As part of our continuing series on horse rescue, we take a look at adoption day — the day for which these horses and their caretakers have been waiting.
The best outcome for rescue horses is getting a second chance by finding a permanent home. Here, we look at those who adopt rescue horses and how their journey on the day of adoption progresses.
Who Adopts Rescued Horses?
Marissa and Josh were determined to be first. What did it take to be first at the gate at Horse Plus Humane Society (HPHS) for the Free Adoption Event in Hohenwald, TN? Marissa and Josh hauled their horse trailer four hours to arrive at 4:00 a.m. (yes, you read that right — they arrived at 4:00 a.m.). The gates opened at 10:00. They had waited three months for the free adoption day. Their hearts were set on the TN Walking Horses they had seen on the HPHS Facebook — “Mandy,” “Cheerio” and “Beauty.”
Third in line was a man from a Tri-County Mounted Search and Rescue Team. He wanted to help the horses and HPHS because he felt the organization was “a good cause and a respectable rescuer.” His was looking for a Quarter Horse.
Linda and her grandson love horses. She had adopted from HPHS before. Linda used to rescue and rehab horses in Pipe Creek, TX. She desired a kind, kid’s horse to help teach her grandson to “respect” horses because the one at home was so calm that the child could crawl ‘round between the horse’s legs. “He needs to learn that not all horses are like our old, sweet gelding.”
A couple from Huntsville, AL already had a rescued pony. They hoped to rescue a horse for pleasure riding on their land.
Eva drove two and a half hours from Alabama. This was her second HPHS adoption because, “The people work with you, to fit a horse to you.”
My impression of adopters? Earnest, horse-people eager to offer needy horses a caring home.
The Free Adoption Event Process
The team gathered at 9:30 for a pre-game pep talk led by Tawnee Preisner (owner) and Chloe Hancock (shelter manager). The volunteers got the skinny on what was to happen at each station, how to be vigilant and helpful, to remember safety first . . . and drink lots and lots of water on that steamy day.
The Interview Process
The potential adopters cued for their interview by the number of their place in line. Scouting the HPHS website, they had pre-chosen the horse/horses that “spoke” to them. A heart’s desire may be adopted by someone ahead, so the hopeful adopters strove to be early.
Each adopter was screened – background checks showing no criminal record, pictures of where the horse would be housed, why they want the horse (no breeding allowed). Rider skill level noted (1 = Beginner and 5 = experienced) and horse level (1 = “bomb proof,” 5 = wildish, lacks training). Adopters sign a waiver to return the horse if they cannot keep it. If a horse wasn’t a good match, it may be exchanged for another.
Temperament Test with the Trainer
Adopter approved! Next, the desired horse was brought to the covered round pen to work with Todd Morrissey the head trainer. Todd has handled every horse at HPHS. He worked and rode the horse for the adopter. The adopter rides, if appropriate, to make sure the horse fits. The adopter may or may not be approved for her horse. She would be guided to an alternative if Todd feels the one chosen is not suitable.
Back to Marissa and Josh. A smooth ride pleasure horse was for them. They were excited about Mandy, a 16-18-year-old TWH mare, Cheerio, a four-year-old mare and the graceful black — Beauty. Todd saddled Cheerio first. He swirled a rope between her legs and performed other temperament/training tests.
Josh, the Mounted Search and Rescue guy, and I were both taken with honey-colored Praline. Praline was a showy 12 year old former Saddlebred Show Horse mare. Fifteen hands of energy and wild-child curiosity. She was “all go” under saddle. Edgy in the stall, she was calm out in the field. Neither Josh nor the people from the Mounted Search and Rescue took Praline home. But, she was awarded to an appropriate new home. Brava Praline!
Esmeralda seemed content stabled with Inferno. Esmeralda was a four-year-old Quarter Horse mare that needed training. I regretted she wasn’t adopted on Sunday, but her stall-mate Inferno went home with Karen from Clarksville.
Josh and Marissa got their dreams fulfilled with Cheerio and Beauty.
Forty equine were available for adoption at the June event. Twenty-one were adopted. Ten more were adopted prior to the event.
Meet all the lucky adopters and their lucky equine on this video of the June adoption event: