What Every Good Rescue Should Provide
As we know there are many rescues in operation, both good and bad. It can be difficult to know whether a rescue is suitable for placing your older or unsound horse. By following these guidelines you will gain an insight into the basic things a rescue should provide to its animals and to its clients.
The farm should be clean and well maintained. That means that the stalls that are being used should be well bedded (any bedding is fine shavings/straw/etc) and be well mucked on a regular basis. Horses that are kept out of doors should have adequate paddock space, or be supplemented with hay. They should all have water at all times both indoors and out. Fencing should be safe and adequate to keep the horses where they belong. No barbed wire or other truly unsafe fencing should be allowed. There should be signs that the owner is making efforts to keep the fencing and barn maintained even if there are things that are evidently in need of repair (hey – we all have fence rails needing repair). The fields should be free of dangerous equipment and other items likely to cause injury to a horse. If horses are routinely kept out of doors 24/7 there should be some kind of run-in shelter available.
Feed and hay should be stored in a safe, clean environment. Grain should be contained in a way that discourages snacking by escapee horses and keeps rodents etc out of it (as much as possible – old freezers are a great way to do this – cheap and easy to get a hold of too). A variety of feed suited to the needs of the various horses at the rescue should be available. A reasonable supply of medication should be available on hand (those medications the rescue owner knows how to use correctly), especially penicillin, bute, worming paste, and banamine (anyone can learn to do intramuscular shots). If a horse needs special medication it should be evident that the medication is on hand and that the rescue knows how to use it.
The horses should be well cared for and happy in their home. Horses with special needs should show signs of having those special needs cared for. The horses should show evidence of having been groomed on a reasonably regular basis. Their feet should be in reasonable condition, showing evidence of regular hoof care (although some horses’ feet will obviously need more care than others). Rescues who have been in residence for an extended time should be in good weight, good health (with the exception of pre-existing conditions), and show evidence of regular care. New rescues of course will be more varied in condition. A rescue that routinely rescues from auctions or other questionable sources should have an appropriate quarantine area.
If the rescue is marketing riding horses there should be an appropriate area set aside for clients to try the horses. This area should be clear of obstacles that could cause injury to horse or rider. Ideally it would be flat, fenced and a minimum of 100’x50’, but that would be pretty flexible. The riding area should be easily cleared of horses (if it is a turn-out area) so that riders can ride without the interference of other horses in the ring loose with them (I’ve seen it and ridden in it before…).
If the rescue accepts stallions there should be safe, well constructed stalls (or at least one stall) available for stallion use. There should be at least one individual turn-out paddock/field with no shared fencelines and preferably electric wire for the stallion(s) to go out in. The rescue owner should have had some experience with stallions in the past before accepting them at their rescue.
If the rescue accepts mares in foal there should be an adequate place set aside for the mare(s) to foal. This could be a foaling stall (no smaller than 12’x12’, preferably bigger – especially for draft mares), or a foaling paddock (a small grass paddock, very lightly used, mucked daily when in use). There should also be a small paddock set aside (could be the foaling paddock – or could be the stallion paddock) for the mare and foal to be turned out individually for the first two weeks so they can safely bond before returning to the herd.
The person managing the rescue should be an experienced horse person with preferably over 5 years of horse experience. This experience should be varied if possible in more than one segment of the horse industry. If they are accepting stallions the manager (or an employee) should be experienced with stallions. If they are accepting mares in foal or youngstock the manager (or an employee) should have some experience with mares and foals.
The rescue owner/manager should be able to provide references both horsey and non-horsey. If the rescue adopts out, at least one reference should be from a prior adoptive home. References from the rescue’s regular vet and farrier should be required.
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