Abused and Neglected Horses - What Can We Do?

Who should take on a horse these days?

From my earliest memories, I've always loved horses. I've had horses (or access to them) most of my life and it's hard for me to imagine life without them. My "joy level" would be greatly affected ("minimized") if it weren't for the horses I've been blessed by and entrusted with. If I'm a bit stressed w/ the demands of life, whether "I hit the trails" or pay a visit to my girlfriends covered arena and focus on the dressage discipline, that's often all it takes for me to feel refreshed. They are beautiful, spirited, noble and honest creatures, each w/ unique personalities and dispositions. Like people, some are friendlier and more interactive (w/their humans) than others. Like people, life circumstances help mold and shape them into who they are.

So when I hear on the news about how someone has neglected these glorious creatures, not meeting their basic needs for food and access to clean water, it just breaks my heart. There are equine rescue operations here that I'm aware of and praise God for these people and their efforts, as well as those who support them. I know there usually is a lot of 'red tape' these animal lovers encounter in their efforts to remove neglected and starving horses from their unhealthy environment. All horses in an emaciated condition are in need of vet consultation and care - much pricier than if they had been cared for properly to begin with.

My question is why does this happen? Is there any legitimate excuse? If with gas prices, hay prices and everything going up, if someone has fallen on hard times, perhaps I would feel some mercy and compassion. The news doesn't always adequately portray a story in it's entirety. How difficult it would be for one to be faced with, "do I spend money on food and electricity so my family can eat, or do I buy hay?" I just hope that if anyone ever finds themselves in this situation, they will not be too proud to contact someone who can help. We need one another and together, we can make a difference.

Horses do require a substantial amount of time and money = they are a lot of work! However, I know some people out there who spend more money per month on a dog than it takes to support a horse! No doubt, owning a horse is a greater commitment than owning a cat.... A lot of little girls out there dream of having a horse - I once was counted among them. (No discrimination against males here, but the ratio of "horse-crazy girls" to "horse-crazy boys" is quite disproportionate!). There are some grown women who are now in a position in life where they can make that childhood dream a reality. My admonishment to anyone who is inexperienced when it comes to horses, make sure horses are truly something you are passionate about and not just something that's going to be a 'been there, done that' type of experience. (*NOTE * To Parents of young girls - in today's society, if you have a daughter who has an interest in horses, I would NOT discourage it. There are so many other unhealthy things they could be focusing their energy on!). Horses can provide exhilarating fun - yet they are not like an ATV or a dirt bike - they are living creatures who are dependent on others to provide for their needs. Once the commitment is made, it must be kept unless one is willing to find it another really good home - regardless if the animal can be sold or it needs to be given away. That's difficult for me personally because like our dog and cat, I consider them to be a part of the family. Anyway, finding a good home may take some time and until that is accomplished, honor that commitment to care for what you have dominion over.

A couple of suggestions for determining whether or not horses are a temporary, fleeting interest:

1). For girls and young women who may not have the finances or property to afford a horse, find a FRIENDLY (sometimes horse people can be snobby - just a heads up if not already aware) reputable barn w/an instructor who provides riding lessons. These can be expensive ($40 - $60), but it's possible to find barns where in exchange for a lesson a week, a portion of one day a week can be spent working in the barn; cleaning stalls, feeding and maybe even grooming. This is a really good way to be introduced to and learn some basic horsemanship skills, as well as lessons in hard work and responsibility. If a girls looks forward to going to the barn, whether it's to ride or work, it's obvious the individual has been bitten by the "horse lover" bug.

2). If you are (or have been) a career person who has reached a financial position in life where you want to see that unfulfilled childhood dream become a reality, I suggest something similar to what's stated above. Take some lessons once a week for a couple months to determine if the interest merit's buying a horse of your own. If after a couple of months of one lesson a week, it's decided you need more time around horses, it would make sense to get one (or more) of your own.

3) Be aware if you are not boarding a horse someplace where other horses are present but you have the land to keep your own on, you will most likely want at least two. It costs us about $100 per month, per horse, having them on our 4 + acre property versus having to pay board at a facility (which includes two daily feedings) for anywhere from $355 - $425/mo, per horse. When you factor in farrier services (shoes/hoof care), vaccinations and worming on top of that, one needs a good income! Horses are herd animals and will likely be unhappy without a buddy so hopefully you'll have family or friends who also share your interest, or you'll have the time for two. If you are the only one and have the property but have a limited amount of time, perhaps you can afford to feed another, and for your beloved equine, would be willing to take on a "pasture ornament" (another horse, mule, donkey, pony). I personally hate to see beautiful, healthy and sound horses as pasture ornaments....I think, 'what a waste!' There are a lot of "unsound" horses around however - which are completely unrideable or have limitations - typically brought about through injuries or negligent care.

Organizations who rescue and start rehabilitation of neglected or abused animals could be supported through finances, volunteering of ones time and connecting w/ those who are willing to provide a foster home. Permanent homes for these animals is the goal. A really nice horse can usually be adopted for between $300 and $800.

We see and hear about the needs often enough when it comes to dogs and cats. Comparatively, how often do we hear about the horses? Aren't they as important?

My friend Gaylord - a true gem

Comments 18 comments

amandaines 4 years ago

Love this article and agree with everything you say. I have seen so many young girls treat their horses as if they were just dolls and then tire of them. As you say, the parents should test out how truly committed their daughters are before they go as far as to buy them a horse.

P.S. Love your horse Warrior

christinekv profile image

christinekv 7 years ago from Washington Author

Thanks Annette for the visit and compliment! Thank you also for taking a wonderful animal under your wing and giving him an opportunity to grow healthy again and have a good life!

annettelennon2 profile image

annettelennon2 7 years ago

what a beautiful article we just rescued a horse three months ago and he was 200 pounds under weight. We put 150 back on him and then found sanctuary for him. Thank you for the sound advice.

annette lennon

christinekv profile image

christinekv 7 years ago from Washington Author

Hi Roo!

I applaud and rejoice over your choice to save a horse! If you are able to take Dave too, your new mare would indeed be happier as the cows just won't be the same for her. It sounds like you have a lot of land and if it wouldn't be too costly, you may want to consider him. Is there anyone else in your family or any good friends who would ride with you, assuming both horses are sound?

On the other hand, if you are new to horses and you were to take out your mare alone, she may give you challenges if she has become "herd bound" to Dave. It is important for you to develop a relationship with her and win her trust and confidence and then it would be easier to take her out unaccompanied by another horse. I hope if you don't end up taking Dave too, someone else will give him a good home. If there are other horses neighboring that your mare will be able to see and even get near based on only a fence separating properties, this would be the next best thing.

All the best and hope you enjoy your new horse!


Moonlake, sorry I only now got to replying to your comment! Thanks for the visit and for sharing! When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a jockey. No chance of that though at just shy of 5'7 and well over a hundred pounds!

Roo 7 years ago

I am awaiting a call from a horse sanctuary. As I want to save a horse, rather than buying one. But would it be crewl to keep just one, alone. As I live on a dairy farm and have 200 cows and alot of land. So there is no need in renting. I am most likley getting a 16 hands cob, but her 'best friend' dave (also a cob) she would be leaving, and I feel mean if I end up seperating them.

moonlake profile image

moonlake 8 years ago from America

Love your hub and pictures of the horses. I don't have anything to do with horses afraid of them but I do love to look at them. It's strange but my Dad owned race horses and my brothers were jockies. My sister has horses. I was not home when they started into this business I had already married and moved far away so I never got to know the horses. I do think it is so sad when they are abused. If someone can't afford to feed them then give them to the humane society.

christinekv profile image

christinekv 8 years ago from Washington Author

Thanks for visiting and commenting Amy Jane! I may switch out the picture of Crystal since it's not the clearest...I guess I chose to include this one though because of just being on her bareback w/ a halter....she gets very nervous easily as a result of her past. I think this was a new experience for her, to just hang out and have someone on her, relax and not have someone expect or demand anything of her.

Glad to hear you and your family are also enjoying the companionship of these great animals!

amy jane profile image

amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

What great pictures! I have only had the pleasure of being close to horses over the last 4 years, but it was well worth the wait (I have waited all of my life!) I now have two of my little girls (the 3rd is too young) riding and they are completely obsessed. Hopefully in the coming years we will be able to rescue a couple of horses for ourselves. :)

christinekv profile image

christinekv 8 years ago from Washington Author

You four make me smile. And yes, I do like pie....my husband cooked mother's day dinner for me yesterday which included apple pie, accompanied by vanilla icecream. I think apple pie would be a horses favorite flavor too, don't you agree? Especially since my husband put OATmeal in the topping (instead of an upper crust!)

Amber Road 8 years ago

Do you like pie?

Just wondering

Gigi Sand 8 years ago


Love Ya!

hdxgbfugh 8 years ago

That is my funny name. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

wayle 8 years ago

when i said i hate that i mean that by i hate that people do things like that.

christinekv profile image

christinekv 8 years ago from Washington Author

Amber, Gigi, Wayle (and hdxgbfugh - tell me, what the heck kind of name/handle is that??? has to stand for something I'd imagine!) - anyway - thank you so much for visiting and expressing your appreciation for what I had to share. I hope I'm correct to assume when I see, "I HATE THAT!" it's in reference to the abuse/neglect topic!(?) Glad to have connected w/other horse loving, crazy readers (and writers?) At any rate, hope this will be an awesome summer for you all which will include lots of opportunities to "horse around!"

Gigi Sand 8 years ago

I love this website. It is the best ever. Thank You!


Gigi Sand

hdxgbfugh  8 years ago

I LLLLOOOOVVVVEEEE YYYYOOOOUUUU !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

wayle 8 years ago

I HATE THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Amber Road 8 years ago

I truly beleive what you say.I love it that you would put this on the Internet.

Yours Truly,

Amber Road

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    Crystal - Rehabilitated Mare

    "The Herd"

    Warrior at 2 Years (he just made 3)

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