I see a lot of rescues adopting out untrained horses. If they are too young to start then this is understandable, and as long as they ensure the youngster is going to a home capable of starting from nearly scratch I don’t have a problem with that. Follow up to make sure the horse is being worked with at a level appropriate for its development would be nice, too.
But I see horses from 5 to aged being adopted out with nothing more than halter breaking under their belts. This truly limits the pool of available homes. There are lots of riders, not as many trainers. And if the horse has issues from previous abuse even less are willing to take on such a project. Many people ride for years and never train a horse from groundwork to riding.
They buy horses who are already trained, and can do at least a minimum of what they want/need the horse to do. Some will buy a horse well broken on the flat and maybe teach it to jump, for example, or move it up the levels in Dressage. Other folk want the horse they are buying to be proven at the sport they want to do, from 3-day eventing to a trail horse who doesn’t spook and crosses water without hesitation. Most people (not all-don’t we know!) are aware of their equestrian limitations and want a horse that doesn’t require knowledge past that.
I understand most rescues are full, and unloading horses to make room for new ones is required, but is it not a recipe for disaster to adopt them out without any job skills? Even if they end up taking the horse back, ensuring his future safety, they are then saddled with another mouth to feed after accepting a new horse in need into what was his/her space. Ideally when you adopt a horse out you want him gone! Gone to a new happy life where he will fit in and be kept on til the end of his days, or if he is moved on it is with a new set of job skills to another good situation.
So why are some rescues so hesitant to let volunteers work with horses? Not newbies who just “love horses” and want to help, but volunteers with proven track records of training or retraining horses using non-abusive, tried and true methods. Most rescues make you sign a waiver, most rescues will not accept people under the age of consent to even be volunteers.
This happened to me at one rescue. I was required to fill out a form listing my experience with horses, and did so. Starting out I as not surprised I was relegated to barn chores, for all the owner knew I could have been lying or exaggerating LOL. So I was OK with proving myself. Week after week I mucked stalls and fed, until one day I actually got to bring a horse in from turnout.
This, of course, went uneventfully. It also ended up being the only thing I ever did with the horses, apart from grooming. Most shifts I ended up picking the paddocks and cleaning troughs. I started to wonder if they had even read the form I filled out, listing bringing horses along from green to showing at various levels, catch riding problem horses, and working at barns that were Olympic level in show jumping and Pan Am game level in eventing. My references would have confirmed this, had they been called (?).
The problem was…this place used an NH (Natural Horsemanship) type method of training. This is not what I was taught or what I used with any of my greenies. I did not understand it. So rather than let me go to it and see what I would accomplish (seeing that if I had have been abusive or stupid they could have just kicked me off the property right there) I was driving an hour after work to…. pick up shit in paddocks.
So you can guess the rest of the story, work got busy, and since I was just a poo picker who had no hope of proving their abilities I quit making time in a busy schedule to get there. I find it baffling that a rescue that in every other way does GREAT by the horses (healthcare, hooves, feeding etc) would basically squander a dedicated volunteer with a lot of training experience. By now I could have had a few horses there green broke, and a few more past that level. A few had the looks and potential to be kept on a bit longer and sold as show mounts-making a good bit of money to feed the residents.
And now I see they are trying to adopt out untrained horses to make room before winter. I truly wish them the best, but I fear the pool of homes for such a beast is small. It is too bad, I truly wanted to lend my help, as training is my thing, and lack of is my pet peeve. But I have been in the horse world way too long, and have done my time as barn rat doing any lousy chore to be near horses. Yes the chores are a part, but almost anyone can do that stuff. To see horses go on to good homes with a career path that suits them is where my heart, and abilities, lie.
I’ll do the chores, then let me do my job 😉