Not all horses are fortunate enough to be loved and cared for.
Many find themselves with heavy handed owners, abandoned in muddy paddocks, or on trailers bound for the border. Whatever their situation is, these horses deserve our attention and our help.
All across America hundreds of organizations are working to give these horses the life they deserve. From breaking down breed stigmas, to funding equine education, to the daily care of rescued horses, their work can be exhausting and endless.
As an equestrian I feel an overwhelming duty to help horses in need. By supporting these great organizations you are playing a direct role in ending the suffering of our country’s equines.
Where to Begin?
Sorting through the hundreds of equine non-profits can be a chore. Here are some tips to selecting the organizations you want to support.
- Read their mission statement – a well run non-profit will have a clear mission statement that will explain their core values as an organization.
- Scour their website and social media – look for things like affiliated organizations, accreditations and awards, how recently did they update/post, where they get their funding. These things will help boost the validity of the organization and give you a clearer picture of who they are.
- Figure out how you want to help – Spread the word? Volunteer regularly? Clean stalls? Train horses? Donate money or items? Determine how you want to be involved. Then search for organizations that would let you do that. i.e. local vs. national, an outreach group vs. a physical rescue, etc.
- Write down your specific interests – There are non-profits for EVERYTHING! Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds, lobbying, equine education, equine therapy for the disabled and veterans, rescues, rehoming, funding new equestrian programs, the list is seriously endless. Think about what interests you most. Then search for non-profits that fit those interests.
- Reach out! – Grab your phone and email, message, and call the organization. THEY WANT YOU! All organizations are happy to speak with you about what they do and how you can help.
How Can You Help?
For equine non-profit organizations it isn’t magically cheaper to care for their horses. They take on incredible finacial burdens when they save a horse and it is hardly recouped in an adoption fee. At Sunshine Horses, a rehoming facility in New York, they estimate each horse costs $200/month bare minimum. With an average of 25 horses, They spend $5000/month on horse care alone. When considering how to give back, consider these ways to donate money.
- Cold, hard donations – quick easy and too the point. Just write a check, donate through PayPal or send some cash.
- Sponsor a horse – Many non-profits have sponsorship programs that connect you with a specific horse.
- Capital Campaigns – Donate to a specific purpose such as purchasing a manure spreader, stall mats, or a medical fund.
- Crowd Funding Platform – Search popular sites like GoFundMe or Indiegogo for equine non-profits in need.
- Business Donations – Speak with your workplace to see if they would be interested in donating. Many businesses have a special budget for community investment and donations.
- Sponsor a Service – Vaccines come around twice a year, farrier visits every 6-8 weeks, and sawdust deliveries too often! Offer to cover the costs of a routine service.
Clean a stall, pet a horse, and feel good about yourself for the rest of the day. What could be better? At the farm, the work is never done and non-profits are always looking for volunteers who can help care for the horses. Not a horse person per-say? Not a problem! There are so many different ways to volunteer your time for equine non-profits. Plus, almost every organization is willing to train their volunteers.
- Help with daily barn chores – take part in the daily care of the horses and the facility
- Assist with community outreach for the organization – table at events, hand out flyers, speak with friends
- Join their training team – help ready the horses for adoption
- Volunteer for a specific task – i.e. a spring cleaning day, painting the fence line, an open house event
- Organize a business volunteer outing – Check to see if your company has a volunteer matching program (where they will donate to an organization based on how many hours you have volunteered) and get a group of co workers to go for an afternoon!
Remember many organizations are willing to train any volunteer so don’t let your lack of experience stop you!
Blankets, pitchforks, a tractor, even something for a silent auction. The list of items equine non-profits need is long and DIVERSE! Head over to the organization’s website to see if there is a wish list posted. Please only give what you would want to receive. If your blanket is being held together by duct tape and sheer luck then please donate it to the trash.
Spread the Word
A message is much more powerful when it comes from someone the reader knows and trusts. So, one of the most valuable things you can give to an organization is your endorsement. Something as simple as liking an organization’s Facebook page can have a huge impact and increase the their connection to the community (and vice versa!).
- Like and follow all social media pages
- Share posts, tweets, and photos
- Speak to your friends, colleagues, and strangers about the organization
- Wear their gear! T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, etc.
Offer a Service
Are you good with computers? Know how to drive a tractor? Do you have grant writing experience? You’d be surprised the skill sets that can be put to good use at an equine non-profit. Get creative and if you have an idea reach out to an organization!
If you’re ready for your new family member look no further than an adoptable horse. Remember, just because the horse is available for adoption does not mean it’s “broken.” At Sunshine Horses their horses come from every type of scenario you can imagine:
- Owner surrender due to inability to care for them
- Owner surrender due to horse being an ill fit for the rider
- True rescue cases
- OTTBs looking for a new home
- Off The Track Standardbreds in the best shape of their life ready to be retrained for their second career
- And many more!
I cannot begin to explain the caliber of horses in equine non profits. There is every level of talent, soundness, potential, training, color, breed, sex, and temperament to fit anyone’s needs. So when you start looking for your next mount don’t forget to look at the horses in true need of a home. Best news is adoption fees are usually unimaginably cheap!
Are you ready to help the horses in your community? I spent three years volunteering for a non-profit rehoming facility in Syracuse, NY called Sunshine Horses, Inc. The days included cleaning stalls, fundraising, building a website, raising our social media presence, retraining horses, and becoming friends with the most ridiculously talented crew of volunteers ever. I learned so much about horses and the industry in my time there. As members of the equine industry it is our duty to give back to our horses and those horses in need. Go out, volunteer, and share your story with Leo and me! And as always please share this post on Facebook, Pintrest, and with family and friends.