Horse Adoption 101

by Matt

Thinking of adding on to your equine family? Adopting a horse can be a wonderful opportunity to give a rescue or foster horse a much-needed permanent home. Whether you’re looking for a youngster to bring up through the levels as a show horse, or an older horse to serve as a companion or just mow the grass for you, there is probably an adoptable horse out there who meets your needs and then some.

There are so many equine rescues and rehoming organizations, in fact, that prospective adopters would do well to take a step back and investigate the people they’re dealing with, before falling in love with one of their horses. Here are a few things to consider before you adopt a horse.

Check the rescue’s credentials. Be absolutely certain you’re working with a credible group who obtained their horses legally. The last thing you want is to find yourself entangled in an ownership dispute with a horse you thought was homeless and in need of saving. A few items to look for when investigating a rescue include a 501(c)(3) status, a board of directors, a solid track record of horse adoption over the past few years, and an annual report you can read over.

Ask the community. You’re probably aware that the equestrian community isn’t shy with opinions. Ask around at the feed store, chat with their veterinarian, and touch base with local professionals — is this a good organization to work with? Are other adopters happy with their horses? Many adoption and rescue agencies will work to place the right horse with the right family, ensuring that they won’t put this horse back into the rescue pipeline further down the line. These responsible agencies are the people you want to work with.

Investigate their standards of care. At this point, everything should point towards a legitimate rescue. Still, take a look around and be sure this is a rescue contributing to horse welfare, not hoarding animals and creating more problems down the road. How are their horses kept? Are their facilities safe for horses and in good repair? Is it overcrowded, or is there enough room for everyone? These items all point towards a well-run organization which puts the horses first.

Spending some time investigating a horse rescue or adoption agency before you adopt your horse can pay off for you in the long run. You’ll have confidence in knowing that you’re bringing home a horse free of legal trouble, who has received proper medical care and nutrition. You’ll also know your adoption fees went to furthering the mission of a legitimate rescue operation which can continue to bring in, care for, and adopt out horses to loving homes.

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