Horse shopping is hard. It’s nothing like shoe shopping where you know you have a blue dress, and you go out and buy three pairs of shoes in hopes one will match.
When horse shopping, you set out with some kind of a plan, 16 2hh plus, dressage prospect, preferable with some training. From there everything goes south.
The last two horses I purchased for myself were totally green, had never been under saddle, minimum handling, not even the dressage type. I’ll be the first to admit it was the best time of my life (OK!! some days weren’t so hot and with Stinky, the love of my life, I do remember a lot of tears) getting them going and moving along.
The rescue mare I’ve been working, is coming along somewhat slower than I hoped but I’m starting to see some potential. I just want a horse to force me to higher levels NOW!!!
With no kids at home, I truly feel I have the time and drive to work two horses. So here I am, in search of another horse. A horse I don’t have to put two years into before we can do anything together. But with one horse and a kid in college, funds are very very limited, so I’m approaching this from a different direction.
After OTTB’s, what comes to mind when we think adoption, the sad, neglected and abused horses in some dark shelter. Not always true, with the economy as bad as it is, there are more and more really good horses being placed in rescues.
Great horse people who have fallen on hard times are donating good quality horses to shelters in hopes the shelter will find a good new home.
In my search for a new horse, I have found a few organizations that receive horses as donations from some of the high end professional eventing and dressage barns. Horses that are getting too old to continue to be pushed as hard or a horse that is not able to make it to the Grand Prix level = perfect for me.
I found a few organizations that have training programs for students to gain hands on training in horse rehabilitation either as a part of a local veterinary school or a tech. program. They take on injured horses, the students treat them and work with them and once a full recovery is determined, the horse is adopted out = perfect for me.
Some charge a surprisingly low fee for adoption, others are free. A couple of groups I’m working with, use the adoption fees to fund programs for kid with special needs.
Aside from the lengthy application process, including background checks and contacting lots of your references, as well as supplying photos of the facility where you plan to keep the horse, the down side with this method of getting a horse is you could be entering into a relationship with the organization for years if not the life if the horse.
Some groups refer to it as a “free lease” and require yearly reports from a veterinarian. Some groups have restrictions as to what you can do with the horse. You need to understand if you can show, and if so, what level showing are you able to do. If you take on a horse that was adopted as a trail horse only, and you begin a jumping career, they can come and get the horse. In some cases, you need to clear any travel or medical issues with the organization. You also have to understand there usually is a long wait list and if you see a horse of your dreams on their website, someone else could beat you to it.
I found that taking the time to speak with a few people from each group is helpful. You can get a feel for how they operate, their honesty and their real purpose. I had one gentleman tell me his only interest was the horse, yet he wanted to charge me $1000.00 for a horse he had not taken in yet nor had they done any evaluation of this horse.
I told one person several times I’m 6 foot tall and wanted a 16 2 hh or taller horse, yet they keep sending me information on 15hh or smaller horses. It’s important to insure the group you are dealing with is legit and that they have a 501(c)3. I feel if they are checking my references, I should also check theirs, so I ask for people I can speak with; not just other adopters but veterinarians, feed stores etc.
In most cases, these organizations take time to evaluate the horse, they have several people working with the horse and are able to give an honest perspective of the horse’s nature and abilities. The upside is, that you could be bringing home a lovely horse.
Here are a few adoption organizations:
If you’ve adopted a horse from a rescue organization and are now competing, we want to hear your success story! Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org with a photo of your equine partner.