You’re at your wits end. You’re out of money, or your health is failing. And you have a horse who depends on you.
You’ve tried leasing, or even free-leasing, your equine friend to someone to help ease the burden, but she lost interest in showing, or the horse wasn’t “right” for him, or your beloved horse is just a pasture puff and can’t be ridden at all.
You’ve asked your friends if they’ve got room for one more in their barns – but your friends are struggling just as you are.
Your boarding barn says you have to be out by the end of the month. You don’t want to just abandon your horse there, because you don’t run away from your responsibility, and your horse will just end up going to auction to pay for back board.
You don’t want to send your horse to auction. Auctions are excessively stressful for horses, where they can be kicked, bitten, roughly handled, exposed to dread diseases, and at the end of the sale, wind up on a truck bound for the slaughterhouse.
You called the rescues -- all of them – but they are all full and short on funds. They put your horse on their waitlist, but time is running out for you.
You are not alone.
Thousands of horse owners across the country are struggling with the same weighty decision about what to do with their horses now that they cannot take care of them any longer. It seems so easy to list your horse on Craigslist for free.
And then the “good home” offers start showing up.
You should know that that “good home” may not be the paradise forever home it seems. As with anything, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. There are confirmed cases across the country of horse owners innocently offering up their beloved companions to the first “good home” that shows up in the driveway with a horse trailer, only to discover that the “good home” was a fantasy, and their horse’s "savior" sent them straight to the slaughterhouse. Kill buyers and horse dealers can and will present themselves as a great family looking for a pet to love on, only to take the horse from your home to the kill auction. Not only will your horse most likely NOT find a good home in the auction ring and instead meet a grisly, cruel end as horse meat, but that kill buyer will walk away counting the money she got per pound from your pet, without having to pay a penny upfront.
Kill buyers don’t look like monsters. They have nice trailers and nice stories about how their granddaughter is going to just love spoiling your horse rotten.
So what can you do?
By all means, if you must rehome your horse, make every effort to connect with anyone who might be interested. There is nothing inherently wrong with listing your horse on Craigslist or facebook or other websites. Networking is important. Contact the rescues, even if they don’t have room for your horse. Blue Star Equiculture is constantly receiving inquiries from genuine good homes looking for very specific types of horses. And, never fear, that “type” often includes older pasture ornaments (they may just be looking for a personality type or a particular breed or size). We can put you in contact with these genuine good homes AND help you check references. Blue Star Equiculture can also help you with creating a protective adoption contract for your horse.
Provide as much information as you can to prospective homes. While you are not selling your horse (you’re giving him away), you still can help your horse find a home by really “selling” your horse! What’s special about him? What training does he have? Be sure to include photos showing your horse at his very best. If he’s not up-to-date on his medical or farrier work, get him ready to go. He deserves no less.
And finally, as difficult a decision as it might be, if you are still having trouble rehoming your horse, especially if your horse has health problems, take a good hard look at euthanasia. While such an option may seem like an impossible choice to make, consider the alternative of neglect or slaughter. Your horse may be better off crossing over at home surrounded by loved ones than facing the trauma and stress of moving, especially if it means being whisked off to auction by an unscrupulous kill buyer.
So, before you send your horse off “free to a good home,” do your homework. Remember:
A “good home” WILL answer your questions.
A “good home” WILL give you references.
A “good home” WILL give you the name of the veterinarian and farrier they use or intend to use.
A “good home” WILL let you visit the facilities where your horse will be kept.
A “good home” WILL have no objection to signing a “right of first refusal” protective adoption contract.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t wait until you have no choice but to give your horse to whoever is willing to haul him away (to the auction or to the slaughterhouse). Don’t wait until it’s too late.
Do this for your horse.