Adopting a Horse: 8 Things You Should Do

Posted by Paige Cerulli
Bureau of Land Management via Flickr

Adopting a horse is an admirable choice, but adopting a horse is a bit different than buying a horse is. 

So you want to adopt a horse? Great! Adopting a horse is a wonderful way to give a horse in need a caring, loving home. When adopting a horse, generally you'll work with a horse rescue to find the right horse for your riding experience, goals, and needs.

The horses taken in by equine rescues often come from different backgrounds, have differing levels of training and experience, and may also have medical issues.

When you adopt a horse, the process is a bit different than it is when you buy a horse. Before you decide to adopt a horse, make sure that you're familiar with these eight things that you should do to prepare for the adoption.

Decide What You Want in a Horse

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Jim Rhodes via Flickr

Before deciding to adopt a horse, give some careful thought to what qualities you want your new horse to have. If you're looking for a riding mount, then consider the horse's size, temperament, and experience level.

If you have experience in training horses, then you may be able to take on a younger horse or a horse with less training experience. Be sure to also think about what behavioral issues you are not comfortable handling, and if there are any medical conditions that would exclude a horse from your search.

Research Horse Rescues

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Nannette Turner via Flickr

If you've decided that adoption is right for you, then it's important that you research different local rescues. By researching a rescue, you can get a sense of its mission and approach to rescue and adoption.

Some rescues specialize in particular breeds of horses, and some rescues may have training programs to ensure that all adoptable horses are broken to ride. Find a rescue that you respect and which has a mission that you believe in.

Look Into Adoption Requirements

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Dennis Carr via Flickr

Once you've found a few rescues where you could see yourself adopting a horse, find out about the specific adoption requirements the rescue has. All horse rescues have different requirements of adoptive homes.

Some may require that adoptive owners be of a certain age, have owned a horse before, have a certain amount of experience, be able to provide a certain type of home for the horse, and more. If you don't fit the requirements of one rescue, keep looking - you may fit the requirements of another.

Establish a Reference Network

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Serge Melki via Flickr

One thing's for certain - any serious rescue will require that you provide references on your application for adoption. It's best to start reaching out to your contacts to ask them if they would be willing to act as references before you fill out the adoption application.

You will likely need to provide multiple references including your vet, farrier, trainer, and possibly the owner of the barn where you board.

Contact the Rescue

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Smerikal via Flickr

Now that you think you're ready to move forward with an adoption, it's time to contact the rescue to let them know that you're interested. If there are adoptive horses available which you're interested in, ask to visit with and possibly test ride the horses.

Even if the rescue doesn't have a horse that currently interests you, it's a good idea to contact the rescue so that they have your information and can contact you if a horse comes in that might be a good fit.

Read the Adoption Contract Carefully

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Jean via Flickr

When you're preparing to adopt a horse, ask to see a copy of the adoption contract. Each rescue has a different adoption contract which designates what you can and cannot do with your adopted horse.

Some rescues require that you give the horse back to them, rather than ever sell it. Make sure that you also find out about the adoption fee required.

Fill Out an Application

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Bureau of Land Management via Flickr

Once you've found a horse that you want to adopt, you can move ahead in filling out the application.

Be prepared to provide information about how the horse will be kept, such as the stable size, whether the horse will have other equine company, and what the horse's intended use will be. You should also have your references on hand at this time.

Be Prepared for a Home Check

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Meg Stewart via Flickr

Many rescues will perform home or stable checks before approving an adoption application. The purpose of this is to view the space where the horse will be kept to make sure that he is going to a clean and safe home. A home check is often the final step in approving an adoption application.

With luck, your adoption application will be approved and you will be bringing home your new friend shortly.

Good luck!

Adopting a Horse: 8 Things You Should Do