Helping the Helpers: What You Need to Know Before You Volunteer at a Horse Rescue

People who care about horses and want to help decrease the unwanted horse population would do well to volunteer at a horse rescue or sanctuary. Helping the people who are working hands-on to find good homes for unwanted horses will help the industry tremendously to reduce this problem. “Lessons about the Unwanted Horse,” from the Animal Welfare Council, offers options for “hands-on helping” in its lesson: Well Run versus Well Intentioned: The Measure of a Horse Rescue. The information is suitable for individuals as well as for leaders of youth horse programs.

The lesson includes a list of questions that a person contemplating volunteering should expect the rescue facility owner or manager to be able to answer; the activities in the lesson guide the learner through relevant vocabulary to use later in field exercises that range from volunteering to fund-raising. But the lesson goes further, giving in-depth coverage of the rescue and sanctuary challenges that the wise volunteer will want to know about: status of the U.S. horse rescue industry; descriptions of facility types; questions to ask before donating to a rescue or sanctuary; ways to assist rescues and sanctuaries; public entities that are accountable in dealing with unwanted horses.

The Animal Welfare Council is offering the entire six lesson series (including Well Run versus Well Intentioned: The Measure of a Horse Rescue) at no cost through its website; the series is downloadable either as a package or in parts, at Each lesson includes goals, background information, a teaching outline, and resources for further study, plus student activities meant to underscore the lesson in various entertaining, lively ways. The underlying message reinforced in all six lessons is the vital importance of conscious, responsible horse ownership.

Based on current research by acknowledged industry experts, the curriculum is suitable for use in youth activity settings such as 4-H, Girl or Boy Scouts, or Pony Club as well as in traditional classrooms and home school programs. Lessons are designed for the 10-12 age group, but may be easily modified for older students, parents or other interested adults. Each lesson is aligned with stated Common Core State Standards and may be used to teach such skills as mathematics, writing, vocabulary building, reading comprehension, civics, understanding statistics, and more. Go to and download your copy today.

Animal Welfare Council members support the use of animals in recreation, entertainment, industry and sports. The organization is dedicated to advancing the responsible and humane use of animals in these activities. For more information about the AWC, visit

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