Horse and animal advocates celebrate National Help a Horse Day annually on April 26th. It’s a national celebration founded by the ASPCA to raise awareness for abused and neglected horses across the United States. The ASPCA encourages equine rescues and sanctuaries to join their efforts by hosting an event highlighting horses and the work you do.

Equine Sanctuaries just like yours host Help a Horse Day events each year. Organizing an event is a great way to connect with your local community, increase awareness, and generate more money to aid in your daily mission. We’ve put together a list of necessary tasks to assure your event goes off without a hitch.

  1. Recruit an event planning committee.

Planning an event requires time and as a Director, your time is limited. Recruit volunteers to be part of the Help a Horse Day planning committee. These individuals will be responsible for planning, researching, and keeping you up to date on the event progress. The committee also becomes the go-to group for questions from other volunteers, sponsors, and attendees.


Assign each member an important role like sponsors, marketing, contract negotiations, and public relations.


  1. Decide on your goal.

Meet with the event planning committee to determine what your goals are for the Help a Horse Day event. Do you want to recruit more volunteers? Do you want to raise money? Do you want to educate community members on certain horses in your care?


Each goal requires different types of events and audience members. It is important your committee sets these first to make the rest of the event planning process seamless.


  1. Brainstorm event ideas.

What type of event do you want to host? Possible events include tours, mini-education sessions, picnics, or an outdoor dinner and auction. If you’re looking to increase awareness of your mission, hosting mini-classes on what you do paired with tours of the sanctuary will be more valuable than a dinner/auction.


  1. Research costs.

Have each committee member contact caterers, rental companies, speakers, and other businesses like DJ’s and photographers for event proposals. It’s a good goal to request two to three proposals from each category so you can compare and make the best choice.


  1. Put together a budget.

After you know how much your plan costs, it’s time to put together a budget. Include expenses in the budget as well as sponsorship and fundraising goals associated with the event.

  1. Create a call for sponsors.

A call for sponsors is similar to a donation drive but focused on businesses in your local community. Design three to five options including costs and benefits so businesses can pick one that best matches their budget.


  1. Contact your insurance agent.

Call your insurance agent to make sure you have the right insurance coverage in place. Some general liability policies include event coverage while others don’t. If your insurance doesn’t, you can purchase special event insurance to protect your equine sanctuary.


  1. Connect with the media.

Create a press release and send to local media channels including news and radio stations. The more press you get, the greater the turnout will be.


  1. Advertise on social media.

Get your community excited about the event on social media. Generating a buzz online is the least expensive way to gain awareness and attendees at the event.


  1. Show your gratitude.

Share your success and gratitude publicly at the event and after it is complete. Publish how much you raised, how many attendees, and what good will happen at your sanctuary with the support you received.

There are many factors to be considered when starting your own rescue. In fact the process can be long and pretty intense.  Here is a quick guide to help you lay out a plan and get the process moving.

1.    Determine a Mission & Vision Statement- developing a mission and vision statement will help you determine what types of equines you will accept, where they may come from, and how you will rehabilitate and adopt out.
2.    Do you have adequate land/space? Starting an Equine Rescue will require land and space. Do you own this land already? Do you need to purchase? Is it zoned appropriately?
3.    Apply for Organization Name. This filing can be completed on your department of state website.
4.    Apply for a 501c 3 Status. Filing for your nonprofit status can be completed online at
5.    Apply for an FEIN. This can also be completed online at
6.    Create a Business Plan. This plan should identify that path you plan to take to get your nonprofit developed, funded, and how you plan maintain that long term.

While this is not every step to starting your own Equine rescue, it should help with the launching of the idea and help to guide you on what questions need answered initially.

Horses are powerful animals, but they are also delicate. Proper grooming is necessary for their health. Being left dirty or sweaty can cause skin problems and chills. Failing to clean the feet properly can lead to serious issues, as horses have four extra “hearts” (frogs) in their feet. Problems with their feet mean problems with their circulatory systems. Horses should have their feet picked and be thoroughly brushed before and after riding.

While proper grooming is vital, it isn’t difficult. All you need is patience and the right tools:

  • a hoof pick
  • a curry comb
  • a hard brush
  • a soft brush
  • a mane comb

To pick your horse’s hoof, stand next to it while facing the same direction as his rear. Gently squeeze his Achilles tendon to make him pick up his foot. When he does, catch it and hold it in one hand, bracing it on your knee if necessary. Using the hoof pick, scrape out any dirt, rocks or other debris you find in the hoof. Don’t be afraid to use some elbow grease, but be aware of the “heart”or frog– the tough, V-shaped pad in the middle of the hoof. This contains an important network of blood vessels. A clean hoof looks like a shallow bowl with an elongated heart in it.

Next, it’s time for brushing.

Use a curry comb first, brushing all of the horse’s surface area in small circles. As with every step, it’s important to use that elbow grease. If you are too delicate, you won’t get the dirt out.

Once you have thoroughly curry-combed the horse, use the hard brush. The hard brush should be used with short downward-moving strokes. The idea is to brush the dirt you’ve loosened with the curry comb onto the floor. Then, with the soft brush, go over the horse to make his hair smooth and shiny.

The cleanliness test is to run a white-gloved hand (or a scrap of white fabric) along the animal’s back and sides. If he’s really clean, you won’t see any dirt. If you do, go back and repeat from the curry comb step. Once he is clean, you can gently comb his mane, starting from the bottom so as not to pull on knots.

Remember to thoroughly groom your horse before and after riding. A well-groomed horse is a healthy one, and a healthy horse is a happy one.