Whether you keep your horses at home, board, lease or take lessons on a school horse, the love of horses is by no means cheap. And in a poor economy, pet ownership tends to be one of the early luxuries to go. Pet rescues become overwhelmed with animals, breeders drop their prices to practically compete with rescues, and free animal listings seem to pop up everywhere. But a free horse?
In the past, a free horse to me meant a twenty-something nag with a club foot and a blind eye...until I met Lyric. ‘Twas a chance encounter on Craigslist Detroit that brought me to her; a sad but hopeful listing from a college student who had lost her job and could no longer afford to pay her board. “Free Tennessee Walker/Arabian mare, come and get her.” I called within 20 minutes of the posting, met her that night, and had her home by the weekend.
What I’ve since found is that a free horse does not come without cost. Lyric’s specially fitted tack (including the pieces that she destroyed out of spite), riding lessons, and the “Great Trailer Debate of 2010” (more to come on that later), all probably exceed the cost of a well broke, well bred and well mannered replacement…Plus, I’m fairly certain that she’s tried to kill me on a few occasions, so we can add my future medical bills to the mix. So is a free horse a bad investment? Not necessarily. But is any free horse right for just anyone? Certainly not!
If you are considering taking in a free horse, here are a few things to consider:
- What is the primary purpose of the horse? Will it be for riding or a pasture mate for another animal? If it will be a riding horse, it's a good idea to get a full vet check before making the commitment. Though I like to give most people the benefit of the doubt, tight funds are not the only reason that people will offer up a "free horse". If it is for a pasture buddy, request all vet and vaccination records (and it's still not a bad idea to have a full vet check performed).
- What are the conditions of the "adoption"? Someone who truly cares about their horse will require an adoption agreement before placing the animal to ensure that it does not end up in a slaughter house. Adoption agreements (see example below) will often include any restrictions (breeding or commercial use), "first right of refusal" to the previous owner, and a commitment to care (regular vaccinations, vet care and daily turnout). If the person does not care to make up an adoption contract, that is all the more reason to get a full vet check before bringing the animal home.
Cowboy Logic of the Day
“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.”
Labels: Horse Buying