I used to be in a horse group on social media. I can’t recall the name of it right now and I am not sure if it is even still around. But, what I do remember is that it was a group with a name making it sound like you could ask others for advice, information, guidance, etc. in regards to horses. I know there is another group that I am currently in that is similar, but it was not the same group. Anyhow, one day someone posted a picture of their horse. And the horse was quite thin. Oddly enough, the poster was asking advice on how to get weight on her horse. I thought I would respond and give her some helpful pointers, products, etc. that may help (besides the obvious “talk to your vet”). However, as I began reading the comments and “advice” from all of the others that had responded before me, I was dumbfounded. Not ONE was helpful. Not ONE offered advice. Not ONE offered help in any way. EVERY comment was bashing her. Telling her she shouldn’t even own a horse. Telling her that the horse’s condition was clearly her fault. Telling her what an awful person she was and that this horse should be taken away from her. When, like so many other people need to do, she recognized she needed help and made the ultimate “mistake” of actually asking for it.
My planned response went from helpful advice to calling out all of those before me. It went something like this: “You people should be ashamed of yourselves. She is asking for help. Yet is met with nothing but ridicule and vigilantism. THIS is why horses are left starving and dying in backyards. Because if someone asks for help, they are vilified. You all should pray that you never find yourself in the position of needing help and if you do, I hope to God that you are met with the same backlash that you are giving her.” At that point I felt as though I should leave the group. It was not a group I wanted to be involved with. It was titled and advertised as a group that would offer people help when they asked, but far too many of the members had no desire to offer help at all. They just wanted to start a feeding frenzy over this poor girl and her struggles with getting weight on her horse. I said as much and the admins asked me to please stay. But, like I said, I don’t think I’m still in there or that the group is still even around. But, that’s not the point.
The point is that everyone and their brother is out there saying oh if only people would just ask for help there wouldn’t be so many horses in bad condition. Yet, when they do ask for help, far too often they are met with the response that this girl received. No one knew (or bothered to ask) any history on the horse. No one had any firsthand knowledge about this horse. No one had any firsthand knowledge about the owner. Not one person knew anything more than what they saw in the picture: a skinny horse. And therefore, by God, it is abuse, neglect, bad ownership, the authorities must be called, the horse must be seized, etc. Because clearly there cannot be any other explanation for the horse’s condition, right?! I myself do not have any of that information, but what I saw, beyond a skinny horse, was an owner seeking help. An owner who needed help, but made the ultimate “mistake” of actually asking for it.
In rescue, there is a bit of a tight rope that we must walk. If we fall off, on one side we enter a pit where we put fear into the owners who know they need help, but are now afraid to ask for it. We risk alienating them and their willingness to come to us for help without having to worry about being vilified. And on the other side, we have the horses out there that need help, but we can’t get to unless the authorities can make it happen. For the sake of the horses, we must stay on this rope. We must be there for them all. We must stay on that tightrope and help the horses that come from both sides. The wire wobbles at times and we struggle to keep our balance, but we must stay on. The horses from both sides are depending on it. So, while some may not like our stance during particular situations, there is a reason for it. In order to keep our balance, we must keep looking straight ahead…at the future…and recognizing the long-term effects of our current actions in any given situation. Because if we fall, we fail the horses. And THAT is unacceptable. We are a rescue and we are to be here to help those that we can. Be it the owners who need help and allow us to give it, or the horses seized because the owner would not accept help. That is our job. And that is what we will continue to do.
If you support our mission and our goal to help horses, not vilify owners, then please consider a donation to help us help those that are currently awaiting us. An owner is allowing us to help, but we need more funds to do so. Every little bit adds up. So, please Give now.