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I'm sure you love your horse.

If, for whatever reason, you need to rehome him, you want the best for his future. Here are some steps you can take to give your horse the best possible chance to launch into a good, new life.



Some common life circumstances that trigger the need to rehome your horse(s) are:
  • Divorce
  • Moving/Home foreclosure
  • Leaving for college
  • Terminal illness diagnosis
  • Job loss
  • Illness in family
  • Birth of baby
  • Marriage
  • Death in the family
  • Other financial hardship
  • Horse in need of expensive medical care*
  • Temporary need**

If you experience any of these, and need to rehome your horse, the sooner you start, the better the chance of finding a situation with which you are satisfied.

The worst case scenario is having waited too long, and being forced into placing him in the first possible opportunity. Or worse, sending him to a dealer or auction, or simply not being able to provide proper care such as feed, farrier or vet care which could turn into a case of neglect.

Do not assume that you will be able to call on a horse rescue at the last minute to help you out. Many are full to capacity, though some may help you spread the word that your horse is looking for a new home.


While you may ultimately determine that you can not afford to keep your horse for the expense of medical care or treatment he or she needs, I've recently seen instances where folks have been able to raise money on their own, through public, online campaigns. One website where you can do this is From what I understand, this site does not charge a fee, but allows donors to donate to the site as well. Here is an example of a campaign:


If you have a temporary need for assistance in caring for your horse, consider seeking out a hay bank in your state. You may contact a horse rescue in your area for more information. For Vermont horse owners: Vermont Equine Welfare Coalition


This may sound like a daunting task, but it could make or break finding the right match. The more time and effort you put in here, the better for everyone involved.
  • PHOTOS! While your writeup is crucial, it's the photos that will pique people's interest.

  • While not essential, if you do have VIDEO of your horse - under saddle or not - it will give people a greater sense of who he is.

  • If you know your horse's HISTORY from before he came to be yours, share it.

  • Perhaps most important in your writeup: TALENTS AND CAPABILITIES Give your horse a fighting chance of matching up with a perfect new owner by honestly sharing what he or she has been trained to do. Whether your horse goes quietly down the trail, cleans up at horse shows or serves as a beautiful yard decoration, tell it like it is. Tell as much as you possibly can think of about your horse. Take a couple of days and think about it.

  • What LEVEL OF RIDER OR HANDLER would be the best fit for your horse: experienced, intermediate, advanced beginner, beginner?

  • With the good comes the bad. No one is perfect, and no one knows your horse's FLAWS AND VICES like you do. Again, be very honest. Don't be afraid that someone won't want him or her. Be very afraid of what might happen to your horse if the people get him home, he turns out to be not what they expected, and they know you can't take him back or keep him! Who knows where they might turn. Does he bite? Kick? Rear? Buck? Bolt? Spook? Is he buddy-sour or barn-sour? Does he bite or kick other horses?

  • Is there anything you know of that may be wrong, physically, with your horse? Again, you owe it to him to be up front with the prospective new owners about his SOUNDNESS, so, if there are problems, they can decide how they will deal with them, or if they can deal with them. Don't assume no one will adopt an unsound horse.

    Prospective buyers/adopters may decide to have a vet do a pre-purchase exam and, if there is a soundness issue, discuss with the vet what a plan of action might be, then decide if it's feasable for them.

    I can't stress enough how important it is to be honest about suspected unsoundness in your horse you are trying to rehome, for everyone's sake. If you suspect a soundness problem, but have not been able to have the horse examined by a vet, just say so.

  • Is your horse UP-TO-DATE on vaccinations, de-worming and hoof care? Does he have a current Coggins test? Be sure to convey this information in your write-up.

  • If your horse is a colt or stallion, consider having him gelded before placing him. If you need financial assistance to have this done, contact the horse welfare organization, or a horse rescue, in your area. In Vermont, The Vermont Equine Welfare Coalition:

  • Mention whether your horse will:
    • Clip
    • Bathe
    • Load on a trailer
    • Stand quietly for vet and farrier
    • Needs shoes and/or corrective shoes
    • Ride quietly with other horses


For your horse's sake, and to find the best possible home, share the word far and wide. Don't forget to go the extra and place a photo. You'll get more views and more shares.


Here is a sample of a sales contract. This contract was not drawn up by an attorney. HTTP://

Giving Away:

If you are giving your horse away, instead of selling, utilize all of the above, but seek out categories for free horses at those sites. Some of them have them, and offer free listings for them.

Also, some horse rescues will spread the word for you, if you are in a dire situation. Send the rescue all of the information in your first contact, as well as any photos or videos you have - folks fielding your request are usually volunteers, and have little time to write back and forth to get the information to best represent your horse.

Please note - if you are giving your horse away, consider selling him for $1.00 instead. While I can't give legal advice here, it's my understanding that the ownership is then legally transferred to the new owner, in case of a situation of liability for the horse's actions. Remember, you have represented your horse honestly, to the best of your ability.

Free Lease:

A third option, a free-lease, may be the best answer if:

  • You only need to re-home your horse temporarily, such as, if you are between jobs, or working to get your life back on track.
  • You want a more permanent home for your horse, want to maintain ownership, thus control, and are able to find someone willing to take him on as their own.

In the words of Netposse's Debi Bailey-Metcalf, "When you have a free lease you retain ownership and control of your horse but your horse, in best case scenarios, is still cared for and loved. Everyone wins. The owner has good care for the horse they love. The lessee has a good horse they do not have to pay for but they have with them as if they have their own horse. The horse is cared for, loved and will not end up in an abusive situation, horse auctions or slaughter facilities." Read the entire article.

Here is a sample lease contract. It contains a space for amount, which would be $0, in the case of a free lease. This contract was not drawn up by an attorney.


Hopefully, folks will be contacting you, in response to your ad. Being prepared minimizes the stress for both you and your prosepcitve adoptor/buyer. Have a notebook and pen handy to take down the caller's information, if contacted by phone. Whether communicating via email, Facebook, phone or some other method, make sure you get all of the information you need, to make a decision whether you want to invest the time to show your horse to the person.

  • Name and address.
  • Name and address where horse will be housed, if different.
  • Vet reference
  • Farrier reference
  • Ask what they will be using your horse for; i.e. riding lessons/students, one private rider, etc.

If it's impossible to get a vet reference in the time frame in which the people want to come look at your horse (i.e. a holiday or weekend), either re-schedule the visit to see the horse until a time after which you've been able to contact the vet, or tell them they won't be able to take the horse until after references have been checked. This a reasonable requirement, for the welfare of your horse.

If you require a contract (see below), be sure to tell the prospective buyer/adopter that when he or she calls.


It's unfortunate that there are untrustworthy people in the world who will take advantage of your circumstances, but there are. Horse dealers may pose as a private buyers. Here are some ways to try to make sure, the person you are considering giving (or selling) your horse(s) to is honorable.


This will be the most difficult decision you'll ever have to make for your horse. Some horses with physical or behavioral challenges can be rehomed as "companion horses", but the available adopters for these are few, and the candidates many.

Some circumstances that may raise the question of whether to euthanize:

  • A horse whose advanced age has made it difficult or impossible to rehome.
  • A horse with a terminal debilitating illness or permanent injury, also making it difficult to rehome him.
  • You determine that, due to the condition of your horse, and after consulting with your vet, his quality of life is deteriorated.
  • Your horse is in need of expensive medical care that you can not afford.**
  • Probably most controversial, but a personal decision, you have been unable to rehome your horse and do not want to send him to an auction or horse dealer. Prior to taking this step, however, perhaps reach out to horse rescues and see if they can help.

The loss a a horse can leave you sad and feeling alone. Many colleges of veterinary medicine, and other organizations, offer a pet loss support website. Some have hotlines set up where you can talk to someone trained in counseling those grieving the loss of a pet. Here are some links for reference:




Disclaimer: This page is meant to offer suggestions for assisting you in finding a good home for your horse. I do not endorse any of the sites at links above.

Please share this page, and please email with any suggestions you have for this page.

Finally, use good judgement, and content at your own risk.

Copyright ©2013-2019
Created by Laurie Bayer, with contributions from Ann Firestone (SYA Long Ear Rescue), Gina Brown (Spring Hill Horse Rescue), Dr. Tammy McNamara, DVM (VT-NH Veterinary Clinic), Brenna Wright (Spring Hill Horse Rescue), Annie Frielich (Annie's Little Orphans Small Dog Rescue), Shari Gliedman-Baker (Horseplay), Debi Bailey-Metcalfe (Netposse/Stolen Horse International).

Sponsored by Starfish Farms Personalized Horse and Pet Products

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