(still in edit stage) So many people want to get into horse rescue. They see horses in need, locally, online, on facebook, how could you not want to help? But before you veer off, check your heart.
I would ask you, is your heart strong enough? Most people that get into real rescue have huge hearts, they just can’t help not helping! But its only a strong heart that will carry you though if you are starting your own. Its not for the faint of heart. Thats a really true statement.
A really huge heart can sometimes get you in trouble, taking on too much, overestimating how much others may help, even being a bit blinded to the reality of what it takes to feed, rehabilitate, house, and properly care for multiple horses If you are working with OTTB’s they are likely young, and perhaps have injuries that take months to heal.
You may get into rescue thinking you will feel good, helping these horses, when in fact you may not feel so good at all. The times you have a sick horse that you can’t help, an owner that is begging you to take the horse but you are full, the owner who is starving the horse that won’t surrender it, the time you posted something someone didn’t like on FB and you were bashed all over social media. That time you made a decision about a horse that someone somewhere didn’t agree with and gosspped about your decision to anyone that would listen. That time you didn’t have enough funds to feed the horses. All of those times that people said they would help you, and they didn’t. The time you had a fire, flood, tornado, or hurricane, and felt helpless, worried sick about the horses in your charge. All of these things, they put little holes in your heart and they can ADD UP. If you did’t have a strong heart, you end up with a broken heart. Pretty quickly
When you feel that you have been emotionally, physically, and financially bled dry, can you find a way to push that down and climb right over it to soldier on? While still caring for the horses? While still caring for yourself? You need a strong heart.
Don’t sit and worry about what may happen, sit and strategize to what concrete steps you are going to take to move forward. There is a solution out there, but you have to think of it There isn’t really anyone out there that can do this better than you. If there is someone better out there – ask them for help – and have a strong heart.
The reality is, that most people can’t do this long term. But if you are determined, and might I say really stubborn, there are ways forward
Surround yourself with people that support your mission with action, not words. Who is really willing to do the work, boots on the ground sort of thing
Go in with your eyes wide open People start rescues without realizing the huge amount of work that goes into it, forming your non profit, getting insurance, creating waivers, adoption applications and contracts, owner surrender forms, forming a volunteer group, and providing training so they can accomplish their goals, organizing events and fund raisers, maintaining trucks/ trailers, farm equipment, fencing, shelters, maintaining your accounting, web site, social media presence, this is just a few of the many many things that you will need to do in addition to the huge job of taking care of the horses- from the stand point of time, money and knowledge. There is a huge difference between owning horses and running a rescue and rehabilitating them and possibly retraining them for adoption. Again, surround yourself with people who can actually help with these tasks. You just can’t do it alone. Not forever.
Accept only the horses you can help. Thats a tough one. If you are at max capacity, how will you feed and care for that next one that you just HAD to make room for. The reality is the other horses will have to do without something. And then maybe theres another one, or a horse you have adopted out gets returned, now you have 2 or 3 extras over your capacity. Believe me it happens. You have to decide for yourself based on your help and finances and ability to adopt out how many horses you can take care of properly.
Ask for help! If you find yourself in a situation where you have to many horses, can’t afford feed, what ever the situation you have to be able to not be embarrassed and ask for help. I have seen people try to hide things like this, keeping visitors away, putting horses “out back” so that nobody can see them. Hoping things will get better. They don’t
Its hard when we have huge hearts and try our best and end up in a bad situation. You may be afraid of local gossip, FB bashing, but if you are honest and let folks you really do need help, mostly they help. Asking other rescues to take one or two of your own, looking for fosters, host an adoption fair, ask your local community to support a food drive. Just be sure to ask someone.
Look for solutions
Whether you are driving in your car, dragging the pasture, having lunch – keep your brain focused not on worry but on problem solving. Stay very far away from the what if – what if I don’ have money for feed, what if I can’t adopt out any horses, you have to change that around to How Do I- Again, form a plan of action. If that doesn’t work, try something else. The more important thing is to not shut down and not let the quality of care slip away
this is an ongoing piece of work, check back for edits, more info, and sources of help!
Be well my friends and leg up!