Editorial



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Like the poor horses & ponies we seek to help, equine
welfare/rescue organizations must be nurtured too!

 

Desolute © 1998 IGHA/HorseAid
"Desolute" © 1998 IGHA/HorseAid, All Rights Reserved.

The REAL Cost of Rescue . . .

Without even going into the very extensive and necessary expenses (about $500 average per equine) that are required to run the HorseAid rescue/placement program world-wide (a rescue doesn't end when you remove the horse or pony from the abusive situation, that's when the rescue begins). Equine rescue is expensive!

World wide, we placed close to 4800 horses and ponies during all of 1999 (rescues and owner donated animals), and were responsible for rescuing, or helping to rescue (hands-on), at least 4300 more, all without charging any fee.

It's quite possible, that during 1999, we rescued/placed more equines than all other equine rescue groups combined. But rescue is not a contest to see who gets the most, it's a contest to see who gets the least (and hopefully, eventually none -- because horses will no longer need rescuing).

A horse rescue that saved just one horse that year worked just as hard in rescuing that one horse as we did in rescuing and placing our thousands.

Equine rescues that charges $1,000 for one of their rescues, aren't even going to break even on that horse, and let's face it, $1,000 for a good horse is a bargain in today's horse market. We can't (and don't) charge any fees, as that would add a possibly legal mitigating circumstance to our very restrictive adoption contracts.

As an aside, HorseAid invented and developed the life-long adoption contract system so widely used today by most other progressive equine rescues.

In 1999, we received just one donation in the entire year (the largest sum ever received that did not come from one of our HorseAid founders), $1,000!

In January of 2000, we lost our private funding, but Staci Wilson, a founder and driving force of HorseAid, signed over all the proceeds of her best selling horse training book, "The Horse's Choice" to HorseAid, which is what HorseAid has been using to fund the entire program with (the book went out of print in 2003, and with it, our final source of guaranteed funding).

In 2001 we received no unsolicited donations, and in 2002, a single $50.00 donation. So far in 2003, we have received no gift donations.

If you add up all the donations we have received from outside sources (that is, donations not coming from one of our HorseAid founders) from the year that HorseAid first went public (January 1, 1984) to present day (mid 2003), it adds up to a whopping $1,690.00 (no, that's not a typo; one-thousand, six-hundred, ninety dollars), or $87 per year average.

There was never a year after 1986 that the hard cash costs of the HorseAid program didn't run at least $150,000, increasing to almost $400,000 by the early nineties, and ballooning to $497,000 in 1999.

So it's easy to understand why we have had to scale back (and even cancel) some of our many equine beneficence programs and services since losing our private funding and our no soliciting funds mandate.

In contrast to our almost total lack of outside monetary contributions, we have our wonderful selfless and hard working HorseAid volunteers.

Some of our prominent volunteers: Becky Burns (HA KS/MO Chapter) donated many hours of her time and personal funds to assist HorseAid in saving, and then help place, the surviving 231 horribly abused ponies rescued in Miami County, KS (the largest equine rescue ever in U.S. history), as did Jean Smith (HorseAid Executive Committee, now retired, out of the HA TX Chapter), who built the entire Miami County ponies adoption and health records database, and pre-arranged their adoptions.

Becky was affectionately called "Pony Mom" by the locals, because of her untiring efforts on behalf of the rescued ponies.

Marsha Carey, HorseAid Executive Committee (now retired), and a very long standing HorseAid volunteer (out of the HA CA Chapter), spent thousands of hours doing hands-on rescues, as well as hosting various information booths at local CA fairs and events educating people about horse abuse issues (and never soliciting a penny in the process). She was also a SafeHouse and SafeHaven care-giver.

In addition to her HorseAid volunteer endeavors, she was employed full time as a high school educator. Marsha was an early HorseAid volunteer, and was an invaluable part of the rescue program for close to 15 years.

HorseAid volunteers world-wide are just as devoted, hard working, and equally dedicated.

Because of our budget shortfalls, we have had to decrease our home state HA volunteer base from the 900 to 950 we had in 1999, to the 17 we have today (every volunteer we support within the HorseAid program, even though uncompensated, still adds some small expense to the overall costs of the program — cell phones, digital cameras, pagers, liability insurance, etc.).

As Mr. Giobbé is often quoted as saying in interviews about the HorseAid program "HorseAid is not about one individual, it's about its volunteers, without them, there could be no HorseAid. And because of them, we are able to extend every cash dollar we spend on the program twenty fold."

From the HorseAid volunteers' point of view, Enzo Giobbé was HorseAid. He invented the name (in 1983), and was the catalyst and the glue that bound the organization together, all the ideas about how the program should work were his. HorseAid is more than just a group of volunteers, it is an extended family, and losing our patriarch has been most difficult on all of us.

We often forget that somewhere in any rescue organization, there has to be one person who makes the tough decisions, one person who puts themselves "in harms way" when making those decisions, and one person who has to pay the bills. In HorseAid, that one person was he.

We have also had to scale back (for the time being) the gathering and verification of all the timely and important information we continually published (both on the Web and in hard copy form) concerning the difficult challenges facing all equines world wide.

Our Premarin.org site is just such a case. When we lost the funding from our HorseAid founders, we decided to put all the remaining funds we had into HorseAid HIP (Horses In Program). Horses have to eat, Web sites don't.

We figured, let some other group take up the slack. Well, in the three years since we stopped going up to the pee provinces to do hands-on facts gathering, no other group has taken up that slack (except for some specialty cases), and all the PMU/Premarin information available today, is basically the same information we last published in late 1999 from our primary 1998 and 1999 hands on research and on-site visits.

What we publish on this Web site is just a miniscule sampling of the equine rescue and abuse cases we have been involved in (we have about 80 full sized filing cabinets filled to capacity with equine abuse and violence cases).

Yes, we sometimes use controversial means to achieve a successful rescue, as well as being very much "get in your face" when it comes to equine abuse cases. And we haven't always made the right decision in rescuing a severely abused horse or pony, but it was always the right decision at the time.

Let's get one fact straight. Equine rescues don't owe you a damn thing. By choice, their allegiance is only to the horses and ponies they rescue.

If in the course of operating that rescue, other rescues have to pay themselves a salary to put food on the table (equine rescue can become a full time job very quickly), so be it. As long as "putting food on the table" isn't the only thing the rescue actually accomplishes (when they steal from you, they steal from the horses as well).

Very few people would ever want to do this job, even fewer would want to do it for free.

All of us, as equine rescue organizations, fail only when we have to turn horses away that desperately need our help. When dealing with any equine rescue person or group, please bear this in mind: If you won't help, they can't help, and sooner or later, if you continue to not help, all you'll get for horses in need is this.

In the end, HorseAid has made a difference.

(All the current HorseAid staff, plus many of the retired/past staff had a part in writing the above editorial, first published in August of 2003)




TB Running

The Sport of Kings Indeed...

Last Call...


Every year, more than 60,000 thoroughbred racehorses are sold to the slaughter houses* to get ready for the newcomers. Of these 60,000, over 75% are easily retrainable, 95% are good enough for brood or stud (taking into consideration their bloodlines and/or temperament and conformation), and out of this, only an average of about 5% are too dangerous to keep around. The majority of these fine horses go to the meat market. There, they are then slaughtered and dispersed to foreign and national meat sellers. Most of these horses have their life ending at about the age of four; not even one-seventh their total life span.

These horse's lives depend on their speed. A thoroughbred who travels at a rate of twelve seconds a furlong (1/8th of a mile) is considered the best, the absolute fastest there has ever been, and there is only one Derby-winning horse that has beat this record at Churchill Downs (Secretariat, 1970). A horse who travels at a rate of thirteen seconds a furlong, a whole 8% slower, is virtually useless. For one moment, just imagine this: Your life depends on your agility, the rate at which your legs can take you. Not your thinking, your natural dancing (dressage), or jumping (hunter/jumper) skills, not anything except your speed and stamina, how well you can hold under weight. You do not decide your fate, choose your life, have anything to do with the decision to keep your life or put you to your death. You just try your hardest, and when you fail, you loose your life.

*Most go directly to Canada and Mexico.

(Source for the above two paragraphs: Kari Newman, her editorial used here with her permission.)

Of Whips and Servitude


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