New Home for Your Horse: Questions to Ask

Horse owners faced with the decision to find their horses a new home, whether it be locating that perfect retirement home, a new job in therapeutic riding, the mounted patrol, or even with a new owner, need to ask some important questions before giving up care of their animal. Own Responsibly, the Unwanted Horse Coalition (UHC) handbook, can provide a guide.

In order to ensure your horse has a home in which it is properly cared for you must ask questions such as:

  • Does the facility have ample room for horses to graze and/or move about?
  • Have any welfare charges been brought against the facility?
  • What are the physical characteristics of the facility, including barns, pastures, and shelters?
  • Will the facility provide routine and emergency vet, dental, and farrier needs?

If your horse will be used for breeding or riding purposes at the facility, important questions to ask would be, "How will my horse be used? What is the facility’s policy on breeding and use?"

To ensure your horse does not eventually become unwanted, you will need to address the facility by asking questions such as:

  • Will the horse stay at the facility or be placed into foster care?
  • Are foster homes screened?
  • Does the facility adopt horses out?
  • What are the requirements for adoption?
  • Does the facility follow up with new owners to ensure the horse is being properly cared for?
  • What becomes of the horse when the adopter or user no longer wants the horse?
  • Does the facility euthanize horses that cannot be placed?
  • If so, will the facility notify the owner beforehand?

"Asking a potential facility these types of questions can help prevent your horse from becoming neglected, abused, and unwanted," said Ericka Caslin, director of the UHC. "As most owners are faced with the difficult decision of finding new homes for their horses, it’s important to be fully prepared in these situations, for the sake of you and your horse. Horse owners have a responsibility to ask these key questions before giving up care of their horse."

Find out if the potential group follows the "Care Guidelines for Rescue and Retirement Facilities" prepared by the American Association of Equine Practitioners before you make a decision about your horse's new home.

For more information on these and other important questions and the responsibilities of horse ownership, visit the UHC Web site and download the Own Responsibly handbook, which also highlights some of the issues people should consider when buying or breeding a horse.

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