Recently, I was reading one of my horse magazines and came across an advertisement that really caused me to stop and think. It said something like: “You are your horse’s caretaker.” It was a simple statement but the implications are really huge. We truly ARE responsible for our horses and it is a big commitment. I have always treated my horse like he is my child and while that may seem silly to non-horse people, I imagine it resonates with equestrians. Just what do we owe our horses in return for all they do for us? If consumers have a Bill of Rights, why not horses?

I have read so many magazine articles, Facebook posts and news accounts that deal with horses being abused, abandoned or essentially thrown away. They make me sick and are so hard to read. Why do people buy horses if they can’t take care of them? I want people to understand the commitment they make when they adopt, buy or lease a horse. So here is my attempt to create a Bill of Rights for our equine friends. I am sure there are things that could be added and I urge you to comment on this article and add your thoughts.

HORSES HAVE THE RIGHT TO…

A safe place to live with adequate shelter from the elements

A pasture where their natural instinct to move around can be satisfied

Sufficient turnout or exercise time

Easy access to fresh water in a clean container

Forage of some sort, whether grass or hay, that is of a decent quality and quantity

An owner/caretaker who will check on him/her regularly

Someone who will regularly do the basic grooming – curry, brush, pick out feet, check for cuts/scrapes

Regular dental checks with floating as needed

Regular vaccinations as suggested by equine professionals and veterinary care when needed

Regular farrier care

Properly fitting tack: halters, bridles, bits, saddles, etc.

A safe trailer for transport – one that has been inspected, has a safe floor, operating lights, no sharp edges or protruding screws and latches that stay closed

A trailer driver who knows what he/she is doing – no sudden starts/stops, sharp turns, unsafe driving

A patient rider who will explain and teach, not punish

And most of all, horses have the right to be treated with KINDNESS AND COMPASSION.

It is my sincere wish that all of our equine partners and friends are fortunate enough to have good lives and the love of a good owner/partner. For those that don’t, a big THANKS to the rescue organizations that sacrifice time, energy and money to help them. I urge everyone to donate what you can, when you can. Whether it is money, blankets, tack, products, feed or time – it doesn’t matter what or how much. Let’s make it our goal to ensure that as many horses as possible are afforded the rights they are entitled to.

We ARE the caretakers for our horses. We take that responsibility seriously. If you are thinking about buying, leasing or adopting a horse, do so while knowing what is expected of you. I promise if you do your job well, the rewards will be many and immeasurable.