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#2334510 03/08/10 10:47 PM
Joined: Jun 2006
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I have mentioned on these forums a few times that my wife and I are starting a not-for-profit corporation. Some of you even have seen the website already.

We have had a lot of help, some from folks on these very forums, some from unexpected sources and it has culminated in our approval as a 501(c)(3) according to a letter that we received today.

Hardly a day goes by that a story cant be found somewhere about a horse or herd of horses that have been neglected, left to starve or have become so malnourished that they had to be put down. Rescue organizations have been overwhelmed in recent months by the volume of horses that can no longer be cared for by their owners.

I recently talked to the operator of the largest rescue in the country and was told that they have gone into town to go shopping and returned to find two or more horses tied to their porch railing. Friday night I spoke with a man who raises cattle and has many horses on his ranch. He now counts his heard every day because hardly a week goes by that he doesnt find that someone else has dropped another horse or two into his pasture in the middle of the night. One city awoke to find 14 horses grazing in a downtown park.

For horse owners what makes this very sad is that in many cases the owners of horses that are being abandoned or neglected or having to be rescued are really like members of their family. The bond between horse and owner is something that is remarkable for anyone who has ever experienced it. A horse gets excited to see their person just like a child is exited when Mommy or Daddy comes home from work. If a horse doesnt get the attention it wants from its people, they will sulk, become depressed and even act vindictive when you do show up to see them.

People with disabilities of all sorts have found working with, riding or just being around horses to have a remarkable effect. The trust exhibited between a horse and rider can be an amazing thing to witness. Nonverbal communication can seem almost unbelievable as subtle changes in body position by a rider signals a horse to walk through water it cant see the bottom of, jump a fence it cant see the other side of or in cases of trick shows and demonstrations literally jump through a wall of fire.

With our current economic situation in this country, many are finding it very difficult to keep the horse that they have grown to love like a member of the family. Unemployment, skyrocketing healthcare costs and loss of boarding facilities to ever rising taxes, changes in land use laws and zoning and the demise of the small family farm are all making it more difficult each day.

When a person finds themselves in a position of feeding their children or their horse, the children win every time, and this is the right decision. But what this leads many to is having to get rid of the horse they love almost as much as the kids, or in some cases, the horse the kids love almost as much as Mommy or Daddy. The problem right now is that there are so few options for someone in such a position. The rescues are already burdened by the sheer number of animals that they are caring for. Local law enforcement will often step in and confiscate an animal or two only to find out that there isnt really anywhere to place the animal.

In recent years a horse could be rescued, rehabilitated, nursed back to health and then sold to offset the cost of the rescue operation or given to someone who would be better able to care for an animal in the long term. Today the number of unwanted animals or horses that can no longer be cared for by their owner is so huge that there are few secondary markets for such animals. The number of animals at risk due to owners in financial hardships has added dramatically to that number. There is still a market for race horses or cow ponies or barrel racers or even draft horses but alas there is no longer a secondary market for the western pleasure horse or the pony the little girl dreamed of having all her life and now must see put down simply because no one can help care for it.

If a family is hungry because of poverty, we have programs to care for that family. If a man loses his job he can get assistance to help him feed his children and clothe them while he finds another job. If a person is off work due to illness with a lengthy recovery time there are organizations that step in to lend a hand. Unfortunately none of these things in any way helps a family to care for the animals they love.

So what we have begun is what we are calling a food bank for horses. We plan to serve the state of Illinois, but have already had folks in other states contact us asking what can be done for people where they live. Only a handful of states have such a program and from what we can find only one has any taxing bodies involved.

Our plan is to offer short term (90 days) assistance to those who find themselves in financial hardship due to illness, injury, loss of job or other cause that has placed a financial burden on the owner of a horse. We will provide basic care needs for two horses for up to 3 months at which time the owner must reapply and show that he or she has been attempting to find a way to fully care for their animals. Income loss must be verified as well as veterinary records that show that the horse is one that has been taken care of in the past and not some horse acquired for free in order o let us pay to feed them. Ideally we want to work with local hay suppliers or feed stores so the horse can remain on the same hay and feed he has been getting all along.

We also want to work with the vets to help make certain that shots are given on time and with farriers so that total care of the animal is kept up. We will attempt to negotiate with boarding stable operators and offer feed, hay and bedding in exchange for a promise to give the owner 90 days to recover from the hardship and if necessary will assist in finding an alternate less expensive place to keep a horse. Those most at risk however are the horses on small family farms or country estates where the only horses are those of the family who owns them.

If it appears that no possible solution is going to be found in the 90 days or any near date in the future, we will work with owners to find a suitable home or work with the rescues to make certain that the animals are not being neglected. But in many cases, removing the burden of having to care for the horses as well as the family while looking for a new job or recovering from surgery will be just enough to allow the entire family to remain together.

We spent this past weekend attending the Illinois Horse Fair at the state fair grounds in Springfield. We handed out over 1000 pieces of literature and the response so far has been heart warming. Folks have volunteered to help raise funds. Hay suppliers have offered us hay. Manufacturers of feed have offered us discounts with a hint that more than just a simple discount might be possible in the future.

So in three days we were exposed to over ten thousand people in the horse industry in our state. The best part was that we have given out a handful of applications for assistance and might actually be helping people who were grief stricken at the prospect of giving up their horses within days. We raised about 400 dollars through a raffle of donated prizes, some added by vendors at the fair, but the money raised barely makes a dent in what we need to actually help keep families together with their horses.

For all of you horse lovers out there let people know that in Illinois there is now someone who is willing to help them keep their familys horse. If hardship is making feeding your horses difficult, we can at least ensure that your animals are being cared for. We hope to assemble a network of volunteers that might also be able to help by actually doing the work of caring for an animal or two by feeding, watering or mucking stalls.

And for any who is interested in helping by making a donation to our 501(c)(3) not for profit organization, drop me an email and Ill send you the link for our website.

We are not a rescue organization. Our goal is to prevent the need of rescuing horses by seeing to their basic needs before they become stories of neglect. We have no horses, no place to keep horses and do not want anyones horses. What we want is for people to be able to keep their horses when sudden short-term financial hardship makes that difficult.


Thanks for reading

Mark

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Good post Mark. As a former owner of a horse boarding operation, I think the biggest mistake people make who are just getting into horses is severely underestimating the costs and upkeep of a horse. In many cases, the purchase price is a drop in the bucket compared to the yearly cost to board, vet, shoe, and train the horse. We were not in an affluent area by any means - our typical monthly invoice to our customers was $500/ mo which had line items for board, a couple of lessons, a hoof trim, and wormer.

What I've also learned is there are people who would sell their own kids to continue to own their horses. My exWW was found in contempt for not supporting the kids to the tune of $1400 for all of 2009. Yet, her feed and hay bill for her horses is easily $500/mo. Between her and POSOM, they have 12 horses at their place. POSOM had a bench warrant for his arrest for owing 10K in back child support, was unemployed, yet could somehow own 10 horses. mad Horses by their very nature can be very addictive to people and in hindsight it is easy to see how my exWW fell prey to POSOM who was more addicted to the horses than she was. THe only part of me that had the passion for the horses was my wallet.


Me BH 35 WW 36
Married 1998
DS 2002
DD 2005
D Day 1 7/28/08
D Day 2 8/19/08

Divorce Final 3/19/2009
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What an awesome idea Mark! If you want to really get the word out there, post this over on chronicleofthehorse.com as well as www.ultimatedressage.com. The generosity of the people there can move mountains and they will love this idea!

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contact fugly.com.......she will get the word out.as the mom of two living rescues and two that have pased on.....BRAVO!!!!


what we do in life......echoes in eternity!
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Mark - Hope you can post the link. This is so exciting!

My sister is all involved in horse rescue. She is an attorney and represents rescue groups when they are prosecuting owners for abuse, and also works with a group called People for Horses, and has rescue horses herself.

What I love about the farmers where she lives is that they all pitch in as a group to help neighbors. One neighbor might need hay, another neighbor has unused hay growing, and another neighbor will volunteer to cut the hay.

She lives in the Pacific Northwest, close to Canada, and people there even abandon horses out in the mountains. It is very sad.

So congrats on actually DOING something.

I've seen some wonderful rescue horses - trained, papered, even gaited.

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Anyone who wants the link can send me an email and I will send it to you right away. I am reluctant to post the URL here because it includes a phone number and IRL info that I do not want mixed with MB activities.

I already get some unusual emails and such and though I have shared my phone number with a few MB people already, it is not something I want readily linked from one of my posts right now.

Volunteers in Illinois or others who wish to make a donation (we take MC, Visa, AmEx, Discover and PayPal through the website) can contact me and I will get you the info.

If anyone knows a horse owner in Illinois who has fallen on sudden and temporary hard times, get them in touch with me and I will send them the link also.

I hope everyone understands that I simply am not yet ready to share instant contact information with a public forum. The website includes real life names and such of people that are not part of the MB community and I just am not willing to have the phone ringing at all hours of the day and night with MB questions as opposed to the mission for our organization.

I just need to keep this a separate issue for now.

My public email is in my sig line...

Thank you all!

Mark


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