There are all types of equine management facilities, from state-of-the-art complexes with individual stalls and caretakers for each horse to more basic operations where horses are pastured year-round with access to simple run-ins for shelter. Depending on the resources available, including acreage, quantity and quality of forage, staff levels, management preferences, numbers of equines, and a variety of other factors (including financial considerations), management practices can vary widely. However, with a sound knowledge of equine management, good planning and some creativity, equines can be kept healthy and happy without spending too much money.
Caring for a horse or other equine (the broader term of equine is used throughout this document) is a significant, time consuming, and long-term commitment not to be entered into lightly. No organization or facility should house more equines than can be managed with available resources, particularly where the health and condition of the equines and sanitation of the facility are concerned. Taking in more animals than can reasonably be cared for endangers the welfare of the animals and their caretakers.
Equine rescue and retirement facilities must have good working relationships with local licensed veterinarians and should consult with them as needed on various matters, including routine health maintenance, emergency veterinary care, and the evaluation of incoming equines. Facilities also should have good working relationships with local farriers. Forging a relationship with local law enforcement, humane organizations, and other equine rescue and retirement facilities is also encouraged.
Telephone numbers for veterinarians, farriers and other professional service providers should be prominently displayed at the facility in case of an emergency. Written documentation on matters such as feeding, schedules and medications should be kept in a central location so that more than one person is aware of and has access to the standard operating procedures. Developing and practicing an emergency preparedness plan, including an evacuation routine for both people and animals, is also highly recommended.
These guidelines, while applicable to general equine management, are designed especially for use by non-profit equine rescue and retirement facilities. While not exhaustive, they offer basic parameters for operating such a facility. In addition, any facility or individual keeping equines must comply with all relevant federal, state and local laws and zoning ordinances.