Given the nature of what I do for a living I suppose it should come as no surprise when people contact me about horses they want to sell or re-home. I reckon I hear of at least four a week and I only wish I knew of someone offering a 5 star home for each and everyone of them so that the original owner can let their horse go and still have real peace of mind.
The sad fact is that there are very few people who can offer a horse a home, and even fewer who can offer a perfect home. You may need to compromise and lower your expectations on things like stabling/ 24 hour turnout, rugs/no rugs, bit-less, barefoot, feeding regime, and training techniques. The only way to truly safeguard a horse’s future is to keep him yourself. This isn’t meant to make you feel guilty; it’s just an inconvenient truth – as is the fact that there are thousands and thousands of horses looking for good homes right now. The horse charities are absolutely brimming with them.
The best you can do is to set your horse up for success through good training where you can, and thoroughly vetting whoever buys or loans him. In a loan situation you need a well written contract setting out all of the things that are important to you and signed by both parties – even then, contracts can be very hard to enforce especially if the loaner just slightly breaches the less important terms and conditions. I have attached a contract that I drew up between myself and a loaner as an example of this sort of document BUT you should satisfy yourself that your contract will be legally binding by taking independent legal advice. The BHS also have a template contract.
It may be worth having the horse trained by a professional before you sell or loan him out even though you are not intending to keep it in order to ensure that the horse’s value is maintained or improved. Where a horse has a ridden problem, it is possible to sell or loan them as a companion but it is not easy to enforce this stipulation if the horse is sold (and then perhaps sold again).
Honesty is the best policy when selling or loaning a horse both from a legal liability and a moral point of view. If the new owner knows what they are getting, the horse is less likely to fall into a downward spiral where he is moved from pillar to post by people who don’t know how to help him.
Finding a new home:
There are lots of websites and Facebook pages dedicated to buying, selling and loaning horses, for example The New Forest Equine Directory which is local to me. There is also a website called www.projecthorses.co.uk has been set up specifically to help re-home horses with known behavioural problems.
AS WITH ALL sales of animals you do need to vet the people who come to look at your horse very thoroughly as to their capabilities, needs and financial ability to look after the horse. Just because someone is a reader of websites where there is a kinder approach to horses, doesn’t mean they are automatically any good at it!
Here are a few suggestions as to the best places to advertise:
1. Word of mouth – which after all is why you contacted me!. If I do know of someone looking for the sort of horse that you have got then I will put you in touch. Most potential buyers contact me for bomb-proof all rounders suitable for pony club rather than sensitive, perhaps previously rescued horses, with lots of issues to resolve.
2. What is your horse good at? Go to websites dedicated to his breed and abilities.
3. Go to local websites/ Facebook pages/ saddlery shops
My understanding is that many of the horse charities can no longer accept horses that are not truly in danger or suffering because are they are full of horses that have been rescued from absolutely dire circumstances. Don’t be disappointed if you can’t find a charity willing to take your horse.
For all sorts of reasons, you may not feel that you can commit yourself to the long-term rehabilitation of a horse. Where there is a nagging doubt as to whether you have contributed to the problem in the first place, it would still be a very good idea to consider having some training in how to handle horses so that the whole unhappy cycle doesn’t repeat itself with your next horse. It is also important to know your limits and to try your hardest not to buy another horse with the potential for similar problems. Of course, horses with problems are generally cheaper to buy in the first place but are often more financially and emotionally more expensive in the long run.