Horses are beautiful, powerful and majestic creatures. And sadly, they’re often subjected to abuse at the hands of humans. The racing industry exploits horses for the sole purpose of “entertainment,” and others are subjected to a life of work involving pulling carriages through city streets or being used as a source of entertainment at children’s birthday parties. Even wild horses are exploited by being rounded up and forced into holding facilities where they’re often sold for slaughter. Horses also fall victim to unintentional abuse when people purchase or adopt them without fully understanding the amount of time and expenses involved in caring for them.
When horses are no longer of use or someone can no longer afford their care, they’re often sent to auction where they can be purchased for further use or shipped off for slaughter. Some might end up in loving homes or placed with a sanctuary, but for the majority of these highly intelligent and emotional creatures, that isn’t the case. With a staggering number of horses being relinquished and sent to auction every year, those who love animals might be tempted to try giving one a home. But before you consider rescuing a horse, there are several things you need to consider.
Being Able to Provide a Proper Home and Exercise
Horses require room to roam and graze, as well as a safe, warm place that keeps them protected from the elements. If you don’t have an adequate amount of land on your property or aren’t able to provide proper shelter, you’ll need to board your horse at a stable. Depending on where you live and the services provided by the stable, boarding can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars a month, according to an article by The Horse.
Horses also require physical exercise and emotional stimulation, including one-on-one interaction, as well as enrichment toys or activities to alleviate boredom. You’ll need to be committed to not only exercising your horse a few times a week but also working with them to build a trusting relationship before riding or training them. In addition to making the time to visit and work with your horse, you also need to make sure you have the financial means to properly care for them.
Being Prepared For the Financial Commitment
The upfront cost of rescuing a horse from an auction might not be as expensive as purchasing a horse from a breeder, but the expenses associated with keeping them healthy and safe are almost the same. The expenses for food, housing, basic veterinary and grooming care, and purchasing necessary equipment for your horse can add up quickly, so it’s important to be prepared.
Horses need to be fed a regular diet of hay and pasture grass, and in some cases, a small amount of grain. An average-sized horse eating a diet primarily consisting of hay can eat up to 20 pounds of hay per day, which can cost up to $250 per month depending on availability and where you live. It’s also recommended that horses are allowed to forage in a pasture, which is beneficial to their physical and emotional well-being. Making sure your horse is getting a full and balanced diet, including supplements, is extremely important; horses that are poorly fed become emaciated, causing suffering and making them more susceptible to injury and illness.
Special care is also required for a horse’s hooves, and it needs to be performed by someone properly trained in hoof care, such as a farrier. Neglecting to trim and clean hooves on a regular basis can result in overgrowth of the hooves as well as infection or abscess. These and other conditions can result in immense pain and lameness, affecting the way a horse stands and walks, and causing damage to its ankles and tendons in the process.
Getting a Horse Isn’t a Decision You Should Take Lightly
Horses can live up to 30 years, so even if you adopt an older horse, you need to be prepared for a long-term commitment. Before you adopt, make sure you take everything into full consideration. Do your research and ask other horse guardians about routine care and expenses, as well as recommendations for veterinarians, farriers and boarding facilities. You’ll also need to consider what type of horse is right for you, and understand that not all horses can or want to be ridden.
Before you make the commitment, ask yourself if you have the time and resources to properly take care of a horse and give it everything, including emotional enrichment, that it needs to have the happy and full life it deserves.
Lead image source: Pixabay