Friday, February 27, 2015

Off the radar, but now back and ready to rock and roll!

Over the past 5 months there has been so many changes at HHT we have been unable to keep up with our blog. But, we are back and excited to share this time with you once again.

We'll start with some updates and starting in March we'll hopefully be back on track.

First off, please join us as we bid farewell to Sonja Cowsert. Sonja has been with HHT for many years and has held many important position within our organization such as Barn Manager, Equine Manager, Field Agent and Development/Assistant ED. Sonja had also been our main "Blogger" and her passion for HHT and the horses we serve will be greatly missed. We wish her only the best as she moves on to pursue new endeavors.

Secondly, please join us as we welcome Ben Goulding as he steps into the roll as our part-time Barn Manager. This winter weather has been keeping him very busy, but we are sure he has everything handled.

Another new addition to our team for 2015 is Mary Beth Roberts. She has stepped into the roll as Development Director. We are expecting great things ahead with her onboard.  Welcome to both!

HHT ended the year once again exceeding our expectations. HHT volunteers cared for 149 horses, making this our busiest year yet.

HHT Volunteers are the heart of this organizations and we appreciate all of the time they share with our horses. In 2014 volunteers donated 10,000 hours of volunteer service. Thank you!

2015 looks to be a VERY exciting year, so please stay tuned!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Myths debunked.....

After speaking with community members at numerous public events recently, I realized that there are persistent misconceptions about this organization's purpose. Hopefully, the following will help debunk some of those myths.

We are "Animal Cops".
 Horse Haven is an equine welfare organization and as such has no legal authority in the State of Tennessee or anywhere else in this country. Tennessee law states that the only two entities that can find probable cause in a suspected equine neglect or abuse case are a University or Tennessee Agricultural Extension Agent or a licensed veterinarian. County officials, typically either the Sheriff's department or Animal Control Unit, have to consult with one of the two before obtaining a search and seizure warrant. In order to receive this warrant, the deputy or animal control officer has to explain and document the suspected criminal activity and present it to a judge or magistrate. Only after probable cause has been found by either a vet or UT ag agent and a judge or magistrate agrees that there is cause and a warrant is issued, does Horse Haven become involved. Horse Haven doesn't get to decide which animals, if any, are removed from somebody's property. When county officials call us for help, it is our job to safely remove the animals from the situation, transport them carefully, get them the veterinary help they need and maintain them as evidence in a court case. We often compare ourselves to tow truck drivers and impound lots.

We make a profit on adoption fees.
We keep very good records of our expenses because we are accountable to our supporters and the IRS. Over the last three years, Horse Haven spent an average of $550 per horse while in our care. We recouped an average of $111 in adoption fees per horse. That's a loss of $439 per horse. Because we do take care of any and all seized horses, donkeys, ponies or mules, we don't get to evaluate them for soundness, train-ability or personality prior to intake. Some horses are very old, some are very young, some have never been handled and some have medical or behavioral issues that make them more difficult to place in adoptive homes. Our adoption fees range from $0 to $500 to reflect that challenge.

We sell horses to slaughter.
Due to the fact that we do not pick and choose horses, sometimes we have to have a horse euthanized. The animal may have a medical issue that is financially prohibitive to treat or correct. Or the horse's behavioral problem cannot be corrected with training and the animal becomes a danger to itself or others. These are very difficult calls to make but the alternative of sending an animal to auction to eventually end up south or north of the border at a slaughter plant, is unacceptable to us. A humane, quick death in familiar surroundings has to be better than a long, crowded and scary trip that ends with a bolt to the head. If we had unlimited resources and space available, there wouldn't be a need to make those heart breaking decisions. But we have to manage our funds carefully to be able to maximize our impact on the largest number of horses possible.

We take in horses surrendered by their owners.
Life can change on a dime. Horse owners lose jobs, get divorced or have to move. Relatives pass away and leave a horse. Horses age and are no longer useful. Children grow up and aren't interested in the pony any more. We sympathize but we cannot take in every horse that has fallen on hard times. We try to help as much as we can with our Community Programs. "Studs to Buds" helps with the cost of gelding that unruly colt. "Helping Hooves" covers the cost of hay and feed for a few months for qualified owners experiencing  financial hardships due to job loss, divorce or a death in the family. "The Ultimate Act of Compassion" helps qualified owners with the cost of euthanasia and disposal. In exchange however, we do expect the owners to try to help themselves. We can give advice on how to find a home for an unwanted horse or help an owner  feel better about euthanizing the 35 year old blind horse with severe arthritis. But we cannot do it for them.

We charge Tennessee counties for our service.
Horse Haven provides its services at no cost to the counties. We will assist county officials in any way possible, from picking up and maintaining the animals, to testifying in court. There are no contracts in place with any county in the state. Sometimes we receive court ordered restitution. More often we are stuck with the vet, feed and farrier bills accumulated during a particularly drawn out case. Even if restitution is ordered, it is generally received in small monthly installments.  We do not receive any local, state or federal money. Our support comes from our many supporters from all over the country. Generous and kind people that understand our mission and see the difference we make in the lives of the horses that pass through our facility on their way to a better life.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me directly at
If you are interested in supporting our mission and donating to the cause, please visit our website and click  the "donate" button. You may also want to check out our adoptable horses as well as our event calender. If you'd like to come visit, Adoption Day and Open House is this Saturday, September 13 from 11am-2pm.
We'd love to meet you!

Friday, August 22, 2014

There's no such thing as a free horse......really, there isn't!

With the large number of cheap and free horses available, it is important to remember that the purchase price is but a very small fraction of the overall cost of horse ownership over the life time of the animal. Because of advances in veterinary medicine, horses living well into their thirties are no longer the exception. As they age, they may require more, rather than less care. Turning the old gelding or mare out to pasture to enjoy a well deserved retirement may not be an option if he or she can't maintain adequate body condition on pasture alone. Older horses may literally outlive their teeth and often require a special diet in order to maintain weight.
The following is a list of basic expenses that come with the joy and pleasure of horse ownership.

HOUSING. If you have property and an adequate and safe shelter, you need to consider the cost for upkeep of your facility. Pastures need maintenance. There is the mowing in the summer time, seeding and fertilizing in the spring. The price tag for these items depend greatly on the size of your pastures and your location. Shelters and fencing need upkeep and repairs as well.
If you don't have your own facility, you will need to board your horse. Horse Boarding can range anywhere from $100 for basic pasture board to $1000 or more for boarding that may include training or lessons.

FEED. Many boarding barns include this item in their monthly fee. Make sure you know how much hay and feed your horse will receive. If the quality and/or quantity is not sufficient for your horse, you may have to pay extra. Hay prices vary greatly across the county. Here in East Tennessee a decent bale of grass hay costs between $3 and $6. A bag of quality feed costs around $17. The average horse requires approximately 2% of it's weight in roughage (hay or pasture) and 0.5% of it's body weight in concentrates (feed). For the average 1000 pound horse, that translates to 20 pounds of hay or pasture and about 5 pounds of feed.

FARRIER CARE. Horses need consistent farrier care. Even barefoot horses need to be trimmed every 6-8 weeks. Most farriers charge $30-$40 for a trim and $80-$200 for a set of shoes.

VETERINARY CARE. If you are lucky enough to not have any mishaps. accidents or other medical emergencies, a yearly vet visit is still needed. Between the farm call, vaccinations, possible teeth floating and Coggins testing, you can expect to spend $200-$500 annually on veterinary expenses.

EQUIPMENT. Depending on your plans for your horse and your horses' living situation, you may need nothing more than a halter, brush and a hoof pick. If you are planning on riding the horse, you will need tack for your horse and appropriate attire for yourself. You may want to go trial riding with your friends, in which case you will need a truck and trailer. This is the most unpredictable budget item. While there are a few things that we actually need to care for the horse, there are so many wonderful accessories that we would like to have.

Horse ownership is a big commitment, emotionally and financially. At the same time, it is one of the most rewarding investments I have made.

If you are interested in starting your journey of horse ownership with a Horse Haven horse, please check out the list of available horses on our website. Our Adoption Committee will be happy to help!


Friday, August 15, 2014

Happy Friday and Happy Endings

Another Friday and another Horse Haven success story! Strut, who has been featured on this blog repeatedly, has found his person! It was love at first sight. Maggie and her mom came to check him out at the end of June and three days later, he went home.
 Strut, who was renamed "Apache" has been with his new family for six weeks. Last weekend he got to go camping for the first time and he did great!

                                           He even jumped a few obstacles. What a brave boy!

                                                    Happy Trails, Maggie and Apache!

If you're looking for your "Apache", please check out our adoptable horses! If you would like to donate to support Horse Haven's mission, please click on the "donate" button on our website. Or you can reach us by mail at PO Box 22841, Knoxville TN 37933

Friday, May 9, 2014

Here's to Happy Endings

Horse Haven has cared for over 700 horses over the past 15 years.  Some of them stayed with us for a long time, some for just a little while.  But every horse leaves a little bit behind when it moves on to it's new home.
Some have an impact on our volunteers by providing a learning experience. Some provide challenges to our staff with either a medical or behavioral puzzle that requires solving . Every horse that enters through our doors teaches somebody something.  And every horse that leaves here takes a little piece of our collective heart with it.

 While Horse Haven's ultimate goal is to find permanent, loving homes for the animals that come to us from abuse and neglect situations, it is bittersweet for our staff and volunteers to see a horse leave.  This was the case just today when Minnie Pearl was adopted by Heidi.

The fact that Heidi is a regular volunteer at Horse Haven and will keep us posted on this sweet girl makes this particular adoption more sweet than bitter.  It's a Happy Ending for all involved!

If you would like to support the service Horse Haven provides for horses in need, please click the pay pal button on our website.
And stay tuned for next week's edition of "As the Barn turns....."

Monday, May 5, 2014

Strut under saddle!

Saturday was a big day for our foster kid. His winter coat is gone and he is now a beautiful, shiny, liver chestnut color.  We already knew that he stood patiently for the farrier and for grooming.  He was responsive in the round pen.  It was time for somebody to get in the saddle.

Strut stood quietly when I tacked him up. He didn't flinch at the pad or the girth.

When I bridled him, he had no objections to the eggbutt snaffle bit and held it quietly in his mouth. We did have to let the bridle out a total of 4 holes. He has a large head.
We took him into the round pen and after a little lounging and flexing, it was time to leg up.

Initially, Strut was a little apprehensive. But he soon relaxed.


CJ, the young trainer that evaluated Strut for us, felt that he may have had some training in the past. He "sort of" knows how to neck rein and he "sort of" knows how to move off leg pressure. He does have a lovely, big trot and he carries himself very well. He did not ask him to canter that day. We're saving the canter for next time, when he graduates to the big arena.

Below is a picture of Strut when he was picked up by Horse Haven after receiving a call from the Oliver Springs Police Department. This is what he looked like four short months ago. And while his training still needs improvement, this wonderful gelding has come a long way already.

If you would like to support Horse Haven's mission of helping horses like Strut by donating or adopting, please visit our website as well as our Face Book page.
And stay tuned to "As the Barn turns ...." to find out where Strut's journey leads him.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Strut Update....week 11

What a difference 3 weeks can make.

Strut continues to fill out and now weighs over 900 pounds according to our weight tape. He still has a little shedding out to do, but the coat we're exposing more and more of with every grooming session is beautiful. It appears that he is actually a liver chestnut and not just a plain sorrel. He's also starting to realize that the food will not stop coming and he's becoming more trusting every day.

This Sunday, Strut will be evaluated under saddle. We're very excited to find out what this boy knows.

Stay tuned to next week's blog on  "As the Barn turns" to get the scoop on Strut's evaluation.

If you'd like to support Horse Haven's mission of helping horses like Strut, please visit our website at