Rescuing Horses: Good Intentions Gone Wrong

Most people who acquire or rescue horses start out with good intentions. Sometimes, however, a good thing goes bad. Learn more about the psychology behind rescuing or hoarding animals and how people get in over their heads.

Rescuing Horses: Good Intentions Gone Wrong
The Humane Society worked with the Smith County District Attorney's Office to seize 50 horses from a Lindale, Texas, property, many of which showed signs of neglect. | Photo: Courtesy Kathy Milani/The HSUS

The psychology behind rescuing and hoarding horses

Jennifer Williams, MS, PhD, had just moved back to Texas after graduating with a psychology degree from Northeast Missouri State University when she met a woman needing help on her Arabian farm. Penniless and eager to work with her favorite breed, Williams jumped at the chance. She was surprised when she arrived, however, to discover the woman had about 30 horses on her 15-acre property, plus nearly 70 dogs living in her double-wide.

“At the beginning I didn’t realize how bad things were, and I thought I could help the animals,” says Williams. “After a while it became clear I couldn’t,” so she quit.

Over the next year and a half, authorities seized the animals repeatedly, but the owner would get them back and relocate. When they were seized a third time, the woman took her life just before her court date. While the county was able to place the dogs in rescues, there wasn’t a local equine rescue to award the horses to, so the woman’s son sold them

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Written by:

Alexandra Beckstett, Managing Editor of The Horse and a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as Assistant Editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse.

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