Rescue…Me!

I see a lot of rescues adopting out untrained horses.  If they are too young to start then this is understandable, and as long as they ensure the youngster is going to a home capable of starting from nearly scratch I don’t have a problem with that.  Follow up to make sure the horse is being worked with at a level appropriate for its development would be nice, too.

But I see horses from 5 to aged being adopted out with nothing more than halter breaking under their belts.  This truly limits the pool of available homes.  There are lots of riders, not as many trainers.  And if the horse has issues from previous abuse even less are willing to take on such a project.  Many people ride for years and never train a horse from groundwork to riding.

They buy horses who are already trained, and can do at least a minimum of what they want/need the horse to do.  Some will buy a horse well broken on the flat and maybe teach it to jump, for example, or move it up the levels in Dressage.  Other folk want the horse they are buying to be proven at the sport they want to do, from 3-day eventing to a trail horse who doesn’t spook and crosses water without hesitation.  Most people (not all-don’t we know!) are aware of their equestrian limitations and want a horse that doesn’t require knowledge past that.

I understand most rescues are full, and unloading horses to make room for new ones is required, but is it not a recipe for disaster to adopt them out without any job skills?  Even if they end up taking the horse back, ensuring his future safety, they are then saddled with another mouth to feed after accepting a new horse in need into what was his/her space.  Ideally when you adopt a horse out you want him gone!  Gone to a new happy life where he will fit in and be kept on til the end of his days, or if he is moved on it is with a new set of job skills to another good situation.

So why are some rescues so hesitant to let volunteers work with horses?  Not newbies who just “love horses” and want to help, but volunteers with proven track records of training or retraining horses using non-abusive, tried and true methods.  Most rescues make you sign a waiver, most rescues will not accept people under the age of consent to even be volunteers.

This happened to me at one rescue.  I was required to fill out a form listing my experience with horses, and did so.   Starting out I as not surprised I was relegated to barn chores, for all the owner knew I could have been lying or exaggerating LOL.  So I was OK with proving myself.  Week after week I mucked stalls and fed, until one day I actually got to bring a horse in from turnout.

This, of course, went uneventfully.  It also ended up being the only thing I ever did with the horses, apart from grooming.  Most shifts I ended up picking the paddocks and cleaning troughs.  I started to wonder if they had even read the form I filled out, listing bringing horses along from green to showing at various levels, catch riding problem horses, and working at barns that were Olympic level in show jumping and Pan Am game level in eventing.  My references would have confirmed this, had they been called (?).

The problem was…this place used an NH (Natural Horsemanship) type method of training.  This is not what I was taught or what I used with any of my greenies.  I did not understand it.  So rather than let me go to it and see what I would accomplish (seeing that if I had have been abusive or stupid they could have just kicked me off the property right there) I was driving an hour after work to…. pick up shit in paddocks.

So you can guess the rest of the story, work got busy, and since I was just a poo picker who had no hope of proving their abilities I quit making time in a busy schedule to get there.  I find it baffling that a rescue that in every other way does GREAT by the horses (healthcare, hooves, feeding etc) would basically squander a dedicated volunteer with a lot of training experience.  By now I could have had a few horses there green broke, and a few more past that level.  A few had the looks and potential to be kept on a bit longer and sold as show mounts-making a good bit of money to feed the residents.

And now I see they are trying to adopt out untrained horses to make room before winter.  I truly wish them the best, but I fear the pool of homes for such a beast is small.  It is too bad, I truly wanted to lend my help, as training is my thing, and lack of is my pet peeve.  But I have been in the horse world way too long, and have done my time as barn rat doing any lousy chore to be near horses.  Yes the chores are a part, but almost anyone can do that stuff.  To see horses go on to good homes with a career path that suits them is where my heart, and abilities, lie.

I’ll do the chores, then let me do my job 😉

About crow131

I'm a happy camper 95% of the time, I love animals and kids....and some adults. I believe in Karma and am a spiritual and moral person. Bad people may gain in this world but they are still bad.... I have many interests, including horses, birds, growing my own food, art, writing, the Runes....yes, it is all over the map. I feel some of us are here to care for those who are not cared for by those who should care for them-if that makes any sense ;-)
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7 Responses to Rescue…Me!

  1. regalsin says:

    That is really sad beyond belief that they would have someone shoveling shit when they have the skills to do so much .All because they are stuck in a dogma they think everyone should do even though it is not the only way. Sounds really good that they do natural horsemanship but that doesn’t seem to work when you have unbroken horses going out the door. If I had a rescue the poop picking would be done by the newbies that just want to help and leave the rest to anyone with good experience and good results !

  2. trailrider20 says:

    I admire you for wanting to help, but so many (not all) of these rescues are just so full of politics, and wanna be do gooders.

  3. crow131 says:

    Thanks Regalsin, I thought it was too…but you nailed it. A dogma, where that way is the only way, seems to be the NH cult. Seemed if you did not know “THE way” you did not know anything….There are many roads that can lead to the same destination and as long as the methods are non-abusive and effective, why judge? I will likely never own a rescue but I would like to return to what I used to do-just one horse at a time. Get them trained and homed then on to the next.
    Trail it is too bad, when what is best for the horses gets lost in a shuffle.

  4. Quill says:

    While I’m happy to take a greenie and work with it from there, I have no experience training from the ground up and honestly it just doesn’t appeal to me. I’m happy to tweak training already done to make the horse fit my needs and desires within the animal as well. For instance I have been riding my leased mare for nearly 4 years now, I’ve been leasing her for about 2 and a half. Her owner basically said “Do whatever you want with her.” Awesome. First thing I did was train that Parelli “NH” crap out of her. I have no problem with true NH, but I have a problem with Parelli’s way. And – surprise, NH cult! – I still managed to form a strong bond based around trust and respect with my horse and I didn’t wave a carrot stick at her even once. Shocking, I know.

  5. crow131 says:

    Hahahaha no carrot stick? Well what do you know then? 😉 You can form a strong bond without that stuff, we know it!

  6. HJK says:

    I agree. It’s a similar problem with pet rescues. They refuse to let volunteers train or do anything other than feeding/shit shoveling due to their own little bureaucracy. It’s insane how many dogs and horses are passed over because they aren’t trained (that could easily be rectified!). Having started a number of horses and ridden everything in between stages I’d be happy to help out … if they changed their policies. My beef also lies with the adoption process itself. While I understand that you want the best for that particular animal disallowing some potential adopters due to obscure reasons (not having a large enough barn, not feeding alfalfa, using electric tape or wire instead of post and rail, etc.) is not in the best interest of that animal. I’m also against the no-kill policy. Some animals need to be put down because of severe injury, illness or behavioural problems that could lead to injury for the handler. There is only so much room in the world for horses, and, I’m sorry if this offends anyone, there’s too many nice horses out there (heading to auction) to put up with the few truly nasty individuals.

    As for the training part: I personally love starting horses. It’s like opening a new book; full of promise, adventure and, hopefully, a happy ending. I’m starting my own coming 4 year old at the moment and am enjoying every minute. It’s a highly rewarding experience for those willing, and able, to take the time to do it.

    P.S. I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving!

  7. crow131 says:

    I did, thank you . Hope you did, too 🙂

    Sounds like we are of a very like mind. I did not know the problem was as widespread…truly a (stupid) shame and a waste of skilled people willing to give time and energy for free 😦
    As far as facilities go…I think it is like some human homes, the kids can have threadbare clothes, not the best food but enough to eat, live in a ratty little house…but it can be full of love and they may very well be happier than their rich counterparts who are raised by nannies and given every new toy that comes out. The cribbing, weaving, ear pinning horses in fancy A barns (worth more than my house) come to mind…
    It may not be a popular opinion but I agree, sometimes euth would be better and certainly more cost effective in some cases. I see rescues fundraising to provide a $5000 surgery for one animal, when that same amount could carry their entire herd through the winter, I think sometimes you have to “triage” and think a bit clearly, even though we do love animals. I experienced a dangerous horse at one place, she was young, not rideable due to soundness issues, and would come up to you sweet as pie…so she could rear up and strike her forelegs at your face!!! I may get flamed but had it been my facility she would have been one I’d euth, in order to give her spot to a more deserving soul. She was just nasty and sneaky and one day someone will likely get a hoof in the face from her.
    A new book-so true *giggles* when we get to start from scratch we get to see what WE can do with a horse, and not have to overcome messes made before us 😀

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