The New Reality: Helpful Horse Health Weekends

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by Fran Jurga | 27 September 2009 | The Jurga Report at

Oregon farrier Gregg Meyers was among the many horsecare professionals who donated time on Saturday to work on horses who needed some care. A special horse health fair in Albany, Oregon helped prepare needy horses for the winter ahead. (Photo links to Albany Democrat-Herald story about this event.)

I don't get to watch television very often. This weekend was an exception, but only because I was feeling under the weather, and home-in-bed seemed like the place to be.

CNN had a feature about a free health clinic at a big convention center in Houston, Texas. They showed a view of the people lining up about six in the morning on Saturday to take advantage of free medical services from a small army of 700 medical professionals who had volunteered their time. The event was organized by media MD Mehmet Oz, who is often featured on Oprah Winfrey's television show. By day's end, they had helped 2000 patients, many of them chronically ill and without health insurance.

"Wow," I thought, through my feverish haze. "Someone should do that for horses."

And they did.

On the very same day, the Oregon Horse Welfare Council organized a free health fair for horses whose owners needed financial help. At the Linn County Fairgrounds in Albany, Oregon, they set up something quite parallel to what Dr Oz was doing at the same time for humans in Houston. Horses traveled around to stations set up in a big arena and visited a farrier and a massage therapist; they got vaccinations and worming. There was advice from a nutritionist and a trainer. And a lot more.

The professionals providing the services donated their time as an acknowledgment of the hardship some horse owners are facing in providing for their animals during challenging economic conditions. A similar event was held in Sutherlin, Oregon in the spring.

According to its web site, the Oregon Horse Welfare Council is an ad hoc group of concerned horsepeople from throughout Oregon dedicated to helping horse owners struggling to provide for their animals, and saving as many horses as possible from abuse, abandonment and neglect. The group is comprised of individuals from rescue organizations, breed groups, veterinarians, state officials, law enforcement agencies, equine media, and concerned citizens.

You can read a newspaper article from the Albany Democrat-Herald about the horse health fair if you click here.

Meanwhile, in Minnesota, it was a big weekend for the Minnesota Horse Welfare Coalition's Gelding Project. Colts and stallions were castrated by supervised veterinary students from the University of Minnesota at a clinic at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Lake Elmo. Horse owners needed a referral from a veterinarian or a humane investigation team, but the surgery was free.


Lots of the news you read on this blog is about how bad things are, but I never, ever underestimate the good and kind spirits of horse people to help each other out. Organizing to help a horse get a healthy start on a winter that will be here before we know it, or to remove the possibility of a stud horse breeding foals that won't have rosy futures--those are very worthwhile ways to spend a weekend as a volunteer in the horse world.

I hope the Oregon and Minnesota organizations have a lot of imitators out there; you can also visit either website and make a donation.