Things to know when looking to surrender, donate, or retire your horse…

Finding a new home for a horse is not always an easy job, but there are many equine organizations and facilities that play a role in providing care and helping horses in transition when finding a new owner.  Although the vast majority of rescue and retirement facilities are run honestly and with the horses’ best interest in mind, it is always a good idea to tour the facility before committing. This can help give you an idea of the people who will be caring for your horse, of the level of care provided, and of the values and mission of that facility.

Whether an owner is searching for the perfect retirement farm, looking to donate their horse to a worthy cause, or looking to surrender their horse to a rescue, there are certain questions every owner should ask before giving up care and control of a horse. In order to ensure that your horse is placed with the best-suited organization, please consider asking the organization(s) the following:

  1. Does the facility subscribe to accepted guidelines for operating such facilities, such as the “Care Guidelines for Rescue and Retirement Facilities” prepared by the American Association of Equine Practitioners?
  2. Is it an entity exempt from federal tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code?
  3. Does it file IRS Form 990 and forms required by the state? Will the facility provide copies
  4. Does it have a mission statement and a board of directors? Who are they?
  5. How long has the facility been operating?
  6. If it is a facility that will use the horse, how will it be used?
  7. Does the facility have ample room for horses to graze and/or move about?
  8. Will the horse stay at the facility or be placed into foster care? If the facility uses foster care, how are foster homes screened?
  9. Does it have an agreement regarding the use, boarding, or care of the horse?
  10. If it is a facility that adopts horses out, what are the requirements for adoption? Does the facility follow up with the new owners to ensure the horse is being properly cared for?
  11. Does the facility have a policy against breeding or restrict the horse’s use in any way?
  12. What is the facility’s post-adoption policy on breeding and use?
  13. If this is an adoption facility, are stallions gelded upon entry and before adoption?
  14. What becomes of the horse when the adopter or the user no longer wants the horse?
  15. Will the organization advise you before your horse is transferred to a new owner?
  16. Can the original owner ask for the horse back?
  17. Will the facility provide routine and emergency veterinary and dental care and farrier needs?
  18. Does the facility provide training/re-training for the horse?
  19. What are the physical characteristics of the facility, including barns, pastures, and shelters?
  20. Can owners visit if they wish?
  21. Have any welfare charges been brought against the facility?
  22. Does the facility euthanize horses that cannot be placed? If so, will the facility notify the owner beforehand
  23. Does the facility require the horse to be up to date on all vaccinations and dewormers prior to drop-off? If so, which ones?

For help in finding a local Shelter, Rescue, or Retirement facility, please check out:  Facilities that Accept Horses.

Please note:  The UHC is not affiliated with nor does it endorse any one facility. We are not responsible for the claims made by individual facilities.