I’m ill and unable to find a home for my untrained horse, what should I do?

“Hello Stacy, I live in Nevada, Mo. I’m in dire need of help. I have a 9 yr old registered quarter mare that is only halter broke. I’ve been ill and have not been able to work with her for years. My quary is, my 19 yr old mare has to be put down soon due to lameness from arthritis. My 9 yr old is very buddy sour and I won’t be able to keep her. I’ve been unable to find a good home for her. Do you have any ideas to save this girl? She’s a sweetheart, just needs to be worked with. Thanks in advance for any help you might be able to give.”-Vicki A.

In a perfect world we could all guarantee our horses a forever home. Unfortunately this isn’t always in our control due to accidents, illnesses or other unforeseen events. Any one of us could be gone tomorrow and the responsibility for our animals would pass into someone else’s hands.

One thing we can do to improve the odds for our horses future success is to educate them. Horses with training tend to fair better than uneducated ones once they leave your hands.


Rescue groups often invest in training as part of rehab.

Ideally you could find someone that sees your mares potential. It sounds like you have already looked for that person and have not been able to find them. If I were in that situation I would begin looking for people or places with a good reputation to donate the horse to. Examples of this would be; equine universities or colleges which accept donation horses, a trainer with a good reputation or a rescue group with a good reputation. In all of theses situations it is likely that your horse will be resold down the road. The hope is that they will invest time and training into her which will make her more valuable and be more likely to lead her to her forever home.

Several weeks ago I attended a horse sale where most of the horses sell for slaughter. I was with a rescue group and one of the questions I asked was, “Why do you get the horses from here? Why not get them from individuals?” This led to and interesting discussion where I found that we both had common ground; people selling horses are not always realistic.

Several times in my own past I have tried helping people who needed to find new homes for their horses. They call saying that all they want is a good home. I have looked, found a home, and then contacted the person back. The majority of the time the response is ‘if you found a home that fast, my horse must be valuable, so I want money.’ No, they don’t use those words exactly but it is what it turns into. I can understand where the feeling comes from but it leads to complications. It turns out that not many people will turn a horse over, even to a rescue group, with no strings attached if they suspect there could be money made by someone. And that is their choice. But often it doesn’t end in the horses best interest.

I have seen people who really did give a horse away…but kept the registration papers. They reasoned that if the new owner really wanted them they should have to pay. In the end who does this hurt the most? THE HORSE. Now it is unregistered to boot.

If it were me I would look for someone who was willing to invest time in the horse even if they will likely sell in the future. I think it gives the horse a better chance than she stands going through an auction untrained.


  1. Erika on July 6, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    Contact the local humane society, animal shelter, rescue organization, or other if you just want the horses to find homes without any further input from you. These organizations will give you information about how to surrender your horses and often will come pick them up wherever they are located.

    Although she is 9, you could check with a university with an equestrian program that has a breaking and training program. You could also advertise her as she is – untrained and with a companion only mare or by herself only. You could advertise them in your local paper/classified as well as online for free. Be prepared to take a financial loss.

    If you are attached to them and think in the near future you will feel well enough to have a desire to have your horses – advertise for a free-lease, a rider/trainer seeking a horse, etc. You could also sell or give away what you have, but advertise for someone to keep their horse where yours are now. That way someone looking for a good place for their horses will have it and you’ll get the benefit of seeing horses without the headache of having to care for them with your illness.

    Since you are ill and have been for quite some time, I recommend posting her for sale or as a freebie before investing time and money into her training. I have a chronic illness and know that dealing with it often takes all your effort. Arranging training, discussing your plan for her, and worrying about her progress (or lack thereof) could very well be more than you need to deal with right now.

  2. Firn on June 30, 2015 at 3:52 am

    I’ve seen this happen so often, too. And the sad part is the older the horse gets the harder it becomes to retrain. If one can afford to feed a horse well, one can save up and afford 30 days’ schooling… so that at least somebody might want it when you can’t keep it anymore.
    Luckily I’m in a position where I can help to bail out horses in this situation. I already have two freebies that are home to stay (and what lovely horses they have turned out to be!). Now that I can’t keep even more of them, my trainer and I buy up cheap or free horses. Some are just babies so we put them in a field to grow up. All of them get schooled and sold on, but at least we know they have a better shot with some training.

  3. ingrid on June 30, 2015 at 12:34 am

    give her to a vet to use as a recip mare. try dr foss in columbia mo. or csu. in colorado.

  4. Kay on June 29, 2015 at 11:53 pm

    I was given a filly last year. I’m disabled, fibromyalgia, I make less then most people do in a week for an entire month. I will go hungry,be homeless before I give up my filly. She has eased my pain when I brush her, she loves me and I love her..
    If I could I would take more horses but maybe someday

  5. Jeffrey Rogero on June 29, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    Unfortunately the legitimate rescues are all jammed with horses and quite a few of them can’t accept any more horses that aren’t in the most dire situations. There are also a lot of scam artists out there that prey on desperate owners that can’t afford their horses, and the advice on the ‘street’ is to ask for at least what the horse would bring at a slaughter auction to make it unprofitable for them to just flip your horse. My suggestion would be to list the horse as for sale at a reasonable price, unless there is a legitimate rescue that would accept her, and be prepared to give her up with no strings attached. A nonprofit rescue should be able to provide their financial statements on their website (the ones they file with the IRS, I forget the form # but it’s a legal requirement).

  6. Arlene Kelemen on June 29, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    You should contact the local veterinarian that handles embryo transfers in your area. They are always on the look out for suitable recipient mares. This mare would have a job and would be well cared for.

  7. Arlene on June 29, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    You could try Crystal Peaks Ranch in Bend OR. Is a long way, worth checking out.
    Google Crystal Peaks Ranch, they have tons of info on their website. Their # -541-330-0123
    There are still good people out there.

  8. Sandra on June 29, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    Why not investe some money in a really good horse trainer?

    With 2 to 3 months training a horse like that would have a good start in riding and her chances of finding a good forever home are increast dramatically!

    Yes in an ideal world every horse would have a forever home. But if you have to find a new home for your horse, try at least to give him the best possible chance for a good life.

    And moste important is to invest in training bevor selling and in case of a stallion to castrat him bevor placing.

    Money invested is normally not all lost, because you can ask an better price.

    If you give your horse away for free, make shur that it is a very liable organization or signe a contract to protect the horse.

  9. carol on June 29, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    we had the same experience with a breeder of a million dollar reining sire-his comment -well he will be a great trail horse but he will not slide good enough for our program but his papers are an extra 500 or at the end of the year I will just report him as dead to the Aqha.-my daughter has been showing him 4-h and he is a great games horse but now he is”dead” according to AQHA..what a waste of a Custom Crome horse because she would take the time to go to OHIO-all about the money.

    • Tim on June 30, 2015 at 12:03 am

      On this last post, as breeders we are responsible by org rules to sign transfer papers. If this woman contacted the aqha and did a dna test wouldn’t they redo the “death certificate”?

    • Katzarr Montgomery on June 30, 2015 at 12:23 am

      AQHA would like to receive word in reference to this situation. The “wrong” doers will no longer have access or membership to AQHA ever again. Report information to them, they will take care of it.
      They don’t like “cheaters” too much.

    • Marie on June 30, 2015 at 5:08 am

      Several of the AQHA horses I have acquired from dire circumstances had the same issues. The horses were surrendered to prevent the owners from being prosecuted for neglect. They papers were offered for an additional price. The horses loses! Since AQHA has pictures and DNA of all horses now, it should be a matter of submitting samples for a DNA test and picture to acquire replacement papers. Let’s see what the AQHA does regarding this issue-or do they want to continue to allow great horses suffer the loss of their papers and value due to greedy or neglegant owners in favor of additional exorbitant fees.

  10. Angie Domenique Pfeiffer on June 29, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    I routinely train and place horses like this. If it is still in need contact me. I will be traveling to mo.in September for a cousins wedding an could possibly pick her up. I am not a trader. I only place horses when the perfect person comes along. I am not a rescue or a non profit, just a trainer who cares. If this sounds like it may work let me know. God Bless

  11. Loretta on June 29, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    I know a guy in NEvada MO. he has mules I would like to ask him if this is some thing he would be interesed in!…? please either pm me or email me…

  12. Mimi Smith on June 29, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    I am the recipient of such a horse. A very well bred and well handled 8 year old San Peppy mare. No bad habits. No abuse. No training under saddle. I will keep her safe for life. And I have been training her with professionals for 2 years, a little here and there. (I’m a rider, and English rider, not a horse starter). I have made provisions for her by taking out life insurance that goes to the person who takes her, in the event of my death. The original owners should be ready for her in ten more years, and I will be 73. I have the consciousness for life time protection only because I live on the nation’s last highway to hell for horse slaughter. Put the money into training. Your advice is very good, Stacey. And find a person who will keep your horse safe for life. Not someone who will keep wanting new replacements. Selling the horse lets that person sell the horse. It is really tough, but it makes us think twice before supporting amateur breeding, doesn’t it?

  13. Cathy Trope on June 29, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    I find that people will not make a real effort to get their horses placed. If I got this inquiry, I would ask the person to provide registered name, whether horse is 5-panel tested, good conformation pictures and a short video clip of the horse trotting loose or in hand. And 99% of the time, I would NEVER get the pics. Because apparently even when you are desperate to place a horse, going outside and taking a couple of camera phone pics and 10 seconds of video is still too much effort. So they don’t do it, and then say “rescues wouldn’t help me!” and take the horse to the auction.

    And yes, I paid for registration papers recently – and then the person failed to provide a signed transfer. Turns out the horse wasn’t in his name. I’m trying to track down the registered owner now.

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