All the Pretty Little Ponies

Copyright of:

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Neglected or Free - A Rescue Horse Debate

What is a rescue horse? Lately, I have been posing this question to myself and others. One of the replies I received bothered me, so I thought I would explore the topic a little more on here.

We all have different thresholds of tolerability regarding animal treatment. Some people tend to believe that a horse should only be rescued if they are getting abused and malnutrition. Yet, others seem to believe that a horse needs to be rescued if it is getting simply under-utilized.

Should we be defining what purposes people can have for owning horses? The comment that concerned me indicated this person’s belief that if a horse is well-fed, but neglected attention, the horse should be taken from them. In a way, I feel sorry for the horses, and in a way I feel they are lucky. I think we take for granted that they are beings in their own right, and perhaps being well-fed and having safety provided to them is almost nicer than the standard alternative of feeding, grooming, and working.

To me, these owners were merely offering their horses freedom in a safe environment. Granted, they are not wild, so they are not totally free in every sense of the word, but as free as security lets them be. Is this really neglect or rather acknowledgment of a different species? Horses are herd animals, and since these couple of horses had other horses to interact with, they were not alone, either. Plus, they were in a pasture, not pens.

What am I missing? Generally, there are two sides to every argument. So, am I missing something that should be rather obvious?


  1. Dear Jessica,
    You post an interesting question. Let me tell you about my horses. Two of my mares were on a feedlot that was a slaughter feedlot. If someone indeed had NOT rescued them, or adopted them, like I did, they could have been picked for the slaughter truck and gone off to Canada to be food for the French and other countries. I saw their pics posted online and was determined to "rescue" them. Beauty was an untrained 2 year old appendix QH, my beautiful chestnut. Gigondas was a discarded thoroughbred, probably culled from a farm somewhere in WA. She definitely would have been on the slaughter truck. Beauty would too, because of her weight. Yes, I do believe I RESCUED these horses. Their alternative was death. My gelding, Sunni, was an unwanted PMU baby. And, yes, he, too, would have faced death. My two mustangs...sometimes I wonder. They WERE captured and brought into captivity when they were young and followed their moms into the BLM capture pens. I do believe they would have preferred to stay free, especially Scout, the alpha female. Cali, my palomino, on the other hand, just loves people! And, now after two years, Scout does too! She really is curious and very eager to learn. She will make an awesome trail horse. I mean, their alternative, on the range, could have been to have been shot, poisoned, or run into the ground in a BLM roundup. So, I think you have to look at the horse's own personal history to decide if they were indeed rescued. A fellow teacher visited all 5 of them and commented, "Your horses are so loving and people-friendly!" Yes, but it has taken us two years and LOTS and LOTS of carrots and patience to EARN their trust. Gigondas HATED people. Scout feared people. Sunni mistrusted men. That's the story of my 5 horses. I'm sure other folks have different stories!
    ~~Cheryl Ann~~ (BEAUTIFUL blog you have!)

  2. They should not be taken if they are not used. I ride a horse that live on about 10 acares with some cows. There hooves aren't trimmed but they are maintained fairly well. They have two that are ridable and a young mare that isn't trained. I ride one of the horses bareback with only a halter on about once a week or less. The horses are happy and lovable. There is no reason they should be taken from their owners if they are simply not riden. Negleted and abused horses should be taken from their owners.

  3. I completely agree with you, Sophie!

    I'm sorry I didn't see your comments earlier.

  4. Good blog and ongoing conversation! My thoughts on this often go to the ads people post when selling their horses . . . they say things like: "I love this horse but he/she is just going to waste in my pasture," indicating that they don't feel their horse is getting enough riding and thus would you be "rescuing" said horse if you buy it from them???

    For me, the answer I have come to over my many years of loving and caring for horses is NO.
    Why NO, you ask?
    Because there are so many horses that flood and clog the horse market that the unfortunate truth (as I see it) is that there are not enough good homes that "regularly exercise their horses." So what I'm saying is: If you really love your horse, as so many horse-ads say they do, then just keep them! Love them! Care for them! If you sell them, they go into what is often referred to as the "black hole" of the sold horse, and you loose them forever; just because you didn't ride them often enough? Not a good enough reason to sell your horse and leave them to fate.
    That's my humble opinion.
    To "rescue" any horse - is to keep them forever. Give them a FOREVER family and HOME. If you can include riding and exercising them - then great! But if you can't, due to your busy schedule or whatever, keep them anyway. If this were a perfect world and all animal homes were prefect, then you could re-home them and it would be okay. But this is not a perfect world and it certainly isn't perfect when it comes to animals/pets finding "good" homes.
    So "rescue" your own horse from the Horse World out there and once you buy a horse- keep it for it's entire lifetime, if you possibly can.

    Bless the commenter Cheryl Ann above and how she truly saved/rescued unwanted/uncared for horses in her story!! Love it!!

    May I say- bless each of us who truly commit to our horses!

  5. HAHA! I just now noticed that this post is 2 years old! I hope you blog some more. :^D

  6. Thanks for sharing this. Animal cruelty is such a sad issue and the best way to combat it is by getting the information out in the open and diminishing ignorance. I am also an animal lover and live as an animal behaviorist and I talk about these issues in my blog as well. Check it out on Thanks!

  7. PLease check out it is a site made by us for horse lovers like you. We have been making products for years that we use on our own horses. We figured its time to share those products with all the other horse lovers out there. Happy riding and God bless