When horses were seized from owners for possible neglect, the cost of housing and caring for the animals used to fall on the law enforcement agency making the seizure.
In Colorado, Harmony Equine Center near Castle Rock takes seized horses. When a horse first arrives on the property, it is given a red tag that indicates the horse’s case is still pending in court and it is not available for adoption. Red tag horses are quarantined in a separate barn for several weeks to insure they are not carrying contagious diseases.
Unless veterinary care is needed, the staff and volunteers can only feed, water, and monitor the weight of these horses. Many arrive with a body condition score of a one or two, meaning that horse has not only lost its fat reserves, its vertebrae, ribs and hips are clearly visible. In comparison a normal BCS score on the Henneke scale is a four where ribs are the only bones that are slightly visible or a five where the ribs are not visible, but can be felt.
By only giving food and water to the horse, the center can provide documentation that if the horse had been given food it would have been in better condition.
Owners must appear in court within 10 days of the animal’s seizure. They can pay the cost of rehabilitation or they can forfeit the animal.
Once a horse has been surrendered, the facility gives the horse a green tag and moves it to training barn. Trainers and volunteers work with these horses to regain muscle condition and learn to be handled by humans. The goal is to adopt these horses out to loving homes where they will be cared for the rest of their lives.
Over the summer the facility brought in 58 horses that had been turned out on pasture and left to themselves. This group included 30 stallions, 20 mares and eight geldings. These horses hadn’t been touched or worked with. Ten babies were born from these mares and many are still at the center and available for adoption.
Adoption fees range from $100 to $500 per horse. However, the placement of these animals involves a home visit from one of the investigators and a sit down interview with the trainer to make sure the horse and adopter are a good match.
Watch a video about Outlaw and his recovery at the Harmony Equine Center.