There are many thousands of unwanted horses in the world. America alone has between 92,000 and 138,000 unwanted horses, according to a 2005 estimate by the American Horse Council. People fortunate enough to have the time and resources to own a horse should not purchase one from a breeder or auction. But they should adopt a horse from one of the many fine horse rescue associations described below.
Adopting a horse is not free. However, adoption fees are much lower than buying a horse through more conventional means. Expect to pay about $500 to adopt a horse or pony.
8 Foundations That Will Help You Make the Right Choice & Adopt a Horse
1. Days End Farm Horse Rescue
This is the only horse rescue and re-homing charity given a four star rating (the highest) by Charity Navigator. The facilities are located in Lisbon, Maryland. Because of its location, it only considers potential adopters to live in Mid-Atlantic states or Rhode Island or Connecticut. Horses up for adoption have fees varying from $100 to $1200 considering how healthy or athletic the horse is.
There are separate fees if the adopter does not have a horse trailer and DERHR needs to ship the horse to the new owner. They rarely have horses suitable for complete horse novices. However, people experienced with handling or riding horses can find a new friend and sports partner here.
2. Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse and Burro Adoption
By law all wild horses and burros are owned by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Since there are more animals than the range can handle, many thousands are kept in various BLM pens and satellite holding facilities waiting to be adopted. Animals will only have basic medical care and may not even be halter-broke. Experienced horse handlers only.
Mustangs born on the range have gone on to compete at the highest levels in horse sports. The best known is J.B. Andrew. He was foaled in the wild and grew up to compete at the highest levels of dressage. All prospective adopters go through background checks by the BLM. Adoption fees begin at $125.
3. Humane Society of the United States Horse Adoption Program
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is best known for rescuing dogs and cats from terrible situations and then putting the healthiest up for adoption. However, they also have a thriving and respected horse adoption program.
The HSUS is a national organization that works with many local and state animal rescue agencies. You only need to fill in a simple online form on the HSUS website. Then, the HSUS will send information of horses or ponies needing homes in your area. Experienced horse caretakers can also volunteer to help rescue horses from natural disasters or situations like hoarding.
4. American Standardbred Adoption Program
Ever wonder what happens when Standardbred racehorses retire? They often are put down or shipped to Mexico or Canada to be slaughtered. These horses are often healthy, have basic training and are young. Although famous as harness horses, they can be ridden and excel from everything from trail riding to police horse work.
The American Standardbred Adoption Program in Wisconsin helps connect unwanted Standardbreds with new forever homes. Fees average $500, but can go as high as $800. Those who adopt a horse must fill out a vet check form every year or risk criminal prosecution.
5. Best Friends
This huge Utah animal rescue facility is so successful that it even had its own television series. They often take in horses and ponies that other animal rescue organizations have given up on. Prospective horse adopters can choose a horse from the Utah facility or Best Friends can help contact local horse rescue agencies to find that special equine. Adoption fees start at $500.
All homes and properties need to be checked out by Best Friends before any horse is let go. Best Friends will ship horses to new homes but there are additional fees.
6. New Vocations
Not only do Standardbred racers need new homes when their racing careers end but so do the glamor horses of the world – thoroughbreds. New Vocations not only rescues unwanted racehorses. However, they retrain them for their new lives away from the track.
They have two facilities in Ohio and Kentucky. If the horse cannot be ridden or is very old there are no adoption fees. Otherwise, fees average $450. Adopters are responsible for transporting their new friends home. Mares are allowed to be bred – which is not allowed in many other horse rescue organizations.
7. Homes for Horses Coalition
Recommended by the HSUS and many happy horse owners, the Homes for Horses Coalition is a national charity database that helps connect those wanting to adopt a horse from numerous organizations offering horses to adopt.
The coalition checks out all rescue organizations to see that they not only are able to take care of horses but are financially sound. Check out their Rescue Hall of Fame to see unwanted horses that became champions after they were adopted.
8. Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue
This California-based horse rescue organization currently has a three star rating from Charity Navigator. They will only allow California citizens to adopt a horse. Their adoption process is far more complicated than the BLM’s.
However, this is to make sure the horse is not abandoned further down the road once working with a mustang becomes difficult. All potential adopters must be checked out by Lifesavers. Adoption fees vary due to the horse’s age or level of training. Adopters may need to attend horse management classes before being allowed to adopt a horse.
Bringing home a horse is always a gamble but safe bet if adopting a horse, pony or donkey from any one of these horse rescue organizations. Keep in mind that most rescue organizations will not allow adopters to sell the animals they adopt.
If the animal needs to return, it has to be to the organization that the horse was adopted from. If unable to adopt a horse but have the resources, consider fostering a horse instead of adopting.
Images from pixabay.com.