Help For Overwhelmed Horse Owners

By: Renee Charles Email
By: Renee Charles Email

Stories of horse neglect are popping up all around us. What is a farmer or horse owner to do if they can't take care of their animals?
Horses as we all know are not like dogs and cats, you can't take them to the pound if you can no longer care for them. So what is a person to do if they find themselves in a situation where their horses are in danger?

Dr. Bob Coleman, extension equine professor at UK says "There are ways to put a cat or a dog to sleep humanely but there are very few options for horses." Coleman says if you chose to do that, the problem then is "how do you dispose of something that could weigh up to 1200 pounds?"

Another option is to find someone to take them. Coleman says there are plenty of sales throughout the area, but if that doesn't work Coleman says "there are a few rescue places, but what I'm hearing around the state is they are full."

And what if the horses are in as dire conditions as some we've seen recently? "Then you deal with a veterinarian and have it put to sleep that's your only option and you then bear the burden of the disposal cost" Coleman says.

The biggest contributor to neglected horses is starvation because people have tried to make feed last longer and we had a rough winter for animals that are outdoors.

Coleman tells us this is it's not just happening here in the Bluegrass, it's happening all over North America and it tends to happen every year at this time.

He says prevention is the real key. "People need to realize when buying a horse that it's a long term investment and they need to have contingency plans in place in case they find themselves falling into a situation like this."

The Kentucky Horse Council has set up a hotline if you are having trouble caring for your horses...It's 1-866-634-0030.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Horse Owner on Apr 13, 2009 at 05:23 PM
    I have horses and I keep all my horses fat. I have been finding it difficult selling horses. The horse market has disappeared. If you think about it, before they closed the horse slaughter markets horses were selling for thousands and you rarely found a starved horse. But now you are lucky if you can give a World Grand Champion horse away. The number of horses found starved has also tripled. I know that the slaughter markets for horses is not a great thing, but whats the difference in taking horses to the slaughter house and taking cows and pigs to the slaughter house. If you ask about any horse owner, closing the horse slaughter markets has done nothing but hurt the horse industry. If they would just open up the horse slaughter markets I can guarantee you that the horse industry will improve dramaticly.
  • by Breanna Location: fort worth on Mar 16, 2009 at 04:36 PM
    if anyone has a horse that you cannot take care of that needs help taking care of and is willing to have someone go in on and help in exchange of a part of the ownership then please email me @ the email below thanks!
  • by Barry on Mar 15, 2009 at 11:55 AM
    Please take a minute to read my short bio on With my years left to serve I want to help as many as possible. Barry
  • by Patricia Miceli Location: Elliott County Kentucky on Oct 2, 2008 at 11:19 AM
    I would just like to know who to contact about neglect of horses, I have seen a lot of emanciated horses in the county and I don't know who to contact! It is not only in Elliott county but there are 2 extreamly skinny horses just down the road from me in Lawrance County Kentuck. We have just moved here a year ago and I find it shocking to see these animals in that kind of shap even the dogs are very skinny here, I would like to know what I can do.
  • by tiggar216 on Apr 29, 2008 at 04:14 PM
    my problem with all this is that the people that are taking care of their horses are having them taken because some one call and said they never see them being feed. some friends of mine take good care of their horses and some one up the road call in and said they never see them being feed. well they have a huge barn in the back of the house and the horses are feed there. so the sherrif came out and took pic and said if any thing comes of it i will let you know what you need to do. well the next day the animal people came and took all of notice of what was going on or you have 24 hours to get this done nothing. as they were loading them two of them were saying that's a nice looking mare and jack i think i will take it. there was nothing wrong with her horses. these people just wanted these horses and got them. why cant they leave the ones doing the right thing alone and help the ones that can't do the right thing.
  • by Bill on Apr 21, 2008 at 05:15 AM
    The only thing Ky. will ever do for you or your horse is arrest you, and take money you didn't have to start with.I say we start eatting them. .I came home a few weeks ago to find a Mexican looking at my Jackass.when I ask if I could help him. he said he wanted me to give him my Jack, for meat for his family.I guess their bellys are full now.
  • by lonewolf2 Location: eastern ky on Apr 20, 2008 at 06:31 AM
    call the cops the police the national guard call the FBI i was driving down 25 an saw a couple bony looking goats an some chickens missing some feathers an a skinny looking hog on my trip looked like abuse to me I went turkey hunting SKINNEST LOOKING BIRDS I EVER SAW THIS YEAR LETS CHARGE THE GOVERMENT OR FOREST SERVICE WITH ABUSE AN NEGLECT people even the wildlife is suffering this year you dont think last years weather might have something to do with the hay and food problems duh dont believe you do do you me being a farmer raising cows horses and trying to grow the hay last year was tough had to have hay brought in from other states but most farmers arent as lucky its feed your animals an let your family starve or see to the needs of your family what would you do i agree things are getting bad but dont judge unless YOU are the one to have to buy fuel for you equipment buy fertilizer buy seeds then you have to pay your usual household bills times are rough get real people
  • by Dakota24 Location: KY on Apr 19, 2008 at 07:22 PM
    Those of you who own horses and complain how much it will cost to put them down. Hmm, didn't you think about that when you decided to own a horse? Of course it costs more than a dog or cat, but then prepare for it, be responsible. Some states have a tiger/cat sanctuary that will gladly come and euthanize your horse with a gun in one shot and use it to feed rescued wild cats. Some Universities will take your horse and use it (under anestesia) to teach students and then humanely euth them. There are OPTIONS, you just have to get off your butt and look for them in stead of whining about how sad it is you can't sell your old horse to the killer buyer. Its not just old, agressive horses that go to slaughter, even young foals do. So I don't buy that there has to be a place for those "bad" horses people cannot handle. Get a trainer. Horses aren't cheap, don't get one unless you can afford it, and that means euth humanely too! Stop breeding to breed, then maybe the market would improve.
  • by Sue Location: midwest on Apr 18, 2008 at 05:20 PM
    There are hundreds if not thousands of horse owners and rescues with contacts that can help take care of horses when owners can't. That doesn't mean they can help right that second but they will work on a reasonable plan of action for each case as it is presented. They (owners who dump) just chose not to look for them. Just check out the yahoogroups; thousands of options are available. Sign me up to take one horse or pony. Just send it over; or better yet contact me and I'll find you some options. You took the horse on, now suck it up and do right by it. Sell it, give it away, donate it, put it down...just be responsible.....turning it loose is not responsible and it is not an option. Ummm last time I checked the auction houses were full of kill buyers for unwanted horses. Auction is an option. Not my favorite option but an option never the less. Oh, and ps - the slaughter market isn't gone, its just as busy as ever we just don't kill horses here anymore we ship them out of the country.
  • by billy goodwin Location: paris on Apr 18, 2008 at 03:50 PM
    Everybody that owns horses or even likes being around them are just not rite in the head. Horses are ruining the state of kentucky. It makes me sick that all of these wnna be farmers and out of staters come in here and think they are important. A horse is pointless they are stupid. I think they should open up a season for horse hunting and all of us hunters can go around and kill them.
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