How do I report horse abuse?
I have spent more time at horse shows than some competitors. From schooling shows, to FEI shows and beyond. I have seen a lot of ^%(&^$(@. But I will NOT, can NOT, tolerate anyone getting pissed at their horse for a refusal, for being naughty, for spooking. I also have no tolerance for horses that are neglected, starved, or allowed to live without proper food, water, health care, and farrier care. So what do you do if you see something like this?
There are lots of ways to help. And lots of resources. And actual, trained professionals that can legally investigate a situation. I say that because it’s our equestrian nature to want to feed a horse, post nasty stuff on facebook, steal a horse, or otherwise do what you think needs to happen pronto. BUT…. the skinny horse that you think is about to die might get free feed hay and grain that you can’t see, and suffer from *gasp* old age, and has regular Veterinary care. So…informing the proper peeps is the place to start.
Yes, I took this photo, and yes, there are many more photos like it, and yes, this rider has been reported.
For the horse that is treated poorly at a horse show, you first stop is the show office. After, perhaps, you have shot some video/photos. For USEF shows, there is a protocol to follow that starts at the show office. There are lots of resources to report suspected horse abuse via the US Equestrian website. https://www.usef.org/compete/resources-forms/rules-regulations/reporting-equine-abuse That page gives you forms to fill out for eye witness accounts, for horse show incidents, and even for private property situations.
If you have a sitch where you see something as you are driving along, or your neighbor is questionable, or you notice a horse that looks abused, your best bet is to contact your local law enforcement or animal control. You have the power to help law enforcement here. You can also contact your local humane society.
Some things to do (and not do) if you suspect a horse is abused or neglected:
- Take notes like mad! Dates, times, photos, weather, important stuff! Check out the hooves, too, but only if you can avoid trespassing to do so.
- Photograph and video if you can. I was at a show and witnessed some super crappy whipping, and was able to take photos.
- Don’t trespass. Your credibility basically goes down the toilet if you break the law.
You may have to fill out some paperwork. It will be easier than your taxes.
- Don’t toss food over the fence. One, it interferes with an investigation, and many horses have diet restrictions because of allergies or diseases that you don’t know about!
- Be available for questions. I understand that you may want to be anonymous, and that’s fine. The ball is rolling. Law enforcement may have follow up questions for you, so be prepared for that.
- It’s SUPER TEMPTING to start the most viral of all viral animal welfare posts on social media. Just don’t. You have no idea what the real situation is. Your suspicions may be right, but they could also be wrong.
- If you see something in your own boarding barn, your first course of action is to talk to the barn manager/owner. You can minimize drama (drama at a horse barn? WHAT?) by being professional here.
This is always an emotional situation. Being diligent about note taking and involving the proper authorities is your best course of action.