EQUUS Foundation Releases Report on its High Performing Equine Charities

The EQUUS Foundation is pleased to announce the release of a study by Dr. Karin Bump that was commissioned by the EQUUS Foundation to examine the sustainability, equine welfare and business-related performance indicators of the equine charities that attained the EQUUS Foundation Guardian designation in 2022.

As the EQUUS Foundation is the only national animal welfare charity in the U.S. that has the dual mission of protecting America’s horses from peril and strengthening the horse-human bond, the study offers a one-of-its-kind perspective of equine charities involved with ETS (Equine Transition Services), EAS (Equine Assisted Services), and Community Outreach.

ETS are services involving the rescue, rehabilitation, retraining, re-homing, and retirement (sanctuary) of America’s at-risk, transitioning, aged and infirm horses. EAS and Community Outreach are services involving equine-human interactions to elevate the lives of people with and without special needs — the distinction being that EAS is conducted by credentialed service providers.

Key Findings:

 The equine charities approved by the EQUUS Foundation as Guardians in 2022 demonstrated an unwavering commitment to equine welfare, operational transparency, financial sustainability, community support, and effective leadership with strong and active boards. These charities are located across the United States. These charities have been in business ranging from four to 84 years with 81% in business for longer than 10 years.

In addition to the length of operation and geographic locations, factors studied included herd size, breeds, ages of equines, how equines were acquired, whether the focus was ETS, EAS, Community Outreach or a combination and whether the facility where programs were conducted was owned, leased, or used by the charity. Also studied were business performance indicators and the importance of liquidity.

Importance of Donations of Goods, Services, and Volunteer Time

These equine charities not only rely on donations, but also donated goods and services, including volunteer labor, feed, bedding, supplies, transportation, manure removal – as well as the services of veterinarians, farriers, dentists, and trainers.

“A major area of concern impacting the current and future sustainability of these charities is their reliance on volunteer staffing,” reported Dr. Karin Bump. “Loss of volunteer staffing (in part or in whole) would likely be devastating to the majority of the operations in this dataset. Given this, volunteer recruitment, training, oversight, scheduling, support and recognition is critical.”

Capacity Considerations

The majority of these equine charities (78%) have the physical capacity to take in some additional horses. Together, they could serve as many as 1,000 additional equines – about 10 equines per organization – if additional resources were made available for equine care and oversight through donations and volunteer staffing. For ETS charities, since the equines are generally re-homed in less than one year – sometimes 3 to 6 months, there is the possibility that they could take on more equines within the year.

According to data collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2023, there were 20,383 equines transported across the border to be slaughtered. If the border were closed to equine transport of slaughter-bound horses, equine charities would be immediately faced to address the first month of equines in transport. Of the monthly average of 1,700 equines, it is likely that a fair number of the equines would need to be humanely euthanized. Often the reason why these equines end up in the slaughter pipeline is that the owner is unable or unwilling to pay for the equine’s continued care, including the cost of euthanasia. Not only would the number of equines in need of re-homing decrease, but also the one-time cost to euthanize is considerably less than the cost involved with re-homing the equine.

According to the United Horse Coalition, there are over 900 501I3 registered equine welfare organizations providing equine transition services in the US. Using 78% of maximum capacity found in this study, that could mean that there may be the physical capacity to take in 9,000 additional equines – but only again, if additional resources were available for care and oversight. When taking into consideration the capacity of individuals or EAS charities to meet the needs, the capacity could be larger than 9,000 equines.

Going forward, if the border were closed to equine transport of slaughter-bound horses, the burden would fall on the owner to seek out other opportunities and assistance locally if needed – saving these horses from the inhumane treatment they face in the slaughter pipeline.

“While it is encouraging that these charities have the physical capacity to take on more equines, what they don’t have and need is funding,” said Lynn Coakley, EQUUS Foundation President.

Only equine charities that undergo a rigorous review of their business and equine welfare practices by the EQUUS Foundation to attain the Guardian designation are eligible to receive financial support from the EQUUS Foundation.

“The future welfare of America’s horses is both promising and challenging. This study reinforces the critical need for donations, now more than ever, from horse lovers who care about where horses go next and that donors can have confidence in supporting equine charities that have attained the Guardian designation,” continued Coakley. “The more support that these qualified charities receive, the more opportunities there are for horses to thrive.”

The report is available for download at: equusfoundation.org/resources

ABOUT EQUUS FOUNDATION: The EQUUS Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity established in 2002, is the only national animal welfare charity in the United States 100% dedicated to protecting America’s horses from peril and strengthening the bond between people and horses. Donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Contact the EQUUS Foundation, Inc., at 168 Long Lots Road, Westport, CT 06880, Tele: (203) 259-1550, E-Mail: mail@equusfoundation.org, Website: equusfoundation.org.

View release and photos online here

Contact: Lynn Coakley

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