O’Brien says if you are looking for a healthy ranch horse, those are being auctioned off as well, and the prices are lower now than they have been in years. But he also warns that price alone isn’t a good reason to buy a horse unless you can adequately care for it.

That’s also the message from Sandy Grambort at Fort Worth’s Humane Society of North Texas. She says the Humane Society has taken all the horses and donkeys it can take and is now working with volunteers who can provide temporary stable and also working with distressed horse owners by helping them to get out-of-state hay.

 

“We receive grant funding and one of the projects where we are stretched at the moment is dealing with the horse and donkey crisis caused by the drought. We just can’t take any more animals, but we have been helping pay for hay,” Grambort reports.

She says many horse owners have simply given away horses in an effort to cull their numbers.

“In spite of banning equine slaughter for consumption in Texas, a lot of horses are being auctioned off and still head to the slaughterhouses in Mexico. It’s a horrible practice to many, but commercial slaughters did bring relief in the past during times of industry crisis, like the current drought,” she added.

Grambort says the dilemma Texas horse owners are facing is being unable to acquire or afford adequate forage and in some cases to have adequate water to keep the animals alive. “And euthanasia and disposal of the carcass can cost as much $500 an animal.

“I’ve seen large round bales of out-of-state hay selling for $145 over the last week, and horse owners, especially those with multiple horses, are suffering through the same sluggish economy as the rest of us. Everybody is asking what can be done, and no one seems to have a good answer,” she said.

Grambort says she believes the Texas Department of Agriculture will need to step in and provide some plan or form of assistance at some point, especially if problems continue to mount. But with a freeze on state budgets and constant pressure for more spending cuts, she admits that holding out hope state aid will come is little more than a long shot.