For a variety of reasons, there comes a time in many horse owners’ lives in which they are no longer able, physically, or financially to provide care for their horse. Sometimes the horse is very much wanted, but an owner’s circumstances do not allow them to keep their beloved horse. It is at this juncture that owners may be forced to make the decision to find other available options for their horse.
*If you find yourself in a situation, in which you want to keep your horse, but need temporary assistance until you can get back on your feet physically or financially, there are various safety net programs available to help. Please visit UHC Safety Net Programs and Resources for more information.
It is important to note, that not all horses at-risk or in transition have suffered from neglect and abuse. A child may have outgrown his or her pony or moved on to different interests and the parent now has to contend with the monthly care and expenses of a large animal in the backyard or at a boarding facility. Another scenario is the horse that has been a great working animal throughout the years but is getting older and can no longer perform up to the standards that the rider needs, but may be suitable for another career. It is incredibly common for these reasons, that horses change hands frequently throughout their lives.
Most horse owners feel some moral obligation to make sure the horse they are selling or donating ends up receiving proper care and treatment. Legally, as a seller, you must share anything important you know about the horse’s behavior and physical condition. If the horse is healthy and of a reasonable age, it is always best to find suitable new ownership rather than have to euthanize the horse. On the other hand, if the horse is old and not in good health, then the most humane decision may indeed be euthanasia.
In most cases, there are 4 options available to owners: sale, donation/gift, surrendering to a rescue/sanctuary, or euthanasia. The options available to you may be based on the health, soundness, age, training level, and temperament of your horse. Some options have strict criteria for qualification; not every horse is suitable for every job.