Deciding to become a horse owner is a serious undertaking. These big, beautiful beasts need constant love, care and attention, and are far from cheap to look after.
Adopting a horse is admirable but a little bit different from buying one. Horses have usually been taken in by equine rescue homes for different reasons, whether it’s a medical, they’ve been mistreated or an issue to do with their personality. You’ll need to work closely with the home, letting them know your own riding abilities, goals and needs so that you can adopt a horse with the right background for you.
Decide what you want
It seems strange to go to an adoption centre with a checklist, but since horse-handling is no mean feat, it is crucial that you lay out what you want and need from a horse before you go through with adoption. If you have experience in training horses, then perhaps a foal is the option for you. Perhaps you need a horse accustomed to a certain rider. Are there any medical conditions which would exclude a horse from your search?
Do your research
Different horse shelters have different approaches, meaning they might take horses in on different criteria. Find a shelter whose ethos matches yours. Once you’ve shortlisted a few of these, look into their own criteria for adoption. Any good home will have certain expectations of the horse’s new owner, so make sure you qualify for these.
Ring those references
Adoption centres are likely to ask you for some references to make sure you’re an adequate horse handler. Approach your vet, farrier, or stable to see if any of these reliable sources are prepared to vouch for your horse handling and ask them to get it down on paper.
Call the adoption centres which fit the bill, as described above. They may not have any horses for you to adopt right now but it’s great to be on their books so that they think of you when that perfect match is led in. If there is a suitable horse there at the moment ask to arrange a test ride, so that you can meet the horse face to face.
Prep yourself for a home visit
It is likely that the adoption agency will want to come and visit you at home to check the conditions the horse will be housed in and their suitability. Make sure the stables are clean and safe in preparation for your new arrival.
Check the contract
Each horse adoption centre is likely to have a different contract and it’s worth reading this carefully. Some, for example, might insist you return the horse to them in the event of ever wanting to get rid of it, rather than selling it. Make sure that all of the contractual criteria seem reasonable and feasible for you.
Get ready! Good luck! With any luck, a new four-legged friend should be arriving with you soon!