We have had a rash of hotline calls for the past 6 months from elderly, disabled and broke people needing desperately to rehome their horse(s). So many calls, in fact, I decided to write about it. I also decided to go online and see what info I could find about “Baby Boomers” and their horses. (Strauss and Howe define boomers as those born from 1943-1960.) Increased birth rates were observed during the post–World War II baby boom, making the baby boomers a relatively large demographic cohort. Being a “boomer” myself, I was surprised to learn that there are 77 million boomers in the U.S.!
According to Wikipedia, as of 1998, it was reported that, as a generation, boomers had tended to avoid discussions and planning for their demise and avoided much long-term planning. A number of commentators have argued that Baby Boomers are in a state of denial regarding their own aging and death and are leaving an undue economic burden on their children for their retirement and care. According to the 2011 Associated Press and LifeGoesStrong.com surveys:
In our last newsletter, we ran a story about an elderly gentleman, in poor health and no money to take care of his 5 horses; our goal was to help him with feed/hay on a very temporary basis while we helped prepare and circulate flyers to rehome the horses. Because of a sudden decline in his health that landed him in an out-of-state nursing home, GERL ended up bringing his unfinished horses into our program. We still have all of them.
Recently, one of our ACs and I got involved with a case involving an elderly lady, in poor health and no money to take care of her 7 untrained horses. The fact of the matter is that we had nowhere to put these horses and could only offer help with feed and creating/circulating a flyer. Thankfully, out-of-state friends came and took the horses.
These two situations are text-book of what we at GERL, the inspectors with the Dept. of Agriculture and local law enforcement and animal control officers have been seeing on a regular basis for the past several years. Some of the things that these cases all have in common are:
At GERL, we run these cases through our Crisis Intervention program, which means that we will cap spending at $150 per horse. This can be for feed, vet care, or even burial; the owner writes down what is needed on the application. We explain to them that it is imperative that a flyer be created for each horse that needs rehoming. But usually, it is a GERL Area Coordinator or me who prepares the flyer(s). We circulate it through our Facebook posting, in hopes of finding new homes. We have been seeing a pretty good success rate on follow-thru with this process.
It recently dawned on me that these situations require a good bit of “hand-holding” to see them through fruition. I noticed that often, after we have provided feed for their horses, they sit back and do nothing. When the horse is broke to ride, there is absolutely no reason it should go to a “rescue”. And, to prove that point, we’ve seen them get snatched up overnight by someone out there looking for a nice horse. It is evident that the owner never even tried to rehome the horse except by picking up the phone and calling rescue organizations. And, let me say this about that…their horse is NOT a rescue and should NOT take up space needed for a “real rescue”; one coming from law enforcement, for instance.
Every rescue organization that I know of is at capacity right now. The baby boomer’s horses do not need to be circulating in the rescue circuit, inflating numbers. In my opinion, if we do a good job of preparing the flyer and “telling the story” of each of these horses, someone out there will want them, and that is our mission when we get involved.
Georgia Equine Rescue League
P.O. Box 328
Bethelhem, Ga 30520
To report a case of horse abuse, call the
Georgia Department of Agriculture Equine Division
Monday – Friday | 7:30 AM – 4:30 PM
404-656-3713 or 800-282-5852