Are you a dedicated and experienced horse owner? Could you help to give rescue horses and ponies a brighter future? If so then there are many equines looking for comfort, support and a loving home even if just for a short while.
From miniature Shetlands and faithful cobs to graceful thoroughbreds there’s an amazing range of horses available for fostering right now. Read our ‘How to’ guide to fostering a horse and give them the life they deserve.
Fostering these beautiful creatures is such a rewarding and enjoyable experience that often fosterers decide to become the outright owner of the horse. But this comes with big responsibilities.
Whether you’ve got two or 20 horses in your life, they’ll all need to be covered by appropriate insurance for your horse to keep them happy and healthy. Give Equesure a call today and let us help you to help them!
Pros and cons of fostering a horse
Every time you consider welcoming a new horse into your equine family, it needs a great deal of careful consideration.
As you know, horses require a great deal of time, money and effort to keep them happy and healthy.
Here are some of the pros and cons it’s worth reflecting on before making your final decision to foster a horse.
- Through no fault of their own, not every horse has the perfect start in life. By fostering you are giving them a second chance at happiness.
- You could be saving another horse’s life. Unfortunately, there are always horses in desperate need of help. By fostering a horse, you are freeing up time, money and space at the charity or rescue centre for another horse.
- It’s great value for money. If you eventually decide to adopt the fostered horse then it’ll usually be much cheaper than buying a horse or pony from a regular seller.
- Each horse will have had a comprehensive health and training evaluation before fostering. So, you should be given an accurate idea of their age, health and trainability. If you were to buy from an auction then this might not be the case.
- Most organisations will help you with ongoing care for the horse. This could include providing annual shots, deworming, dental, and regular farrier visits until the horse is adopted. But sometimes these costs will be the responsibility of the owner from the outset.
- You’ll have a large range of horses to choose from.
- The organisation will work with you to find the right horse. It’s in their interests that horses are individually matched to you. Everyone wants it to be a successful fostering.
- You’ll receive an honest history of the horse. There’ll be no sugar-coating and you should be told about the horse’s good and not-so-good points.
- If you do have any issues with the horse there’s expert support and advice available.
- In life, circumstances can change. If you can no longer provide a foster home then the organisation will step in. Even if you have taken ownership, organisations will help you find a new home for your horse.
- If you decide you want to adopt the horse then it’s a straightforward process. Provided the fostering has been successful.
- There are fewer risks than buying privately. If there’s any problem at all then there’s help on hand.
- You’re supporting a charity. Charities and rescue centres perform an absolutely vital role in protecting horses from harm. But they need help, too.
- It takes a special type of person to foster a horse so you’ll become part of a very select group who support each other.
- You’ll need to have a decent amount of equine experience. Fostering isn’t suitable for a first-time owner.
- The organisation will have done their best but much of a horse’s history might be unknown. Some may have been badly abused or neglected and have behavioural difficulties.
- Fostering isn’t always a quick process. It can take some time and require references from vets, farriers, and trainers.
- Home visits both before and during fostering will be necessary to make sure everything is working out.
- As a fosterer, you won’t own the horse.
- Even if you eventually become the owner of the horse you might not be able to sell or rehome them without the consent of the rescue organization.
- Not all rescue centres and charities are equal. Research to make sure you’re using a reputable organisation.
Step-by-step guide to fostering a horse
Helping abused or unwanted horses is a great idea. But make sure to weigh the benefits and risks of fostering before you move forward. If you do decide it’s something for you then follow our step-by-step guide.
Step one: Find a reputable rescue or charity
Horse lovers are a caring bunch and you may already know of a local rescue centre or charity who needs foster carers. If you don’t, then a simple online search is really easy to do. Searching for ‘horse rescue near me’ is likely to bring up plenty of possibilities.
Even if you’ve heard of the organisation, it’s still important to do your own research on the internet or ask around your equine network. If you know someone who has worked with the rescue or charity then speak to them. Hearing the experiences of someone you trust is a great way to build confidence.
Be aware not all rescues are looking for foster homes. You may be able to find out easily by looking at their website. If it’s not clear, just give them a call. They’ll be sure to help.
Some of the main organisations worth considering include:
- RSPCA – They have two specialist equine centres covering England and Wales - located in County Durham and Shropshire. RSPCA centres in Wales also have a selection of ponies for rehoming.
- Blue Cross – Another large national animal welfare organisation offering horses on a monitored loan.
- Here4Horses – This organisation operates a network of locations offering rescue, refuge and rehabilitation to horses, ponies, donkeys and mules in need.
- Bransby Horses – One of the largest UK equine charities, Bransby currently has 563 equines in loving foster homes. Will you be the 564th?
- HAPPA – Since 1937 the Horses and Ponies Protection Association has been making equine lives better. Can you become part of this long history?
- World horse welfare – Helping horses for 90 years, their mission is to work with horses, horse owners, communities, organisations and governments to improve welfare standards and stamp out suffering in the UK and worldwide
Step two: Are you suited to fostering?
Now you’ll need to review the organisation’s own foster policies to find out if you’re what they’re looking for. You’ll obviously need to be capable of providing good basic care for the foster horse, but many have their own specific requirements. For example, the RSPCA requires that:
- You’re a horse owner or have experience of equines.
- You already have a horse, or are willing to foster two as company for each other.
- You have the necessary time, means and facilities, including access to grazing.
- You’ll foster for a minimum of six months.
- You’ll be capable of meeting day-to-day expenses, routine worming, and all farrier costs.
- You ask for consent before any veterinary treatment is given, except in an emergency.
Step three: Contact the rescue centre or charity
Once you’ve decided on one or two organisations, give them a call to let them know you’re interested in fostering.
You’ll want to visit the locations to assess the quality of the facilities and horses yourself. Just as you would if you were looking at training or yard facilities, talk to the people who run and work there. There’s no better way to get a feel for the environment.
Step four: Search for horses or ponies available for fostering
Many of the organisations listed above have details of horses available for fostering. Take a look and see if there are any that might be suitable for you.
If you have a specific type of horse in mind then give the organisation a call and they might be able to help. Horses come into these places all the time.
Step five: Make your application
Next step is to fill out a fostering application form. Be prepared to give detailed information about any previous equine experience, what you can provide for the foster horse, and references from someone able to vouch for your ability to care for horses.
After receiving your application, someone will contact you for a chat. This is a vital part of the process as they’ll want to get to know you better so they can match you with a horse that’s right for your level of experience.
You can also ask questions about the fostering process or any horses in particular. But while you might have your heart set on a particular horse, it’s up to the organisation to make the most appropriate match.
It’s almost certain they’ll also send someone to visit your property to see where the horse will be living. As you would expect they’ll want to make sure your facilities are up to the standard needed for a foster horse.
Many of these horses will have had a tough start in life and deserve appropriate levels of space, cleanliness, and safety. If you do have another horse already, they’ll probably want to see them, too.
Remember it’s all about getting a good fit between horse and foster home. It shows they truly care about their horses and where they are fostered.
Step six: Care for your foster horse
Caring for a foster horse is a big responsibility and you need to follow the rescue’s requirements carefully. Often the organisation will send someone to check on the fostered horse at regular intervals. Requirements may include:
- Daily care includes exercise, training, and socialisation with humans and other horses.
- Regular vet and farrier appointments. Some fostered horses have specific health problems that need careful monitoring.
- Changes to your property to meet the organisation’s care requirements.
- Payment of at least some costs. These could include transportation, feeding, horse insurance, and vet visits.
- Readiness to let potential adopters visit your property and meet the horse. Fostering a horse is generally a short-term option while the rescue looks for a permanent home. Unless you decide to adopt the horse yourself.
Other ways to help horses in need
If fostering is not right for you, there are other ways you can help.
- Donate tack and equipment. We all know how much a horse needs, so good quality tack and equipment with plenty of life left in it is always welcome.
- Make a financial donation towards the costs of caring for rescued horses and ponies.
- Sponsoring – Some rescues offer the option of sponsoring a particular horse in their care. So, if a certain 13-year-old Cob called Jack has stolen your heart then you could still help out.
- Volunteering – Much of the hard work in any charity or rescue centre is done by unpaid volunteers. What a great excuse to get close and give something back to these special animals.
- Support yards – Yard space is also at a premium for any charity or rescue centre. Being provided with temporary care and support on a private yard around other horses can really help a horse in need. At least until a suitable permanent home is found. If you’re interested in becoming a support yard then contact the organisation to see if you can help.
Save money on multi-horse insurance
You can’t always assume that horse insurance is covered by the charity or rescue centre. With over 60 years’ combined experience in the insurance market, our team of specialists can offer a bespoke insurance policy to suit your circumstances and budget.
Policies arranged through Equesure include three options for cover when it comes to veterinary fees:
- Option 1 – £4,500 per incident with unlimited claims in the year
- Option 2 – £7,500 per incident with up to £15,000 in the year
- Option 3 – £5,000 per incident with £2,500 top up for life-saving surgery
We can also cover saddlery and tack and personal accident cover up to £20,000.
Call our horse insurance team for a quick quote today and start helping a horse in need.
Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.