On FB there was a ad circulating that said the following:
"Okay. Somebody must know somebody that knows someone that will take our Standardbred mare...FREE! She has to go before winter. Worst comes to worst we will need to take her to auction. We don't want to do that! Please have your friend of a friend respond to our plea."
I hate these type of ads- I've seen them on Kijiji and Craigslist and other horse classifieds. The problem is that is a very passive aggressive way of abdicating responsibility for their horse. If the horse goes to auction it's not their fault, they tried. It's the fault of us selfish people who would not take her. After all they love her so much.
True love is shown by actions. We have a responsibility to the creatures in our lives that depend on us. period. This responsibility includes:
- Adequate shelter. It doesn't have to be fancy or new. It just has to be possible for the animal to get out of the weather
- Food. I don't mean specially formulated (i.e., expensive) supplements and vitamins to meet Dobbins unique dietary needs, but basic grain and forage/ hay. Most horses do fine just on hay. Depending on their metabolism (unless your name is "Irish". And then you need pounds of grain).
- Attention. I know a horse is probably fine just being getting food and shelter but I think that they do enjoy our attention even if it's an occasional groom. If you don't think you'll be the only one in this horse's life then you need to ensure that he's used to having attention.
- Turn out. Horses are creatures of movement. They need space to do that. Keeping a horse 24/7 in a stall with no freedom is unfair and cruel.
- Farrier/vet care. Hooves need to be trimmed, teeth need to be checked, vaccinations need to be given. If you can do any of that yourself, that's great. If not, hire a professional to do it.
- Training. And I mean basic handling training. I hate seeing ads for a 5 year old stallion that has been living in a field his whole life and never handled. I've seen horses who are unsafe because of either really bad training or no training. Guess where they end up? At a slaughter yard. That's where. A horse should be able to be haltered, led and stand for the farrier and vet. It's not rocket science. I've had people say to me in utter sincerity- "oh he just doesn't want to do X today I'll leave him alone". Seriously? Guess what you're teaching the horse to do?
As for the horse in the above ad, as I see it the owner has two options:
- contact a standardbred rescue. There is one in the Maritimes. Or if there isn't one in their area, find a good horse rescue and give her up.
- Put her down. In the end it will be much kinder then sending her to auction. And yes, I know the story of Snowman. (a great read by the way http://www.amazon.ca/The-Eighty-Dollar-Champion-Snowman-Inspired/dp/0345521099). But guess what? The other horses on that truck went to slaughter. Not good odds.