Unwanted Horse Group Urges Adoption

The economy has left many horse owners in serious financial hardship, forcing them to make the decision to part with their horses. The bottom line is too many of these horses need a place to go.

The Unwanted Horse Coalition (UHC) is urging anyone able to adopt a horse to take action now and contact a local rescue facility. UHC Chairman Tom Lenz, DVM, advises people to buy rather than breed, adopt rather than buy, find alternative careers, and euthanize rather than discard.

The UHC has urged financially strapped owners to surrender their horses to organizations that can use them, retrain them, or give them a new home.

"These organizations take your horse when you have no other options, care for it, and work tirelessly to find it another life. Now the rescue facilities are starting to brim over their capacity and many of these organizations need your help," said Julia Andersen, director of the UHC.

While a donation of money, feed, hay, and other supplies is an urgent need for rescues, nothing can replace adoption. "If you are interested in taking in a horse, or in the market to buy one, why not check out the adoptable horses first? Horse owners and breeders are particularly well-suited to help with these horses," suggested Andersen.

"Many people are under the impression that the horses put up for adoption are old, lame, or physically undesirable," Andersen said. "However the Unwanted Horse Coalition gets calls daily from people who have perfectly sound horses with a lot of life in them, but sadly the owners are not able to keep them for many different reasons. Certainly many are also older horses or horses that cannot be ridden. Both types are in need of homes."

The horse adoption process varies depending on the organization. Most require that you get to know the horse before you adopt it. This helps to ensure that you and your potential horse are suited for each other.

"Frankly, this is a good idea even if it's not required by the organization," said Andersen. Another typical requirement is that the organization will conduct a home or barn visit to check up on the horse. Some organizations will even continue to visit you and your horse over time to make sure you are giving the horse proper nutrition, shelter, and care. Some organizations may even retain ownership for a period until they deem your care up to their health and safety standards. Finally, it is not uncommon for facilities to charge a small adoption fee. This fee helps to cover the expenses the facility incurred during the time the horse was at the facility.

If you are interested in adopting a horse and have never owned a horse before, there's much you need to know about horse care. Adopting a horse is not like adopting a dog or cat. Even if the adoption process is similar, caring for a horse is more time-consuming, more expensive, and requires a facility--either your own or a boarding farm. For more information on the many responsibilities of horse ownership, please see the UHC's "Own Responsibly" handbook, which can be downloaded from the UHC Web site.

"If you are someone whose life had been enriched by horses, now is the time to ask what you can do for them in return," said Andersen.

If you do not know of a rescue facility in your area, please visit unwantedhorsecoalition.org to see facility listings by state.

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