It is often part of our holiday tradition of “giving” to fill a basket with food or a stocking with toys for a family or child less fortunate than our own. One of the most wonderful aspects of the holiday season is that it inspires each of us to look around at what we have, and who we have in our life, and be thankful–and then reach out to share some of that with which we are blessed, with others.

This holiday season, take a moment to think of the thousands of horses, donkeys, and mules in rescues and foster homes. The people who care for the “unwanted” equines of the world work hard, usually with limited funds, to offer a healthy, happy existence, and perhaps even a chance for a loving home in the future. In years of a poor economy, donations to rescue centers undoubtedly fall, which means that the last few years have been especially difficult for horses in need.

Most rescues have an ongoing “Wish List” of items they need–hay, bedding, grain, supplements, and equipment are often named by type and quantity, making it easy for you to pick up an extra bag of oats while you’re at the feed store (much like you’d grab a few cans of soup for the local food shelf while you’re at the grocery store). (Check out Save Your Ass Donkey Rescue for an example of a Wish List in progress–they cross things out as they get them! Dr. Stephen Purdy, author of DONKEYS: MINIATURE, STANDARD, AND MAMMOTH is a supporter.)

Some rescues invite you to “sponsor” a horse for a month, a year, or until he has found a new home. Habitat for Horses has such an option, as well as memberships and corporate giving opportunities. Many of you might recognize Habitat for Horses as TSB author Clinton Anderson trained an abused H for H rescue named Cider on his RFD-TV show. Cider was then given away to an appoved, loving home at the end of the series. (You can see before-and-after pictures of Clinton working with Cider in Clinton’s book LESSONS WELL LEARNED.

Others run donation opportunities at various levels, where a small amount of money might go a long way toward covering the New Year’s expenses. New Vocations Racehorse Adoption uses this model. In addition, a portion of the sale of every copy of BEYOND THE TRACK (the best-selling book on retraining ex-racehorses and giving them a second chance at a new career) by New Vocations Program Director Anna Morgan Ford goes to support their rehabilitation and retraining facilities.

You can find a rescue organization near you by simply Google searching for “hooved animal rescue” or “horse rescue” plus your state or county, or by contacting your local Humane Society.

At Trafalgar Square Books, we hope we can all join in to give the equine population the world-over a healthier, more contented, “fuller” year–complete with adoring human friends who handle them with respect and conscientious care–in 2011.