Horses are a special type of animal that requires extra attention and care. Not just anyone can have a horse. There are specific housing and feeding requirements, health examinations and afflictions. There are times when some people can no longer bear the burden of caring for these beautiful animals. They aren’t exactly the easiest animals to relocate and start over with.
Luckily, there are horse rescues across the country that may be able to help. In Athens, Ohio, the Last Chance Corral takes in those horses that others don’t want, either because of illness, injury, abuse or any number of life changes. The average lifespan of a horse is 25 years. That is a long span and during that time situations can change, which makes it difficult to take care of the horse.
Horses are large and have the potential to live long lives. Thus, some people get them thinking they will be like any other domestic animal and live for a decade or maybe a little longer. Since this isn’t the case, many times people run out of space, patience, and money.
The slaughter of horses is also becoming a business. Every day, thousands of horses are sold for the value of their meat in countries like Canada, Japan, and Belgium. These horses range in age from foals to full-size mares.
The pharmaceutical industry also confines mares to a life of pregnancy and captivity to collect their urine. It is one of the main ingredients in the drug Premarin. Once the horses are too old to be pregnant, they are sold to slaughterhouses or euthanized.
These are just some of the reasons horses are particularly vulnerable to mistreatment and ultimately, abandonment. Rescues are cropping up all over the country to save as many equine lives as possible. Many of these rescues rehabilitate and re-home horses in a lengthy and thorough adoption process to ensure a successful placement for each horse and family.
Last Chance Corral History
The founder of the Last Chance Corral, Victoria, began her crusade of rescuing horses when she was 12 years old. She started taking in horses others didn’t want. There was never a significant reason for the previous owners relinquishing the horse; however, that reason didn’t matter to Victoria. The only thing she wanted was to help nurture and provide love and a healthy environment for these neglected and forgotten horses. She realized the value they still held, even if other people didn’t.
Horses Taken to Refuge
In 1986, Victoria was finally able to get the funding and resources together to create and establish the Last Chance Corral. Billed as a refuge for horses of any condition or need, it provides shelter for horses whose alternative is often death. Each horse and each situation is unique, and Victoria and her staff treat the horses as such. There is an intake procedure whereby each horse gets evaluated, including a complete medical history. Some horses suffer from emotional and psychological trauma. Others have bone and muscle issues. Other horses suffer from varying degrees of malnutrition and other associated medical conditions. Some have experienced purposeful neglect and abuse. The vast majority, however, have merely been given away by their previous owners.
The mission of Last Chance Corral
Over the years, Victoria and her group have seen horses in all different types of sad situations. The most common reason a horse winds up at the Last Chance Corral is that the owner doesn’t want it anymore. Sometimes owners can’t care for the horse for financial or other reasons, and instead of abandoning or giving up on the horse, that person seeks out the services of the Last Chance Corral to help treat the horse and find it a better home.
The real mission of the Last Chance Corral is rehabilitation with the intent of finding adoptive families. It has exceptionally high standards for placement of all its horses, and hopeful families have to pass a battery of tests to be found capable of caring for a horse. This level of concern and care is superior to many other similar organizations.
Orphaned Nurse Mare Foals
Perhaps one of the saddest rescue situations the Last Chance Corral deals with is that of orphaned nurse mare foals. These are babies that were born for the sole purpose of making their mothers produce milk to care for another, more valuable foal. This is a common practice in thoroughbred racing. Owners don’t want the thoroughbreds that are giving birth to these expensive foals to get worn out and be unable to produce more foals later. So, they breed another horse to be the nursemaid. To get a horse to produce milk, she needs to have a baby as well. The resulting foal of the nursemaid is cast out in favor of the expensive one.
An orphaned foal is incredibly vulnerable to illness and death. If they are not given the proper bonding time with another horse and the needed dietary nutrients, there is very little hope for survival. The Last Chance Corral takes these foals in with the intent of adopting them out in pairs. The reason for this practice is that each horse needs another horse to bond with. Since most adult horses will not provide this for an unknown foal, the foals provide it for each other.
The 2017 foal season saw over 160 foals come through the Last Chance Corral. The average adoption fee for a foal is $300, which means you pay $600 to get two foals. These horses don’t have anything wrong with them except they’ve been thrown away in favor of better-bred ones. All of the foals for the 2017 season have found new homes.
Strict Guidelines for Adoption
The Last Chance Corral cares deeply for every horse that passes through. This cannot be more evident in the adoption guidelines. If you visit their website, you can see the strict rules and guidelines that prospective owners must meet in order to adopt one of their horses. It shows a genuine commitment to the welfare of the animals. They aren’t in a hurry to get rid of them; they are perfectly content to keep and care for the horses as long as it takes to find them the perfect home. If the horse you adopt winds up not being the perfect fit, they will take it back and help you find the horse that is the ideal fit.
Policy for Adoption
First off, you need to have experience owning a horse. The Last Chance Corral has this policy because the horses they get have already been owned and for some reason, given up. Therefore, they don’t want to take the chance of that happening again with someone who has never taken care of a horse before. If you are looking to get your first horse, it won’t be from the Last Chance Corral. Next, you have to have the proper facilities to house and care for the horse. You can’t live in a subdivision if you want to adopt a horse from the Last Chance Corral. Your facilities must include a properly fenced-in property large enough for the horses. You must also have shelter, such as a barn. A shelter is essential so that the horses have a place to retreat to and escape the elements. Your fencing may not be a barbed wire or chain link. This type of fencing is dangerous for horses, especially curious foals.
You must be able to establish a good relationship with a veterinarian who signs off on your ability to care for the horse. Finally, you must have the financial resources available to care for a horse, especially foals. Since they are just babies, these animals require more care and could wind up having medical conditions not evident at the time of adoption. If you don’t have the money to care for an animal, don’t adopt one.
Volunteer and Donations
If you really want to help the Last Chance Corral on its mission to save, rehabilitate and adopt these horses, but you can’t adopt one yourself, you can contact the owner about volunteer opportunities. She is always in need of extra hands (and boots) to help care for the horses. At the time of writing, the Last Chance Corral had four horses available for adoption. They have more horses they are still in the process of rehabilitating. Foal season is getting ready to start, so they will soon be getting in another influx of baby horses looking for forever homes.
If you don’t live near Athens, Ohio but feel compelled to help the Last Chance Corral in its mission, you can make donations of items needed and money. All donated money and items can be written off on your taxes.
Horse adoptions at the Last Chance Corral vary based on the horse. Foals are $300 each, but you must adopt a minimum of two. At the time of writing, the fee for all other horses ranges from $1,000 and above.
How the Last Chance Corral Compares to Other Horse Rescues
Luckily, Last Chance isn’t the only horse rescue in the United States. There are others who have dedicated their lives to save these majestic creatures. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of horse rescues across the country. These facilities do not operate at a profit and depend on volunteers, donations and adoption fees to exist.
Gentle Giant Draft Horses
Location: Mount Airy, Maryland
Adoption Fees: Range from $1 for non-rideable horses (due to various medical issues) to $800.
Specialty: Gentle Giant specializes in rescuing draft horses. These are working horses, such as those that pull carriages and carts. Most of the horses at this rescue have been purchased at auctions. These horses were all bound for the slaughterhouse.
Restrictions: Adoptions are limited, and Gentle Giant has stringent requirements. You can’t live outside a 4-hour distance of the facility.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Habitat for Horses
Adoption Fees: Unknown
Specialty: Habitat for Horses works closely with law enforcement officials in Texas and the Southwest to rescue mistreated and malnourished horses. They are actively working towards the abolishment of slaughtering.
Restrictions: There are lengthy requirements for adoption and applications to fill out. They break their available horses into categories, including riding, non-riding (companion) and needing training. The group is upfront about all health issues and circumstances with all their horses.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Omega Horse Rescue
Location: Airville, Pennsylvania
Adoption Fees: Unknown
Specialty: Omega specializes in horse rescue and rehabilitation. They typically get their horses from surrenders at auctions and other relinquishment situations.
Restrictions: Adoptions are contingent upon satisfactory inspection and bonding with the horse. The board of directors reviews all applications for adoption and either approve them or doesn’t. The lengthy process is to help give these abandoned animals a more stable home and the chance of success with the new family.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
If you are a horse lover and have experience caring for one, you might want to get your next equine friend at the Last Chance Corral or a rescue closer to home. You will be doing a service to the horse and to your family. If you can’t adopt a horse, think about contributing to the cause in one way or the other. Rescues run on the kindness of volunteers and donations from strangers. Be that stranger and help places like the Last Chance Corral continue saving horses from dangerous situations.
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