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Utah’s horse world – Create some rewarding fun with a rescue horse

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Adopting a horse can be expensive; experienced, reliable horses often cost $5,000, or more. One of the great things (on a rather long list of great things) about the rescue horse is their affordability! Rescue groups such as Salt Lake’s The Stable Place, Noble Horse Sanctuary (find them on Facebook), or the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary (located in Kanab, in Southern Utah) sometimes take adoption donations, allowing an owner that’s a particularly good match for a specific horse to adopt for as little as $500 or so.

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With a rescue horse you’ll get an honest assessment of its health and abilities. Rescue groups aren’t in the business to make money; their objective is the care and well-being of their animals and ultimately they seek to find a loving, compatible forever home for the horses that have been entrusted to them. It’s not like walking onto a used-horse lot where you’ll kick the hoofs and have someone hound you with a “What can I do to get you on this horse today?” inquiry.

While not every rescue barn has regular visits from veterinarians and massage therapists, the more reputable establishments certainly do. Unlike picking up a cheap equine from someone’s back pasture, you can trust that the majority of rescue horses have received regular vaccinations, reasonable healthcare and hoof trimming. As with any horse purchase, you'll want to make sure paperwork is in order (turning over ownership legally to you, and proving that vaccinations are up to date) before you agree to transport the animal to your home or the boarding facility of your choice.

The rescue group may also ask to view the boarding situation for the horse and have reasonable questions about how the animal will be cared for. Making sure that these horses are adopted into homes where they'll be well cared for and not passed around from location to location is a primary focus of the facilities that take them in.

While The Stable Place in Salt Lake doesn't have an adoption application on their site at this time, you can email them at helping_horses@hotmail.com and an application will be sent to you. If interested in the animals at Best Friends down in Kanab, while they do have an online form for dogs and cats, you'll want to call for more information regarding equine adoptions.

Rescue horses are accustomed to activity, attention and are likely to develop a good degree of adaptability. Even your most skittish Arabian or hot-blooded Thoroughbred will be inundated with playful action amidst the always-busy environment that defines today’s better rescue stables. With its urban location and the horse-crazy population of equestrian kids that make up The Stable Place’s family, these horses quickly see it all. Best Friends advocates the use of Parelli training techniques, giving horses a wonderful start (or, in many cases, a wonderful re-start). Having a horse who doesn’t get flustered by bouncing children, a trip in the trailer, or birds on the trail is a very big plus!

Rescue horses have real value. While some may see these equines as “throw aways” that myth is far from the truth. Sure, many of the animals that make their homes amidst these facilities may have some minor defects (don’t we all?); the majority are just the product of an unfortunate prior environment.

Horse-human partnering is a lot like dating; not every match is a good one. That’s not necessarily a negative reflection on either party. It simply means those two weren’t compatible. In these cases, it’s better that a horse be placed in a situation where they have a chance of meeting someone with whom they could live a happier and more fulfilling life. Why not see if your partner is waiting for you at a rescue facility?

And speaking of dating, another one of the truly terrific benefits of rescue horse adoption is the fact that you get to meet, interact with, ride and really get to know that horse well before entering into a commitment to make that critter your own. With most equine purchases you’re lucky to get in three rides before you’re pressured to take the animal into your possession. That’s far from the case when you go to a well-run facility.

You want to make sure that you connect with a group that encourages you to spend the time necessary to build a relationship with the horse, to go out on rides, to interact as safely as possible with the animal in a supervised setting. This process allows both you and the horse to set down a solid foundation based on familiarity, trust and mutual confidence. If at all possible, make a couple of unannounced visits so you can honestly assess the condition of the horses, treatment of the animals and make your own well-informed decision.

Given the opportunity to enjoy proper nutrition, regular exercise and activity, routine care, attention and understanding, 99% of these horses will absolutely thrive with the right human partner.

The Stable Place is one local facility that can offer up a list of success stories and happy endings for several past horses whose lives didn’t start out on a particularly positive note. Talk to facility owner Jayme Alexander and she’s sure to share tales of horses whose paths lead them to their rescue barn and then on to playful adventures with people that were lucky to have these incredible equines in their lives.

Ask about Yaz, a sweet little Arab cross that was saved from a kill pen for the cost of $85 and turned out to be a fun, willing partner for his young riders. Lou (who sadly rode away to horsey heaven not long ago), spent years in heavy labor, being passed along to a carriage company after a severe back injury, then moved to The Stable Place when the majestic shire was deemed too feeble to haul a carriage. Late in life he became a riding horse, excelling as an outstandingly sweet, affectionate and reliable friend on trail rides, carrying joyful passengers at festive holiday events, and even taking home ribbons at local shows. Mystery, abandoned and left near a city street, was rescued and has since become a well-loved and useful family member, ridden regularly by the folks who happily made her their own. Breezy, a small and frail mare, was rescued from a place where she was starved and neglected. Her once skeletal little frame is now thriving and she’s been adopted, taking her new mom bravely about on many spirited outings.

The point is, the story’s not over ‘til it’s over. You can write a wonderful ending for a horse and add an exceptional chapter to your own journey in the process.

You don’t have to open your wallet very far to afford a rescue horse’s adoption fee. Simply open your heart and your mind and take a chance on a truly rewarding adventure.

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