As much as I love fall in Oklahoma, I also dread this time of year because I know what it means for unwanted horses.
Kill pens fill up with summer camp horses that served their purpose, as well as with laminitic horses that gorged themselves on the sweet grass of a hot summer and early Autumn. It’s also the time of year when the cheapest source of horse food (pastures) die off, leaving some cash-strapped owners with the choice between feeding their families, or feeding their horses. It’s always the horse that loses.
Autumn is the time when unwanted horses need rescues like Swingin’ D the most; but it’s also the time of year we’re forced to turn them away because, as I repeat in every blog I write, horses are expensive. Never are they more expensive than in fall and winter.
The money we save through the summer as our horses enjoyed lush and plentiful grass, we make up for in spades as pastures die and we’re required to replace grazing with hay, grains and supplements. The constantly rain-soaked ground wreaks havoc on hooves (not that we’ve gotten much of a break this summer!), which means abscesses, thrush, laminitis and all manner of expensive issues.
Fall and Winter Hard on Horses - and Owners
A healthy horse can lose hundreds of pounds and starve to death in two to three months. A horse that’s starved or underfed through the winter can only safely gain 22-25 pounds per month.
Because we know we’ll be spending thousands of dollars on bedding, grain, hay, heaters and electricity to get us through the bitter cold, we have to be judicious with what little resources we have.
As much as some owners can’t wait to get rid of their unwanted horses, adopters aren’t interested in taking on an expensive animal they can’t enjoy; at least until it’s warm enough to go outside again. So this is when adoptions come to a screeching halt.
In short, no one really wants to take care of a horse through the winter.
But we do. We’re developing an additional piece of land that will double our capacity; which means we can take in more of the horses no one wants. We have all the desire in the world to save unwanted horses. We just can’t do it alone.
You can help us save more horses
Swingin’ D has plenty of ways horse lovers can help us save even more horses through the fall and winter. One of the best ways you can help is to foster a horse that’s awaiting adoption. Every foster that helps us care for a horse through the winter, makes it possible for us to take in another poor soul.