Best Practices for Equine Rescues

Quality rescues practice good horse husbandry, maintain a realistic annual budget, seek continuing education, and more.
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best practices for equine rescues
Reputable rescues follow AAEP guidelines for rescue and retirement facilities. Their animals receive routine vaccinations for their geographic area, an annual Coggins test, dental care, deworming, and hoof care. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse
As co-founder and president of Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society, in College Station, Texas, Jennifer Williams, MS, PhD, has helped rehabilitate and rehome more than 1,500 horses since getting involved in equine rescue in 1998. In her organization’s work assisting authorities with horse seizures and neglect cases, she’s seen the devastating pitfalls ill-prepared or overwhelmed equine rescues can fall into.

Williams described for a veterinary audience at the 2016 American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), held Dec. 3-7 in Orlando, Florida, best practices for equine rescues and how veterinarians can help facilities maintain them.

Over the past 10 years, said Williams, the number of equine rescues—ranging from well-run tax-exempt organizations to private family farms—has risen.

“Unfortunately, some rescuers do not utilize best practices for rescue and equine care, and they end up becoming part of the problem,” she said. “Veterinarians can help alleviate the suffering inadvertently caused by well-meaning rescuers by working with these organizations to ensure they follow good equine husbandry and nonprofit management guidelines

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Alexandra Beckstett, 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. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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