Ah, steeds, steeds, what steeds! Has the whirlwind a home in your manes? Is there a sensitive ear, alert as a flame, in your every fiber? Hearing the familiar song from above, all in one accord you strain your bronze chests and, hooves barely touching the ground, turn into straight lines cleaving the air, and all inspired by God it rushes on! ~Nikolai V. Gogol, Dead Souls, 1842, translated from Russian (Not by me.)
Last week in the Mrs. Grandma Horse Lover Series Part lV, I decided to approach some animal rights websites with an open mind to find out if any had workable solutions for me when the time came to “relinquish” my horse. I found horses listed as pets along with dogs, ferrets, fish, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, rabbits, and rats. Also this:
Every horse owner needs to plan for the entire life of his or her horse. Carefully locate a caring home for your horse, if you can no longer keep him.
~Humane Society website
Following are six solutions from the Humane Society for relinquishment of my horses, if needed. I’ve underlined sections which could pose problems for me.
1. Sell your horse to a properly vetted, private owner.
In order to have a successful relationship, horses and owners must be matched by temperament and ability. By selling your horse to a carefully screened private owner you can ensure your horse and his owner are a good match. A buy-back clause in the contract will give you right of first refusal should the new owner ever decide to sell but requires that you maintain contact with the owner, sometimes for years.
(Good deal…if I love the buyer very much and the buyer loves me.)
2. Lease your horse to another horse enthusiast.
Leasing involves giving someone else access to your horse for riding and companionship for a set period of time. A typical lease involves the lessee paying a portion of the horse’s monthly expenses in exchange for a certain number of days where she can ride or otherwise spend time with the horse. Leasing can relieve some of your time and financial commitments to horse ownership without giving up ownership of your horse.
(Cool. Except I live in a county with an entire population of under four-thousand souls, near a hamlet of less than two hundred souls, most of whom are elderly. Will any of them lease my horse? Doubtful. Another consideration–in this day and time, ranchers and farmers run the risk of getting their pants sued off if anyone gets hurt on their property.)
3. Relinquish your horse to a therapeutic riding center, park police unit or similar program
Hundreds of organizations across the country accept relinquished horses. Therapeutic riding centers, mounted police units and university riding programs all accept relinquished horses. Use the same careful consideration you would in choosing any home for your horse. Be sure to find out what policies the organization has in place for horses who are retired or are no longer suitable for the program.
(*lifetime of the horse, remember. It’s never someone else’s problem.)
(I’d be glad to give my horse to one of these organizations except I live hundreds of miles from any and these organizations need certain kinds of horses–gentle, healthy–not the problem horse I’m relinquishing.)
4. Contact your horse’s breeder or previous owners. Many registries require transfers of horse ownership be documented through them—usually with the ownership history listed on the horse’s registration papers. One exception is The Jockey Club, which only lists the breeder on thoroughbreds’ papers. You can discover thoroughbreds’ previous owners by searching their race records on websites such as equibase.com. Some breeds also maintain databases for owners who want to be contacted if a horse they’ve owned or bred needs a home. Three examples are AQHA’s Full Circle program, USTA’s Full Circle program and The Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Connect program.
(This might work if I had purchased a registered horse with sought after bloodlines. But, most of us can think of it like this: Joe chooses a pup from his neighbor’s mixed-breed collection of mongrels. The dog grows up and won’t stop digging holes in the carpet and biting his mom. He calls the neighbor. “Hey, will you take this dog back?” The neighbor laughs heartily.)
5. Relinquish your horse to a horse rescue or sanctuary. Hundreds of U.S. horse rescues and sanctuaries take in horses with the intention of adopting them out to new homes. Sanctuaries provide a lifetime home for horses. If you relinquish your horse to a horse rescue or sanctuary be sure it is a legitimate, well-run organization that is able to properly care for your horse. You can use The HSUS/AWI Guidelines for Operating a Horse Rescue or Retirement Facility to help you evaluate a potential facility.
(Again, good idea. Many rescue facilities have mile long waiting lists, however, and I might die of old age before I can get my horse placed. And, I hate to mention it, but there are many documented cases of abuse at rescue facilities. Some right here in Oklahoma. Also, I recently inquired about adopting a horse for myself from a shelter in Texas only to find it had closed from lack of funding. I don’t know the reasons for the closure, but Texas has been in an extended drought. Horse feed is very expensive right now. If the feed costs are comparable to mine, the shelters would need to take in more than twice as many donations than previously just to cover feed costs. Aside from feed, horses also rack up vet bills and farrier bills.)
6. Consider humane euthanasia. If your horse has become incapacitated and cannot recover, humane euthanasia by a licensed veterinarian is your best option. The cost of humane euthanasia and carcass removal is equal to or less than one month’s care in most parts of the country and is part of responsible horse ownership. You should plan and budget for this expense—if you can’t afford to euthanize your horse when the time comes, you cannot afford a horse and should not be a horse owner.
(Sometimes life happens. Circumstances change. How can I plan for every eventuality in my horse’s life? To me, this is like saying, “If you can’t afford your car to get old and break down, you shouldn’t own a car.” Or, “If you can’t afford your child to get sick, don’t have kids.”)
Please see Humane Horse Remains Disposal Options for your state.
Anyone for a blog post on horse euthanasia (politically correct speak for killing your horse)? No? Me, either, but it’s part of the end of life issue for our animals, so join me–Mrs. Grandma Horse Lover and Sometime Animal Euthanizer–next time as I look into the Humane Society’s guidelines for euthanizing my horse and disposing of its carcass.
God bless all y’all and enjoy Gillian Welch and David Rawlings doin’ Six White Horses.[youtube.com/watch?v=x4qe38Gn5d8]
*These artists don’t necessarily endorse my blog, I just like ’em.