If you live in the country and have the space for livestock, one option to consider is adopting a rescue horse. For those who have little horse experience, this can be more challenging than it may sound. Even if you have horse experience, if you’ve never dealt with a special-needs horse, there are tips to make the experience better for you and for your equine pet.
Some of the reasons that people often think about getting a special-needs horse include:
- The need to have a grazing animal as a “living lawnmower”
- The desire to have a beautiful equine pet that needs a home
- The joy of having a horse around for children or retired individuals
There are many horses that need homes but would be considered a “rescue” for a variety of reasons. The other thing to keep in mind is that if someone is giving a horse away for free or you are adopting from an organization, there is always a reason that the horse is available.
Some of the common issues with horses that put them in this situation are:
- The horse is injured or ill and can no longer be ridden
- The horse has behavioral problems that have prevented others from keeping the horse
- The horse is still reasonably healthy but is elderly
No matter what the reason is, there is a little more to have a rescue horse that may be obvious at first. It is good to make sure a rescue horse is right for you and to prepare before the horse arrives.
If you have little to no horse experience, you will want to learn some things first. If you are a beginner you still may be able to provide a wonderful home for an elderly or lame horse. If you don’t have experience, though, behavioral issues may be a reason to reconsider. Horses require special attention if they have had serious issues with fighting with other horses, biting or kicking humans or horses, or severe anxiety.
If you are adopting a horse that just cannot be ridden, learn what you can about the type of lameness or health issue the horse has. Find out if the horse will need any special medications and learn how they are administered. You have to be comfortable with handling this, so if you are good with putting medicine in the feed but are afraid to give injections, make sure that you don’t adopt a horse that will need that kind of care.
If you do feel comfortable but don’t know how to do something, be sure that you have an experienced horse owner or veterinarian teach you the basics. You’ll need to know how to groom a horse, clean hooves, feed, medicate through feed and possibly give oral or injectable medications.
Most horses are likely to be female or gelded males, meaning they have been castrated. Be sure to ask about a male if you are considering adoption. A gelding is generally as easy to handle as a mare, but a stallion is a horse that has never been castrated. Only experienced horse owners should generally keep stallions.
If you are experienced with horses and are adopting a horse with a history of behavior issues, consider everyone who will be around the horse. Even if you can manage a 1200 lb animal that is frightened, you may not want to have children around it.
A person with experience and patience can do a lot for a rescue horse, however, some horses become wonderful pets or can even be rehabilitated as riding horses.