RUSH — As the COVID-19 pandemic worsens, local horse rescues are seeing a surge in surrenders.
"People who were starting to get back to work, starting to recover financially, having to give up their horses because there are no savings left and there's nothing they can do," said Carrie Terroux-Barett, Executive Director of The Colorado Horse Network. "
With the state shutting down again, Terroux-Barett says non-profits like The Colorado Horse Network are getting hit particularly hard.
"We've probably seen a 60 percent drop in our annual revenue as far as donations. So many non-profit sectors are being hit hard and a lot of the places that usually give grants and financial assistance are cutting back," said Terroux-Barett.
She says they're used to seeing neglected or abused horses, but it's not the case for the horses they're getting now.
"It's been very hard lately to see how many wonderful families have had to give up their horses because they can't afford them anymore," said Terroux-Barett. "So many people are coming from a drought-stricken summer where horses didn't have enough grass to start with and now we're going into winter and there's not going to be enough feed or hay."
The rescue has not only taken in horses from El Paso County but from all across the state.
"We are getting stretched thin because we're having to go all across the state. We'll be called out to the western slope one day then we'll be called down to Alamosa or Durango the next day. We've had horses surrounded this week from areas up in Wray, we've had horses surrendered here in El Paso County," said Terroux-Barett.
With winter approaching, they're encouraging families who are struggling to care for their horses to reach out to them for help now.
"Do everything you can to try and keep your horse in good condition for as long as you can, but if you know that you're not going to be able to make ends meet find your horse a home before it gets too bad. Even talking with the sheriff's department, they're preparing for a winter like no other just because of the financial situation," said Terroux-Barett.
With fewer donations and grants, she says "Giving Tuesday" is more important than ever this year, especially with more horses expected to be surrendered come winter.
"We are really needing as much support as we can get because we don't know what to expect this winter. It's going to be a scary year, we don't know how many horses we're going to see, we don't know how high feed prices will be and don't know how hard it's going to be to find hay," said Terroux-Barett. "If you give to the Facebook Giving Tuesday fundraiser, make sure it says giving Tuesday, then your donation could double."
Besides donating on Giving Tuesday, other ways to help are by fostering, donating hay, or new and used tack and equipment.