Helpful tips for communicating with your local rescue

A few weeks ago we did a post about Grace and her sensational story.  The below was written and posted on facebook by Darla Clark of Strawberry Mountain Mustangs, the rescue that did so much for Grace and continues to fight for her, and horses like her, even after her death.  It’s a funny diatribe on irresponsible horse owners who are too stupid to help themselves and expect rescues like SMM to clean up the unfortunate mess they’ve made.


Thank you for calling. At 7 am, 7:05 am, 7:08 am and 7:09 am. Yes, I got your voice mail from 10pm last night, also. Yes, I realize you feel you have a crisis. I understand that you need to be off your property in a week, because of a foreclosure that started months ago, and now 30 year old Flicka has no where to go. But I do not have a secretary. I do sleep. I eat. I occasionally get to spend time with family and friends. Therefore, I am not available 24/7 to answer your call. I do apologize. It is most helpful when you spend the rest of your day calling the local small animal shelter and animal control officer begging THEM to contact me as well. While they might be paid, I know they have other things they’d like to be doing also. They, also, are not my secretary.

Amidst hauling hay, shoveling manure, handling/training horses, bandaging wounds, building fence, working on the tractor, talking to the vet, farrier and volunteers, I will try my best to call you back. I’ll likely be standing out in the barn, where it’s cold and windy, staring at the snow on a nearby hillside. This is the ABSOLUTE BEST time to tell me about your brother Billy Bob’s ex girlfriend who left him for the UPS man and abandoned the ponies who he desperately needs to find homes for – once he’s back from a month long hunting trip in Alaska. What’s that? He can’t afford to feed them? Interspersed with your adorable speech habit of “ya know what I mean” every third sentence, this makes for an even more enjoyable conversation.

If I tell you, yes, I will take in your horse – and make arrangements for you to haul the horse to me (gasp, yes, I’m asking YOU to use YOUR fuel instead of mine) – it would greatly benefit YOU to show up at the schedule time. Reverting back to step one, calling me 15 times a day, will only cause an uncontrollable eye twitch on my part – and some even more serious call screening.

This may come as a shock, but YOU, yes YOU, can rehome YOUR horse. Things like job layoffs, foreclosures, even some illnesses tend to give you a fair amount of warning. This economy is not new. Not always, but most of the time, you have the ability to look out your window at the 6, 10, 12 or more horses in your pasture and think GEE, how will I feed them in 6 months? Start advertising NOW. You have the same access to Craigslist, Dreamhorse and other resources that I do. I am more than happy to help you, especially if you are trying to help yourself. But waiting until you have 5 days to be off the property, before calling for help, is not going to give ME much time to help YOU. At this point, it is NOT advisable to say “but I thought you were a rescue”. This will only cause that aforementioned eye twitchy thingy to come back.

If you are calling because you want to come pet the horsies, or show your grandkids the ponies – GREAT. But please just tell me that. I actually like these kind of visitors, really I do. We’ll mosey around and I will introduce you to every 4 legged critter on the place and explain in depth why you don’t want to start a rescue on your 100×100 lot in town. But PLEASE, don’t beg to come volunteer and bring the 4 screeching grandkids with no intention of lifting a hand. I don’t expect my volunteers to do anything I don’t on a daily basis. Yes, that includes, ew, shoveling poop. (Oh, and by the way, horses fart. Just warning you. I’ve come to realize this is a huge shock to people and I wouldn’t want your delicate sensibilities…uh…er…damaged.) But as you may have gathered from standing here for 30 minutes telling me about your brother Billy Bob – my phone doesn’t stop ringing. The horses don’t stop pooping. I would love to dedicate a whole day to you, but I schedule volunteers because I NEED HELP. Not because I need conversation. All I have to do is answer the phone to get that.

If you want to adopt, and are SERIOUS about adopting, please be ready, or at least close to it. If you’re moving and didn’t expect to find the love of your life today, then yeah, I’ll hold him for a week or two. Especially if I feel the fit is right. But if you absolutely positively MUST adopt Sparkle right away, it would be helpful if you mentioned that you have a shelter yet to build, fencing to replace, and a two week long vacation to take. This is not a boarding facility. I have horses on a mile long waiting list to come in. (Can’t you hear my phone ringing?!)

I am not your personal dumping ground. If your horse is old, sick, lame, in pain and you can’t make her better – there’s a pretty good chance I can’t either. Your inability to accept responsibility does not make ME the bad guy. Don’t even cop an attitude with me when I suggest humane euthanasia. And yes, I am still a rescue. Sometimes the only thing they need rescued from is YOU. But instead, I bite my tongue and endure your snide comments and wish you the best of luck. That night I’ll cry because I’m thinking about your poor old horse who aches with every step, who has a slight moment of panic every time she struggles to rise, who has known no other life than what she spent with you – and who you, her owner – will later dump at the auction because you couldn’t grow a pair and sit with her while she peacefully passed over. You know what? Screw you.

I’m not much different than any other rescue. Maybe a bit more opinionated at times. Most of us are run by a small handful of unpaid volunteers who want to feel like they are making a difference. We’ve been known to jump in the truck and haul the trailer 600 miles round trip in a day to save a bunch of orphan foals, then stay up most of the night bottle feeding them. We don’t anxiously sit by the phone waiting for that call to go pick up more horses because we WANT them, NEED them, because we get paid to do it (NO, we don’t get government funding and we’re not going to take away your right to own your livestock, get a grip!) nor do we intend to make MONEY off of them. (There’s that eye twitch again.) We do it because they needed help and no one else was stepping up.

So yeah, we call ourselves a rescue. So when you call US, can you keep these things in mind?



Special thanks to Monica Morais for bringing this to our attention!


About snarkyrider

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Posted on November 9, 2011, in Featured Rescues and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I love Darla!

  2. More people need to read this.
    It’s amazing how many people dump their problems on rescues.

  3. Very, very well written! More people need to realize what you guys go through on a daily basis. It is truly a thankless job except for knowing that you’re saving horses from a terrible fate and the satisfaction of making someone very happy by helping them find a new best friend. Other than that, it’s all work and little reward. Thanks to all the rescues that do that day in and day out!

  4. Thank you for sharing this! As someone who helps run a horse rescue on top of working and going to school this definitely hit home for me… We see this day in and day out. The part about not having the balls to sit there while your horse passes peacefully was what really struck it home. We have had two horses we had to put down recently because their owners dumped them at auction full of ulcers and infections, among other things. It is heartwrenching for us to have to do that and I wish people would just think first… These are not just things to us. We love each and every one that comes through and to have horses dumped on us that should be resting in peace is just awful.

  5. Kudos to you and all that you go through on a daily basis. And most especially for all of the horses you have ever or will every help.

  6. “At this point, it is NOT advisable to say “but I thought you were a rescue”. This will only cause that aforementioned eye twitchy thingy to come back.”

    Heh. Yeah. Nothing like calling people to ask for help, and then insulting them.

    Thanks for your insight into how this stuff actually works.

  7. No need to thank me, the more people who see this, the better! People need to take some responsibility for their actions and stop expecting everyone else to fix THEIR messes. Hehe, i still giggle everytime I read this, Darla totally rocks!

    Speaking of irresponsible people, just spent a few days at the Lusitano horse fair and boy did I wish I could have knocked some riders off their mounts! If you’re too drunk to walk in straight line, then you shouldn’t be on top of a horse! GAH! \end rant

  8. Plain and simple, people are cowards. These scenarios are all too common of which people look to pawn their hardship on someone else…just cowards without balls or heart.

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