Horses abandoned in Whatcom County

Horses abandoned at an alarming rate in Whatcom County

Every so often we check out the Barnyard Animals link on the Whatcom County Adoption page. The SO likes horses, and she 'Aw!'s over the ones available. Last month WCHS posted a message on FB that they had seized eleven neglected horses.

I told the SO that if I ever won the lottery, I’d buy her a horse. (And a place to keep it.) Alas, I haven’t won the lottery and have neither the resources nor space for a horse. I know nothing about horses. Tried to ride one once, and couldn’t find the clutch. (OK, I actually did ride a horse once.) Several of the horses seem pretty old. Peanut is three, and Poppy Seed is four or five; but Gandalf is 27, and Sham, who has been there for a while, is 20. I didn’t know they lived that long. (Oh – Gingersnap is only five months old. She’s Poppy Seed’s daughter.) Are horses in their teens or 20s ridable? Or would they just be big pets?

It’s good that the news picked this story up. Perhaps the publicity will bring out some adopters and the older horses can live out the rest of their days in leisure, and the younger ones can get the attention and activity they need.

Horses in their 20s can be rideable or completely broken down, it depends on their condition.

In around 2009, I read that some vets in CA were offering free euthanasia for anyone who could not afford their horse. The market was glutted and Humane societies & rescues were all full with young, fit horses. People in desperation were turning them out on the range, where they would either die of exposure or get shot by BLM because they don’t belong there.

My friend has a lesson barn in VA, and she hasn’t had to buy a horse in years. People just give her their nice horses they can’t afford and can’t sell.

Horses are a very, very, very expensive and often heartbreaking hobby. People have all sorts if notions that have nothing to do with reality and get in over their heads.

The market for horses (especially inexpensive horses) really crashed in 2008, and has stayed down ever since. I don’t see any changes in the foreseeable future, sadly. They’re just too expensive for most people to keep (especially as we become more urbanized/surburbenized).

I think you left off at least one “very.” :wink:

Horses are expensive. My son and his girlfriend are renting a house and boarding her horse somewhere else. $900 dollars a fucking month for the horse! I told him he should just name the horse Corvette.

She has a piece on land in the country and they are planning to build a house where they can keep the horse with them. Because they are already paying half a house payment for the horse and the other half for rent. It will be cheaper in the long run.

Then there are vet bills, hoof care, etc.

People underestimate the cost, and maybe they can manage it for awhile, but it doesn’t take much of an economic incident to force someone to get rid of the horse. The malnourished horses come from well meaning people who try to hang on to them beyond their economic means.

It’s sad for the people and sad for the horse.

So Johnny L.A., when you get that horse for your SO, name it Cessna, so you can keep the idea of the cost in your mind.

In equestrian horses live for about 20 years, and in the wild can be up to 70 years to live. Sport takes a lot of effort. While the biological age of the horse about 40-42 years. Any horse racing by 10-12 years - half dead wreck, and horse races held - disabled already in 5-6 years. Every other horse after racing from his nostrils and throat is bleeding from pulmonary rupture.

Profile spam reported. (KulachTak)

Yes, I live near a horse rescue, and more than a few times, the owner will have a full barn, and then have an anonymous horse dropped off at the front gate in the middle of the night, complete with note of apology, promises of financial support, date by which the horse will be retrieved, etc.

The owner of the rescue feels awful, but just can’t afford to take on more.

Too many people in the same boat. They could just barely afford to take care of the animal, then lost a job or got foreclosed out of their ranch, and the horse has got to go. Somewhere, anywhere.

In a practically-minded world, they would be eaten.

In the world as it is, that’s what will happen to a lot of them anyway – the killer buyers will sweep up any that come to auction, for a fraction of their worth as riding or driving or breeding stock; they’ll answer desperate ads seeking to place unwanted horses, promising wonderful new homes; then the horses will be crammed into livestock trailers and hauled to Mexico or Canada for slaughter.

Recreationally kept horses aren’t really safe to eat. Horses intended for consumption aren’t allowed to ingest many very common medications. For example,Bute, a commonly prescribed NSAID, persists in the meat, and is very toxic to people.

It’s not a good time to be a horse. Unless you’re one of my horses.


I knew a pony once that was 30+. He had been retired some years prior but kept on at the farm. On frisky days he might be issued a low-weight but expert rider (even at 30 he could be quite headstrong and a handful) but most days he was just a large pet.

Same farm had several horses at 20 or more that were ridden regularly, and two that were past 25 and ridden fairly often. The elderly horses were in great condition for their age, but the instructors kept a little more careful watch over them and didn’t hesitate to pull them from the riding line-up if they were exhibiting less than perfect health. The elderly ones were also pulled from the line-up on either extremely hot or cold days. One of our past-25 horses was excellent with nervous, agitated children and first time riders, extremely calm and, except for that time some yahoos thought it would be funny to fire off guns near horses, quite reliable (our post-25 year old horse was clocked doing over 35 mph by a cop sitting in a speed trap that day - he was a former racing Thoroughbred and occasionally it showed even if most days he was bizarrely calm for his breed.)

Other horses at the same farm, with the same diet and treatment, had to be put down between 15 and 20 due to ill health or frailty.

So… a 20+ horse can be rideable, or just a big pet, or a medical disaster you throw lots of money at attempting to cure what’s not curable.

Horses are a LOT of work, most people haven’t a clue. I wish it was a requirement that someone provide some serious help in caring for horses prior to being allowed to own one. Working at a stable in some ways made me love horses more, but it also thoroughly shattered some rosy illusions about them and taught me just how much work goes into caring for them properly. I’ve never owned a horse of my own because I won’t keep an animal I can’t properly provide for, and I’ve never had the required intersection of space, time, and money.

My mother-in-law got a two-year-old Arabian gelding in 1981. He outlived her by more than three years, dying this fall at the age of almost 34. He was always expensive and labor-intensive to keep, and he was more a giant pet than a riding horse for most of his life, since her knees went bad and she had to stop riding after she’d had him for seven or eight years. My in-laws even ended up keeping a pet goat to keep him company, which added another level of feed and vet expenses. Over the past five years or so, as the drought here has persisted, hay got to be outrageously expensive, and it used to break our hearts that stray horses (and sometimes cattle) would try to break down the fence to get at her horse’s feed once all the grass dried up.

It’s a humane public service for vets to offer free euthanizing services to owners who can’t afford to keep their horses. I’m assuming they also dispose of the bodies; my father-in-law is lucky enough to have a kind neighbor who owns a backhoe, so we didn’t have to scramble to hire someone on the weekend to dig a grave when the horse died on a Saturday. The loss of a pet is distressing enough without having to deal with the difficult logistics involved in end-of-life care for such a large animal.