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Options to consider if you can no longer care for your horse or pony yourself
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Options to consider if you can no longer care for your horse or pony yourself

Horses
General

2020 saw many of us unexpectedly struggling for either time, money or both, and the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to go on to have a large impact on many of our lives for a long time to come.

Regardless of the reasons, even for horse and pony owners those that plan everything carefully and never take risks, the time might come when it is no longer possible for them to take care of their horse or pony themselves.

Whether this is due to a lack of time, money, or physical ability, knowing what to do next and how to ensure the horse or pony is cared for can be really hard.

With this in mind, this article will provide a range of some of the options that may be available to you if you can no longer care for your horse or pony yourself. Read on to learn more.

Selling

The first thing to consider is of course selling your horse or pony, which might well be the easiest and generally best option. This tends to be the case for riding horses that are reasonably manageable, and of the sort of age that makes them fairly desirable to buyers, being not too old and not too young.

If you are considering selling, it is a good idea to advertise and begin to put out feelers early on, so that you have plenty of time then to assess prospective buyers and make a choice you’re totally happy with.

Gifting

You can of course always give your horse or pony away to someone who is able to care for them and that is willing to take them on, and just as is the case with selling, you should choose who you offer them to carefully.

Some riding schools will accept gifted horses or ponies that can be used within the riding school, often including horses and ponies that are a little older than are generally desirable to buyers.

Shared ownership

If you simply don’t have the time and/or money to be able to take care of everything for your horse anymore but have some resources and don’t want to say goodbye to them either, consider exploring shared ownership.

Under an arrangement of this type you might sell a “share” in your horse to someone else, and then split the costs and work involved in caring for them along a mutually agreed divide, as well as the benefits like riding time and ability to compete on them if you wish.

Arrangements like this can work out really well if you and the other party involved get on and are on the same page, but they can also be complex. It is wise for one party to retain the majority share of the horse and have final say, and it is also important to have a legal contract drawn up outlining the rights and responsibilities on both sides, plus what would happen if either party wanted to sell, or was no longer able to keep up their side of the agreement.

Long-term or permanent loan

If you are no longer willing or able to care for and/or pay for your horse and are ready to let them move on to someone else but still want to know what happens to them and be able to step in in the future – such as if the person who takes them on is in turn looking to move on – long term or permanent loan might be the way to go.

This essentially means you pass your horse or pony’s care, management and responsibility onto someone else in full, but that said person cannot then sell the horse (and does not pay you a price for them) but must instead return it to you if in the future they need to give them up.

Loan-to-buy

A loan-to-buy agreement can be a compromise if you know someone that would love to own your horse and that you’d be really happy to pass them on to, but that doesn’t have the funds available to actually buy them outright.

Loan-to-buy generally means that the other party takes your horse on under a loan agreement or as if you had sold them, but pays you the purchase price in instalments over time.

If you proceed with someone under such an arrangement, it is important to have a legal contract drawn up reflecting the full terms, and also to ensure that you and the other party are both happy that they can meet the payments as well as covering the cost of the care of the horse too.

Companion horses

Horses that aren’t of value as riding horses or for other useful purposes can sometimes be loaned or given as companions, to serve as a stablemate to another horse and provide them with some company.

The person requiring the companion will generally cover their full care costs in perpetuity, and whether or not the agreement is a loan (and so ownership remains with you) or a gift or a sale depends on what you agree with the other party.

Equine retirement homes or full permanent livery

If you have the funds but not the time to care for your horse, you might consider putting them on full permanent livery somewhere, and so have all of their care taken care of for you for the long term.

For older horses, there are also dedicated equine retirement homes in some parts of the country that operate in the same way as permanent livery, but do bear in mind that full livery or any type can be very expensive.

Asking for assistance from a charity or rehoming organisation

Various animal charities and horse and pony-specific charities might well be able to offer advice or help if you’re running out of options and don’t know what to do for the best due to a lack of time or money or both.

Such networks may be able to help to provide short-term assistance that enables you to keep your horse, put you in touch with people locally who can help, or help you with rehoming.

Some charities will also accept surrendered horses or ponies if you have exhausted all other options, but places are not guaranteed and this really should only serve as a very last resort.

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