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Hay Banks And Help For Horse Owners
 By Winniefield Park   •   7th Jan 2017   •   980 views   •   0 comments


Unbelievably, the fire is still burning near Fort McMurray, Alberta. You might remember that last summer, the entire city was evacuated, along with many family pets, including horses. The wildfire still smolders menacingly out in the wilderness, but thankfully no longer threatens any populated areas. The population of Fort McMurray is slowly getting back to normal. Horse owners have been receiving donations of tack and other equipment. One thing that can’t be easily recovered is the last season’s hay crop. But generous horse lovers have come to the rescue and have donated enough hay to get horse owners through the winners.

Related: Fort McMurray Horse Evacuation

This effort was led by the Alberta Equestrian Federation with a major contribution from Spruce Meadows Leg Up Foundation, a charitable foundation that raises money for families and communities in Alberta. Businesses and individuals also contributed, ensuring that the horses of Fort McMurray won’t experience hardship this winter. During emergencies like fire or flood, or when drought or other crop failure occurs, charitable foundations like this can come to the rescue of horses and their owners.

Most of us know about food banks and the important role they play in our communities. But did you know that there are horse food banks as well? Hay banks can ensure that those in the horse community hit by disaster, whether it be something like a fire or personal financial disaster are given some relief until they can look after themselves again. Some hay banks only provide feed, while others may provide other horse care services such as farrier and veterinary care.

Not all hay banks simply donate feed either. Some act more like a buying cooperative, buying hay and then making it available to horse owners at a reasonable price. With the ‘power of bulk buying,’ they can ensure that owners aren’t belabored by exceptionally high prices. They may not provide an entire season’s worth of hay. Some will only provide hay month by month.

To prevent anyone taking advantage of free or inexpensive hay or services, owners must prove they are trying to deal with their situation and have a strategy for getting back on track in situations of personal financial strife. No hay bank wants to support people who don’t have a good track record of looking after their animals in the first place. And, often periodic check-ups are required to ensure the good health of the animals, and the wise use of any donations.

Why ‘bale out’ horse owners? Through no fault of their own, like the victims of the Fort McMurray fire, and many others affected by floods and storms, families find themselves in dire straits. Being able to keep their horses preserves their way of life. Keeping horses with their owners also decreases the number of unwanted horses that of course could end up in the slaughterhouse pipeline. Those who are suffering a temporary financial setback don’t need another blow, especially kids for whom seeing a beloved pony being carted away may be very traumatic.

If you are interested in contributing to a hay bank there are many opportunities. Hay banks operate in most states and provinces. Some are run by their local council or federation. Others operate solely as a charitable organization. Donations are always welcome. Others will welcome good old sweat labor - the work needed to physically move hay and grain. Donations of grain and hay are often welcome.

Whether you wish to contribute or know someone who would benefit from a hay bank, the best place to find one local to you is your state or provincial horse council or federation. A web search of hay banks can help you find pages of links that can direct you to the hay bank nearby.
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