About horse rescue, horse sanctuaries and quality of life

It is not only about the transport

Having a suitable, ideally purpose-built, and affordable vehicle available to safely transport an injured horse to a safer location for further care and treatment is a luxury that is often not available. This is especially true in situations concerning horses belonging to the unorganized sector. This means tourist riding horses, working horses, ponies and donkeys.

When such a horse is seen roaming assumingly abandoned on the roads or is injured, the first question often is how to rescue this animal to take it somewhere else? Somewhere safer, somewhere where it can be treated and cared for. Ideas and dreams about animal rescue vehicles and efficient and skilled veterinary rescue teams begin to fill your mind and probably you have also seen something cool like that on TV or YouTube etc.

However, the matter of the animal rescue is not over with the transport even when it can be arranged.

WVS India working equine clinics are supported by Welttierschutzgesellschaft, and this horse rescue vehicle that recently transported an injured horse to the Hill View Farm Animal Refuge, is also donated by them. If you want to donate towards the care of rescued animals at the Hill View Farm, please click here for more details.

Money always matters

Where is the horse going to be transported? What facilities are available and for what price?

Whether we like it or not, money always matters and in cases of horses, it matters a lot more than in dog rescue situations simply because everything is much more expensive. Horses require suitable sized and safe stable or paddock and huge quantities of feed every day. Having adequate storage space for the feed; roughage as well as grains/concentrate feed, is in itself a logistical challenge.

And then comes the question of skilled caretakers. Many animal charities and shelters in India are mainly focused on the care of dogs (and possibly cats) and cattle, with less facilities and experience for caring for horses or ponies.

What is the future for the horse?

In India, rescued horses do not easily find new homes through adoption and therefore often end up living the rest of their lives in animal shelters. That is when the concept of an animal sanctuary really comes in. Animal sanctuary, such as the Hill View Farm Animal Refuge, is more than a temporary shelter. Animal sanctuary aims to provide the kind of surroundings and way of life that the animal should have had access to, before it got rescued.

In the Hill View Farm Animal Refuge, we want our rescued horses to be able to graze outdoors in a herd of other ponies and horses. They are fed additional hay and concentrates, as well as mineral supplements every day, and their teeth are rasped, their hooves are trimmed, and they are dewormed twice a year.

Quality of life?

Ultimately, there is also the question about quality of life. If the horse cannot be living a life worth living. Life that is free from constant pain, fear and discomfort. Life that provides enough opportunities for species-specific natural behavior, such as grazing together with other animals, ideally other equines, then we have to face the hard question and make a decision regarding euthanasia.

In euthanasia-decision making process, the focus is always the animal and its suffering and whether we have the required financial, technical and human resources to alleviate the suffering long term. It is not about how we feel about ourselves. It is also not about how we feel about euthanasia in humans. Prolonging the life of a suffering animal is not a goal in itself and does not make anyone a better person.

Natural death is an ideal which often is misunderstood to mean just dying in one’s sleep. However, deaths in the nature – among animals living in the wild – are usually not that peaceful at all. Predators catch the weak and most vulnerable that have been left behind from the herd and sick and recumbent animals may even get eaten alive by scavengers. Humane euthanasia is often the best chance for an animal to be experiencing the peacefulness of dying while sleeping.

Horses are magnificent, beautiful creatures but when they are not able anymore to live without pain and distress, it is time to let them go.

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