© copyright owned by F.J. Thomas
There’s been a lot of very heated debates world-wide over the horse slaughter issue. The one thing that I’ve noticed is that a lot of people like to complain about human nature but very few people actually offer a solution that’s realistic. One of my favorite quotes is, “If you’re not offering a solution then you’re whining.” I think that’s true.
While I don’t think there’s an absolute solution, I do think there just might be a way to save some horses, educate owners, help bring awareness, and support the Horse Rescues all at the same time. What it requires is for people to come together and think bigger, outside the box. A lot of rescues focus on getting more donations – I say they need to think bigger, much bigger.
What if all the local Horse Rescues came together and started a national or maybe even world-wide registry?
Think about that for a moment… Something along the lines of recognized breed registries already in existence but instead of getting papers through breeding, the Registration papers would be issued from the Rescue itself and the Rescue Registry. When you adopt a horse from a rescue, they would issue a Rescue Registration to the horse. Individuals that rescue on their own could apply for a registration by sending in pictures. The Registry itself could regulate breeding by not accepting the foal of a registered horse if it was bred after the horse left the registry.
It doesn’t end there however…
What if the Rescue Registry held local shows and competitions where horses could earn points toward a national Rescue Registry show that’s held once a year? The only horses that could compete would be rescue horses with the Rescue Registry papers.
The local and national approved shows could get Sponsorships from businesses – much like Jumping and Barrel Racing already do – and offer added money as an incentive. Look at the RFD-TV American Rodeo that offered a million dollars. People came out of the woodwork to compete for the American – money talks!
The Extreme Mustang Makeover and Retired Race Horse Project are already doing this exact thing. They both have been very successful at not only saving some horses, but also bringing an awareness of slaughter, and bringing new people into the horse industry. If the Horse Rescues came together, they could do the same thing on a national or even global level.
Some points to ponder for shows would be:
- Get major money behind the movement in the form of sponsorships & media -people love heart string stories
- Make the shows much more affordable than the average breed or discipline show to encourage new owners to show their horses for the first time
- Get involved with local 4H & Pony Club
- Offer scholarships to the national show
- Offer classes for all breeds & disciplines as rescue horses are all breeds – Include Donkey & Mule classes!
- Co-Sanction with other associations as much as possible to offer approved classes within the show.
- A high percentage of rescue horses are trail horses – offer an ACTHA or Ranch Trail class for those folks
- Offer an In-Hand Trail or Agility type class specifically for retired horses that are not rideable due to soundness issues – this would open up an opportunity for people with those horses to compete
One concern that comes up is when rescue horses are placed in the homes of well-meaning people who honestly don’t have a clue. The Registry could get local trainers on board and get them to donate their time to locally held Horsemanship clinics. They could cover basic Horsemanship and basic showing and make it affordable. New owners would learn about horsemanship, trainers would get the word out about what they do, all the while helping horses.
Again, I don’t think this would be a complete solution to the problem of unwanted horses and slaughter. You can’t change human nature and things people do which is why regulation doesn’t work very well. However, money does talk and it motivates people to get involved when they might not be otherwise. When you give people an incentive and an avenue to compete, it makes a difference as we’ve seen with the Extreme Mustang Makeover and the Retired Race Horse Project.
Obviously there’s a lot of details that need to be worked out and a lot of work to be done to get the ball rolling. But the first step is discussion and building the momentum behind the idea. It’s amazing what can happen when people start talking about what started out as a simple idea. Legendary things have happened by just taking that one step.
So what can you do to help? Share this post. Talk to your friends and fellow competitors. Talk the local trainers. Talk to your local rescue and encourage them start holding shows for the horses they adopt out. The main thin is to just get people talking and get them asking how they can do something instead of saying why they can’t.