Is This Horse Really Abandoned?

Is This Horse Really Abandoned?

05 March 2011

That is the question many people around the country need to ask themselves many times before assuming no one is looking for the horse they have found on the road, in their pasture or tied to thier trailer.

I found the following question on Yahoo. I have worked many cases where we found the owners to so called "abandoned" horses. I hope you learn from my answer that not every horse wandering the road alone is dropped off. Sometimes they really do "just get out."

Question: Random horse appeared in the pasture?
So I know this is going to sound crazy but someone just dropped a horse off in my pasture I am guessing over night. I walked out this morning and this QH mare is just grazing. Never seen the horse in my life. I reported it to the authorities and no one has reported a missing or stolen horse. Not sure what to do here. She's friendly, so I have put her in one of my stalls until the authorities find something. But what happens if they don't? What will they do with her if I don't offer to keep her? Just curious...has this ever happened to anyone?

Answer: Don’t give up looking for the owner!

Did you check to see if the horse has a microchip or any other type of traceable equine identification?

Just because the horse has not found an owner yet does not mean there is not someone looking for the horse. We work with many cases of found horses each year and many of these thought to be "abandoned" horses are not abandoned at all. We have seen people searching for their horses call the very same authorities (law enforcement, animal control, and humane society) to ask if anyone had found their horse that the people call to see if someone lost a horse. Both are often given the same “no” answer.

In one case a frantic horse owner was told “No, we have not found a horse,” after calling animal control to see if her lost horse had been picked up only to have Stolen Horse International get involved and find out days later that they had the horse in one of their foster homes before she even made the call to animal control. She called every day and was given the same answer. Why? I am guessing that it was a breakdown in communications.

Here is one of the local news stories. They did not report the story that really needed to be told.  

Another case a horse and a donkey were missing and two county sheriff’s office, state police and two different animal control offices were contacted by the finder and the owner reporting the loss and asking if anyone had found the pair. In all of the agencies the owner and the good Samaritan were not united until Stolen Horse International put two and two together through our Alert network.

My point?  Not all of these horses are abandoned. They may just be escapees who are victims of bad communications like the ones above.  This happens all across the country.  Some of the people who work in the jobs that we trust to help us in these situations fail us often.

Sometimes the horse are stolen and dropped out in other places. They are not likely to find their way home without a lot of help.

And the yes, sometimes they are dropped off and abandoned but I hope not as often as you once thought. I live in NC so I am giving you four of several cases of lost horses in the past two years where the horses were lost and found and communications broke down. Without our intervention everyone would have thought these horses were dropped out too.

Holly and Mylo



It takes more work to find the owner than to sit back and let the authorities do it for you. When you do find the owner the payoff, and I am not talking about money, if far greater than you can ever imagine.

Now go to work and try a little harder to find that poor animals owner. Someone may be missing them tonight.

Debi Metcalfe
Stolen Horse International, Inc


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