Let’s Bring Down The Barriers To Horse Adoption (while still protecting rescue horses, mules and donkeys)

Here is my horse, Bear, greeting my first foster horse named Henry.

I am a proponent of animal rescue and adoption.

I have volunteered at both an animal shelter and a horse rescue. I have adopted one horse, fostered nine others, taken in countless stray cats that wandered up on my doorstep, done TNR (trapping feral cats, getting them spayed/neutered and vaccinated and then releasing them back to their original locations), adopted three senior felines and fostered more than 10 cats for two different shelters. I donate to rescues and animal welfare causes.

If you would like to read more about my previous experience specifically with horse adoption and fostering, go to https://thebackyardhorseblog.com/2020/02/26/looking-for-another-horse-this-spring-consider-fostering-or-adopting-your-next-horse/.

Sure, the world of rescue can be disturbing and heartbreaking. But it can also be rewarding and gratifying. It’s a world that I will continue to support despite the fact that it’s not perfect. I don’t want the following words to be misconstrued as meaning I am anti-rescue/adoption.

Within in the world of horse rescue, the ASPCA recently launched a program called The Right Horse Initiative. The goal is to encourage equestrians to consider adoption when looking for their next horse. Read more about The Right Horse Initiative at https://therighthorse.org.

The Right Horse Initiative supports a number of innovative programs at rescues across the country. All designed to increase horse adoption rates. I have one more idea for them.

As someone who is looking for their next horse and considering adoption, the greatest obstacle I have come against is the adoption application. Let me say that I DO think it is very important that rescues screen their adopters. After all, no rescue wants the horses in their care to end up in a neglectful or abusive home.

My issue is that since most horse rescues in the country are individual entities, each rescue requires its own application. It’s a great idea, but in practice, it limits my ability to adopt.

I am currently approved as an adopter with two different horse rescues in two different States. I also got a verbal reassurance from one organization that they would approve me as an adopter based on my previous application approval with another nearby rescue. But my experience is that most rescues will not. I was told by the last organization I contacted that it would not accept an approved application from another organization. I would need to go through that rescue’s own application and approval process before I could adopt.

Anybody who has been horse shopping knows that it is common to test out multiple horses in multiple locations. While I don’t so much mind filling out many applications myself, I do mind asking multiple references to talk with multiple rescues. Veterinarians, farriers, riding instructors/trainers (not to mention friends/family) are busy folks.

I suppose if I adopt a horse that it will give the horse professionals in my life another client. But beyond that, there’s not much personal benefit for them taking up their time for me and my multiple applications, especially when there’s no guarantee that I will find a suitable horse at a particular rescue.

What I would really like to see is The Right Horse (or some other national organization) design a blanket adoption application and approval system. Individual rescues could then join in by agreeing that they would accept adopters who were approved by The Right Horse or whatever overarching organization might undertake the responsibility for maintaining this national adopter-database.

I would guess some rescues still wouldn’t participate, preferring to personally approve each adopter, but I bet many of them would. I think the idea of a national adopter-database has the potential to really open up the application barrier to adoption while still protecting the horses, donkeys and mules in their care.

While I am not the first person who has thought of this idea, I sent an email suggesting it to The Right Horse Initiative. I have not heard back from them, but maybe my email is at least hanging out in someone’s inbox somewhere. My hope is that the idea would be considered as they design their future programs within The Right Horse Initiative.

I’ve personally seen the good that animal rescues, shelters and sanctuaries add to the world. I plan to continue to be a part of this world in some form or fashion, whether I actually end up adopting my next horse or not. If folks interested in adopting knew that just one application approval would open up the possibility of them adopting from multiple rescues, I think the horse industry would see adoption rates rise and that would be a beautiful thing.

What about you? Have you ever adopted or fostered an animal? Volunteered at a rescue? What do you think would help equestrians consider adoption when looking for their next horse?

2 thoughts on “Let’s Bring Down The Barriers To Horse Adoption (while still protecting rescue horses, mules and donkeys)

  1. I think that’s a great idea! We recently rescued a dog and the adoption process took forever! I can understand why, but if you’re already in the system it should be easier. We used to volunteer at the local animal shelter and I would see people in there for hours just filling out paperwork and waiting to see if they were approved.

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    1. Yes, I’ve sadly watched and read about similar issues that folks have had in the small animal adoption world. Including instances where folks became soured and angry with animal rescue for that reason. That’s a sad situation for everyone. I’ve also seen lots of talk among big animal organizations about making the adoption process more user friendly while still protecting the critters in their care. And in fact many shelters have changed their policies in recent years, but I don’t see that same discussion within the horse world. Perhaps because caring for a horse is arguably a greater responsibility than caring for a small animal. But at the same time, I really do see filling out adoption applications at each and every horse rescue to be a big deterrent for anyone interested in adopting a horse. I am hoping that someone with more influence than me can come up with a good solution! That is great that you have had the experience of volunteering at a shelter. And how lucky your new dog is to have your family as its adopted people! That is the kind of successful adoption story that I like to hear!

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