Rescue Philosophy

We currently live in a world of stretched pocketbooks, a superficial sense of responsibility, and an accommodation to instant gratification. While not intending to stereotype any one person, these all-to-familiar situations often lead to horses finding themselves displaced and then floating from one unfortunate situation to another. Herds of Hooves takes a slightly different approach than many organizations, feeling that the WAY in which we approach the needy situation of horse rescue is just as important as the action itself-- we want to leave positive footprints in any situation. In other words, how do we contribute to a solution without adding negativity? Our answer is to seek to come alongside people in need however possible, to provide education to owners, adopters, and interested people, and to focus on the need for compassion and integrity in every interaction. You will not find HOH seeking headlines, but instead quietly seeking to help one horse at a time, one human at a time.

Below, you will find excerpts from a recent Rescue and Adoption clinic put on by HOH which offers various pieces of information on rescue and ownership. We do not consider this an exhaustive list or anything more than our opinion, so please do not take what you read as gospel, do not take what you read out of context, and do not copy and reprint anything you read without explicit permission from the HOH president. Thanks for respecting our efforts to contribute to a solution.

How does Herds of Hooves contribute to a solution???

We bridge the gap b/t horses and owners by providing realistic education on what it takes to own and enjoy a horse and by seeking to rehab and put into responsible homes horses who might struggle w/placement. We provide highly cost effective services to facilitate owners who might not otherwise be able to afford services for their horses while seeking to build honesty, integrity, and personal responsibility into the next generation.

Would you like to know more about rescues?

  • A rescue is a place or group of people who care for and often seek to place horses in need. May have a facility or be a coalition of individuals who personally split up the horses in the rescue’s care.
  • Are located all over US
  • Can be breed specific (Wild Horse Rescue), need specific (Camelot feedlot rescue), or all-inclusive (Save the Horses)
  • Ways to get involved
    • As an individual, take on a horse in need (that meets your skill set and facility requirements)
    • Volunteer at a rescue
    • Foster a horse in need under a local rescueAdopt a potentially hard to place horse from a rescue
    • Sponsor a horse in a rescue by paying for some/all of its expenses.
I think a horse is in need—what do I do??? A suggested progression:
  • Begin a non-defensive conversation (ask, but don’t question)—the horse might be a recently acquired rescue, might have a medical issue, or could be permanently debilitated.
  • Offer assistance (could be asking to come by and groom because you LOVE horses, to drop off some feed/hay you “don’t need” and fear will go bad, or to offer a “vet credit” you can’t use and PAY for the visit yourself).

  • Ask whether the owner might be willing to part with the horse.

  • Speak honestly and as an ally and try to ascertain how to help

  • If legal action is required after personal efforts have been exhausted, the local sheriff or Dept of Ag (and sometimes Animal Control) are options.  If this happens, keep the following in mind:

    • It is not in your hands once authorities are invol’d

    • DO NOT trespass, threaten, slander, or do anything to jeopardize current investigations

    • You do not have a badge; don’t act like it.

    • DO NOT forget that politics are always in play.


What if your horse needs a new home???

  • Donate it to a program—local programs incl HOH, Reins of Life, Eagle Wing Farm.  Tax write off, contribute to a good cause, often allowed to cont. to visit horse.  BUT, may be hard to find a program to take horse, poss hard change for horse if has been 1 owner, horse may again become homeless when can no longer work.
  • Surrender to a rescue—local ones incl HOH, Save the Horses, Wild Horse Rescue of GA.  Nearly guaranteed safety net for horse long term, permanent home well-researched.  BUT, may not be allowed to cont to see horse and likely won’t know horse’s permanent home, rescues overwhelmed so hard to get horse in and high horse/human ratio.
  • Give horse away—online contacts, friends, word of mouth.  Provide a horse to someone who can’t buy. BUT, little sacrificed can often mean little value so horse can get lost or passed on w/out written contract.
  • Sell privately—Market Bulletin, local newspapers, online marketplace. Recover some ownership costs, can use price to screen owners.  BUT, selling may take LONG time, price may have to be severely red’d to make sale, have to entertain mult. “tire-kickers,” have to value horse based on market and not on what you paid or think it’s worth.
  • Auction—Eastanollee Livestock Mkt, must have coggins.  Quick sale often guaranteed, can drop horse off and pick up monies later.  BUT, highest bidder will take horse, horse’s often end up on “auction circuit.”
  • Feedlot—“kill buyers” at most auctions, nearest lot in NJ. Often better price than open market, guar’d sale.  BUT, conditions often deplorable, transport to and act of slaughter arguably cruel and inhumane.
  • Euthanasia—should be done by vet. Less stressful for horse if done in home environment, know horse’s life will end as well as poss, space given for another horse in need.  BUT, must dispose of body, cost can be $300-500, stigma of euthanasia, ethical concerns.

So, you want to own a horse???
Places to horse hunt…

    • Auction-lots of horses in a concentrated time/place; potential for a good buy; chance to observe and watch the horse work…   BUT, there’s a catch—hard to spot problems, sellers often willing to withhold info, see one snapshot of the horse only, buyers pressed to make snap decisions.
    • Private sale (classifieds, local fliers, online ads)—can see horse multiple times in relaxed atmosphere, red’d buying pressure, often have trial options…         BUT, prices will be asking price (be prepared to pay “sticker” / negotiate), driving to see mult horses, time consuming, may feel personal pressure to just “pick one.”
    • Word of mouth (friend’s cousin’s horse…)—super relaxed, trial us’ly easy to work out, possible pmts or price negotiation…    But, poss social pressure to keep badly matched horse, pot. interference issues (co-owner complex).   
    • Rescue—contribute to unwanted horse sol., often very cost effective for a quality horse, many horses in one location, no buying pressure, safety net if need to place horse, horse will likely be honestly represented…       BUT, approval process may be lengthy, have to accept parameters/ rights of rescue after adoption, may not know horse’s history, pot. issues/quirks w/neg past.
    • Prof Breeder—abs. know horse’s history and likely that of parents, shop based on historical performance / health of line, training can often be incl’d in purchase…  BUT, price will be higher (purchasing name, history, performance) and breeders may only negotiate on a poorer prospect., “sparkle effect,” special needs of pure breds.
    But it’s FREE! How to “Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth”
      1. WHY is it free? Don’t be afraid to ask…
      2. Conduct a job interview
        • What job do you want your horse to do—babysitter, competition, trail riding, pet, etc.?
        • Does the horse meet the requirements of the job?
        • If not, what does the horse need to be able to do the job and can you provide that (tack, training, any special med. care/diet, to be younger/older, mgmt. of an incurable disease, etc.)?
      3. Be prepared that, if the free horse does not live up to your expectations, it is still your responsibility.
      4. Look for the BIG 3: Training issues, Medical issues, Care issues
      5. Red flags: really young / old, lame
      6. Ask about deworming / vaccination records
      7. The best money you’ll spend on a “free horse”: PAY to have a vet, trainer, and farrier inspect the horse FIRST—free care for them, peace of mind for you!
      8. Remember-getting a horse is NOT a movie and that “life is too short for unsafe horses” (Julie Goodnight)

      Abby’s Top 10 Ways to Have a Horse You’ll Want to Keep for a Lifetime!

      10. Pay to have a vet/ farrier/ trainer eval the horse first
      9. Meet a potential horse at least 3 times before taking it home.
      8. Make boundaries / expectations clear from the first day—this is not a puppy, nor is it community property.
      7. Take the time/expense necessary to find and provide proper housing and appropriately fitting gear.
      6. Get plugged in w/and maintain a consistent relationship w/a reputable trainer/instructor.
      5. Don’t get more horse than you need—get the horse you need today, not next year.
      4. Acquire horse based on the job you want the horse to do before color, breeding, looks, or “the deal.”
      3. Get educated BEFORE the horse comes—not just on riding, but on the money, time, and effort that will be needed.
      2. Decide where on your priority list your horse will be—if not in the top 5, DON’T get!
      1. Enter this as a commitment, not a passing fad;you WON’T make money on horses, so you might as well love ‘em!


      Abby’s Top 10 Ways to Prepare Your Horse for a Permanent Next Home

      10. Put your horse on an easy to continue/alter diet.
      9. Ride/work your horse regularly
      8. Make sure your horse’s body condition is appropriate for his marketing/skill set.
      7. Maintain vet/deworming/ hooves and keep records.
      6. Maintain your horse’s teeth
      5. W/in boundaries, allow others to handle your horse.
      4. Use tack that fits and is appropriate for the horse.
      3. Eliminate major quirks or have a mgmt. plan in place.
      2. Deal w/any and all training issues promptly.
      1. Get your horse a HS diploma! He should be able to be caught/ haltered/ led/ tied/ tacked up/ mounted/ ridden independently at a W,T,C/ take a bit and dewormer/ stand for shots and farrier/ handle feet/ trailer.