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A news release from Chris Brune, American Horse Publications
August 12, 2012 - Horse Journal Veterinary Editor Dr. Deb Eldredge is asking everyone to think about the horses in droughtstricken areas and their fate. As you may have seen on the news, cattle are being sent to slaughterhouses in
record numbers because farmers can't afford to feed them. Concern is high that the same end may face many
horses in these areas. Is there anything you can do to help? Yes.
The drought has now officially taken over more than half the United States. Where I am in the Northeast, most
farmers got a nice first cutting of hay in late May or early June. If, big if, we get at least a moderate amount of
rain in the next 6 to 8 weeks, most farmers should be able to swing a second cutting.
Parts of the Midwest, Southwest and West have seen so little rain that the horses out there have had little
grazing and hay production is way down. Grain costs will rise dramatically this fall. Throw in the massive fires
out West and it is clear that there will be a hay and grain shortage.
Farmers and ranchers are already planning major sell offs of cattle as they face shortages of food for the winter
months ahead. A group of horse owners in New Mexico support the opening of a slaughterhouse. Not because
they want to eat horsemeat, but because rescue groups are already overwhelmed. There will be more voices for
humane horse slaughter plants as horses face starvation across much of the US.
Humane slaughter certainly isn’t the fate you want for your beloved horse, but neither is starvation and
abandonment. The reality is that many horses will face starvation this winter unless we all act now.
My proposal: Equine Food Pantries on a nationwide scale. Many of our communities have human food pantries.
Most of them carry some pet foods or communities have also started up separate pet food pantries. But right
now, animal control agencies, shelters and families with crises relating to feeding their horses have nowhere to
Step One: Get horse 4-H groups, Pony Clubs and FFA groups from non-drought areas or mildly affected
drought areas to partner up with similar groups in drought areas. Youth groups need to do community service
and this is the perfect way for horse loving kids to help.
Step Two: The same could be done with horse breed associations – for example, a Northeast Arab club could
partner with an Arab club in Colorado.
Step Three: Contact animal control agencies and rescue groups in the drought areas that will need help.
Step Four: Get the word out to collect donations of hay, grain and money. Most horse owners could donate at
least a bale or two. It would all add up! Horse lovers who don’t have horses could buy a bag of grain or send in
cash to help pay for the rental of a truck to deliver the feed.
Step Five: Do fundraising to help buy more feed and pay for transport costs. A 4-H group could sponsor a mini
horse show. Instead of ribbons, get a local orchard to donate a bushel or two of apples for prizes. All entry fees
go to the food pantry. Be creative –schedule a “horse wash” or a tack cleaning.
Step Six: Talk to horse businesses for donations – look at vaccine companies, worm medication companies,
local equine veterinarians, local feed mills, local tack shops.
Step Seven: Organize transport. Talk to local rent a truck companies and horse haulers. Maybe they could take a
load of hay out while planning to bring other cargo back. Look for retirees who might be willing to drive the
truck for you.
It will be impossible for us to feed all the horses from drought and fire areas but if we work together we can
save at least some of those horses.
I will offer $20 donations to the first five groups to team up here via Horse Journal to help feed the horses. Just
send in your connection and where to send my check! We’ve set up a dedicated email address for this event: email@example.com.
If you prefer a phone, please call us at Horse Journal at 315-468-0627. Leave a message, if necessary (like you,
we pretty much live in the barn). We’ll call you back.
Now, let’s save some horses!