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What Type Of Shelter Do Horses Require?

Dear Porky and Buddy,

Maybe you can help me. I know you usually give advice about dogs and cats, but my question is about horses.

I have been driving by a small pasture where several horses seem to be living and I can’t see that they have any shelter at all and they seem to be standing in mud all the time.

I can see that they have hay and water but it’s cold and nasty out there!

Are there any laws saying that horses have to have shelter during the winter? Should I call the police?


Dear Christy,

Thanks for being so observant about the animals you see. We appreciate  the conscientious efforts of kind-hearted people all around the county who go out of their way to get involved with what they think might be an animal problem that needs fixing.

We had to check with our own veterinarian about the care of horses during the winter. We like to be all snuggly and warm ourselves, but it turns out that horses really are pretty rugged and most of them prefer
being outside much of the time.

Think of all those old Westerns that you saw as a kid.  They should, however, have at least a three-sided lean-to type shelter with a roof, and with the open side facing away from the wind.

That is the recommendation of the major horse care groups as well.  Mud is a problem for all large animal owners this time of year and it is not ideal, but it will probably not hurt them as long as they can get out of it temporarily.

Unfortunately, the laws in New York that govern the care of animals do not contain any specific shelter requirement concerning most animals.

You must provide “sustenance,” i.e. food and water, but the only specific shelter requirement pertains to dogs only. So even though these horses are not in an ideal situation, it is not against the law.

That said, there is nothing wrong with being a (polite) busy body on behalf of animals. So if you know these people or if you know someone else who knows them, or even if you don’t, there’s no harm in initiating a conversation (not an argument) with them about their horses.

Maybe they recognize the need for better shelter and are making plans. Maybe they could use some help or some suggestions about where to find materials.

Maybe they’ll be offended.

But at least they will have heard your concerns and they will know that someone is watching out for these
animals. The more people watch out for animals, the better off we’ll all be.

Or if you are uncomfortable with that approach, call the Oswego County Humane Society to report what you are seeing and one of their Large Animal Assistance Project volunteers will contact the horse owners and assess the situation.  The LAAP offers advice on animal care, temporary nutrition assistance to eligible owners, and help with finding new homes for large animals, usually horses, if that is the best solution.

In these tough financial times, the care of a horse, or any other pet, can be overwhelming and sometimes just a kind offer to help out is all that is needed.

Another way to help is to adopt a homeless pet from the Humane Society and you can do that on March 10 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Tractor Supply Company, Route 104 East in Oswego.

Sometimes we have dogs for adoption, but we always have kittens and cats.

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County. Our office is located at 265 W. First  St., Oswego, NY. Phone (315) 207-1070. Email: ochscontact@hotmail.com

Website: www.oswegohumane.org

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