Whether you’re looking to adopt a horse or place a horse you can no longer care for, finding the right rescue organization is crucial to the horse’s future. Three critical areas to assess when choosing a horse rescue organization are animal care, financial stability, and placement success.

Animal Care

Rescue horses may have an array of veterinary and husbandry requirements above those that are typical for an average horse. The animal care provided while a horse lives at a rescue will have lasting implications for the horse’s health.

To assess this care, an in-person visit is always recommended to see horses first-hand. Key animal care items to look for include:

  • Appropriate, safe facilities and fencing
  • Training services and exercise
  • Daily cleaning and maintenance of living areas
  • Veterinary care
  • Dental care, farrier service, and nutrition. Depending on a horse’s age and health, these can require specialization
  • Interaction with humans and other animals as appropriate

Financial Stability

A financially stable rescue will be better equipped to take on the burden of care for an unwanted horse. The organization’s financial situation can affect everything from a horse’s veterinary care to the quality of training he receives and the efficiency of the process for finding him a new family.

Financial stability may seem like an odd consideration when choosing a rescue group for horse adoption but it is important for two significant reasons.

  • Adoption fee: Making a financial contribution to a stable organization has the potential to positively affect the lives of many future animals and families. However, if the organization is not financially stable your contribution may be lost or wasted in the event that the organization collapses.
  • Support: If an organization does not have financial security to remain in operation long-term you may be unable to get necessary follow-up support, care, and guidance.

Placement Success

A rescue organization is not a home or an ideal long-term living solution for most horses. An effective rescue organization is one that can intake horses, care for them and make them adoptable, and get them back into a home as quickly as possible. At these rescues, you’ll likely find:

  • Well-organized and executed adoption processes
  • Necessary support and guidance to make adopters successful
  • Follow-up resources to ensure a good match turns into a strong bond between the adopters and the new horse

Choosing an organization for horse adoption or surrender can seem daunting. Just remember to ask questions and, if at all possible, visit the facility before making a decision.

Since 2008, the Colorado Unwanted Horse Alliance has worked in collaboration with equine organizations, horse rescues, and state agencies to raise awareness about unwanted horses and the importance of responsible horse ownership. We promote research to better understand the scope of the unwanted horse problem, and we provide financial support to organizations to help them feed, shelter, care for, and train abandoned horses and improve their chances of being adopted.

To learn more about adopting or surrendering a horse, view our resources for horse owners here.

Katie Parker is a Program Director for the Animal Assistance Foundation Program Director and a board member of the Colorado Unwanted Horse Alliance.

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