Resources for Rehoming

Making the decision to re-home your horse is never easy. Circumstances such as financial difficulties, personal illness, or even a mis-match in the horse/human relationship can impact an owner’s ability to care for their horse. We understand and respect the time and consideration an owner takes when they decide to find a new home for their horse and would like to offer these tips to help make the re-homing process successful.

Re-homing options

Surrender your horse to a reputable humane society or rescue:

Throughout our state, there are caring and compassionate organizations with people dedicated to helping horses in need, whether that is a sanctuary or retirement facility that can offer long-term or permanent placement, or a humane society that can offer a temporary home with the goal of adopting the horse out to a new owner. These organizations vary in many ways, such as what types of horses they accept or if they charge a surrender fee, so we recommend checking with multiple humane societies or rescues to see what options are available. It is not uncommon for these groups to be full as there are many horses that need shelter and care, so don’t be discouraged if the organizations you contact are unable to assist you right away. Many can put you on a wait list or may even be able to offer other resources to help you re-home your horse.

Contact your veterinarian, farrier, friends and family:

Often times, many owners find success with re-homing their horse by talking to equine veterinarians, farriers, friends and family as these are great networking opportunities for getting the word out about your horse. Some veterinarians will allow you to post an ad at their clinic, and your family or friends may be able to post something on their social media which could connect you with a lot of possible new owners for your horse.

Advertise your horse:

There are countless options online for posting an ad for your horse. Many sites are free and can help connect you to potential new owners. The more people that know your horse needs a home, the more options there will be to find the right fit for your horse. Many owners worry that online advertising could connect them with the “wrong” people, such as someone that does “horse dealing” or may have plans to send horses to slaughter. While this is always a possibility, you can create requirements for any new prospective adopter (must live within a certain radius or within the state, must allow you to visit their farm, must provide vet records for current and previously owned horses) which can help you properly assess those inquiring about your horse.

What should you tell a prospective new owner about your horse? EVERYTHING!

Regardless of which option(s) you use, having the right information to share about your horse is crucial in order to find the best fit. Some key items to share include:

 

Photos!

Good, clear, quality photos of your horse can go a LONG way in the re-homing process. Whether you are emailing photos to a rescue or using the photos on an online posting, pictures can really help connect someone to your horse. The photos don’t need to be taken by a professional – your cell phone camera will work great. Including a head shot and full body shot are key, but photos of the horse under saddle or grazing in a field can also work well. The more photos and the more variety with the photos, the better!

 

Veterinary and farrier care:

If you horse has had any vet or farrier care it is best to have that information handy to share with those you talk to. Even if things are not up to date it can still be very useful for someone to know. Getting copies of your horse’s vet records, dates for farrier visits and even your horse’s deworming schedule are all vital for your horse’s next owner to know.

 

Training – previous and what is needed:

Think about what training your horse has had (under saddle, show-ring, trailer loading, natural horsemanship, etc.) so that you can let potential new owners know about this early on in your conversations. Knowing what your horse already understands and where they may need more training helps to find the best match.

 

Best suited for:

If your horse is bombproof and perfect for a beginner, that‘s awesome and you should say that. But if your horse is more appropriate for an experienced handler/rider, make sure you tell prospective owners right away. You don’t want to waste your time or the potential new owner’s time if it just isn’t going to be a good fit.


Noteworthy issues:

Be up front and very honest about any medical or behavioral issues your horse has. Medical issues that can sometimes require veterinary assistance, such as a lameness issue, should be mentioned during your first conversation with a potential new owner. Likewise, if your horse has any concerning behaviors, such as aggression issues towards people, you should bring this up as soon as possible to make sure the prospective owner feels comfortable handling this issue. Hiding these types of important details in hopes that they won’t notice the problems until the horse is in their care creates a very difficult and stressful situation.

References, farm visits and applications

You have every right to ask prospective owners to provide you with references such as vet, farrier, boarding facility, etc. Getting confirmation from a vet or farrier about the care someone has provided their current or previously owned horse can help you assess if this is a good fit. Contacting boarding facility owners where someone has kept their horses can also offer insight into the type of care given to that person’s current or previously owned horses.

 

You may also ask to visit the farm where your horse will be kept. This helps you decide if you think it is a good fit for your horse as well as an opportunity to see if the facility appears to be clean and safe to your standards.


Creating an application for prospective new owners can also help you find the ideal fit for your horse. The application can be very simple and include basic questions such as “tell me more about your previous horse experience”, “what are your plans with your new horse”, “what would happen if you could no longer keep your new horse”, etc..  Don’t rely too heavily on questions that only require a “yes” or “no” answer, but instead ask open-ended questions that allow a prospective new owner to elaborate and share more information with you.  

Re-homing fees

Whether or not you charge a re-homing fee for your horse is completely up to you. It is recommended that if you are offering your horse for free, or for a very small fee, that you utilize an application type process or check in with references to be sure the horse is not going into the wrong hands. Free horses can translate to an easy way for someone to make money by selling the horse shortly after acquiring it from you or sending it to slaughter, so be cautious if you decide to give your horse away.

Auctions and slaughter are not the answer!

There are several quick options for getting rid of your horse; however, we strongly discourage horse owners from using these methods as they typically do not create successful outcomes for the horse.

 

Auctions happen all over the state and allow for a quick sale of your unwanted horse. These events are generally easy for an owner as they require little to no work – you can simply drop your horse off, fill out brief paperwork and leave. But the reality is that most auctions strive to sell horses as fast as possible without any knowledge of who is actually buying them. And because the horses tend to be sold for cheap, they end up with new owners that may not have good intentions, such as sending them to slaughter ASAP. Always do your research on any auctions you are considering to make sure it seems like the right option for you and your horse.  

 

Sending your horse to slaughter may also seem like an easy fix, but please understand that your horse will suffer immensely if this option is chosen. The long, crowded trailer ride to Canada or Mexico will be one where the horse stands for the entire ride while being surrounded by many other horses. The horses do not get proper feed/water during their travels. And the slaughter process itself is unfortunately done in an inhumane way resulting in intense and unnecessary trauma and pain for your horse.


Please consider other options before you decide to send your horse to an auction or to slaughter as there are many other ways to successfully re-home an unwanted horse.

When is humane euthanasia the right choice?

Some horses may be suffering from extreme medical or behavior issues that could impact successfully re-homing them. Horses that have an incurable and/or debilitating medical ailment or a horse that is dangerous to itself, other horses or humans may not be a horse you can find placement for. Sometimes, humane euthanasia is appropriate in these cases. Working with a licensed equine veterinarian to discuss this option more, as well as assist you with the process is important in creating a euthanasia procedure that is done with respect to you and your horse.


If you have questions about re-homing your horse, we’d love to hear from you!  Please send an email to wisconsinhorsealliance@gmail.com.  

Disclaimer: The information contained on this website is intended as a public service and a resource to Wisconsin's horsemen and women. The Alliance does not endorse or guarantee the quality or performance of organizations or individuals listed as providing services or products. Please be sure to conduct your own inquiries regarding them. Site and contents Copyright © Wisconsin Horse Alliance 2016, all rights reserved

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