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Costs and considerations when rescuing a horse

On occasion, the horse industry relies on well-intentioned horse owners to rescue horses and other equids from negative situations. These circumstances can include owners surrendering horses they can no longer care for or manage, horses in kill pens, or horses coming from extreme humane cases that are suffering from starvation or a debilitating injury. These horses rarely come with a history of their breed, age, training level, health, temperament, or disposition. Many times, rescuing or fostering these horses takes a skilled horse person with monetary resources. The goal of this article is to outline some of the common needs and costs of rescuing a horse (Table 1).

Table 1. Average cost associated with rescuing a horse.

  Average cost*
Adoption or purchase fee $400
Transportation (per loaded mile) $1.00
Boarding (monthly) $400
Basic veterinary care (initial cost) $600
Euthanasia and rendering $400
Nutrition (monthly) $275
Basic hoof care (annually) $240
Training (monthly) $500

*Costs can range widely and are largely dependent on the condition of the horse at the time of adoption or rescue. The costs do not include specialty or emergency care and hospitalization.

Although a person may be compelled to rescue several horses, it is likely a choice must be made. When rescuing a horse(s), keep in mind your long-term goal. If an owner’s goal is to rescue a horse with the intent of allowing it to live out its natural life as a pet or companion, then most horses with a kind demeanor who lack major health issues or who have minor, treatable diseases would be acceptable. If an owner’s goal is to have a ridable horse with the ability to perform, then a sound, trainable, younger horse that is free of major health issues is best.

This information is not meant to deter horse owners from rescuing horses, but to better equip them with knowledge of what financial resources are needed to rescue a horse and conditions that can arise. Though the initial investment of time and financial resources can be great, rescued horses can live productive and successful lives as companion and show animals


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