Tips On How To Safely, Responsibly
Re-home Your Horse
From Colorado Horsecare Foodbank
Sometimes, even with a temporary grant of hay or veterinary care from Colorado Horsecare Foodbank to help horse owners get back on their feet, horse owners must make the heart-wrenching decision that they simply cannot afford to keep their horses, and need to re-home their horses. If you’ve come to this conclusion and know that you must find new homes for your horses, Colorado Horsecare Foodbank has prepared advice on how to safely, responsibly re-home your horse. Our intent is for this information to help you truly find a safe, long-term home for your horses, and to prevent them from ending up at an auction.
Before You Re-home Your Horse,
Consider These Options
If you just need temporary help with hay, grain, veterinary care, or hoof care, to get back on your feet, Contact Colorado Horsecare Foodbank and apply for a grant, while you’re getting back on your feet.
If you truly don’t want to surrender your horses, but are considering this because you can’t afford medical expenses for your horses, consider these options to raise the money to pay for veterinary care:
1. Contact family & friends, and post a request for help on your Facebook page, and ask that contributions be made directly to the veterinarian in order to ease any worries that donated money will not be spent on the horses. If you raise at least some of the money, see if the veterinarian will consider a payment plan. (But be realistic: You must be able to honor your part of the deal.)
2. Hold a fundraiser. Cook your favorite foods or desserts, and hold a fundraising party in your back yard or home to raise money for the veterinary care. Better yet, put some nice items you own but don’t really need on the auction block and hold your own silent auction among family, friends & acquaintances. To lighten the mood, offer some cheap, gag items for sale.
3. Seek Out Emergency Veterinary Medical Grants. Often, horse owners do not know how to find the many resources available for horse owners in trouble, and prematurely surrender their horses. For medical bills, seek out grants for emergency veterinary care that’s either free, or available for a significantly reduced cost. For example, PetAid Colorado.org provides emergency veterinary care grants for small animals. Leave no stone unturned, and research options for grants of emergency veterinary care for horses.
4. Raise the Money For Veterinary Bills Through Crowdfunding Websites. Consider “crowdfunding” to pay for the surgery or medical care. Do an internet search for “crowdfunding” websites, and post a crowdfunding request, letting people know you need a specific amount of money for a specific veterinary procedure or surgery for your horse. Often, you can raise the money you need for the surgery from kind-hearted strangers. But please do the right thing and only raise money for what you really need; you will be held accountable if you take money and don’t use it for veterinary bills. For an example of a crowdfunding website, check out: www.YouCaring.com. YouCaring.com specifically has campaigns for medical expense fundraising.
If You Must Re-home Your Horses, Don’t Delay
If there truly are no other alternatives than to find a new home for your horses, make this difficult decision to re-home your horses as soon as possible because it will buy you the maximum amount of time to find a great, new, forever home for your horses. The longer you wait, the more likely the chance that you will be forced to place your horse with the first possible opportunity whether it’s a quality home or not, to subject your horses to malnutrition or neglect if they need veterinary care you can’t afford, or worst of all, to be forced to sell your horses fast to a dealer or auction. Also, please don’t assume that a horse rescue or sanctuary can take your horse at the last minute. Due to the economic challenges from the crash of 2008, most horse rescues and sanctuaries are full.
Sources For Re-Homing Your Horse
Here are some ideas for how to find a new forever home for your horses:
1. “Horsey” Friends: Check with all friends, particularly those who already have horses and/or horse properties, and see if anyone already knows your horses and would take custody of some, or all of them.
2. Horse Rescues: Many horse rescues are filled to capacity. But it doesn’t hurt to check. Do an Internet search for horse rescues and start checking with them. Warning: be very sure that the advertised horse rescue is really a horse rescue and not a scam to get free horses to send to auction, or an amateur rescue from hoarders who can’t afford to give the horses proper care. Story after story is coming out about well-intentioned people who start horse rescues without a financial base, and then run out of money. Conditions usually are so bad at these facilities that the horses are confiscated by authorities. The truly viable horse rescues will either be a licensed 501c3, non-profit, or they’ll be affiliated with a nonprofit. Four horse rescues worth contacting are:
Colorado Horse Rescue: official website – www.chr.org
Front Range Equine Rescue: official website – www.FrontRangeEquineRescue.org
Harmony Equine Center – Denver Dumb Friends League: official website – ddfl.org/visit-us/harmony-equine/center
The Horse Protection League: official website – www.coloradohorseprotectionleague.com
3. Horse Sanctuaries: Horse sanctuaries have sprung up, often for abused horses. Here are some sanctuaries to contact:
Denkai Sanctuary: official website – www.denkaisanctuary.org
Best Friends Animal Society-Utah: official website – www.bestfriends.org
4. Colorado Unwanted Horse Alliance: The Colorado Unwanted Horse Alliance was formed in 2008 after the economic crash left many horse owners looking to re-home their horses. CUHA has an “Equidopt” program which lists the names and contact numbers for horse rescues that you may not know about. Visit: www.counwantedhorse.org for more information.
How To Safely & Responsibly Sell Your Horses
& Weed Out Unscrupulous Buyers
If you decide to try to sell your horses, do not sell them for very low prices, as that will attract horse auction buyers, instead of individuals who will give your horse a forever home. If you decide to sell your horses, MARKET them so you have the best chance of finding them a great new home. Here are some suggestions:
1. Photos: Take Great Photos of your horses, including funny ones. Take front photos, side photos, photos of your horse in action, including some heartwarming, or funny ones. Photograph the great attributes of your horse: its big, gentle brown eyes, a glistening coat, interesting markings. Before you take the photographs, clean and groom them so they glisten. Don’t use an old gnarly rope and halter. Pick up a new lead rope and halter in a bright color that complements the color of your horse’s coat.
2. Video: Use yours, or a friend’s cell phone, and take video of your horse moving, especially if they have a nice gait.
3. History: List your horse’s history, and where it comes from.
4. Speak To Your Horse’s Special Talents, But Don’t Over-promise. For example, if your horse hates arena work but is a solid, savvy trail horse, communicate that. The best way to find the ideal new owner is to TRUTHFULLY speak about your horse’s capabilities, talents, and personality. For example, if your horse likes a quiet, soft-spoken person, mention that. If your horse thrives on attention & grooming, let prospective buyers know this.
5. Riding Level: If your horse is bomb-proof and great for a beginner, let buyers know this. If your horse requires an intermediate or advanced rider, you must communicate this. If a beginner rider buys and then can’t handle your horse, and gets injured or is scared, your horse will be sold or surrendered, and you won’t be able to guarantee a safe, long life for it.
6. Medical Issues: If your horse has medical issues, the best thing to do is raise the money and get the medical issue resolved. (Loans, Grants, or Crowdfunding are good options.) For the safety and longevity of your horse, (as well as ethics), you must disclose medical issues.
7. Gelding: If your horse is a stallion or a colt, consider having them gelded before you sell them. Again, it’s possible you can find grants to do this from animal welfare groups addressing animal over-population.
8. Manners: Let prospective buyers know how your horse handles:
- A clipper
- A bath
- Trailer Loading
- Standing nicely for the farrier or the veterinarian
- Gets along nicely with other horses…these are all pluses that you should communicate.
9. Market Through Horse Websites: Once you have your marketing information in place to truthfully communicate about your horse, but position it in a positive light, post that information on a variety of horse for sale websites. Some examples include:
Logistics of Selling Your Horse
1. Legally Transfer Ownership: Do not just give your horse away. To fully transfer ownership, sell the horse for $1 if it’s to someone you trust who won’t then sell the horse to an auction.
2. Draw up a sales contract. There’s an example of a sales contract for selling a horse on: www.rehomeyourhorse.com.
3. Interview Questions. Once you post your ads, have a pre-developed list of questions to ask prospective owners. Question should include:
- Full contact information (name, address, phone, email)
- Facility and address where horse would live
- Veterinary reference, or reference from a barn manager that knows the prospective horse owner
- Insist on a site visit to the location where the horse would live
How To Protect Your Horses
From Unscrupulous Auction Buyers
There are plenty of unscrupulous people posing as private buyers to obtain your horse for very little money, and then sell it to kill buyers. Here are suggestions for how to make sure the person inquiring about your horse will give it a forever home, vs. sell your horse to auction that you won’t really know where it will end up.
1. References: Ask for references from them, including: 1) Their veterinarian; 2) a barn manager where they board; and 3) their farrier.
2. Check with Animal Control: Call animal control and ask how to find out if there are any complaints. Tell the officer that you are considering selling or giving your horse to this person, and ask if any complaints for animal cruelty or neglect have ever been filed against them.
3. Contact Horse Rescues: Ask if they know anything about the person to whom you might sell or gift your horse.
4. Google the Person By Name: See what information surfaces about them. Also consider spending the $10 fee that some research websites charge to show you information about the prospective new owner, such as financial issues, criminal backgrounds, etc.
Other Options For Your Horses: Leasing
One option many panicked horse owners forget about is to lease your horse to a reputable person who wants to ride, but is not ready to take ownership. Leasing the horse and keeping it on your property allows you to keep it where you can watch over it, while getting some financial support for the care and feeding. Be sure to work up a contract that specifically outlines what the person leasing your horse is responsible for paying.
Other Options For Your Horse: Marketing It As A Companion Horse
Horses are such social creatures that people with the financial means to do so sometimes choose to take in a non-ridable horse purely as a companion to another horse on the property. If your horse is in the Companion Horse category, market it as such. There are people willing to take in another horse purely for the company it will provide to their other equine.
Other Options For Horses: Humane Euthanasia
Putting your horse down may be the toughest decision you’ll ever have to make. But if a horse is very old, has a terminal illness, or if it’s got behavioral problems that aren’t resolvable, your horse is probably never going to be purchased, or accepted at a rescue or sanctuary. In those instances, euthanasia may be a preferable option to having your horse sold, In those case, there typically are non-profit groups that will help, or pay in full, for the euthanasia. You just have to start contacting various horse welfare groups to find out who provides grants for euthanasia.
Finally, Take Care of YOU With Grief Counseling
For those who love their horses, losing a horse – either through surrendering it, selling it, or putting it down – is like losing a limb and a piece of your heart. Be sure to do everything you can for the welfare of the horses who have given so much back to you. But also take care of yourself, and take immediate action to get grief counseling to help you through this difficult and lonely time. In many cases, you’ll be able to find grief counseling for free, or at vastly reduced prices. Simply Google “free grief counseling” or “free pet loss grief counseling,” and you will find a great many resources available to you.
Note from Colorado Horsecare Foodbank: If you must make the difficult decision to re-home your horse, and you want to buy as much time as possible, to find the right forever home, or make the right decisions for your horse’s future, please Contact Colorado Horsecare Foodbank and apply for grants of emergency hay & grain, veterinary care, and/or hoof care so you can take the time to find your horses the right forever home. Good luck and stay strong.