Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Cost of a "Free" Horse

At the inception of The Second Race, we wanted to be as easy a resource as possible for both the adopter and the trainer/owner asking for assistance. This included offering "free" horses to our network of potential adopters. While the idea of a free horse, is tempting, a horse is never free.

Nor is the responsibility of the adopter to ensure that the horse finds a happy and healthy home and life. The Second Race has discovered on occasion in the past 18 months, that those that received a "free" horse from us, didn't perhaps have the "buy in" needed to ensure that their new horse was a forever horse in their care. Let us explain.

When, Sharla Sanders the founder of The Second Race worked in middle management at a number one mortgage company in America, she was responsible for the broker division and managed 46 employees. The division went from having three separate managers, to just one (Sharla) in a years time. There were lots of disgruntled employees, change is hard for everyone and managing expectations was important to the success of the company. Sharla and her manager a VP determined that there had to be "buy in" from the employees in order to reach our goals. A bonus plan was re-designed whereby all members of the team had to collectively reach benchmarks, goals and exceed expectations together, for anyone to receive a bonus. At first, this was not well received, but in a very short time everyone learned they had to work together to get their increase in salary, in other words, they bought into the mission of the company and expectations. Without doing this, those that did well would expect their bonuses and those that did not, continued to do sub par performance. Its all about the buy in, you have to feel that you are invested in order to make something matter to you, its just human nature. Anything given and not earned is never appreciated in the same manner.

Taking that same thought process into consideration, The Second Race has decided that beginning this month, there will be an adoption fee for our horses. $ 500 will be required and the adopter will be responsible for the Coggins/Health Cert and transport should a horse go across state lines. The Second Race paid for the shipping of horses, and Coggins and found not only was this costly, but it was easy for someone to consider "giving back" a horse or attempting to transfer a horse to another party, because as mentioned above in our opinion, a stake in that horse was not present.

Our mission is to continue to provide an easy transition from the race track, lay up farm or breeding operation for the horsemen, but we also believe that an adopter should be more vested in the adoption of one of our horses, and so therefore the change in procedure. Please note, if a horse is not owned by The Second Race, the horse will still be offered for free, unless the current owner agrees that some type of fee should be attached to the horses adoption. These will be on a case by case basis.

One way to find out about the cost of horse ownership is to do research prior to adoption. Here is a recent book written by a life long horsewomen that clearly and easily shares her years of experience. A horse is a lifetime (a horse's life span can be as much as 25 years) commitment, and should be treated as such.

To read more about 'What A Free Horse Really Costs' or to order the book go to Diane Mollers' website A portion of her book sales, will benefit a rescue organization, Habitat for Horses.


  1. I've never looked back on my two "free" horses. Yeah they've cost me several pairs of new shoes and outfits; a vacation or two' but just seeing them out in their pasture, watching them eat peacefully and feeling them nudge me for cookies or scratches is well worth the investment. I would never change a minute or dollar of it.

  2. JoAnna very well said, and that is exactly the spirit in which we hope all adoptions will be entered into. Thank you for sharing and enjoy the cookie munchers!

  3. Karin Benish, RVT, CW2 (US Army ret.)January 6, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    My first horse was $250.00.. my second was free.. they are what started me on the journey Sharla is embarking on.. to save those who have no voice in what happens to them. There is a differnece between freeing a horse.. and a free horse. Sharla.. hats off for freeing the horses!
    Karina Benish
    Executive Director

  4. Looks like another rescue is becoming a brokerage. Let's see, If I had $500 bucks for each one of those horses that I placed last year, I would be money ahead now and be able to get a raise!

  5. Well said Sharla. These are quite expensive animals to own and a decision that should not be taken lightly. Buying the horse is the cheap part I have found. Caring for them properly is the expensive part. In my mind, they are worth every penny. Horses are never "free". (: I agree with the adoption fee 100%.

  6. To Anonymous and your comment about becoming a brokerage. I would invite you to look at our website to see exactly what we do (and more importantly do not do).
    1. We are NOT a rescue.
    2. We DO NOT broker horses.
    3. We DO NOT sell horses.
    4. We have horses that cannot remain where they are surrendered to us. Some of these horses have injuries from the race track. The cost to lay up these horses FAR OUTWEIGHS the mere $ 500 adoption fee that will be charged. NO ONE is making money in this endeavor.

    The Second Race has placed/adopted out over 100 horses in the past 18 months, and has NEVER charged a dime for our services.

    Your comments are incorrect and snarky. While we appreciate "free speech", its best to educate yourself with what a group does, before making such comments.

    Best wishes to you as you place your horses.

  7. The $500 bucks doesn't go far when you properly care for them Anon.
    Im overjoyed with my free horse that cost me $2,500 in the first 6 months. She has given me $1,000,000's worth of joy and love in the past 4 years.

  8. I adopted a rescue horse for $1500.00, spent another $300 on transport to get him home. The horse rescue had him for 18 months so I know they spent more then that on him with care. A $500 adoption fee is a drop in the bucket and I am sure that doesn't EVEN cover the expenses paid out with feeding, trimming, vaccinating, worming, health
    checks and more. You are doing a wonderful thing Sharla. It really can't be done for free. And it is very true that when people pay for something they tend to value it more then if they had aquired it for free. That is human nature.

  9. I think what you are doing is wonderful Sharla. It will do exactly what you want it to do, and also completly ensure that unscrupulous people don't get a horse for free and turn around and dump it, possibly to a kill buyer. You tried it the free way, it caused you headaches with adoptors that have no business owning horses, this is a GREAT idea, will seperate the wheat from the chafe...Anne Buxton, dedicated supporter of The Second Race

  10. Thank you Anne! As with any business, changes are made, modifications and response to the market. The Second Race is a business. Any non profit that hopes to be around for many, many years to serve the horses, has to think of their endeavors as a business and make some decisions, that a few may find unfavorable.

    Thank you to everyone else for their positive responses, its much appreciated.

  11. I agree with Anne! You've poured your heart and soul into this and have helped a tremendous amount of horses through much personal sacrifice!

    Your detractor on this thread is ignorant of what you do and how you've accomplished it thus far. Perhaps she needs to take a look at herself - throwing stones like that only means she's covering up for her shortcomings and inabilities....


    -Julie Z.

  12. As someone who owned horses for 18 years and is now looking to adopt from TSR, $500 is the cheapest part to owning and caring for a horse. I am very lucky that I found a boarding facility who grows their own hay which is included with board, but there are other expenses that a new owner will not know about. Personally I would be concerned with just giving away a horse. An adoption fee will weed out the serious owners from those who just want a "free" horse!

  13. It truly saddens me that any person would misguidedly attack and incorrectly judge the amazing miracles that Sharla Sanders and The Second Race help accomplish. Over the last 20-some years, I've taken in 4 "free" horses, each of which easily costs me more than $500 per month EACH. A $500 adoption fee is a mere drop in the bucket for the privilege (and it is a privilege as well as a responsibility) of homing one of these amazing creatures.

  14. Good job, Sharla.

    The financial cost can be dear, but the biggest commitment is time and energy. Giving someone reason to think about what it will really take to tend one of these beautiful, precious creatures is an excellent plan.

    An adoption fee is a great gateway, and not too high as to prevent those who are serious.


TBA Blog Roll


Search This Blog