The Importance of Lending a Helping Hand to Horses in Need
By Nikki Alvin-Smith
According to a report by The American Horse Council, issued in July 2019, the estimated number of unwanted horses in the USA is roughly 92,000 to 138,000. That is a staggering number to contemplate and a sobering thought, especially if like myself you have been involved in horse breeding during your career. While like many of you, I have rescued many horses from the kill-pen at auctions, taken in horses ‘in transition’ for rehabilitation, retraining and re-homing during my years as a professional dressage trainer, there is never anything that you can do to guarantee a happy life and forever home for a horse. Our own contributing writer and fellow horse trainer, Holly Peterson, wrote this brilliant article entitled The Fantasy of The Forever Home, which perfectly articulates the issue.
Horses are abandoned for a variety of reasons; lameness; behavioral issues; lack of training; overbreeding; old age; illness, death or financial crisis for their owners. There is no equine breed or age of horse that is exempt from destitution.
Horse rescues and equine sanctuaries are in dire need of assistance to continue their noble efforts as they strive to help horses in need. The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a significant loss in revenue for many of these organizations as fund-raising events were necessarily suspended and donations dwindled in the light of loss of income and financial worries for the general populace.
If there was ever a time that the equine industry could and should step up to help it is now. There are so many ways that equestrian related product manufacturers could make a difference and give back to the industry that makes their business successful. Service providers such as vets, farriers, alternative medicine providers and horse training professionals all have a role to play and an opportunity to help out too, by donating their valuable services.
For the past three years, leading modular horse barn company Horizon Structures, LLC, of Atglen, PA has been doing just that. Each Fall season they have collaborated with The Equine Network’s EQUUS magazine to offer a contest and have donated a free run-in shed. Read the story of one of the recent winners Flare Oaks Rescue, of Rutherford County, NC. Their win could not have been more timely, as a hurricane had just taken out their run-in shed, leaving it in pieces. Flare Oaks operation has grown significantly since their win, and Horizon Structures’ Chief Marketing Officer, Jill Sirgausa, a lifetime horsewoman herself, could not be more delighted to have been able to help them along the way:
“ I believe it is very important to support rescues in their work to provide shelter and a soft landing for animals in need. While we offer kennels, coops and a myriad of other structures, horses have been the focal point of our business. We love helping out where we can, and I am pleased to report that this year our ‘Giving Thanks’ program has reached a new level, with collaboration with Purina Mills LLC, Farnam, Lami-Cell and EQUUS. We are giving away an $18,000 horse barn this year, it is 12’ x 20’ and provides 2 horse stalls, an overhang and a tack/storage room,” explained Siragusa.
The Barnfest 2020 Contest is aimed at providing a horse barn directly to a 501(c)3 registered rescue, and there will also be a package prize for one of the nominators of that rescue.
The contest is open for entries now, and will close on November 30th. As has become somewhat of a tradition, one of Horizon Structures’ owners and the founder of the company, Dave Zook, together with Olympian Boyd Martin will be announcing 10 finalists via Facebook Live in late December 2020, with the selection of the final winner being made mid January 2021.
The winning rescue will not only receive a brand new horse barn, including set up and delivery, but also $200 in coupons from Purina Animal Nutrition toward feed purchase.
For folks that want to make a difference and help out a rescue, they simply nominate their favorite rescue on the entry form. Both the rescue and the nominator are automatically entered in the contest. What a great way to give back!
The winning nominator will not be left out in the cold and can look forward to stash of horse lover gifts including $200 in Purina feed coupons too, plus a prize pack from Farnam and PuriShield, choice of English or Western gear from Lami-Cell, coupons for 10 bags of their choice of Super Premium feed from Purina Animal Nutrition LLC, a choice of Dressage Today OnDemand, EQUUS Prime or Horse&Rider OnDemand annual membership and a USRider annual membership with a total prize package value of over $1,500.
Purina Animal Nutrition is not new to helping out horse rescues either, as Jamie Kinnear, Director of Marketing, Lifestyle at Land O’Lakes, Purina’s parent company, explained:
“Purina’s commitment to the well-being of all horses is the heart of why we are the title sponsor for A Home For Every Horse. Being part of the Barn Fest 2020 contest this year allows us to give thanks to the rescues for partnering with us for the past ten years. We are proud to be a part of bringing joy to someone this year, when we all could use it the most.”
The facilitators of the contest, The Equine Network team, and their team of Dave Andrick, VP of The Equine Network, DeAnna Jarnagin and Lindsay Porter at EQUUS, have all worked hard to put together and host the Barnfest 2020, a program they had initiated several years ago, but that had been on hiatus. It’s rebirth in a year where humans as well as horses have seen so much suffering is timely.
“We’re so excited to be able to offer this amazing contest,” said Lindsay Porter, Marketing Services Manager at The Equine Network. “With everything that's happening in the world right now, we wanted to launch a program that helps to shed light on the horse heroes out there who are doing great work with limited resources.”
The season of goodwill and giving thanks is just around the corner, and making time to complete a simple entry form is all it takes to be part of the Barnfest 2020 Contest.
There are many other businesses that also give back to the equine industry, and to each of them a huge thank-you should be given too, as their kindness makes a significant difference. It is a shame that more business owners don’t join in the effort, as the ‘feel good’ factor is a great reward for the work that goes in to bringing help to horses in need.