Saturday, October 29, 2011


Note: This is from personal experience and does not qualify me as a horse expert!!

Click Here to download 10 TIPS FOR HORSE ADOPTION

April, 2 months earlier at the adoption facility

April, 3 weeks after adoption

1. This is NOT the way to get a cheap horse.  Just like adopting a dog or cat from a shelter - expect uncertainty - this animal may have issues that are unforeseen by even the most knowledgable rescue worker. You are offering an animal in need a chance for a better life. There may be health issues related to neglect and abuse.  That said - even a horse that looks shaggy and neglected, with grooming and care can shine up and respond well in a short time.  These pictures were taken only a couple of months apart.  The second one was taken only 3 weeks after we adopted April.

2. Be prepared to learn: every day, I learn new things both about and from our horses.  And be prepared to have your horse not "match" what you just learned about horses. i.e. "Horses do not like to go into enclosed spaces."  So, I left the door open to the house so that I could mop the floor on one of the first days of spring.  April was supposed to be mowing the lawn…. 

April, soon after adoption, ignoring my
spastic attempts to "train" her

April, at liberty in a 3 acre property looking
attentive and wanting to be with me!

3. Don't expect your horse to run to greet you at the gate the first day - many of them have had negative experiences with humans. Trust takes time to build.  But when that day happens - it's amazing. 

My Mom's Reaction to "the News"

Henry & April
4. Make sure that your family and loved ones are on board - having a horse can impact your personal life in unexpected ways.  Your vacation may be canceled because your horse colics, you may have conflicts with your loved ones who don't share the same interest.  It can also draw you closer together as a family activity.

"Hmph" based on my grandma - particularly when she saw snakes on TV
5.  Just like child rearing - everyone has an opinion.  We have been told that a saddle with a full quarter-horse tree should fit a draft horse.  We have been told we are being too firm and too soft with horse discipline. That their diet was wrong.  I have had many well-meaning "experts" give me advice that sounded…crazy!  Sound familiar?  Get a small circle of trusted advisors and follow their advice.

Clallam County Fair Draft Horse pull "competition" - all of the competitors helped each other
6.  Get help!  One great thing about the horse community is the general willingness to help out - and hiring a trainer might be the best money you ever spent.  It can save you so much time, energy and grief.

Hawthorne Sticks Out His Tongue-Again!!!
I taught Hawthorne to stick out his tongue, and I pull it...
Which means that whenever I go to picture of him, that's
what he does... (sigh- he really is a handsome horse)
Hawthorne stuffed into the XXLarge trailer that
we were lucky to get for @ $1,200 with lots o' dings

7.  Horse care can be both cheaper and more expensive than expected.  We have paid as little as $4 per bale of hay and as high as $15 per bale.  Our horses eat roughly a little less than a bale a day.  Then there's supplements, worming, farrier service, teeth floating (What is that? where a horse's teeth are filed so they can eat properly, who would have thunk?), tack, a trailer and truck to get them from one place to another, and hay storage.  Suggestion:  buy enough to hay to get you through the winter and store it - Eastern Washington hay in late spring can cost an arm and a leg.  Buy local.

Notice that Chicken Butt (me) is out of the picture... This is a good thing.

8.  Be safe.  This is a LARGE animal - even a small burro or pony is large enough to inflict some real damage.  A swift kick can break a leg.  Be aware of your space and your horse's space at all times.

April enjoys going into rivers and irrigation ditches but NOT puddles.  I tried for over an
hour, it got dark, I gave up and went home.  (She does this now.)

9.  Be patient. Enjoy the ride as much as the destination.  Don't get too hung up on where you "should" be.

"Leap of Faith" by Melissa Klein
Any leap from the known to the unknown takes courage, even when we are ready
and have laid the foundation for change.... but oh! -How wonderful it is!

10.  Just like the credit card commercials - there's the material cost and then there is the priceless experience.  Having horses has brought me so much joy and it has improved other areas of my life - I am a stronger self-advocate, and a better leader.  I don't get so easily rattled, and am calmer.  In short - horses rescued me as much as I rescued them.  It's a leap of faith.