Each year, hundreds of thousands of good horses find themselves in transition of career or ownership—and each year, a growing number of these horses end up at risk of inhumane treatment. To address this challenge, a national movement called The Right Horse Initiative has been launched, and the Dumb Friends League is proud to be partnering in this effort to reframe the conversation about equine adoption.
The Right Horse Initiative is a group of animal welfare professionals and equine industry leaders who are focusing their collective knowledge toward a professional, logical approach that will support at-risk equines and increase the number of successful horse adoptions in our country. Just as animal shelters have had to combat the myth that shelter pets are less desirable than pets purchased from breeders, so has horse adoption been hindered by misperception and misinformation. When prospective horse owners purchase through the sales market, they unknowingly pass over thousands of adoptable horses that are excellent candidates. Most owners don’t care where their next horse comes from; they care about finding a horse that fits their needs at that time. By working together, initiative partners can help match adopters with the right horse for right now.
The Right Horse Initiative is being guided and supported by WaterShed Animal Fund, a division of the Arnall Family Foundation that is dedicated to improving the lives of companion animals and equines. In January 2016, WaterShed Animal Fund provided a $442,500 grant to the Dumb Friends League Harmony Equine Center™ to fund the first year of a two-year pilot program to increase adoptions of horses in Colorado and assist in more positive outcomes for horses in transition. During year one, the Harmony Equine Center transferred in 193 horses from select rescues and humane societies for professional training in order to help them become better candidates for adoption, plus another 109 horses that had been removed from their owners by law enforcement. At year end, 229 of those horses had been either adopted or transferred out.
With the help of a $393,800 grant in year two of the pilot, we will continue to fine-tune the Harmony Equine Center transfer and training program to further increase horse adoptions. We also plan to develop an adopter support program that will educate and assist horse adopters and potential adopters, with the goal of making the adoption transition easier and laying the groundwork for continuing success for the horse and new owner. The program will also equip owners to understand the commitment of owning a horse and help build a stronger, larger and highly qualified network of equine adopters.
Horse lovers are encouraged to participate in the initiative by adopting a horse, becoming a messenger for The Right Horse movement, sharing horse adoption stories and more. To learn more, visit therighthorse.org.
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