than just making sure they have food & water. Horses are intelligent, feeling, sentient beings. They need companionship, compassion, attention & spiritual support too. Feeding the body while ignoring the mind does little towards true rehabilitation.
Adopting Horses from the S.P.C.A.
If anyone has the resources to assist in adopting a rescued horse, the SPCA has several that desperately need long-term foster, or permanent adoptive homes. They are also in need of supplies & professional services to care for these arrivals. I urge anyone who is able to consider this. If you have the resources to properly care for an adopted horse, you'll never regret it. For those interested, please contact me for numbers & information.
There is a bit more to adopting a horse from the S.P.C.A. than just backing the trailer up to the door & loading 'em up. The S.P.C.A. has an obligation to ensure the horses they take in will not return to abject poverty, neglect or abuse again. So they ask potential caregivers to follow a simple qualification process. This may vary slightly in certain circumstances, but basically they just need to know that you can care for that horse for the rest of his or her natural lifetime. Some folks may find this a bit daunting, but it is no way meant to ensnare or intimidate you, the adopting family. It's for the protection of the horse.
The adoption process is formally begun by filling out an application. This document requires answers to some pretty direct questions. Again, this is not meant to put anyone on the spot; the questions are designed to give the S.P.C.A. enough information to make a wise choice when placing an animal in a new home. So, be prepared to have the following information ready:
* While it's not all about the money, have your budget in order.
* What will you do when something goes wrong?
* You'll need to disclose considerable detail about where you plan to keep the horse.
* They will ask for some history to determine the breadth of your husbandry skills.
* Expect periodic visits from the S.P.C.A. They're required to follow up on every adoption.
* Be realistic about all of your projections! They know what it takes to keep a horse, they need to know that you know.
You will asked to "bid" on the horse of your choice. Don't confuse this with the bidding process at an auction; it doesn't work that way. The S.P.C.A. has neither the time nor the resources to handle repetitive bids from prospective adoptive homes. In an effort to simplify the process they use a "one-bid" system: you place a bid at the time you make the application, and that's it; there's no upping the ante later on. It doesn't need to be a lot, but it does need to say "I'm serious about this!"
It ain't about the money! Let's say two folks are eyeing the same horse; let's call them Sally & Sam. They both complete applications & place bids, and the officer dealing with the case begins the evaluation process. Sally has years of experience with horses, a great place to keep another one, prepared an intelligent budget with lots of room for incidentals & invited the S.P.C.A. out to her place to look things over. After the visit the officer drives home feeling all warm & fuzzy (yes, they DO in fact have feelings!) But, Sally doesn't have a lot of disposable cash so she can only afford a meagre bid.
Meanwhile Sam has prepared an equally attractive application, but wants to put a bit of extra insurance in his corner, so he bids quite high. Now, we wait ...
The applications are carefully weighed & evaluated, & a few days later Sally gets a call to say she was successful in her application. While she's dancing in the driveway, Sam is understandably upset. After all, his application was in order, and he placed a higher bid to make sure he got that horse! I'll let you in on a little hint: It ain't about the money! While the bids are important (that money goes directly back into the care system to pay the bills for the animals still at the shelter), they are not the deciding factor! The evaluation process is actually quite complex, and the officer conducting it is responsible for making an intelligent decision based on all of the facts. Their choices are also the result a lot of insight & careful attention to details.
OK, so if it's not about the money, then what is it all about? Simple; it's all about the horse.
Adoption is a wonderful experience that I don't think compares to buying a horse under "normal" circumstances. There's something about taking in a horse who "needs" a home, as opposed to buying one because you like the bloodlines, looks, etc. That something is quite ethereal by nature, but unmistakeable when you finally see & feel it for yourself. It can also be quite life-changing. You see, the reason for this is not unlike taking in an old mutt dog off the road. That dog knows you're his best chance at salvation, & chances are he'll be a truer friend than you could ever imagine. Horses think in a similar manner in that they are capable of perceiving kindness; in fact, I'm convinced they can at least hold a basic understanding of the abstract concept of charity. So when you bring a horse like this home, you'll find that not only do you get a horse, but often a true friend as well. I can vouch for this feeling, as I've done this twice in my life. The first time I met the best friend I've ever known. The second time? Well, that's a work in progress as we've only recently taken in another needy soul. But I'll tell you what; there's no feeling in the world like seeing the light of hope return to the eyes of a horse.
So give your local S.P.C.A. a call to see what it feels like to change your life ...
Click here to meet "Falon"
Click here to read about "Lily"
Noel, the Christmas Pony
Following is a something I think everyone should read. Those who take in an "unwanted" horse or "rescue" should read it every day ...
THE MEANING OF RESCUE
"Now that I am home, bathed, settled, and fed,
all nicely tucked in my warm new bed, I’d like to open my baggage
Lest I forget
There is so much to carry,
so much to regret.
Hmmmm……….Yes, there it is, right on the top,
Let’s unpack Loneliness, Heartache and Loss,
And there by my halter hides fear and shame.
As I look on these things I tried so hard to leave
I still have to unpack my baggage called Pain.
I loved them, the others, the ones who left me,
But I wasn’t good enough for they didn’t want me.
Will you add to my baggage?
Will you help me unpack?
Or will you just look at my things
And send me right back?
Do you have the time to help me unpack?
To put away my baggage,
To never turn back?
I pray that you do, I’m so tired, you see,
But I do come with baggage
Will you still want me?"
I'd like to leave you with a quote:
"We are responsible forever for that which we tame." French aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote that in his novella, "The Little Prince". That was back in 1943.