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Helping Horses

April 15, 2024

April 26th is Help A Horse Day. This is a terrific opportunity to show our equine companions some love! Whether you’re actively involved in their care or you just enjoy watching these magnificent, fascinating animals from a distance, there are plenty of ways to help bring attention to the need for horse sanctuaries and rescues and to show support for the brave people who run them. An Exeter, CA veterinarian discusses this important topic below.

Why Are Horse Sanctuaries So Important?

Sadly, there have always been horses in tough spots. In 1866, when he saw a cart driver hitting his horse, a man named Henry Burgh stepped in. In the end, this led to the first arrest for horse abuse. Burgh went on to found the ASPCA. 

Several things have made the problem worse over the last 100 years. Horse meat sales, the fact that many people in the racing business care more about making money than protecting horses, money problems, and the rounding up of wild horses are some of the factors at play here.

Should I Adopt A Horse?

If we could give you an excited “yes,” that would be great, but that’s just not the right answer for everyone. You could definitely think about adopting if you have the time and money to do so. It could be one of the most fulfilling things you’ve ever done! However, it’s something to think long and hard about. 

Taking care of horses is a lot of work and a lot of money. Silver will need to be fed, have his feet picked, have his water bucket scrubbed, and have his stall cleaned every day. Horses require turnout time as well. Also, farrier visits are very important: we just can’t say enough about how crucial it is to keep your horse’s feet clean and healthy. Besides that, there’s the cost of feed, tack, teeth care, and so on. The unfortunate reality is that it is all too usual for people to adopt horses without fully understanding the amount of time, effort, and money that is required for them.

That doesn’t mean adoption isn’t a good idea; it’s just important to be careful about it. Also, don’t think that Silver will let you stop by once or twice a week for an hour or two. Horses have a special way of taking all of your time, all of your love, and a lot of your energy. (That’s actually one of the magic parts about having one.) 

If you want to buy a horse, but aren’t ready to take the plunge, there are other options to look at. Leasing horses is getting more popular. Different barns and owners may offer different options, but in the end, you’d be hiring, or renting, Silver for a set amount of time. One good thing about this option is that you are not locked into a long-term contract. A certain amount of shared duty is also present, though the owner is responsible in the end.

If money isn’t the issue but you don’t have much time, you could opt to adopt and go to a full-service boarding stable. They will take care of Silver’s needs as far as exercise, cleaning, and grooming. They will also often help with coordinating things like hoof trims and veterinary care. Of course, getting the right barn is key here. 

What Are Some Types Of Horse Rescues? 

There are several types of horse rescues:

Auction Saves 

While horse slaughter is technically prohibited in the United States, unauthorized businesses do exist. People who want to kill horses often buy them at auction and then ship them to Canada or Mexico. It’s very cruel to do this because the horses are usually in terrible shape. Many of them are sick, hurt, and/or underweight, and they are all frightened. The good news? Numerous organizations are intervening to remove horses from the enclosures.

Race Horse Helpers 

There are many rescue groups that take in retired racehorses, with many of their hooved wards eventually being put up for adoption. Adopting a rescued thoroughbred has some clear benefits. Many are very cheap, still pretty young, and absolutely beautiful. Of course, Silver will need training, but that can be fun and rewarding for both of you. 

Draft Horses Rescues

Draft horses still work very, very hard all their lives on fields, pulling carts and logs. When the years and hard work catch up with them, they are thrown away. These gentle giants deserve comfortable retirements, so helping a rescue that facilitates that can be very gratifying. 

Wild Horses

There are several ways that wild horse rescues can work. Some people just give the horses a safe place to live and let them stay free. Others work with wild horses to train them and eventually put them up for adoption.

General Rescues

There are also many relief groups that don’t have a specific niche or focus but just help whatever horses they can. It’s important to note that even specialized rescues often help any horse that they can. You might find a tiny donkey at a draft horse rescue or a retired racehorse at a donkey rescue.


Sadly, these cute, braying horses are often forgotten about. These guys are very social, can become very close with each other, and are always full of character.

International Rescues

Rescue teams work in almost every country and area of the world. With so many wars and disasters happening around the world, there are plenty of places that could use support. 

How Do I Choose A Rescue To Support? 

There’s no shortage of great options. It is best to check out a rescue before making a donation. There’s no need to go crazy. Just check their website and social media to make sure they’re real and current. A 501C3 rating is a great sign. There are also some great smaller spots. The main thing is to watch out for fakes: hackers sometimes copy the content of some of the most popular pages and post it on their own.

You can also check this list here for a directory of rescues by state.

What Are Other Ways I Can Help Horses? 


If you already have a stable and some hooved friends, you might want to explore fostering a rescue horse. There will be extra costs, but you might find it very worthwhile. For a list of horses that are for sale, go to the ASPCA-approved site MyRightHorse.org.


Additionally, there is no shortage of rescued horses in need of sponsors. These steps are a great AIC way to help a horse without making a major financial commitment. Many animals are in bad shape when they first get to their refuge. They normally need pedicures and full exams, at the very least. Just because they went on that freedom ride doesn’t mean they’re safe yet.


There are lots of wonderful, hardworking people who rescue horses, whether you want to adopt or just want to help a good cause. Many of these spots are always in need of extra hands.

Spread The Word

Of course, supporting and spreading the word about proposed laws that will help protect horses is one way that anyone can help. Every little bit counts! 

Contact Your Exeter, CA Equine Veterinarian

Do you need a good vet for horses in the area? Get in touch with our Exeter, CA pet hospital right away!  

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