What is CHC's slogan and mission statement?
The CHC slogan is Because Too Many Good Horses End Up in the Kill Pen™
Our Mission - Copper Horse Crusade rescues, retrains and rehomes as many serviceable slaughter bound horses as resources allow. CHC believes in doing the most good for the greatest number of horses. That means using resources (time, funding, feed, care) to save the horses that are most likely to find good homes in a reasonable amount of time.
What factors contribute to the issue of horse slaughter?
Irresponsible owners and casual 'backyard breeders' are responsible for most of the young, sound and healthy horses in the “kill pen”. Copper Horse Crusade supports efforts to reduce the irresponsible ‘backyard’ breeding of low quality horses and strives to intercept the good horses going for meat. Choosing to own a horse means choosing to accept full responsibility for that horse. Slaughter should not be a convenient option for disposing of unwanted horses. However, until indiscriminate breeding, owner irresponsibility, and equine end of life options are addressed horse slaughter will continue to be an issue
What does “sustainable rescue” mean?
Being involved with saving horses requires continuously making the decision on what horses to save and what horses to let go. This is never easy and we want to discuss some of what goes into the decisions we make regarding the horses that we pull. CHC is always alarmed to see rescues putting thousands of dollars into one horse. (Specifically on vet bills.) Certainly wanting to save that horse is understandable, but how many other horses could have been saved with the money that was spent on that ONE horse? The reality that has to be acknowledged is that resources are limited. Time, money, and space are some of the factors that we have to consider when deciding on a horse. Aside from that, we have to be realistic about that horse's chances of successfully finding a long term home. Of course we feel bad for the 24 year old broken down Standardbred in the kill pen at Sugarcreek; but we feel worse for the 6 or 7 year old Quarter Horse in the kill pen that is sound and just needs groceries and training to become an enjoyable trail partner for someone. Which horse will most likely be able to find a home?' (From an earlier blog.)
Where are your horses typically coming from--are they surrendered, or are they mostly coming from kill pens? To put this question a different way, how would you define your rescue?
The vast majority of horses coming into CHC are coming from the kill sales. We might define CHC as a 'Halfway house for slaughter bound horses.'
When we see some of the decisions that rescues make in regards to what horses they save we have to wonder if perhaps we should consider CHC more of a “half way” house. CHC is not a sanctuary (as some rescues seem to be). Horses do not come here to stay. Neither is CHC a rescue in the traditional sense of “saving every horse”. My goal is to use the resources that are available to do the most good for the greatest number of horses. It might be fitting to say that we do have an intervention program for “at risk” horses. While horses are here they are getting training to help them lead productive lives and be contributing members to “equine society”.
What is your rehabilitation and rehoming process?
Horses coming to CHC undergo a 30 day training and/or evaluation period. This allows us to ensure that they are sound and healthy before going on to their new homes. During that time they receive farrier care and are checked by a vet. Beyond vet and farrier care, spending 30 days with incoming horses allows us to 'get to know' that horse: the horse's disposition, past training, current training needs and what type of rider the horse will be best suited for. Potential owners visiting the barn are asked a variety of questions to determine the suitability of the horse they are considering. Making a good match between horse and rider is vital to the long term placement of the horse and a positive experience for all involved.
Most “rescues” have good motives and CHC is always glad to see horses pulled out of auction situations. BUT we do worry about the long term placement of the horses and how a suitable "match" can be made when so little information is available on the horse. The goal is not only “saving” the horse from the immediate danger of the sale but also securing long term placement for the horse. A new adopter can be discouraged pretty quickly by a “rescue horse” that turns out to be untrained, unsound, or have behavioral issues that weren't known at the time of adoption.
It takes TIME to thoroughly evaluate an auction horse, to put that horse in a variety of different situations in order to accurately gauge training level, disposition, and soundness. Auction horses sometimes come with baggage. It is the responsibility of the organization that pulls that horse to sort through the baggage and find an owner or adopter that is appropriate for the horse.
Can you elaborate on what you mean by that phrase, and how you are running a sustainable operation?
Well established charities (i.e. The Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc.) understand the need for good management practices.
When "rescues" do everything with little or no thought given to the sustainability of what they are doing, they create a poor reflection on the cause. To a point, an equine “rescue” or halfway house has to be run like a business. Time and resources have to be managed. Equipment and facilities have to be maintained in a way that reflects a degree of professionalism. This contributes to the long term stability and sustainability of the organization. The long term has to be kept in mind for any organization to continue to function well into the future.
Horse rescues are not exempt from the principles of resource management and sustainability. Feed, hay, time, money, and space are all resources that have to be managed wisely in order to do the most good for the greatest number of horses. When the number of horses that a rescue takes in exceeds the amount of resources available, bad things happen. Saving horses takes more than good intentions. It takes sound business principles, responsible resource management and a lot of commitment and hard work.
Any success stories you'd like to share?
There are a lot of those! If you have been on Facebook you have seen a lot of the photos.
Kizzi, Cactus, Valentine come to mind - all older, well broke horses that went on to show ring success with their young riders. We get the most joy out of seeing older, seasoned horses get saved and then go on to success with young riders.
What type of facility does CHC have?
Prior to the barn we have now, CHC functioned out of a number of less than ideal situations and facilities. CHC moved into the barn where we are currently in 2012. This facility allows us to train and work with horses on a larger scale and in all types of weather. We have 15 stalls and additional room for horses outside. We typically house about 20 horses that are in various stages of training, receiving the care that they need or awaiting placement. It takes a significant amount of money and skilled labor to keep the barn, fence and arena is good shape.
Where does your funding come from?
There are donations and fund raisers that benefit Copper Horse Crusade but part of the sustainability of the operation is generating a majority of the funds needed from the sale of viable horses. Funds are sometimes raised to save a particular horse through social media but CHC does not survive week to week by crisis fund raising.
With as many as 80 horses coming through the CHC barn in a year, we are often out of names. Instead of a hip tag number, a CHC follower can name a horse for a $25 donation. We call this the 'Name Game.'
What else should CHC supporters know?
An operation like this is a LOT of hard work, requiring huge amounts of dedication and commitment. It's really tough emotionally. Being involved with CHC allows one to see the best of people - coming together to save a horse, and also the worst of people - who have no regard for their horse. Maintaining balance and perspective is important. The work can seem overwhelming. We would really like to gain greater exposure for CHC, reaching more people to support our work and thus saving even more horses.