Horse owners seek rescue help as feed prices climb

TULALIP — Horse owners are feeling the same pinch as grocery store customers with rising costs affecting alfalfa and hay as well as wheat.

In recent months, more people are asking to leave their horses with the Equine Rescue Association — a nonprofit group that shelters horses that have been abused, neglected, injured or just no longer fit into their owners’ lives, said Vel Moore, who runs the organization.

The horse owners have been citing the costs of keeping the animals, including feed, veterinarian bills and gasoline, Moore said.

“They just don’t keep the extra horses anymore, because it’s just too much money,” she said. “These people have to figure out how to save their horses.”

Moore has had to turn down most of the requests because the Equine Rescue Association is already caring for 29 horses and its stalls are full, she said.

Moore said she gets calls from around the state. She refers them to other rescue operations, most of which are full now as well, she said.

The Equine Rescue Association operates on land owned by the Marysville School District at 2415 116th St. NE on the Tulalip Indian Reservation. The district discontinued its agricultural program on the property at the end of the 2006-07 school year, right about the time the horse group was evicted from its former property nearby when the property was sold. The group leases its current parcel from the school district for a nominal fee.

Moore said the group’s overall expenses including utilities are about $3,500 per month. It survives on donations from individuals and from lesson fees, but the donations tend to be uneven.

The group is grateful to have a home but the cost increases that are hitting horse owners are hitting the rescue operation as well, Moore said. Hay, for instance, has increased nearly 30 percent the past two years and costs the group $405 per week, she said.

“Every person who has a horse faces these problems,” Moore said.

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