THE ADOPTION PROCESS
Since HAPI Trails was incorporated as a 501(c)3 in June of 2009, we have received over 50 horses into our program. We have had the great opportunity to care for and find new homes for a majority of the horses who have found their way to us.
Thank you for considering Adoption! Our Mission is to help horses in need and place them in new an loving homes. Below is our process, if you have other question prior to adoption, please feel free to send us an email request or give us a call!
ADOPTION APPLICATION AND AGREEMENT
Prior to considering Adoption from HAPI Trails we ask that you read and submit our Adoption Agreement Form. Because we are an Adoption Program we do require the adoptee to understand and agree to specific understandings that you would not normally agree to when purchasing a horse. This agreement benefits the horse, HAPI Trails as well as the adoptee.
If you are not ready to commit to Adoption, please consider Fostering one of our horses.
ADOPTION FEE: $400.00
HAPI Trails began because of the downturn in the economy, so we wanted to make adopting a horse in need was financially feasible. The normal fee for adopting a horse from HAPI Trails is $400.00. This fee helps to pay for the cost associated with either that horses needs or other horses in our program, as some need more care than others and we have found this fee effective for the overall care of all our horses.
UNDERSTAND THE PROCESS
HAPI Trails is a 501(c)3 which hopefully tells you we are a serious organization. We have put in the effort and gone thru the process, both with time and money to make sure we are held accountable for all that we do. Being a 501(c)3 also makes us a public organization. Everything we do is available to anyone who asks. So please ask if you have questions about us.
We also have done our research and understand that adopting a horse is a huge commitment. We want to provide you with as many resources possible to help you through the adoption process. Below is a nice article written by one of our Sponsor Organizations, Purinias’ Home for Every Horse. It provides a great guideline on what you should be looking for in a new horse, as well as the organization your are planning to adopting from.
SCHEDULE A VIISIT
Once you have determined adoption is right for you and HAPI Trails is the organization you want to support, plan a visit. Since HAPI Trails is located on private property, we ask that you contact us to make an appointment. HAPI Trails tries to be available when you are, but please keep in mind we are 100% volunteer and most of us have full time jobs and animals of our own to care for. That said, just tell us when you are available and we will do our best to make it happen.
YOU’VE FOUND YOUR HORSE
Or the house found you!
Once the connections have been made, and everyone is comfortable with being around the horses, you will be given the opportunity to spend more time with that horse on your own. You can take as much time as you want! Any time with our horses is time well spent for them and for you, whether you end up adopting or not.
HAPI TRAILS VISITS YOU
During the connection process, we will want to come visit your horses, home, meet your family and call on your references. If you are planning on boarding the horse we will want to visit that facility and talk with others who board there. Some of the things we are looking for are listed in our agreement application.
We also don’t like to place a horse in a home with no other horses. They are heard animals and thrive when they can contribute to the heard.
ITS A MATCH
If things look like they will continue to move forward, we will make arraignments to move the horse to your property (or facility). We can deliver or if you have the ability, you can come get them. We can discuss logistic in detail to make sure the transport will work well for all involved – including the horse!
At this time we ask for a $200.00 non-refundable deposit. We will also provide you with an “Introduction letter” which will give you written information on that horse, including as much of their history as we can provide, their feed and care regime and contact numbers of our board, vet & farrier. Please understand that we are 100% volunteer, and all fees are considered donations. And all fees/donations go directly to helping the horses.
30 DAY TRIAL PERIOD
Each adopter will have 30 days to “foster” the horse on their property or at their facility of choice. This 30 day foster period is provided to make sure all parties involved, included other equines, are accepting and the adoption is a good match. The horse will need ample amount of time to become comfortable with it’s new surroundings and with it’s potential new owners and fellow herd members. And we want to make sure the horse is what you believe it to be! Being an Adoption Program, we will disclose any and all information about that horse. We are trying to make a good match and provide that horse with a new forever home.
A HAPI ENDING
At the end of the 30 day trial period, and the adoption is confirmed by all involved, we will ask for the remaining $200.00 of the adoption fee and provided you with all final papers, i.e. Brand inspection, health reports and adoption certificate.
HAPI Trails likes to stay in touch with our supporters/adoptors and will occasionally ask for an update on the horse. We also offer as much support as possible, helping with feeding, resources and/or training. We also want you to feel free to contact us, send us photos or become part of our HAPI Trails family through volunteering.
PLEASE NOTE: HAPI Trails can not guarantee any horses(s) as to its disposition or training. HAPI Trails can not be held liable for damages, injuries, etc. caused by an adopted horse. Horses that come into our program are sometimes young, untrained or abused. Due to their sometimes neglected condition, temperament generally changes with proper care. HAPI Trails will include with each adoption a complete file on the animal(s), which will explain why the horse came to be surrendered to HAPI Trails, what veterinary care it received while it was under the care of HAPI Trails and what the staff and foster parents have personally noticed about the horses’s disposition and training.
REMOVAL OR RETURN
Should this not be a good fit, HAPI Trails has the right to remove an adopted horse from the new owner, without the use of a lawyer, if HAPI Trails deems the new owner is not meeting these agreed upon requirements.
Also if at anytime in the horses future, as long as HAPI Trails exist, you can no longer keep the horse, they are always welcome back to us. No matter what the reason! We also ask that you not sell or give them away without contacting us first – it’s in our requirements. We have made a commitment to our horses and part of that commitment is to make sure they always have a safe and loving home.
Our goal is to give the horse a new home and new life. We understand if an adoption is not a good fit and the horse needs to be returned to our program. Giving the horse an opportunity to settle into it’s new home and family is time well spent. Our mission is to provide care for the horse and find it the best family possible. We are 100% volunteer.
Adopt a Rescue Horse – What You Need to Know
Doing your research before you adopt a rescue horse can help you avoid trouble and find a suitable match.
Adopting a horse is tempting in so many ways. If you’re the emotional type, you’ve saved a life. If you’re the practical sort, you’ve saved a lot of money on purchase price. And if you’re both kinds of horse enthusiast, isn’t this a great idea?
Not so fast. Unless you do your homework, taking in a horse from a rescue facility (which places otherwise “unwanted” horses with new owners) or from any other “free” source could spell trouble or even disaster. We’ll tell you how to proceed with caution, getting your head and your heart together for what could be the most wonderful equine adventure of your life.
Beth DeCaprio runs the Grace Foundation of Northern California, a highly organized rescue operation just east of Sacramento. She says her rescue and many others are seeing a different kind of surrender situation now than in earlier years.
“We’re seeing not only horses that people don’t want, but also horses they can no longer financially care for,” she explains. While rescues around the country still have many older, starved, and sick animals, they also have something new: healthy, well-cared-for horses that owners simply can no longer afford.
Jill Curtis runs the Shiloh Horse Rescue and Sanctuary in Las Vegas, Nevada. During the last seven years, she’s found good homes for 313 horses, and at any given time there are up to 75 unadoptable animals in sanctuary on her ranch. She, too, is taking in more healthy, sound horses with great potential. Jill says some of her best rescues come from the racing world when Thoroughbreds are cast aside after their careers have ended. She finds them new jobs.
For example, she found Pacific, an OTTB (off-the-track Thoroughbred), for her sister Sarah, and the two are now eventing at the preliminary level.
Jill and Beth offer the following guidelines for a successful adoption, organized into three important checklists. Begin with yourself.
A Few Helpful Guidelines on Adopting a Horse
- Your Wants, Needs
- Consider The Source
- The Horse in Question
- Dealing with Unknowns
- Straight From the Owner
- Happily Ever After?
Think through your motivation and goals for adopting a horse.
What do you want? A mount for casual recreational riding? Something you can compete on? A pasture pet to be company for a horse you already own? Obviously, your answer will affect the breadth and depth of your search, as well as what you can expect to pay in adoption fees (more on that in a moment).
What’s your skill level with horses? Are you experienced enough to work through the trust issues that come with a neglected or abused animal? Can you work with a young, unstarted horse? If you haven’t ridden since childhood or are new to riding and/or ownership, a quiet, serviceably sound senior horse will be a better choice. (You’ll be doing no horse any favors if you take on more than you can competently handle.)
Do you have a suitable place to keep a horse (or a second horse) and enough money for feed, hoof and veterinary care, and other maintenance? True, your new horse might cost you only a nominal adoption fee to acquire–typically from around $200 to $600 for a rehabbed horse, though a specialty breed with training could come with a fee of up to $2,000 or more. (And some rescues waive the adoption fees in special circumstances.) Still, as with all horse acquisitions, it’s the ongoing maintenance costs of the animal that are your true expense. So, any way you look at it, put the notion of a “free” horse out of your mind.
Your self-assessment is done, but before you begin looking at specific horses, check out the rescue organization that’s offering them for adoption.
Is it a registered non-profit? If the rescue has 501(c)(3) status, it means the operators have gone through some extra work to define and run their business. There are no regulated industry standards, and not all rescue centers are well run, so it’s worth knowing whether the proprietors have at least gone to this effort.
Does the rescue rehabilitate horses from neglectful or abusive situations before trying to place them with new owners? It should. If it doesn’t, you might wind up bringing home a special-needs horse that requires a demanding regimen to be brought back to good health.
Are you being pressured? Back away from any attempts to hurry you into a decision. The best rescue operators want the adoption to succeed as much as you do and will spend the time it takes to make sure you find a suitable match. Again, adopting a horse is a huge responsibility, financially and emotionally. Take the
time it takes to make a prudent decision.
Can you return the horse if it doesn’t work out? A good rescue will allow you a time period for settling in together and will take the horse back if you feel you’ve made a mistake.
Does the rescue have good references? Find others who’ve adopted from the facility you’re considering and ask them about their experience during and after the adoption process.
You’ve found a facility you can trust. Now apply equal diligence in checking out any horse you’re considering for adoption.
Spend plenty of time with the horse while it’s still at the rescue. Ask about handling issues and whether the horse has any behavioral vices. If you’re looking for a ridable mount, have someone at the rescue ride it for you before you mount up. (If they won’t, there’s very likely a problem, and you probably shouldn’t try to ride it, either.)
When you find one you think might be for you, arrange for a health exam (vet check). Without one, your wonderful “bargain horse” can turn into a heartbreaking money pit. “This is a top priority,” stresses Jill. “Horses with navicular disease, ringbone, and a long list of other disorders could look and seem fine, but their hidden health problems can turn into huge vet bills.” For this reason, the lack of a vet check is the most common cause of a bad experience with a rescue horse. Some rescues have their horses examined by a veterinarian when they take them in; others don’t. Either way, you’ll want a vet you trust to check the horse before you take him home. You won’t necessarily need expensive x-rays, but you do need a basic, overall health assessment.
Expect to sign a contract if you do adopt. Most well-run rescues will require one; be sure to read it carefully and fulfill your promises regarding your new horse’s care, handling, and potential future transfers of ownership.
What won’t you know about your new adoptee? It depends on where the horse came from originally. Because there are more horses being relinquished these days by conscientious but financially stressed owners, you could learn a fair bit about a horse from this type of situation. Feel free to ask questions and inquire about registration papers.
Horses coming from abusive or neglectful situations, however, don’t arrive at the rescue facility with much information about their history, so you won’t be able to find out much. Fortunately, in such a situation, a well-run rescue operation can take some of the guesswork out of the deal.
For example, to help her make good matches, Beth at Grace Foundation has put solid evaluation techniques into practice. She and her staff use an in-depth behavioral assessment to learn about each horse they take in, then they rate the animal on a 5-star scale.
Horses that score a 5 can be considered safe for a beginner to ride. Horses with a 4 rating need an advanced beginner to intermediate rider. (Beth and her staff are also skilled at evaluating the people looking to adopt, to make sure a new owner’s skills match the needs of the horse being adopted.)
Horses that score from 3 down to 1 have challenges to overcome. For these horses, the Grace Foundation donates the adoption fee to a professional trainer, who works with the horse and the appropriately skilled rider in an effort to get them off to a good start.
Although a good rescue facility will give you a real advantage in finding the horse you seek, such operations aren’t the only source of no-cost or low-cost horses. An owner might be going away to college and more interested in finding a good home for a beloved horse than earning money in the transaction.
Or someone in need of a break from the cost of horse care might gift a horse, temporarily or permanently, to someone offering a good home. Broodmares might need to be culled from a breeding program, or young horses might need expensive training owners can no longer afford.
Increasingly, online horse classifieds are including “free horse” listings (see many examples at Equine.com–plug “$0 to $0” in the price window of the search function.) Here, you’ll see many horses that five years ago would’ve been in the ubiquitous $1,500-to-$2,500-horse category. Now, such animals often are offered for free, because much of the buyership in that range has become an “adopter-ship” instead.
Bear in mind, however, that you’ll still need the experience and/or the financial resources to provide any needed training if you’re looking for a horse you can ride. Without experienced rescue operators to help you, ask for the help and advice of a horse-savvy friend, or pay to enlist the support of a professional in your search.
Matches can also be made through bartering–that is, trading one horse for another with no money changing hands–but, again, experience is key. If you don’t have it, get help.
So, what are the real-world results of taking on a rescued or otherwise “unwanted” horse? Here are three stories from people who took a chance on a free or fee-only animal. Learn from their experiences how to maximize your own prospects for creating a great new equine partnership.
“I didn’t know what to look for, so it was important to have help from someone who was horse savvy,” he says.
Mike’s first horse came from the Grace Foundation, where he got the help he needed from founder/director Beth. She knew what Mike was looking for, and also knew that the twin girls, MJ and CJ, had some Pony Club experience.
A sweet Appaloosa mare named Shiloh turned out to be a perfect fit. She’d suffered severe neglect but was coming along well in Grace’s rehabilitation program. When Beth assessed the mare’s ridability, she discovered Shiloh had some solid training in her background, and a match was made.
The second horse Mike acquired for his girls came from a trade. “This time we dodged a mistake by having an experienced friend come along,” reveals Mike, who initially had answered an ad to trade a mini for a full-sized horse. He had the mini, but the horse on the other end of the deal turned out to be an unstarted 2?-year-old filly–an unsuitable choice for people with limited horse experience.
Mike’s friend helped negotiate for a different horse at the same location–a sturdy 10-year-old Quarter Horse gelding with miles of ranch work and trails behind him.
The result? Mike’s now happy to see his girls with reliable mounts for trail rides and local schooling shows. CJ and MJ are enjoying their equine friends while learning about commitment, responsibility, and leadership–not to mention the value of giving a worthy animal a second chance in life.
Emotion, high; results, low. But it’s not always thus. Combine lack of experience, a disreputable owner or facility, and unrealistic expectations, and you have the perfect recipe for a sour deal. That’s what Ohioan Sue Steiner learned when she started her journey with rescue horses 17 years ago. She had suitable living quarters for a horse, plus the desire to help one in need. What she didn’t have was much knowledge or experience.
As a result, she let her heart rule her head when she saw a staked-out, dejected looking horse in a field. Feeling sorry for the horse, she contacted the owners; when they told her the animal was “a perfect kids’ horse,” she took them at their word.
Exceeding expectations. An older, wiser, and far more experienced Sue recently had a much different experience. She acquired an Incentive Fund nominated Quarter Horse mare from a rescue organization she’d thoroughly researched. And 5-year-old Darcy is turning out to be a quiet, willing treasure. Sue’s 18-year-old daughter, Erin, hopes to compete with Darcy in Western pleasure when they’re ready.
No one knows why the young mare was passed through one auction to another and then to a rescue in Pennsylvania. “I think she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” says Sue.
So, with careful attention to your checklists, you too can make a winning match. You won’t necessarily come home with a potential show champion (although it can happen!), but you will have saved money, saved a horse, and started a wonderful new relationship.
This article originally appeared in the August 2010 issue of Horse & Rider magazine.