Transferring Horse Ownership: Ensuring Future Care

It is typical of a horse’s life that he or she will change hands several times. When a horse is transferred from one owner to another there is a moral obligation to the horse by both parties. It is typical of a horse’s life that he or she will change hands several times.

The current owner’s responsibility to a horse is not done until the horse is safely in a proper home receiving care and humane treatment.

The new owner is assuming responsibility for care and treatment for the long term and must be prepared for all that entails and ready to meet that responsibility.

Unprepared Owners

Escalating costs of hay and feed coupled with a downturn in the economy means more owners looking to rehome their horses when they can no longer afford them.

This leads to fewer homes for a larger number of horses. To say that is the only reason for the large number of homeless horses would be naïve. A contributing factor is while suitable homes are harder to find over breeding continues. Over breeding causes an excess number of horses depressing the price to purchase a horse while at the same time cost of ownership is going up.

When it cost $1500 or more to have a chance of buying a horse it made a more realistic approach to the cost of ownership. Now you can easily find horses for sale in the $200 – $500 range in most markets and “free to good home” is not uncommon. These are people who can no longer care for a horse and want the best for him, yet are unknowingly making the problem of finding a good home worse.

Yet, there are many people with good intentions who would love to have a horse. However, when presented the opportunity to own a horse for free or for such low amounts they think this means they can afford one. Many do not understand that the annual care may well be 3x what they pay for the horse. Compounding the situation, they purchase or take ownership of the horse before even setting up a stable or shelter for him, with no previous experience with equines and awareness of their needs.


It does no good to chastise horse owners who got in over their heads after the fact. Experiencing financial difficulties can and does happen and cannot always be avoided.

Telling somebody who can no longer afford to care for their horse that they should never give their horse away or sell him to a new owner “too cheap”, or at a livestock auction where predatory buyers lurk acting as middlemen for horse flesh, comes across as not helpful.

If equine rescues have no room, these owners may end up trying to hold onto their horses hoping for the best and end up neglecting their care, or perhaps even abandoning them.

Still, the obligation of the responsible owner is not to see the horse get into a trailer and be driven away but rather to know he is being taken to a good home.

Creative Answers

There are new approaches to rehoming a horse to a safe environment that have merit.

One example we saw of was a “seller” who gave the horse for free upon verifying a $500 prepaid veterinarian and $250 prepaid farrier for that specific horse. This ensured the new owner would receive qualified guidance and provide basic needed care for the horse for the first year at least. It also gave prospective owners a realistic look at some of the associated expenses. The horse was not “priced out of local market” (he was free), there is no way for a profit to be turned at an auction, and some level of care is ensured.

Gelding all colts and horses being sold or transferred as companion animals is another step. This is similar to what is done in rehoming other companion animals such as cats and dogs where a neutering is part of the adoption or rehoming process. It may help reduce backyard breeding by both the unknowing and the unscrupulous.

With new or first time owners arrangements can be made to allow then to access cost of care and long-term interest. Allow them to spend time with a horse and get to know him while they purchase items needed for his care. Refer them to a place like Vale Horse Stables and have them purchase an adequate shelter. Start and fund an account with a vet and farrier. Purchase a supply of high quality supplements like Equiform Nutrition.

If potential new owners are willing and able to do this over the course of several months — it is a reasonable assurance they understand the expense of a horse and are committed and financially able to provide for him. Then letting go of the horse at very low cost or for free is not perpetuating the problem. It is educating prospective horse owners while ensuring to the best extent a potential good home for the horse.

Fund for Horses Logo. ©The Horse Fund.

Horse Trailer Loading Positions


» Sponsored by Double D Trailers

Which is Right for You and Your Horse?

There are a lot of decisions to make when choosing a new horse trailer, from the type of hitch to the amount of storage inside.

Another huge decision you’ve got to make when looking at horse trailers for sale is the position in which your horse will be traveling.

For some, it’s simply a matter of preference, but owners of large or small horses should carefully consider their horse’s travel arrangements since these horses may travel better in certain types of trailers.

Let’s walk through the most common trailer load types available today.

Slant Load. A slant load configuration is a great way to save space if you’ve got multiple horses that you haul together regularly. With a slant load, the horses stand at an angle to the driver, making it easier to fit more stalls in without creating a lot of extra length on the trailer. If you’ve got a problem rider, though, slant loads can be harrowing since you can’t unload a single horse of your choice at any given time. Instead, you have to take horses out in the reverse order that you loaded them.

Straight Load. In a straight load trailer, horses typically load by walking straight into the stall. They face the front of the trailer squarely and have another horse in a stall at their side. Straight load stalls tend to be longer and wider than slant load stalls, making it uncommon to find straight load trailers designed for more than two horses. Their biggest disadvantage is that horses must be backed out to be unloaded, which can lead to accidents.

Reverse Load. Reverse load trailers are a different beast entirely. Like a standard slant load, they require that you load your horses in one at a time, securing the first before the next can load. However, because the hinges on the dividers can swing both ways, you can easily unload your horses without having to back them out again. In bigger reverse load trailers, you may even have a side loading door to give you even better access. Unfortunately, reverse load trailers are still very expensive in the United States and the configuration is rarely available for a two horse trailer.

Box Stalls. Another option that many horse owners don’t consider is the box stall trailer. Even though most horses tend to ride standing up, some horses, including older animals and mares in foal or with babies at their side, may do better when allowed to freely get up and down. Miniature horses also benefit from box stalls, since there’s no risk of sliding under or through dividers made for much larger horses. You can choose to add a single box stall to a custom trailer or purchase a trailer containing nothing but box stalls. Box stalls take up a lot of space, reducing the number of horses you can transport at once.

In Summary

Just as there are lots of types of horses for different types of riders, there are plenty of loading positions for different horses.

If you’ve found one loading type tends to work better with your horses, it’s a good idea to continue to use that configuration so your horse won’t become a problem loader.

However, if you can try out a different loading style with your horse before you buy your next trailer, you’ll have a better idea if your horse will be accepting of the new design.


Thank you Kristi and Double D Trailers for contributing this excellent article and giving us an image too. —Editor.

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Field Guide to Horse Fencing

AMONG THE MANY investments you will make when rearing horses, fencing will be one of the most prominent ones. Fencing is a major investment, thus it requires careful planning before any form of action is taken. Fencing is crucial to keep horses on the property and unwanted animals off the property. There are also many other nuances to fencing as it should be constructed to aid facility management by allowing controlled grazing and segregating groups of horses according to age, sex and value.

For some, fencing is a do-it-yourself project while others prefer to hire a professional contractor to construct and install the fence. Regardless of how you choose to install your fence, make sure you have a plan that will guide you through the steps of constructing a good horse fence.

Good planning attributes for all fence types

Planning includes more than simply selecting a fence. It involves the aesthetics, efficiency, management practices, safety, proposed gates, fence lines, paths, traffic routes for horses and handlers, routes for suppliers and access to mowing equipment. A good plan also involves the financial aspects of fence construction.

A good fence should be at least 54 inches above ground level with round corners. Make sure that the top of the fence is at withers heights to ensure that horses don’t flip over the fence. A 20 cm clearance at the bottom will leave enough room to avoid a hoof getting trapped, and will discourage a horse from reaching under the fence for grass.

Fence post selection

The strength of a fence come from the posts, hence they are the foundation of the fence. Posts need to be strong and properly installed. Traditionally, wood is used for fence posts but some horse owners use concrete to set corner assemblies when using wooden posts. Others choose pressure-treated lumber as high-quality wood may be scarce of very expensive in their area. This manufactured lumber is treated with chemicals that resist rot, fungi, and insects. Look for treated lumber posts that are certified for in-ground use.

One con of using wooden posts is that it is time-consuming and requires hard work when installing the fence, but this hard work is not a waste of time because the wood has a highly sustainable.


Often, gates are made of wood and metal tubes because they should be as strong as the fence. Gates shouldn’t have diagonal cross-bracing because the narrow angles can trap legs, feet, and possibly heads. Gates and fences should have been equal in height, to discourage horses from reaching and attempting to jump over the gate, but wide enough to allow easy passage of vehicles and tractors.

Often, gates are located toward the middle of a fence line where horses get in and out of the enclosure. By placing the gate in the middle, horses don’t get trapped in a corner near the gate.


The inner side of the fence must be smooth — regardless of the fence material and design. Rough posts can cause injury to horses that run down the fence line. To avoid this exposure you might use an electric fence wire to create a psychological as well as a physical barrier.

Visibility also plays a major role in safety. Horses can easily see a white plank fence of wood or PVC post, but the wires are almost invisible to unruly horses or horses who are in a state of panic.


Barriers are the functional parts of fences and are made of different materials. When deciding on which barrier to using, keep in mind that it should be safe, easy to maintain and aesthetically pleasing. Here are the most well-known barriers:

1. Wood board fence: most commonly used, low in cost and maintenance and are the most aesthetically pleasing.
2. PVC board fence: is liked by many horse owners because it is low in maintenance and gives the appearance of a wooden board fence.
3. Smooth wire: these are basically barb wires without the barbs and are the least expensive of them all.
4. V-mesh: Is praised by horse owners as the best fence material. However, its biggest downside is cost as it is the most expensive of them all.
5. Electric Fencing: these fences are both a barrier and dispense a shock that keeps horses within the enclosure.

In closing

In order to build a strong fence, a well thought out plan must be in place even before the first post is even placed in the ground. Thoughtful fence planning and layout will help make daily chores and routines more efficient. Fences differ from facility to facility, however all fences must meet the same goals and objectives: provide a strong barrier and safety. For optimal result, horse owners may combine electric-fence systems with other materials such as wood, PVC plastic, wire mesh, or high-tensile.

Author Bio

Sistine Capoy works as a content specialist in Horse Fence Direct and a pet owner. Featured image supplied by Sistine Capo.

Fund for Horses Logo. ©The Horse Fund.

Emergency Evacuation Tips for Horses

How to Prepare

• Microchip your horse.

• Include phone numbers of out-of-area friends or family in your microchip registration. It’s a good idea to include alternate contacts in case you can’t be reached.

• Train your horse load into a trailer.

• If possible, make prior arrangements for boarding at stables outside of your city. Locate and record the information.

• Store important documents and paperwork in cloud storage or several hard drives. It’s a good idea to give one to a friend or family who lives outside of your community.

• Paste a rescue alert sticker visibly on one of your home’s windows with the number and species of animals in your household. (If you evacuate with your animals, write “Evacuated” on the sticker.)

Make An Evacuation Kit


  • Drums or barrels of water, enough for at least three days.
  • A list of all medicines and their doses and if possible, an extra supply of medication. Make sure to check their expiration dates regularly.
  • Rope and leather halters. Don’t use nylon halters. They can melt from extreme heat and burn the animal.

Documents and Paperwork

  • Copies of ownership records
  • Vaccination and health records
  • Microchip paperwork

Additional Identification

  • Photos of brands
  • Photos of any distinctive marks or tattoos

It is never recommended that you leave your horse behind or let your horse loose during an emergency. The Department of Animal Services offers assistance for large animal transportation.

If you absolutely can’t evacuate with your horse and have to set him loose, the National Fire Protection Assn. suggests you make sure to mark or attach your contact information on him by:

  • Shaving it into his coat
  • Braiding an identification tag into your horse’s mane or tail or attaching it onto a neck band
  • Writing it on your horse’s side with spray paint or a livestock marker

Be Prepared

Be sure to have an evacuation kit ready and stored within easy reach.

THF 2019 Logo. ©The Horse Fund.

See also Disaster Preparedness for You and Your Horse »