Horses and people go way back. And so does their struggle. Animal cruelty is not a lecture we’ll engage here; you already know there’s no excuse for that. But cruelty can come in many forms, and sometimes it’s not as outright as beating; sometimes abuse and neglect can be more insidious and, even, unintentional. But just as with children and others who are dependent on us, that makes it no less impactful.
Sometimes, even, people try and fail to do the right thing by a horse. Take, for example, the 19 year old girl who rescued two of our Standardbred rescue horses off the truck bound for slaughter. She couldn’t bear for them to go to such a cruel end — and she was right. But not soon after, she found herself unable to care for them. They lost weight, became ill, and a humane agent of the public had to intervene.
Was she wrong to do what she did? That is a subject of hot debate. Yet even if these horses had ended euthanized, as was the debate of facilitators on the day they instead came to us, that would have been a more humane end than slaughter. And yet people with too few resources often have more heart than means to act. We’d like to encourage people to act humanely — or better yet, to have done so from the start.
Or take the example of racehorses as a whole. Racehorse owners are businessmen. If an animal is no longer producing, they can’t maintain them: if every retired racehorse still lived in the barn, the operation wouldn’t be profitable. Does that make the owners evil, then, to want to move them out? Again, this is a subject of hot debate: the question hinges on moving them to where? Certainly it’s cruel if they send them into a long road of suffering decline. But if the race industry put aside funds for aftercare of these horses from among the money it earns from the horses’ performance, the story could have a happy ending. Racehorses can convert to productive pleasure-horse careers for the remaining decades of the normal life of an ex-racer. All they really need is skilled retraining, and feed and housing while they get it. Then they can move on to ready homes, and make room for others — and so sustain both the industry and their post-racing lives.
We advocate for such an aftercare fund. We hope it’s in the future of equine racers in every racing state of the nation. Until that day comes, we can come together to catch them, to catch the retirees, the underfed, the uncared-for, and the somehow-unwanted, yet beautiful spirits. We can catch these animals whose owners can no longer support them, so that they don’t die of starvation and neglect, or get slaughtered inhumanely, and instead recover their health and vitality.
Horses have been part of the human experience for thousands of years. They’re an archetype in all of us. Even people who don’t ride, nor set foot on a track or trail, appreciate their beauty and what they represent. NLHR is an opportunity to put that empathy and appreciation into action — to help you make a meaningful connection with these animals in a very real way. NLHR can help you take that connection from an abstract idea to something substantive and real. Through NLHR, you can look that amazing spirit in the eye and say, Yes, You deserve to live, and I’m going to help you do it.
Your reward is their learning to eat again. Their joyful trot over when they see us coming, having just learned what a treat is, and how to enjoy it. The sweet little nuzzle of a filly getting her fuzzy winter coat on, fluffing up and smelling oh-so-earthy, farm-like, and right. The reward comes when the giant Thoroughbred who towers two feet above you — all 1,100 pounds of him, starved to nearly half that weight the year before — walks up to you softly, and gently rests his head against you, and closes his eyes in gratitude. Boy, those are the moments — you don’t need to speak equine to hear that message. We’d work a thousand hours for every one.
That’s why we do what we do. And if you want to, you can sponsor one of these magnificent creatures. We’ll let you know how your support fares. We’ll tell them who you are. And yes, it’s the right thing to do. We (and, most importantly, they) thank you.