Adoption of a Rescue Horse

If you are looking for a free (or very inexpensive) horse, one of the best places to look is rescue associations, or animal rescue groups which also deal with horses. These associations take on horses but have limited resources to take care of them in terms of space (stalls, pasture), money (food, bedding, etc.) and staff time (mucking out, general care). Consequently, they are normally looking for good homes to pass the horses onto, so that they can free up their scare resources to care for others. Therefore, they will usually pass the horses on for free, or for a nominal amount (to recover some of their direct costs).

In addition to getting a horse very cheaply, you are also doing a good deed by adopting the horse. In so doing, you free up the rescue association’s resources, allowing them to take on other animals. Another advantage is that rescue organisations are non-profit and consequently looking at what is best for the horse and new owner, so are more likely to be honest about potential issues and the suitability of the horse to your requirements than businesses offering horses for sale.

Of course, any rescue organization will want to be sure that the horse is going to a good home, before they consider giving it away. Expect to be interviewed to determine your fitness to take on a horse. Typical questions are whether you have the commitment, time, money and facilities (e.g. box and pasture) to take on a horse long-term. They will also want to know if you have the knowledge and experience to take care of a horse, or as a minimum that someone will work with you to teach you the required basics.

There may be a number of horses available. Before choosing one, it is advisable to learn as much about it and its background as possible. This will help you identify any potential issues such as health problems or behavioral issues. You should ask about the results of their veterinary examinations of the horse and also the opinions of the staff caring for the horse.

It is also useful to know why the horse was rescued and what condition it was in when rescued. If the reason was economic (e.g. owner in financial difficulty) or practical (owner moving house and will no longer have facilities) then there are no implications. However, in the case of horses which were neglected or abused, there may be long term health or behavioral issues. Knowing the horses background can identify potential issues which may otherwise not be apparent.

Once you have a good understand of the horse’s condition and any possible associated issues, you can decide if the horse meets your requirements. For example, if you want the horse just as a companion, it does not matter if it is old or can no longer be ridden. However, if you want it as a riding horse, you will want one which is physically sound and well trained. It may well be that the association does not have a horse at the moment which meets your needs. In this case, the best course is to assure them that you will provide a good home to the right horse and provide the association with a written description of your requirements and your contact details. Unless your needs are very unusual, it is quite possible that in a few weeks or months the horse you are looking for will show up.

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