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5 Misunderstandings about what constitutes horse neglect or abuse

A number of the complaints made about equine rescues are based on misunderstandings.

Here are a few cases that are not considered horse neglect or abuse, according to equine rescue expert Jennifer William, PhD:

1. It’s not necessarily neglect when someone else’s horse-care practices differ from yours.

Example: Your own horses may have a run-in shed and plenty of shade in their pasture, but not all states require that horses have shelter.

A horse standing in a muddy field

A horse may be kept in different conditions than you keep yours, but that alone doesn't constitute abuse.

2. If horses haven’t been removed after you called in a complaint, it doesn’t mean law enforcement is ignoring the case.

Example: Horses may remain on a property weeks after you filed a complaint for several reasons: An officer may have investigated and confirmed the owner’s story that the horse in question is receiving proper care, or the officer may be giving the owner time to improve conditions on his own.

3. Not all skinny horses are neglected.

Example: Horses may lose a great deal of weight when ill or injured, and the owner may be working with a veterinarian to treat the horse and put weight back on him. Or the owner may have acquired the horse only recently and is rehabilitating him.

For your bookshelf:

The Ultimate Guide to Horses in Need
Saving Red: The True Story of a Rescued Horse Turned Rescuer
Changing Horses: One Woman's Journey through Horse Racing, Horse Rescue, and Horse Reflection

[Disclaimer: EQUUS may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our site. Products links are selected by EQUUS editors.]

4. Failing to ride a horse regularly is not abuse.

Example: We hear many complaints about horses who are being neglected because they’re not being ridden. The horses may be retired, too young or not broke to ride. The owner may ride when you aren’t around.

5. Training procedures you don’t like are not automatically abusive.

Example: You may not like to use crops, spurs or harsher bits, but if they’re used properly, many trainers consider them aids. If the horse is not being injured, the law will not consider him abused.

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