Rehoming Your Horse? Remember These Tips

Rehoming Your Horse? Remember These Tips

Finding a safe home for a horse is not an easy or quick process. Do your homework to ensure your horse lands in a good place.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

British equine charities World Horse Welfare and Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) are urging owners to do their research if considering loaning or giving away their horse to a sanctuary, rehoming and/or rehabilitation organization or individual to ensure the animal’s long-term welfare is safeguarded.

“We’ve seen a number of cases over recent years of sanctuaries, not-for-profit organizations and individuals taking in unwanted horses from a range of backgrounds which have resulted in welfare problems for a variety of reasons,” said Tony Tyler, deputy chief executive of World Horse Welfare. “Some have simply become overwhelmed by the huge time and financial commitments required in caring for these animals, whilst we’ve seen examples of others selling on horses to the open market or masking injuries in an attempt to lure in lucrative private buyers.

“If anyone is looking to find a new home for their horse, we’d urge them to carefully consider the various options available,” he continued. “Acting in the best interests of the horse in question should be the main priority whether it be a formerly-raced Thoroughbred or child’s show pony—doing everything possible to safeguard its future welfare is essential.”

Di Arbuthnot, chief executive of RoR, added, "Finding the right home for a horse is so important, but not always that easy. RoR, together with help from World Horse Welfare, has worked hard to promote the adaptability and versatility of thoroughbreds and we are seeing more and more former racehorses thriving in a second career, so there are an increasing number of options now for such horses and less of a role or need for sanctuaries.”

World Horse Welfare and RoR recommends anyone looking to find a new home for their horse remember the following tips:

  • Be wary of any organization or individual contacting you to offer to take your horse. While some groups and individuals are legitimate, others will prey on anyone advertising their horse as a companion and might not always be what they seem.
  • Do your research. Social media and the huge amount of content online is an invaluable resource in researching any individual or organization. Ask other horse owners for advice as personal recommendations can be the best way to give you peace of mind.
  • If you’re concerned about the legitimacy of an organization or individual, ask which professionals they use (veterinarian, farrier, dentist, etc.) and then contact these people to ask for their feedback.
  • Any organization operating as a charity in the United Kingdom must be registered and possess a registered charity number. 
  • Also in the U.K., not-for-profit organizations are not required to be registered with any central body and are largely unregulated, however all riding schools and equestrian centers must be licensed and this can be checked with your local council.
  • When transferring ownership of a horse in the U.K., it is the legal responsibility of the new owner to notify the passport issuing organization (PIO) but you can also contact the PIO so as an added measure.
  • If you are loaning a horse, ensure a legally binding loan agreement is agreed and signed by both parties. This will set out the exact terms of the loan and responsibilities of each party.
  • If you are loaning your horse, you should keep a full copy of the horse’s passport and notify the PIO that the horse is on loan.
  • If you are loaning your horse, you should also be prepared to regularly visit the horse at his new home in order to check how he is getting on. Any organization or individual who is not happy about you doing so should immediately raise alarm bells.
  • It is important to remember that once you have transferred ownership of your horse to another party, you relinquish all responsibility and rights to that particular animal and the new owner is free to do what they please. This further increases the importance of making the right decision so you can have full peace of mind.
  • If possible, visiting any potential home before selling or loaning your horse. Check the amount and quality of grazing—is there enough for the number of horses? Do all horses have free access to water? Are the fields regularly cleared of droppings?

Finding a safe and loving home for a horse is not an easy or quick process and if someone or something seems too good to be true, then chances are it probably is too good to be true. If you are in any doubt, consult a trusted horsey friends or an organization like World Horse Welfare or ROR—they will be able to advise you honestly and impartially.

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