KAREN GRIFFITHS’ HORSEPLAY COLUMN: Questions to ask before buying horse

PRIOR TO ATTAINING any horse, each potential horse owner should ask him- or herself:

Do I have a safe and secure place for it to live?

If renting, is it a long-term rental?

Do I have the financial resources?

A reasonable estimate would be $100 a month for feed and hoof care, more if paying to stable it.

Will you be able to pay for dental and/or emergency veterinarian bills?

If the horse needs extra training, can you afford it?

Do you have the time?


Sequim residents Valerie Jackson and Diane Royall run the Native Horsemanship Riding Center’s horse rescue operation.

A licensed 501(c) nonprofit, NHRC helps to both rescue horses and place unwanted horses with new owners.

Jackson and Royall stated there are specific guidelines to finding a reputable rescue organization with which to place a horse or from which to adopt one.

A horse from a rescue center might have a small adoption fee — typically from around $200 to $600 for a rehabbed horse (and some rescues waive the adoption fees in special circumstances), but there is no such thing as a free horse.

It’s the ongoing maintenance costs that are the true expenses.


Is it a registered nonprofit?

If the rescue has 501(c)(3) status, it means the operators have gone through some extra work to define and run their business.

A reputable rescue center will take possession of the animal for a while to test and evaluate for soundness, temperament and behavioral vices.

Does the rescue rehabilitate horses from neglectful or abusive situations before trying to place them with new owners?

It should.

You need to know in advance whether the horse has any special needs or issues.

Are you being pressured?

The best rescue operators want the adoption to succeed and will spend time on it to ensure a suitable match.

Can you return the horse if it doesn’t work out?

A good rescue will allow you a time period for settling in together and will take the horse back if you feel you’ve made a mistake.

Does the rescue have good references?

Find others who’ve adopted from the facility you’re considering and ask them about their experience during and after the adoption process.

Spend plenty of time with the horse while it’s still at the rescue.

Ask about handling issues and whether the horse has any behavioral vices.

If you’re looking for a ridable mount, have someone at the rescue ride it for you before you mount up. (If they won’t, there’s very likely a problem, and you probably shouldn’t try to ride it, either.)

Prior to taking the horse home, arrange for a basic veterinarian health assessment (vet check).

I can’t stress enough to have a contract or any signed document outlining the exchange — even if it’s just a handwritten note.

A well-run rescue should require one.

Be sure to read it carefully and make sure you’re comfortable with the agreement.

Photos of both the horse and people documenting the event also could prove helpful down the line if there is any dispute of ownership.

I should think it a red flag if either party refuses to be in a photo.

If you have any questions about rescue, phone Jackson at 360-683-7787.


■ 10 a.m. Saturday — Back Country Horsemen’s Peninsula Chapter ride at Robin Hill Park. Phone Judy Paty at 206-999-6228. Peninsula Chapter meetings have changed to the fourth Friday of each month at 6 p.m. at the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 E. Fourth St., Port Angeles.

■ Noon to 2 p.m. Sunday — Adult workshop at Freedom Farms in Agnew. A fun afternoon with horses. For more details, phone 360-457-4897.

■ 9 a.m. Sunday, March 11 — Baker Stables Schooling Show, 164 Four Winds Road in Port Angeles. Phone Sue Carver at 360-683-7538.

■ 7 p.m. Friday, March 9 — Back Country Horsemen’s Buckhorn Range Chapter meeting at Tri-Area Community Center, 10 West Valley Road, Chimacum.


Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears every other Wednesday.

If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at kbg@olympus.net at least two weeks in advance. You can also write Griffiths at PDN, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.

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