What Is Equine Adoption?

The decision to bring a new horse into the family can be both exciting and daunting. You've probably scoured horse sale ads, local horse sale listings and the riding barns in your area for the perfect horse, but have you considered adoption? Adoption is the act of acquiring a horse from a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Horses are available in every breed, age and ability. Whether you're looking for your next show prospect, trail horse or a new companion, there's an adoptable horse who's right for you. Adoption has so many benefits, plus you'll be helping a horse in need.

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The Benefits of Horse Adoption

What to Expect During Horse Adoption

Adoption Application

You've narrowed down your prospects and are ready to contact adoption organizations about the horses you're interested in. First, you'll complete an adoption application similar to what you'd fill out when adopting a cat or dog. The application helps the organization get to know you and ensure that they make a good placement. Expect to provide information about your horse facilities, planned care and your riding abilities. Be as truthful as possible when discussing your riding and horse handling experience and don't be ashamed if you're not an expert rider or handler. It's important to let the agency know of your skills so they have the best chance of success in matching you with a new horse. Anticipate providing references and contacts for any equine professionals you plan to use for routine care, including your farrier and veterinarian. The organization will also want to know your plan for housing your new equine, whether on-site or with a professional boarder.


Most adoption organizations will offer you the opportunity to meet and try out their available horses. In the interest of making the best match and setting you up for success, the agency may sometimes suggest a different horse than the one you initially chose. Agencies know each horse's skills, abilities, habits, and personalities very well. That's why the whole adoption process is so important to a successful match. Of course, the final decision is yours.

Adoption Contract and Transfer of Ownership

Once you've agreed on the right horse for you, you'll be asked to sign an adoption contract. The contract will vary between organizations andwill outline the process of legally transferring ownership of the equine.

Support for You and Your Horse

Before bringing your new horse home, it's important to have a number of things in place to ensure their continued health, including:

The process of adopting a horse can be extremely rewarding for new horse owners and seasoned professionals alike. Ultimately, it's all about finding the right horse to fit your needs.

Ready to adopt? Browse available horses.

Horse Illustrated Horse Owner Resources

Access the New Horse resource hub created by our friends at Horse Illustrated. You'll find a stable full of information on equine care, equipment, adoption, and more as you explore the exciting world of equine ownership.