Agreed. The key is to whom. The IRS requires a certified appraisal to take a tax deduction greater than $5,000 on a donated horse.
Due to the economy, a lot of people have been trying to donate their horse(s) the last few years, thinking they can just put a big price on it and take the tax deduction...not so easily done though. (not saying that's you...just what many people have tried to do over the last few years)
You can donate horses to riding programs (both college and therapeutic types). You can donate horses to veterinary schools. Each has different pro's and con's; the riding programs are going to want sound horses; therapeutic programs want quiet, sane horses; college programs are a bit more flexible on temperment. Some places will love it if you might take the horse back at retirement time. Others will sell them to students or other people if they are not working in the program.
Vet schools are a different ball of wax. Some may have breeding programs, so if you had a mare that met their needs, that would work. Generally a horse donated to vet school is studied and euthanized. http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/ar.../t-245190.html
As mentioned, appraisal necessary over a certain value; it will cost in the neighborhood of $500 or so, with travel costs additional.
First step - find a recipient organization that will take your horse as a donation (not all are looking at any given time.)
Second step - get the appraisal if necessary.
Third step - ship the horse; transfer paperwork, etc
You will keep a copy of appraisal AND provide one to the receiving organization
We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........
I donated my sweet mare to a college riding program to give lessons. They sold her to an auction/dealer without even notifying me she wasn't working out. I would have taken her back very gladly if they had only let me know.
Most universities don't give any notice to former owners.
Some are required to put the horses through a public auction type format, as similar to other government owned property like extra police cars, etc.
Some will do private sales and some don't even bother and just have horse dealers pick up extra horses.
There are some good programs out there too, but I think some are the smaller high school boarding programs and small universities that are more selective about horses taken into the program.
I have also donated a horse to a summer camp and actively work to try and place horses that don't work out in the same program. However, some of the horses are a little off the deep end and the (former) owners never want a call back. Most of the horses do work out and do quite well.
I agree that donating to a rescue can really be code for dumping your problem onto someone else.
Off topic, but I'm sure glad some people chose to donate their "problems" to my university's polo team~we certainly couldn't have made it to national finals without them
Good school horses in any discipline are worth their weight in gold several times over. Ours were treated very well and given great retirements (or appropriate homes if they weren't working out, or in three dire instances, euthanized). We contacted the prior owners to give them a first refusal.
Heck, I have one out in my field who I hauled across the country after I graduated. Unfortunately, it depends on the school program and more importantly, the crop/generation of students/faculty involved in decision making. Some care quite a bit, and others just move them on through.
When I donated my old gelding to the Univ. of IL large animal clinic, I just needed to phone them a couple times to hammer out details. I was not able to use it as a tax deduction, which didn't bother me, because according to them they have to keep the horse for X amount of time, and sometimes that's just not feasible for what they want to do with the horse. In my gelding's case, he looked healthy and happy overall, but had the worst case of melanomas three vets had ever seen, including in his mouth, sheath, and one starting on his eyelid.
I was told they would send me an autopsy report, which they never did. I did get his halter back in the mail, which was shocking but very much appreciated. I believe they only kept him a couple weeks for observations and such. It was one of the hardest decisions of my life since like I said, he *looked* fine, but the tumors were growing quickly and we knew he would start to go downhill fast, and we couldn't watch him suffer like that.
My college equestrian team was small and just starting out, but I know we would have LOVED to have a horse donated that was sane, sound, and useable, even if he/she had some quirks. The BO where we rode was a tool though, so not sure how that would have worked out. Find a smaller university that has a club type of equestrian team, or a program that is still relatively new, and see what they say.