Successful Horse Adoption
6 Tips for Successful Horse Adoption
Adopting a horse is an exciting prospect: it can lead to a special equine relationship that lasts for many years.
Here are 6 tips to help in a successful horse adoption of a rescue horse.
Reputation Is Everything
Make sure the rescue organization is trustworthy.
Talk to people who’ve adopted horses from that facility to see whether the match was a good one and check it against the points in Reputable Rescue or Shameless Scam? by Jennifer Williams, PhD.
She covers seven crucial areas to research which include: how well the horses are kept; the accessibility of information about the operation, its experience, personnel and the horses in its care; its reputation within the local law enforcement and general community, and the soundness of its adoption policies.
Keep an Open Mind
Don’t fixate on a particular breed, gender or color. Much more important are temperament, any behavioral issues and whether the horse is able to fulfill the function you require.
Make Sure You Can Afford a Horse
According to Kathryn Holcomb, a PhD candidate at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, “owner financial hardship is responsible for many relinquished horses.”
You don’t want to adopt a horse only to find that you cannot afford to keep him and have to give him back. If you don’t currently own a horse, talk to the rescue organization to get a realistic assessment of what you need to budget for your new equine. The adoption fee is only the beginning!
Bring an Experienced Horse Person
Looking for a rescue is best not undertaken alone. You need a dispassionate and competent horse friend or trainer to accompany you when you check out prospective candidates.
“A trainer will look at a horse with his brain and his eyes, not his eyes and his heart,” says Jose Castro, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, ABVP, clinical instructor for equine field services with the University of Tennessee’s Large Animal Clinical Services.
He also cautions that “many of these horses have been mentally and physically abused in some way, so the adoptive owner is going to have to spend some money on training.”
Your sensible companion will make sure you don’t fall in love with an unsuitable horse.
Be Patient with Your New Horse
Your prospective new horse will likely have undergone some training while at the rescue facility, but, as indicated above, will need you to continue his education after you get him home.
If he was abused, he may have trust issues. Talk to the rescue staff about how they were overcoming them and to what you need to do to gain his confidence.
Be Prepared for Onsite Visits
Dr. Williams says that agency “guidelines may include a site visit prior to adoption and occasional visits” afterwards “to ensure that a horse and his new owner are getting along.” However, once you are confirmed as a competent horse-keeper, “such visits usually taper off and then stop.”
Adoption is a potential win-win situation for both horse and owner. By following a few simple guidelines you can find the perfect horse and form a unique bond with him that more than repays you for the chance you were willing to take on him.
Resources & Further Reading
Veterinarian Horse Adoption Tips
Demographics of Equine Donation and Adoption Article
Horse Rescue and Adoption Organizations
Give a Horse a Second Chance: Adopting and Caring for Rescue Horses (book)
Reputable Rescue or Shameless Scam?