Days End Farm Horse Rescue (DEFHR), a 501(c)(3) organization and national leader in equine rescue, rehabilitation, and education, announced on February 15 its absorption of Maryland Equine Transition Service (METS), a Maryland-based equine safety-net initiative for horses in need of transition, from the Maryland Horse Council (MHC) Foundation. The MHC Foundation (MHCF) will continue to support the program as a partial sponsor. By helping horse owners identify and select the best transition options for their horses, METS ensures that safe alternatives for horses needing homes and end of life support are available and accessible to all Maryland owners who need the service. DEFHR’s expertise in equine intervention and education, coupled with METS’ unique transition service offerings, will reimagine and advance the future of equine welfare.
A horse finds itself in transition, on average, seven times in its life. While transitions aren’t always detrimental, they do make it more challenging to keep track of a horse and to understand when a horse is at risk. At the same time, owners may be unaware of the choices they have when they can no longer care for their horse, thereby increasing the chances that a horse can end up in a neglectful or perilous situation. METS gives horse owners better, safer transition options by offering several services, including equine health, soundness and behavioral assessment, transition counseling, marketing assistance, placement coordination and facilitation, and support for end-of-life options so that horses do not end up in neglectful or abusive situations, or worse, headed to slaughter.
METS was conceptualized by MHC in 2017. In 2018, Arnall Family Foundation/The Right Horse Initiative awarded MHC a three-year grant to pilot test the program, and METS became the first program of its kind to be taken on by a state-wide horse council. In 2019, MHC created the MHC Foundation to house the METS program and other charitable initiatives. Since 2018, METS has successfully assessed more than 240 horses and transitioned more than 135 horses. With over three decades of work in the equine welfare industry, DEFHR shelters up to 150 horses annually and prioritizes education for animal control/welfare agencies, law enforcement, and the general public. Embedding METS within DEFHR will enable more education of more people about horses in transition, and ensure a better long-term outcome for equines.
“The Maryland Horse Council and Maryland Horse Council Foundation have done an excellent job growing the METS program and engaging the horse industry and community in an important conversation,” stated Erin Clemm Ochoa, CEO, DEFHR, who has been a member of the program’s steering committee since its creation. “Core to DEFHR’s mission is serving and educating the community to advance equine welfare. DEFHR’s absorption of the METS program is a natural extension of our work and will enable us to double down on our mission by increasing conversations with horse owners, ultimately helping to prevent horses from landing in dire situations. We look forward to continuing the program within our daily operations and allowing the MHC Foundation to focus on long-term sustainability and other key objectives.”
“We’re thrilled that the METS program will continue with Days End Farm Horse Rescue,” said Erica Lancaster, President, Maryland Horse Council Foundation. “The METS program has conclusively demonstrated that its model for protecting horses by facilitating their successful transitions works, and fills a critical, and previously unmet, need. I am confident that DEFHR is the paramount industry partner to continue this important work well into the future. DEFHR has a proven track record in innovative and effective equine welfare programs and is well positioned both statewide and nationally to ensure the growth and success of this program. I look forward to working together to ensure every horse has a protected future.”
In concert with other key members of the equine industry and community, DEFHR continues to support innovative solutions to welfare issues and to play a leading role in the advancement of equine welfare for the State of Maryland and nationally. In this day and age, progressive partnerships are crucial to making real impact, and collaborations like the one between DEFHR and MHC/MHCF will be necessary as the future of equine welfare is reimagined.