Guest Author - Susan Hopf
There is an initiative in New Mexico (offered by the Equine Protection Fund, Emergency Feed Assistance Program) that helps those that are struggling financially to feed up to four horses for two months. The program is available to anyone that can prove that they can no longer afford to feed their equine companions. The assistance provides hay and grain until the guardians are either back on their feet or until they have placed the horses in another situation where they will be cared for and fed.
There is no doubt that times are still tough for many folks. Horses have been sent to auction in record numbers – auction horses more often than not find their way on the road to slaughter – not a good end for a noble creature. What other options exist for those that find themselves with animals that they can no longer afford to feed? And what can you do to help if you are lucky enough to afford all that your horses need and more?
If you do find yourself with more equine mouths to feed than you can afford at any given point in time the first place to turn for help is your local Humane Society. If they are not in a position to assist you they may very well have a list of benefactors that would be able and willing to do so. Be willing to provide proof of your unemployment as well as your current income.
You can also try to barter for a supply of hay. If you have been a steady customer of your hay dealer or farmer most will allow you some credit in hay – which you can then either pay for on time or perhaps barter for work around the farm. Many farmers are hard-pressed to find sufficient help these days and are often grateful for the lending of a few additional hands. If you are unable to offer assistance and/or unsure of when or if you will be able to pay back this debt you should at least plead your case and hope for the best.
Barter for feed on craigslist – you never know – remember one man’s junk is another man’s treasure and you may be surprised what other’s are willing to trade.
Contact your equine veterinarian – they may be able to offer some suggestions as to assistance or placement (temporary or permanent) for your horse(s).
Above all else you must remember that you have hungry horses at home waiting for you to supply them with feed so you must make some efforts to make that happen. Talking with friends, service people, farriers, instructors, trainers and any other sort of horse people that you can think of may bear out a result so don’t be embarrassed – this is the time to be straight with people and let everyone know that you need help.
Now for those of you that have no worries you may be in a position to help. Contacting all of the same people and services as those mentioned above is a good start. You might also want to consider starting an assistance service for those that find themselves in dire need. Speak with your horse friends and ask them to donate a few bales of hay and a bag or two of feed every month or so. Store it with whoever has the room. Tell your equine veterinarian that you are offering such a service should they know of someone in need. If you operate on this sort of reference you can eliminate the concerns over misuse. This does not need to be a big operation – just a month’s worth of hay and grain for a horse or two and you have made a difference.
We are all in this together and together we can make a difference.