Are horse rescues really for horses?

There are two items I think the horse welfare advocacy groups need to consider. The first item is the need for self-regulation of horse rescues. It is a wonderful thing that there are people in this world that understand that horses depend on humans for humane treatment. Unfortunately, good intentions with poor execution can land horses in conditions as bad and in some extreme cases, worse conditions than they would have faced had nothing been done. Just because someone has owned a horse before, or even several horses before, does not mean that that person can care for a dozen or several dozen horses at once. In the best interests of the horses and the good name of horse rescues that are doing things right, there are some rescues that need to be shut down. Who else understands the difficulty of running a horse rescue than other horse rescues? Additionally, horse rescues that are doing things right do not need the added burden of dealing with the bad publicity that is generated by inhumane horse rescues. It is in their best interests to be self-regulating and prevent the operation of inhumane rescues. This can be accomplished through a voluntary certification program that would provide operational audits and in some cases guidance towards substantial compliance. The public interest would be better served because they could easily identify humane rescues through the display of their voluntary certification. The certification group could also provide outreach to trouble groups and help them achieve certification or if necessary as identified through careful investigation help local authorities bring animal cruelty charges against inhumane rescues. Self-regulation of rescues now could help the horse rescue community avoid draconian measures that could result from legislative action in response to a severe neglect case.
The second action that would benefit horse welfare would be another voluntary program that breeders would be encouraged to participate in. The certification would require that the breeder institute a number of administrative controls. The first would be to clearly identify horses in their inventory that are their breeding stock. Any other horse kept or sold by the breeder would not be allowed into a breeding program. The males would be gelded and females would be sold with contracts specifying that the mare is not to be bred. The contract would reserve the right of the breeder of ownership of any offspring of the mare and that any unauthorized offspring will be destroyed after being weaned from the mare. Breeding controls of this nature would reduce the number of ‘excess’ horses in the country which would increase the value of horses at the margin and increase costs to the slaughterhouses. If costs are driven high enough overseas markets would be forced to look to local markets or abandon the practice altogether. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Leave a Reply