Is horse adoption an option for you? Through The Right Horse Initiative, a program dedicated to improving equine welfare in the United States, potential owners can make informed decisions.
Western Horseman has partnered with The Right Horse Initiative to educate horse owners about the opportunities of adoption. TRH Program Manager Christie Schulte Kappert offers advice for first-time adopters.
Q: What is horse adoption?
A: Adoption refers to acquiring a horse through a non-profit shelter, rescue or adoption agency via an application and approval process. Sometimes adoptable horses have come from rescue scenarios, but many are simply rehomed due to a change in the prior owner’s life situation such as loss of a job or a move. Adoption involves thoughtful matching and support from a non-profit agency that has both the horse and adopter’s best interests in mind.
Q: What kind of horses can be found through adoption? What do adopters do with their horses?
A: All breeds, ages, and types can be adopted. It depends on the adoption agency and typically reflects the local or regional horse population. For example, Drifter’s Hearts of Hope in Franktown, Colorado, has a program called The Annie Project that accepts retiring trail mounts from dude ranches in the Rocky Mountains and adopts them out to new homes. Many of these are homebred and registered stock horse breeds simply transitioning to a new career. Other adopters use their horses to start colts, as turnback horses or as working ranch horses.
Q: What is The Right Horse Initiative?
A: The Right Horse Initiative is a group of over 55 partners working together to increase horse adoption. TRH supports and creates pragmatic, long-term solutions for at-risk horses in the United States with the sole focus of massively increasing horse adoptions. It was created and funded by the WaterShed Animal Fund. The Right Horse Initiative has awarded over $5.7 million in grants focused on creating programs and supporting organizations to increase horse adoptions. Read more in this interview with The Right Horse President, Christy Counts.
Q: Who are The Right Horse partners and what do they do?
A: The Right Horse includes industry groups such as breed and discipline associations; professionals like veterinarians, trainers and instructors; companies such as Morris Media Network (Western Horseman’s parent company); and of course adoption agencies and shelters. Shelters typically house horses for anywhere from 90-180 (or more) days while providing rehab, retraining and placement services. They each do different things within the horse industry but have come together within The Right Horse to find ways to support and increase adoption.
Q: Does The Right Horse adopt out horses? Where can I look for adoptable horses?
A: The Right Horse does not directly own or adopt out horses but has a network of adoption partners that does. Each of these partners operates by their own policies and procedures but share a common goal of increasing adoption and making it more accessible to the public. The Right Horse does not set rules or instruct partners how to operate, but instead looks for groups that share a similar philosophy and want to network with other like-minded organizations. Find adoptable horses on their web app. Adopt a horse on My Right Horse.
Q: What if the adopted horse doesn’t work out? Do adoption partners have a “return policy” per se?
A: Adoption is all about matching the right horse with the right person. If it doesn’t work out for any reason, adoption partners will take the horse back at any point in its life. They understand that horses’ needs and abilities change throughout their lives just as their owners’ do. Horses live a long time and may go through several owners. Adoption partners recognize that and focus on training to equip horses to be “good citizens” throughout their entire lives whether as a working horse, family horse, show horse or simply a companion.
Q: What should a typical horse owner know about adoption and The Right Horse?
A: Adoptable horses are just that—horses! The pool of adoptable horses is just as diverse as the general horse market, but there are extra benefits that come with horse adoption. Aside from working with groups that are genuinely invested in finding you the right horse, adoption fees tend to be much lower than the general market price for a horse. The organizations also provide a life-long safety net for the horse and adopter. Of course, not every person will be able to find their perfect horse through adoption, but many people can. The next time you are looking for a new horse, looking at adoption is a great place to start. It’s also a great entry-level point for new riders or owners. Adoption creates sustainability for the horse industry; it increases options for good horses that are at-risk or in transition and is a novel way to engage a new generation of riders and potential owners.
Q: If adoption is so great, why haven’t I heard more about it?
A: That is where The Right Horse Initiative and their partners come in! A large piece in fulfilling their mission of massively increasing horse adoption is making the horse community aware that adoption is a viable means of acquiring a horse. Western Horseman is getting involved by sharing stories of adopted horses succeeding in working and western disciplines. A great way to get involved is by speaking up and educating others on horse adoption. Talking to your farrier, veterinarian and riding buddies is a great way to spread awareness and make a difference.
About Christie Schulte Kappert
Christie serves as program manager for Watershed Animal Fund’s equine initiative, The Right Horse, which seeks to make lasting, transformative improvements to equine welfare in the United States.
Christie is a skilled program and marketing manager with experience assembling equine industry partners to collaborate on complex industry-wide issues. Prior to joining Arnall Family Foundation, she led marketing and partner development for the American Horse Council’s Time to Ride Initiative.
Christie earned dual degrees in Equine Science and Business Administration from Colorado State University where she graduated manga cum laude. She has also received certificates in Strategic Planning and Meeting Facilitation Strategies from the University of Texas Governor’s Center for Management Development. In her spare time, she participates in stock horse events having been a top-ten finalist in two Extreme Mustang Makeovers. She is the proud owner of two Mustangs and one burro, all adopted. Her and her husband raise a small herd of beef cattle and live outside Austin, TX