As I sit on this side of my computer screen watching the drama unfold with the five horses from Jackson County who were obviously neglected these natural questions occur:
How does this happen? Who would do this? Why?
I don’t know the details of this specific case and I’m not attempting to answer all the possibilities, but I would like to highlight a few.
What a tricky thing. If you don’t know…what you don’t know…then how can you solve the problem. The first time I saw this truly displayed was in a local horse neglect case. It was easy to see the horses in a local pasture losing weight as the winter progressed. Yes, food was provided…but not enough as was evident by the constant decline in the horses weight. Amazingly, one visit from the local humane agent corrected the problem. Once. One talk. You don’t know what you don’t know…until someone educates you.
Ironically the lady who lead the ‘intervention’ or education admitted that just a few years earlier she would not have been able to correctly identify a low body scoring horse. She was an avid animal lover but had all small animals. She took the position in a county when no one else stepped up. Her heart was in the right place but as she stated, ‘I thought horses were supposed to look like cows. It wasn’t until I had been doing the job for month and I saw a horse being ridden down the road that I realized I had been looking at it all wrong.’
Education, education, education.
This one pulls on the heart. When money runs low everyone tends to suffer some and eventually decisions must be made. Tough love says if you can’t care for them then you need to find a better way…but that isn’t always as easy to do as it is to say.
Think drug abuse or any other disease, lifestyle, or chemical imbalance that could lead to impaired judgement. I love that in Bella Run Equines post about the horses Rachel pointed out that one horse had braids in the mane. Braids indicate care. Braids indicate good intentions. Could they indicate even more?
Now onto how we can prevent this.
I believe the answer to the the question, “How can we prevent horse neglect”, can be found hidden inside of our response. How did we respond?
One person noticed a problem and brought it to the attention of the community…and the community responded. In this case Facebook was the main medium of community…but community is the key.
The community has pulled together and reacted to what has happened. People have posted, shared and commented. People have donated, driven and prayed.
Now what if we turned this reaction into a response. An effort to educate. To embrace. To empower.
If people don’t know…who’s going to tell them?
If people run out of money…who’s going to help them?
If people have impaired judgement…who’s going to step in.
We have done a good job as a community…once it made it onto our computer screens. Could intervention have happened sooner? Theses horses didn’t end up looking like this in one day, one weekend or one month.
I’m sure many of you can add to this short list of things to consider and please do.