Equine organizations have come out with new information and tools to help those who want to adopt or donate unwanted horses.
Blood-Horse Publications, with the help Antony Beck, president of Gainesway Farm, Lexington, Ken., recently created the Thoroughbred Adoption Service.
It is a publicly accessed database of free horses where any registered Thoroughbred may be placed for adoption. The database, located on www.TheHorse.com, began Oct. 31. In the first week, 30 horses were put up for adoption and two were adopted.
The service will be promoted in the Thoroughbred as well as pleasure horse and sport horse industries by the Web sites BloodHorse.com and TheHorse.com.
Kimberly Brown, publisher of Blood-Horse Publications, said the database's premise was to bring Thoroughbreds in need of good homes to the attention of people in other horse industries.
"They are bred for one specific discipline and career, but that doesn't mean they can't excel in others," Brown said, mentioning Olympic jumping, trail riding, and hunting as other areas where Thoroughbreds do well. "It allows the industry to have jobs for ones who didn't make it in the racing world."
Thoroughbred owners, breeders, and trainers write a description of the horse and post it on the site. Brown said pictures and videos may be added later. Any transactions are the responsibility of the owner of the horse, who is contacted directly by those interested in adopting.
Brown said the creation of the service deliberately coincided with the Keeneland Breeding Stock Sale from Nov. 3-17.
"If horses in that sale had no bids or didn't meet reserves, maybe they could find homes in a different career," Brown said. "Not to say this shouldn't be done for other breeds, but starting small, maybe we could expand."
The Web sites promoting the database caution that anyone giving away a horse, whether to a private individual or a welfare or rescue organization, should learn as much as possible about that person or group beforehand.
"We want to make sure that the killer buyers (dealers selling to foreign slaughterhouses) aren't coming in and making a profit on horses people are trying to find good homes for," Brown said.
BloodHorse.com, as well as the Unwanted Horse Coalition, also offer online directories of welfare and rescue organizations recognized throughout the Thoroughbred and horse industries as legitimate places to donate horses.
Last month, the UHC released information to help those seeking to adopt or donate a horse. For example, the coalition suggests adopters or donors visit the facility where the horse will be from or going to and the organization's mission statement.
The American Association of Equine Practitioners has laid out general guidelines for operating facilities called Care Guidelines for Rescue and Retirement Facilities. These guidelines cover everything from nutrition and basic hoof care to horse welfare and euthanasia. The guidelines, as well as the Unwanted Horse Coalition's "Own responsibly" handbook, are available at www.unwantedhorsecoalition.org.