T.R.E.E.S. Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary


by Julie McClanahan-Chiang

For many years I have seen the need for an organization like Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary. Having loved and worked around horses, mules, and burros for more than thirty years, I have been aware, all too often, of the poor treatment of equines in their senior years. Many times the guardians of these senior horses and burros labor under the misconception that a happy retirement means banishment to a back field. I have met several older horses condemned to this sad fate by well meaning but misinformed caretakers. Proper shelter, good nutrition, regular vet and farrier visits are critical to a senior equine’s quality and length of life. Seniors also need mental stimulation to maintain a happy outlook on life. You wouldn’t want to be separated from friends and family when your working days are done. Neither do our equine companions. Equines are herd animals by nature and need companionship to feel safe and happy.

 Nova - 27 year old Thoroughbred mare
The TREES organization is working to become an information center to help people learn proper care for older equines.  In addition, Traveller's Rest will provide sanctuary for older equines that have been forgotten, neglected or abused. TREES hopes to educate current and prospective equine owners on the life long commitment that is undertaken when they bring a horse, mule, or burro into their lives. Being the guardian of an equine companion is a long term and expensive commitment.  Because of advances in nutrition and vet care available today many horses, mules, and burros live well into their thirties and the age of forty is possible. In the hopes of assisting people that do make this life long commitment, TREES will strive to offer current information on proper care for equines with emphasis on the special needs of older equines.
By supporting TREES you can begin to change the sad opinion that old horses are “useless”.  It is a sad fact that every year in the United States that million of horses, mules, and burros are labeled “useless”. Such a label condemns these poor equines to the terrifying end of being auctioned to slaughterhouses where their only value is as food for human consumption. Through education we can help stop the neglect and slaughter of older equines that accompanies the opinion that old equines are “useless”.
Mahatma Ghandi said one of my favorite quotes concerning the humane treatment of animals. He said, “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated”.   This may sound like a lofty goal - to create a world where all creatures have value - but it can be done in small steps. You can take one of these small steps by:
  • helping to educate owners of older horses who appear to be receiving inappropriate care.  Many times neglect is due to lack of education and the owners are very willing to learn new feeding and management techniques.  Help keep as many seniors as possible healthy, happy, and at home with their families.
  • informing local animal control officers or humane investigators when owners appear to be deliberately and uncaringly neglecting or abusing horses of any age.
  • adopting an older horse from a local equine rescue facility to be a companion for your working equine.
  • continuing to enter your senior horses (if they are fit for the work) in shows, organized trail rides, or other events where spectators can see that "useless" is not attached to a particular age.
  • providing support for the tender loving care that the residents of TREES deserve and receive in their twilight years.
  • letting your own equine elders know that they have always been, and will continue to be, very valuable parts of your life.
Objectives and Purposes

  • To promote the humane treatment of elder equine through education and awareness programs for the general public as well as the equine community
  • to provide information on care of elderly equine, assisting owners in properly maintaining older animals through retirement
  • to support municipal and court efforts to enforce humane treatment and animal control laws
  • to rescue and rehabilitate abused or neglected equine
  • to provide for the lifetime care of elderly equine
  • and to place eligible program equine in permanent adoptive homes