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Help with placing horses

Please realize that we get approximately 3-15 calls a month asking us to take in horses that owners can no longer keep for one reason or another.  Although we would like to help every owner that contacts us needing to find a new home for their horse, the hard fact is that we can not – rescue facilities do not have unlimited funding & time to care for every horse looking for a new home. We save horses that have absolutely no other chance except for us and they are our first priority – if we continue to take in owner surrendered horses, we will leave many horses behind that have nobody else looking out for their welfare.  Many of these horses are at the verge of going to slaughter or brought to us from Animal Control after being seized from horrendous conditions.  As a horse owner, you have a responsibility to your horse, whether that be by providing him a good home or finding an appropriate home for him in the event that you can no longer care for him. In light of this, we have put together a list of responsible options available to owners looking for a safe solution for a horse they can no longer keep.

Don’t accept the first home that comes along because you waited for the last minute to start looking. Let prospective homes spend time getting to know your horse so you can see how they handle him and how he reacts to them. Visit the place where they plan to keep your horse and make sure you are 100% happy with it. ASK FOR REFERENCES (ex: veterinarian, farrier, feed store, equine dentist or professionals that can attest to prospective new owners knowledge & care of horses) AND CHECK THEM!!!!


The more information you are able to gather and investigate, the more likely you are to discourage dishonest individuals. Many people do not want to find a new home for the retired/elderly horse because they are concerned about risks to the animal - with good reason, but by investing time and effort into the process, these risks can be substantially reduced.


Always, always, always put an agreement in place. Use a standard legal document to suit your own arrangement and make sure both you and the new home understand the responsibilities involved. Use a buy back/first right of refusal/free lease clause stating that in the event the new owner can no longer keep your horse for any reason, he is to be returned to you or another suitable home at your discretion.

Even if you are re-homing your horse to someone you know, put everything in writing. A written agreement is not only a safety net if the friendship goes bad, but can actually protect a friendship from a misunderstanding by clarifying exactly what is expected from each person.


Think about freeze-branding or micro-chipping your horse for identification purposes.


Be prepared for your horse to be returned. People take a horse on free-lease or buy back so they have this option available to them if they need it. By using this safety net, you are responsible for your horse’s l future should the new home decide that they can no longer care for him.  If the horse’s return is something you do not want to face in the future, you need to consider transferring legal ownership instead, which includes relinquishing all influence over the care of your horse.  If this is the case, check, double check and check references again before making the final decision of transferring ownership.


Unfortunately, there is always an element of risk involved with handing over ownership of a horse to another person. By being thorough, many horse owners not only find caring homes for their horses, but also enjoy continued contact with their horse in his new home.


Please realize that what most people are looking for in a companion horse is a horse that is an easy keeper without a lot of medical or farrier needs.  This is not to say that your horse can not find a good home, only that it will probably take longer to find a home willing to accept a horse needing a significant amount of upkeep.  If your horse is in a lot of pain or is diagnosed with a degenerative disease that will only continue to get worse with time, please consider humane euthanasia. 


Change Your Boarding Situation


We realize that many owners do not have their own land/stabling available and rely on boarding situations to keep their horse. We also realize that retirement can be an extremely expensive, especially if the owner wishes to take on another horse to ride, however, there are ways to reduce the financial burden without compromising the horse’s wellbeing.


Figure out what you are paying for with your boarding situation.  Board may be expensive because it has facilities such as an indoor ring or hot-walker, which a retired horse will not need. Look at the costs and facilities at other boarding facilities in your area that may be more basic, but still perfectly adequate for what your retired horse will need.


Many horses will be quite happy with pasture board, which is the cheapest option available. Living outside also has added benefits for horses with problems like arthritis (considering the terrain is suitable for an arthritic horse) or stable vices.  Even Thoroughbreds and Arabians can cope with living out but they may cost more in feed and rugs. Make certain that a potential pasture board situation includes access to shelter!


Consider renting a pasture w/ shelter yourself.  You would need to care for the horse yourself unless you could share a pasture with one or two other owners so the horses have company.  Chores can also be shared.


Remember that although your horse is retired, he will still require nutritious feed, farrier & veterinary visits and good care.  Retired does not equal forgotten.



Euthanasia is sometimes a very hard decision to consider, even when humane euthanasia is for a horse that has an incurable problem. Please realize that if their condition is causing the horse discomfort or affecting their quality of life to a point where they become painful or depressed, the decision should be straightforward.

It can be very difficult to consider euthanasia for a horse whose problems only affect their ability to work and who otherwise have a good quality of life.  If an owner simply cannot continue to care for the horse themselves and all other options have been explored, you must be remember that euthanasia is not the worst possible outcome for the horse. Many re-homed horses are bought by those searching for free horses only to be dumped at the nearest local auction where they face being bought for slaughter or by an uncaring or inexperienced horse person where he or she will face a life of neglect and/or abuse.

Whatever the dislike people may feel about animals being put down before it necessary, euthanasia is a lawful, legitimate & an extremely humane choice, whereas neglect, abuse and/or possible slaughter is not.

June 2008 NEW SERVICE; Nationwide UnWanted Horse Disposal a free coast to coast service.  they will re-home or euthanise your unwanted animals so they do not go to auction.