Why Would Anyone Abuse a Horse?

At Habitat for Horses, we ask ourselves that question every day. Equine abuse in all its forms — neglect, starvation, slaughter, abandonment and cruel treatment — is the heartbreaking reason behind our existence.

Sometimes the motivation for abuse is very dark indeed. There are people who need to dominate other living things. The cruelty that they perpetrate can begin with an insistence on using whips and chains to control a horse. Then it can escalate to shocking levels of injury and death.

We view horse slaughter as another form of abuse, one driven by greed and a complete disregard for the spirit and intelligence of these magnificent animals. But in most cases, the abuse comes at the hands of someone who just isn’t prepared to care for an equine. There are those who want a pet or pony for a beloved child, or who think it would just be fun to have a horse, forgetting that they require a lot of knowledge, space, proper feed and watering, medical care and more. And horses get lonely. Leaving a horse alone to languish in a pasture with nothing more than hay and water is a form of neglect.

When law enforcement is called to investigate equine abuse, they usually find an owner who just got in over their head and didn’t care enough to surrender the horse to animal care and control. So by the time the sheriff arrives, the horse has been suffering for a long, long time.

Horse Body Condition Scoring 101

When we bring a horse to Miracle Ranch, it’s vital that we understand their condition so we can create the right plan for their rehabilitation. Here’s Jerry, our founder, explaining what we look for at intake.

Learn more about the Henneke Body Scale.

Animal Abuse Laws

For a long time, each state had its own laws governing animal abuse and neglect. But in 2019, Congress passed a law to make animal cruelty a federal crime. The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act gave federal law enforcement and prosecutors the tools they need to go after people who commit malicious acts of animal cruelty. But not all abuse is maliciously perpetrated. Much of it is just neglect.

We act at the side of law enforcement when they are called in to seize equines. Before Habitat for Horses was founded, law enforcement had few people they could call to care for these equines. Too many were simply destroyed. But now we’re here to help.

Have you witnessed equine abuse? You can do something about it!

We Help Build The Case Against Equine Abusers

We don’t want abusers to go unpunished anymore than you do. 

In Texas, seized horses are held for 10 days prior to court judgment. The court then decides whether to return the horses to the owner, sell them at auction or give them to a nonprofit rescue.

When we take a horse, we work closely with the DA’s office to:

  • Document the exact condition of the horse using the Henneke Body Condition Scoring System,
  • Provide photographic and medical evidence of abuse, malnutrition and injury, and
  • Offer equine expert testimony in court to help the judge make their decision.

Want to know more about animal cruelty laws in your state? Start here.

Most of the horses who come to Miracle Ranch have been starved. Rehabilitation takes many months and typically exceeds $5,000 per horse.

Learn more about equine rehabilitation.