Give, But Give Wisely
Tips for Finding Legitimate Equine Rescue
Rescues & Shelters
Schools with Riding Programs
During the holidays we sometimes feel generous, willing to give
a little extra to those in need. The economy has been in a bit of a slump,
people have had limited resources for the charities. Sadly, it is
frequently the animal-oriented charities that suffer the most.
If you are looking for an equine charity, there are many
worthy organizations; there are schools? riding programs and
college research programs, rescue programs and shelters, and
therapeutic programs. With schools and colleges, giving is
set up through pretty straightforward channels, but with some
of the other organizations, you may worry; you may wonder if
an organization is legitimate? You may wonder how much of your
donation actually goes to help horses, or just to line pockets?
Where is the accountability? Who regulates these organizations?
The Equiery is bombarded with horror stories every day from
readers who feel they have been rooked. The legitimacy of self-claimed
charities has become a serious issue.
Equine Rescue Facilities & Shelters Facilities which actually
care for horses perhaps raise the most concern from readers.
No doubt most people only have the best of intentions when
starting a rescue facility. But because such facilities are
not regulated (although the Maryland Department of Agriculture
is considering introducing legislation to do so in the future),
the door is open for unscrupulous operators to take advantage
of their equestrians, as well as other animal lovers. Equestrians
do want to help legitimate facilities, but how do we, as members
of the community, discern between who is legitimate and who
For starters, although MDA does not currently regulate rescue
facilities, many such facilities do register themselves as
stables and are thus licensed under the state stable licensing
program, so it is always informative to find out if they are
licensed. If they are licensed, they must display their license.
If they are not licensed, ask them why not. If they say they
are, but cannot show proof, contact the MDA to verify the license.
In the meantime, MDA is monitoring reports of shelters and
does appreciate alerts from the community.
At this point, however, the best thing we, as a community
can do, is to monitor such facilities ourselves. Go see them
for ourselves. Ask questions. Legitimate organizations will
be happy to answer questions and to provide references.
Some equine welfare organizations do not actually 'rescue'
horses, or have hands on care for animals. As a donor, you
must decide if you want your donation to go to physical care
for animals, or if an educational group with long range goals
is more what you had in mind for your support.
If you decide that you want your money to go towards the
actual care for horses, then you need to decide if you want
the money to help local animals, or if a national organization
is where you want to place your financial backing. Do you want
your Maryland dollars to go towards helping horses in New Mexico?
There is no shortage of hands-on rescue organizations here
Research any organization that you want to support with a
financial contribution. Make sure that the organization's overall
philosophy is in keeping with yours. Don't just donate to a
specific issue if the organization deals with more that one "issue." Just
because you agree with an organization on one topic, doesn't
mean that you will agree with everything that the charity supports
or espouses. Do you really want to donate to an organization
that has as its ultimate goal the "liberation" of
all animals from their enslavement, just because you agree
with their position on the transportation of horses to slaughter?
What You Need To Know If You Donate to a Rescue? What is
their federal tax-exempt number? Are they a 501(c)(3) (a status
which allows them to accept tax-deductible donations)? Are
they a non-profit, a not-for-profit, or a corporation? If you
don't know what these terms mean, educate yourself before donating.
Despite people’s good intentions, there are many rescue groups out there
that are either not
legitimate, or are careless with their money. Here are some key attributes
that every ligitimate
rescue organization or facility should have:
• Corporate structure as a 501(c)(3), which allows the organization to
accept tax-deductible donations,
and a federal tax-exempt I.D. number
• Registration with the Maryland Office of the Secretary of State’s
Charitable Organizations Division
(Effective Oct. 1, 2006 all new charitable registrations MUST be in full compliance
and receive a registration letter from the Secretary of State’s office
• Financial records, auditor’s report, and/or tax returns provided
• Membership in regional and national rescue organizations
• A board of directors featuring respected members of the community
• Open access to visitors and supporters who want to monitor animal care
• Nationally certified principals and/or primary caregivers
• Training program for volunteers
• Well defined quarantine areas
• Established criteria for deciding between euthanasia and rehabilitation
• An established adoption program with post-adoption monitoring
• A good relationship with the local animal control office
• A willingness to participate in the Maryland Stable Licensing Program
In addition, representatives of legitimate equine rescue organizations should
be able to answer the following questions:
• Who are the organization’s advising and practicing veterinarians?
• Who are the advising and practicing farriers?
• Does the organization actually find homes for the animals? Will references
• Does the organization conform to the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ guidelines
for equine rescue and retirement facilities? For more information, visit www.aaep.orgThe time and expense to operate an equine shelter are prohibitive. Many start
up with heartfelt intentions; few have the savvy to survive. Nonetheless, some
do. These legitimate organizations not only provide shelter and care for neglected,
abandoned and even the occasionally abused horse, they rehabilitate them and
find them good adoptive homes. Often, they also provide instruction or clinics
on basic horse care, which helps to break the cycle of neglect due to ignorance.
For a list of Shelters and Rescues in Maryland, click
To find an organization's non-profit status, click
Therapeutic Riding Programs
Although many people consider riding to be a hobby, for others riding is literally
a lifeline to independence. Many horses are becoming therapists for people
with special needs, helping those with a variety of physical and mental disabilities
to improve motor skills, develop and strengthen muscles, achieve independence
and, most importantly, develop self-reliance and self confidence. Equine
therapy is, however, expensive. Not only are the costs high for the equine
maintenance, and to obtain the often custom made equipment necessary, but
it is also expensive to train the human therapists specializing in riding.
For the thousands of people who have been helped by therapeutic riding in
Maryland, the benefits are well worth the expense. And most centers provide
for their students without regard to their ability to pay. Please keep in
mind that it is not a requirement for a therapeutic program to be a non-profit
Maryland Council for Equestrian Therapies (Central organization
for over 24 Therapeutic programs across the state) 410-374-9649
For a complete list of Therapeutic Programs in Maryland, click
Schools & Colleges
Maryland has several schools with equestrian programs. In addition, the University
of Maryland, the first land grant and agricultural school in the United States,
has equine studies, animal husbandry, and, of course, the veterinarian college.
Educational institutions are always in need of additional support and donations.
Barrie Day School & Camp 301-871-6200
Butler School 301-977-6669
Chesapeake College 410-827-5810
Garrison Forest School 410-559-3450
Georgetown Equestrian Team 301-773-0444
Goucher College 410-337-6247
Hood College 301-663-3131
McDonogh School 410-581-4782
Mount St. Mary's Riding Club & Team 301-447-1774
Oldfields School 410-472-4800
St. Timothy's School 410-486-5483
U. of Maryland Equestrian Club 301-405-7362
Univeristy of Maryland 301-405-8337
University of Maryland Equestrian Team 301-773-0444
Va.-Md. Regional College of Vet. Medicine 301-935-6083
In short, before you make a contribution to a charity, ask for its Federal
Tax I.D. Number and charity status, and when in doubt, check with the Secretary
of State's Charitable Organizations Division, 410-974-5534 or 800-825-4510,
www.sos.state.md.us. If you want to know how much money a charity actually
spends directly on animals or education, request such information from the
Public Information Officer. Before making any donations, request a copy of
the brochure, Giving Wisely, and become an informed donor.
If you want to know more about how equine abuse cases are
Other Donation Options:
Maryland Fund for Horses
An organization tasked (among other things) to improve the
lives of Maryland's equines by providing education and outreach
ownership, equine welfare issues and the value of equines
to the State and to their own lives.
Maryland Hay Bank
The Maryland Hay Bank assists private horse owners who are
experiencing a financial hardship or a personal crisis by providing
free hay for their horses for thirty (30) days up to a maximum
100 total bales. The Maryland Hay Bank is donation driven,
and hay is provided at absolutely no cost to qualified recipients.
Maryland Network for Injured Equestrians
was established in 2005 by the family and friends of Peggy
Ingles after Peggy suffered a spinal cord injury in 2004 while
training a horse. Any resident of Maryland who sustains a
Traumatic Brain Injury or Spinal Cord Injury in a horse-related
to apply for financial assistance for medical, equipment, therapeutic,
care and other expenses.
If you know of a worthy Maryland-based charity not included on
this list, please contact The Equiery at 800-244-9580.
x/ 101 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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