Horse Rescues Hard Pressed by Pandemic

During the COVID-19 crisis, equine rescues across the country are contending with dwindling supplies, support, and income. These rescues often rely on fundraising events such as open houses and adoption fees as revenue sources, and require dedicated staff and volunteers to care for the horses, train the horses in preparation for adoption, and help with the overall maintenance that keeps the facilities running smoothly. In order to stave off the spread of the virus and limit public interaction, many equine rescues have closed their doors, and volunteers who would normally assist in caring for the animals, cleaning stalls, and maintaining the grounds are unable to visit.

AWI has been assisting these rescues through the Homes for Horses Coalition, which AWI co-founded with the Humane Society of the United States in 2007 to end horse slaughter and other forms of equine cruelty and to provide care and homes to horses in need. Today, the network has grown to over 500 member organizations. AWI continues to co-lead the coalition, which has been providing emergency aid to rescues and sanctuaries in the wake of the crisis, particularly in areas hardest hit by the pandemic and where supply chains have been most disrupted. Funding has focused primarily on ensuring that rescues can cover the costs of veterinary care, hay, and feed. (Hay and feed alone can run several thousand dollars a week for facilities that house dozens of equines.) To date, 18 rescues in 14 states have received grants.

In May, the Homes for Horses Coalition was slated to host its annual conference—an event that brings together animal advocates from across the United States to learn about a wide range of issues affecting equine welfare. Funding for the cancelled conference has been reallocated in its entirety to provide direct financial assistance to equine rescues and shelters in an effort to help them weather this storm.

To learn more about the Homes for Horses Coalition, please visit