Finding a Forever Home for Your Horse
The current economic crisis has found many horses and their owners sadly facing a necessary separation. The Sanctuary is willing to help you get the word out about your horse and assist you in finding an adoptive forever home for your horse (see the end of this article for guidelines). Although the following process may seem daunting, it will be well worth the effort. We hear too many stories of horse owners who didn't screen potential new homes for their horses and are very sorry they didn't take the extra time and effort needed.
Assess Your Horse:
The first step is evaluating who your horse really is. If you are unable to be objective, ask a friend who is knowledgable about horses. Ask yourself the following questions:
• What level of gentleness has my horse achieved? Is my horse just halterbroke? Is he/she greenbroke, dependable or truly "broke to death" for any kind of rider?
• Is my horse trained for particular sports or work like barrel racing, moving cows, or riding on trails?
• Is my horse sound and healthy? All horses have some type of health issue. Be clear about what your horse's issue may be.
• How is my horse with other horses? Dominant? Compliant? Friendly?
• What kind of home would my horse feel safe and happy in? With many other horses or just one horse companion? Small pasture or a big ranch? With lots of human contact or just being ridden occasionally? With kids or not?
Determine an Adoption Fee:
We strongly recommend you place an adoption fee on your horse. It can be minimal, like $200. An adequate adoption feeat or above current canner prices will keep horse slaughter buyers from taking your horse to be killed. You can find out the current price by calling the nearest livestock yard and asking what canner horses sold for at the last sale. Additionally, it's human nature that we take better care of those things (or companion animals) that we pay for. If a potential adopter doesn't have enough money to pay an adoption fee, it's probably a good indication they don't have enough disposable income to properly care for a horse.
Create Some Basic Publicity About Your Horse:
Depending on your level of creativity and expertise, you can create a very simple or quite elaborate "publicity campaign" for your horse. The basics include a current, great photo of your horse and fundamental information including:
• Age, gender
• Level of training
• Desired type of home
• Adoption fee
• Who to contact (name, phone numbers, e-mail address)
Contact the Resources in Your Community:
Your community probably has a lot of folks who can help you find just the right home for your horse. We recommend you call resource people and chat with them about potential adopters. These are the people most likely to know who takes really good care of horses they already have. These folks may also have e-mail lists and bulletin boards where you can place flyers about your horse.
• Horse veterinarian
• Horse shoers (farriers)
• Horse trainers
• 4-H horse leaders (you can get their names from your local county extension agent)
• Equine therapists
Check out Potential Adopters:
There are many ways to legally obtain information about potential adopters. We recommend a few basic steps:
• Ask the potential adopter for the name of their horse veterinarian and ask them to call the vet and permit him/her to tell you what kind of horse owner they are.
• Ask for two character references who are unrelated to them, who know what kind of horse owner this person is.
• Check Pet-Abuse.com for any potential record this person may have as an animal abuser.
• Visit the potential adopter's home. Are the fences safe? Is the water tank or waterer clean and open year-round? Is manure picked up and disposed of far enough from the horses to not cause a health or fly issue? Where are hay and feeds stored -- away from the elements and safely out of reach of the horses?
• How does the potential adopter interact with his/her horses? Is he/she safe with horses? Does this person demonstrate the knowledge and experience needed to make a good companion for your horse?
• Have the potential adopter meet and interact with your horse. Does this person interact safely and calmly with your horse? Does there seem to be a heart connection with your horse?
Is the Potential New Home a Sanctuary or Rescue or Other Horse Organization?
If you find a sanctuary, rescue, or therapeutic program that can take your horse we recommend you ask the following questions. There are no local, state or federal certification programs for private or non-profit horse oganizations except in Arizona. Unfortunately this lack of oversight means some unscrupulous people pose as horse rescuers. Your horse may end up poorly cared for or taken to slaughter by these individuals. Poorly managed rescues/sanctuaries may find themselves unable to care for their horses. (Montana Horse Sanctuary has rescued and re-homed horses from a number of these organizations unfortunately.) Again, check out the potential adopter!
1) Is the organization a registered non-profit or an established private sanctuary/rescue? Both types of organizations are legitimate. Non-profits must be registered with the Montana Secretary of State's office and have a board of directors and by-laws. Non-profits which receive $25,000 a year or more in donations are 501(c)3 organizations under federal law and will be listed on Guidestar.org, a website of non-profit organizations.
2) Does the organization have a primary horse veterinarian? A legitimate rescue will naturally have at least one qualified equine veterinarian who provides care to their horses. Ask to speak with this person about care the horses receive and the history of the organization.
3) How much money does the organization have banked for the care of its horses? A well-run rescue/sanctuary will have money in savings for the care of its horses. An organization which has too many horses and too little funding is putting its horses at risk needlessly.
4) How many horses does the organization have and how much land is the organization located on? An rescue which has more than one horse per two acres may also be a high risk operation unless it is extremely well-funded and managed.
Guidelines for asking Montana Horse Sanctuary to Assist with Placing Your Horse:
Contact the Sanctuary by e-mail or phone. Describe your situation and level of urgency to place your horse. You will be asked to provide the Sanctuary with an e-mail description and photo of your horse as well as your contact information. Interested adopters will contact you directly and it will be your responsibility to screen them. The Sanctuary will distribute your e-mail to it's e-mail list of about 400 people, many of whom will forward it to their e-mail lists.