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Must Haves/Deal Breakers: How to increase the odds of successful rehoming in a pinch

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  • Must Haves/Deal Breakers: How to increase the odds of successful rehoming in a pinch

    My recent "rehoming" experience has pretty much reaffirmed my list of "must haves" and "deal breakers" when it comes to horses. I thought I'd throw this out there for debate/discussion given the current economic status and the effect it's been having on horses.

    So. Imaginary scenario is:

    Horse needs to be rehomed ASAP. Like within 10 days.


    Let's assume that you can afford the additional cost and are looking to adopt a horse in the next 90 days figuring that something will come along that will fit your program. IE: you're not in a huge hurry to find something, and you don't really want to get in over your head.

    What kinds of things do YOU think would make a horse more "marketable" as a free to good home horse? What kinds of things would be deal breakers and cause you to pass?

    What I'm trying to establish here are the basics that a horse owner should try to cover in order to give a horse a better shot at being able to find a good home on short notice. Or to highlight the kinds of things that would throw up the red flag and cause you to pass.

    I really believe that we owe our horses a good basic education just in case we are ever in a situation where we must find them new homes. Allowing large holes in training IMHO decreases a horse's chance of a positive outcome.

    What say you?
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...

  • #2
    Originally posted by BuddyRoo View Post
    Let's assume that you can afford the additional cost and are looking to adopt a horse in the next 90 days figuring that something will come along that will fit your program. IE: you're not in a huge hurry to find something, and you don't really want to get in over your head.

    What kinds of things do YOU think would make a horse more "marketable" as a free to good home horse? What kinds of things would be deal breakers and cause you to pass?
    As it happens, I'm kind of in that situation right now - looking to adopt a horse at some point between now and spring, not in a huge hurry. I've found one I'm interested in already.

    His main selling point? He's reported to be a wonderful trail horse, and his owners could tell me with particularity the kinds of things he's seen and his reaction to them. His second best attribute is that he is described as willing to work but very controllable.

    Things that have caused me to pass on free horses in the past? Owners who can't tell me the last time the horse saw a farrier, or was wormed, or had his teeth floated, or saw the vet. I can't afford to pay the vet bills that result from owner neglect! Also horses who haven't been ridden in years.

    ETA: I don't know why that frowny face appears at the top of my post! I can't seem to un-click the darn thing!
    I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show

    Comment


    • #3
      The horse should be rideable, and at the very least greenbroke.

      Trying to give away/sell a 10 y/o who's only been halter broke is ridiculous. Get that horse some training, or he's most likely to end up on a slaughter bound truck. An unbroke older horse is NOT a 'prospect' anything. It's a money pit.

      I also despise the, 'Please take Pookie and give him a good home. He can't be ridden and needs LOTS of medication to keep him pasture sound.' giveaways.

      If the horse deserves a forever home, then why don't they keep him? Oh right, because he's not sound and needs constant medication! Trust me, if you don't want the cost and upkeep for a horse who will only be pasture sound, no one else does either. The kindest thing would be to euth him.

      Please honestly disclose any conditions/vices the horse has. I don't want to get the beast home to find out he's a beaver who will take down my barn, or kick it to pieces. Also, if he's prone to colic or must have shoes on to stay sound, I need to know that. It won't necessarily mean it's a dealbreaker, but I'd like to know that up front.

      Tell me what he's best suited for. If I want him as a CTR mount and he's afraid of doing anything outside the ring, he's not suitable.

      As far as the person taking the horse? PLEASE be honest with yourself about the type of horse you can handle. If it's a bad fit, or you're afraid of the animal, it's not going to work. Just because it's free doesn't mean you should ignore all the other signs.
      Homeopathy claims water can cure you since it once held medicine. That's like saying you can get sustenance from an empty plate because it once held food.

      Comment


      • #4
        Must be able to hard tie. I had one that wouldn't, and she was a PITA. Her "restraint" issues extended to having feet handled, trailering.....

        Horses should be able to work inside a ring, and on the trail. They don't have to be great at either one, but an arena-trained horse that melts down on the trail doesn't have as bright a future as one that can go anywhere.

        Comment


        • #5
          If you mean "rehome" for free, I'll look at the horse and whether I like it or not, I'll assume everything the rehomer says is either a misrepresentation or an outright lie. What I'll take a chance on depends entirely on my whim of the moment and intuition.

          If you mean "sell", I'll look at the horse and whether I like it or not, I'll assume everything the seller says is either a misrepresentation or an outright lie. What I'll take a chance on depends entirely on how the price balances with my whim of the moment and intution. The higher the price, the smaller the chances I'm willing to take.

          What I will NOT do (unless it's something very, very special that I've been yearning after) is promise a "forever home". On something I think can be "value added" and resold to advantage, I'm going to be a whole lot less picky than I would be if I was looking only for My, Myself, and I. I may give a "forever home", but that's between me and the horse -- the "rehomer" doesn't get a say-so on it.

          Practically automatic deal breakers:
          • Ugly horses. They're hard to resell and I don't want to look at it everyday either. Exception if they've proven they can do something out-of-the-ordinary useful.
          • Unsound horses that aren't going to get better. Unless I'm just looking for a buddy horse and the unsoundness is "pasture sound without needing 'maintenence'".
          • Ornery horses if the "'tude" is inherent and nothing will change it. If it's just a defense mechanism caused by human stupid, I might chance it.

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Yep Greys...free to good home, no strings attached kind of deal.

            I'm interested in H/J/dressage and trail riding so my list may be slightly different. There are a lot of issues I'm willing to deal with but they would certainly give me pause.

            I can deal with a horse that doesn't want to be caught. Pretty fixable.

            I can deal with a horse that is a sticky loader--but the knock down drag out must be sedated to load thing would not work for me. I don't have a trailer or access to a trailer with enough frequency to properly work through that issue at this time.

            A horse who could not be stalled would be a deal breaker for me.

            I think a horse should be able to be safely led. It should be safe--even if not perfect--for getting feet trimmed. It could not have any serious aggression issues as I board and cannot risk the liability. The horse should be able to WTC. Not looking for perfection, but I don't want to take on a horse that doesn't at least have that.

            I would PREFER not to take on a horse that right out of the gate is going to cost me big time: ie: feet totally neglected, teeth neglected, severe arthritis, ulcers.

            What kind of prompted this is that the owner of the horse I'm trying to rehome was absolutely flabbergasted when the potential new owner withdrew her interest when it became apparent that this horse was not getting in a trailer without either--lots of work or drugs.

            Owner just couldn't understand why THAT would be a deal breaker. I explained it to her...but it just blew my mind. HUGE hole in training.

            Had that issue been addressed 4 years ago, the new potential owner would've still taken her--even with her eye issue, her general lack of training, and her lack of proper dental and farrier care. She was still willing to put time and money into the horse....but the trailer thing was a deal breaker in the 11th hour.

            Now, my fault for misjudging the severity of the problem....but I just can't believe that you'd go along without trying to fix something that major!
            A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

            Might be a reason, never an excuse...

            Comment


            • #7
              Oh yeah, the trailer thing. The horse HAS to load with a minimum of fuss and drama. A little is fine but not 3 hours worth, and if the horse has to be drugged, no way am I taking it!

              Mack has always been a PITA to get on the trailer, and I'm just not willing to deal with that type of behaviour any more. Even Casper with his myriad of other faults gets right on and off.
              Homeopathy claims water can cure you since it once held medicine. That's like saying you can get sustenance from an empty plate because it once held food.

              Comment


              • #8
                I guess I SO broke all of these must nots! Last 2 rescues were a 17 and 18 yr old broodmares with unknown soundness and riding ability, and no known further health history other than they are good at reproducing! Oh and they both clearly needed a good bit of $$ to get back into health.

                The only thing they had going for them was SWEET as pie! Despite the thought of "this is going to cost me" I fell in love with them. Yea, spent a bunch in rescues throughout the years, some have forever homes (or come back to me if they need them) and some I'm kind of glad found new owners. I think for me, when looking at a free horse, I see it and ask myself these 3 questions:
                "Am I the last hope for this horse?"
                "Can I be able to find someone who can appreciate this horse after it is back into proper shape?"
                "Is this horse going to have a good quality of life for another 5+ years?"
                If the answer to any of the above is No, then I pass. However, if it's yes, I don't care how ugly, how bad of shape, and how rank it is... it usually comes home that day.

                My mare Indy is a prime example of a rescue that probably no one would've taken. She was a yearling, grade, bone infection and proud flesh wounds on 2 of her 4 limbs from entanglement in barbed wire, no health records, no farrier work ever, jumped every fence under 5, underweight, bit, kicked, reared, barely halter broke... BUT.. if you had the sugar cube and she trusted you enough to give her scratches.. she was the sweetest in-your-lap horse ever.

                8 years later, she is my forever horse, and her snooty spoiled self knows it. She's still demanding, will never be sound except for trail rides but only if trimmed properly. Can still get witchy at moments, can't be turned out with most other horses, can be dangerous in certain extreme circumstances. But she's still that sweet mare to me and she's the only horse I can trust around my ailing mom b/c they have a special bond even more than Indy and I do (I think it's all the apples and hand grazing she gets!! ) She's better behaved than most horses, but given her track history, would any of you really take her??
                Fourth N' Goal Training LLC.
                ~Specializing in Mom and Kid Approved Equitation and Jumper Horses

                *Horse Collector Status = Six Pack*

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  City? Nope. Couldn't. I'm just not set up to deal with those issues. Bless you for doing it! But as someone who boards, beyond the health issues, I can't provide the environment that horse would need.

                  Now that's not necessarily a training issue--which is more what I was talking about. Take two horses of otherwise equal caliber: decent confo, decent mind, sound, etc....now add or subtract some of the training basics from one of them. Which do you choose? That's more what I was talking about.

                  Your example is a very VERY special case. And one I'm afraid I'd not be able to help given my setup.
                  A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                  Might be a reason, never an excuse...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I agree avidly iwth Greys on at least one point...sadly, you have to assume whatever they tell you is misunderstanding at least and flat out lies at most.

                    the worst case we ever had was a call to take in a 2yo reg AQHA gelding with nice bloodlines. they could even deliver him. oculdnt keep him because he wouldnt stay weaned off his mom, an because they were converting to a full breeding operation and were going to all mares except their one stallion. when he unloaded with a significant limp, they said "oh, yeah, he hit his knee getting on the trailer this morning" and swore he'd been sound his entire life. Long story short, the boy had traces from literally 5 abscesses in one front hoof and 3 in the other and was working on blowing a 4th; he had abscesses behind, and the reason he wouldnt stop trying to nurse our vets tell us is because his body was begging for antibodies to kill off the raging systemic infection rushing through him. the boy drank 3 buckets of water between each feeding and you could smell his urine from the driveway...but he'd been pasture kept and they 'had no idea he drank a lot or that it mattered if his pee smelled funny". Luckily, that one was an easy fix and he went on to a fantastic showing home, placing top money in several events at state fair.

                    I will disagree on the missing vet/farrier/wormer work, though. This is so incredibly common that if we turned down every horse whose owner can't provide proof of recent vaccinations and farrier care, well, I think 2 of the 18 in my pasture irght now might have come to us, maybe 3. We do, however, INSIST upon a current coggins before we will either ocnsider bringing here or help it find a place somewhere else. Here in IL the law techniaclly says you can't ride down your street without a current coggins and definitely can't pull a trailer off your property without it. If they want to rehome the horse, they've got to take this step and make him legal to move.
                    AnnMarie Cross, Pres, Crosswinds Equine Rescue, cwer.org
                    Sidell IL (near Champ./UofI/Danville IL/IN state border)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Dealbreaker #1: any horse with bad ground manners, doesn't respect your space, aggressive, etc. My non-horsie DH will be feeding and doing turnout on occasion, and I don't need him to get clobbered - or me either!

                      Dealbreaker #2: any horse with medical issues so untreatable that my first, second, and third inclination will be to grab a gun and put the poor thing out of its misery on the spot.

                      Otherwise... well, it's a free horse, so I expect it will come with issues.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Roo,
                        As far as the list, although we know owners often lie or simply don't know enough to answer properly, if we are going to help rehome a horse who can't cocme here, we have a series of questions we use. we HOPE these help the possible takers figure out if the horse is worth further research:

                        I'm so sorry that we're unable to bring your horse into our facility at this time. We are often full or nearly so, and our board as a group selects the specific horses who come into our facility based on whether they feel our program is most likely able to help them on to a good home. As said previously, we are glad to try to help you find a new home. Please answer these questions as honestly as you can. It's ok if you don't understand what something means, just ask, or have a horsey friend help you to answer. PLEASE BE HONEST as telling people who your horse really is will help ensure that s/he does not end up immediately given away or sold again, and possibly ending up at slaughter or neglected or abused, or hurting himself or someone else.

                        1. coggins within 12 months? if no, please do not continue until you've got a vet appt for a coggins test, as required by IL state law.
                        2. approximate age and why you think that is his/her age
                        3. breed, and is s/he registered. if yes, tattoo or brand #, registerd name and number and name of registry. and anything you know about said horses' bloodlines. Yes, it matters -- some adopters will take in a horse becuase it is the grandson of their favorite show horse of all time, or a cousin to their retired super hunter, or... the more you can provide in this area the better. if you say the horse can be registered, be prepared to provide details of how and what data you have to uspport registry of same.
                        4. does the horse ride? when was its last ride in an arena? the last ride on a trail? describe the best ride you've ever seen for the horse in detail. if she rides, english or western? bit or hackamore? what kind of bit? if the horse is "bomb proof" please give specific examples of behavior that make you say so.
                        5. is this a horse that you would give away to your 60 year old grandmother who looks after autistic 10 year old children? If not, specific details of why not. what behaviors would be unsafe for the grandmother and around the children?
                        6. does she tie? what is the longest time you have had her tied outdoors, out of sight of other horses?
                        7. does she load onto a trailer by herself without your walking on with her? if not, what exactly did you do and how long did it take to get her loaded the worst time ever? the most recent time?
                        8. please tell me all you can about any injuries or haelth issues she has had in all the time you have known her. what medications is she currently taking? is there anything a vet has recommended s/he take but you've not been able to try?
                        9. please tell me all about her diet. does she get fed grain? how often and what type? is she on pasture 24/7? does she get hay? how much and how often?
                        10. does she wear shoes? when were they last put on or reset? how is she for the farrier? does she have any hoof injuries or illnesses right now that you know of? when is the last time she had thrush or an abcess?
                        11. how would you describe her weight -- is she obese? underweight? does she easily gain weight or does she require a lot of feed to try to keep her healthy?
                        12. if you were about to bring this horse home as the only horse your only child will ever love, what would you wish you knew about her before you chose to take her rather than someone else's horse?

                        please include at least 2 photos, and tell us the approx dates of the photos.
                        Please know possible takers are going to contact you directly at the email address you provided. CWER will not be screening the adopters, the horse is not being adopted through us or on a CWER contract, and we have no responsibility or liability for you or for anyone who chooses to take ownership of your horse.

                        We sincerely hope we can help you to help the horse on to a new life. We can only imagine how hard this is for you right now, and are happy to do our best to help.
                        AnnMarie Cross, Pres, Crosswinds Equine Rescue, cwer.org
                        Sidell IL (near Champ./UofI/Danville IL/IN state border)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Buddy Roo - OK given THOSE circumstances. Ground manners doesn't bother me as much as under saddle work ethic. I can deal with PITA on the ground as long as they don't protest learning new things by rearing/bucking. You can find a horse savvy mom buying a cantankerous pony for a strong kid that is safe jumping around a 2'6" cross country course but gets nasty on crossties, than you can for one that will buck when pushed too much with leg. Also another breaker for me as far as training: herd bound/barn sourness, not tying (claustraphobic), and certain vices (rare though, cold backed)
                          Fourth N' Goal Training LLC.
                          ~Specializing in Mom and Kid Approved Equitation and Jumper Horses

                          *Horse Collector Status = Six Pack*

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            What you say makes sense, City Ponies, but Buddy Roo is asking a slightly different question. She's not asking what a horse savvy person would put up with for a potentially good deal, she's asking, what are the minimum manners / skills / handle-ability that a horse has to have on it to have a chance of being rehomed quickly in very dire circumstances.

                            I think ground manners do figure in strongly to that question. Animal should be handle-able w/o too much drama; a little bargey-ness isn't ideal, but isn't a deal breaker, but being impossible to lead or catch kind of is.

                            Minimally, a horse should tie, shouldn't buck just because of having a little leg put on it. Should know and respect a one-rein stop, even if you never think your horse will need it. Should TRAILER (ahem).

                            ALSO:

                            I think you don't do your horse a favor if they aren't occasionally ridden and handled by someone who ISN'T their main owner. I know there are people on here who can write pages about how they are the only person who can understand or handle Pony, they have a special bond, etc. But if such a person gets hit by a bus tomorrow, that horse is in a world of trouble, because it hasn't been handled or ridden by anyone else in perhaps a loong time, and that, my friends, is the fast track to the auction, especially if one isn't around to prevent such a thing.

                            If you want your horse to be as safe as you can make it from winding up with a bad home or no home in a 'worst case scenario', they should be as sensible and trained in basic handling as you can make them. If you are on this board, there is no excuse for not working hard to solve things like not tying, being stupid about their feet, being hard to lead, super hard to catch, etc. If you are on this board, you have read the threads about the various desperate wrangles to find Mr. Cute But Has Serious Issues a home that doesn't involve being accompanied by a garnish and a nice glass of rosé.

                            End of rant.
                            I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
                            I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Lori B View Post
                              ALSO:

                              I think you don't do your horse a favor if they aren't occasionally ridden and handled by someone who ISN'T their main owner. I know there are people on here who can write pages about how they are the only person who can understand or handle Pony, they have a special bond, etc. But if such a person gets hit by a bus tomorrow, that horse is in a world of trouble, because it hasn't been handled or ridden by anyone else in perhaps a loong time, and that, my friends, is the fast track to the auction, especially if one isn't around to prevent such a thing.
                              My mare is like this. It's been 10 years, and due to the severity of her abuse history she doesn't like other people. Finally she's allowing someone else to care for her, nickers for my BOs, and treats them like people. I believe she'll be fine while I'm out of state for a year and let them handle her. However, they're great people with a true love of animals and they have special needs animals of their own (ChardaveJ from the board here).

                              I worried and struggled with her long term issues this spring, I had to go through some tests because of a lump in my breast they thought might be cancer. Knowing she wouldn't let anyone care for her caused me a lot of undue stress through that time.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                And you are wise, Steffi, to know that this is something to work on.

                                Hope your health issues are resolved, and glad to hear that your mare is making friends w/ other 2-legs. It's good for everyone.
                                I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
                                I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Yes, LoriB, I did get it resolved, was determined to be a cyst and they told me to lay off coffee (yeah, right )

                                  My will has always had money set aside for her, it's nice to have someone now that can care for her should something happen to me. She's my heart horse...

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    For me, having horse experience, I would not want:

                                    unsound for riding, vices that weren't disclosed, seriously unbalanced mentally

                                    Would accept:
                                    underweight, attitude adjustments required, unbroke, won't tie, won't load, etc.

                                    If I didn't have experience:

                                    would only accept:
                                    kind, broke, ties, leads, trailers, perhaps health and soundness issues

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      If I've said this once I've said it a thousand times.....I will NEVER own another rearer. Period.

                                      Crappy ground manners are my second dealbreaker. I returned (from a trial)an otherwise lovely young, sound, and sane draft cross mare because she was an absolute horror on the ground. Had she been free and not a potential purchase, I would still have returned her.

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Lori B, you nailed it.

                                        I rode my girls tonight for the first time in a week. I've spent the last week working and working on this other horse deal. So in thinking about this more, I went through a checklist tonight regarding my own two.

                                        I have one that I know I could rehome in about 10 minutes. Seriously. I can think of at least 5 people, 3 of them local, who would take her in a heart beat.

                                        My other mare? More difficult. Does all the basic stuff but just isn't an easy ride. I still think I could place her pretty easily...in a week if I had to. But it wouldn't be a snap of the fingers like Chey.

                                        And the reason Chey would be so easy is because anyone can ride her and as such, lots of people HAVE and lots of people like her. She could be a kids horse, a hubby horse, a rerider horse, etc etc. Lots of possibilities for her.

                                        I think our training has to focus at least somewhat on making sure that they have possibilities outside of ourselves.

                                        So back to the trailering...even if I hardly ever leave the property, my horse HAS to load well. (and mine do...point and shoot...but they didn't come out of the womb that way!)
                                        A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                                        Might be a reason, never an excuse...

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