The Right Horse Initiative was formed in the response to a burning need to improve equine welfare in the United States. After years of research, discussions and convening of stakeholders a single goal was formed; to massively increase horse adoption in the United States. As a program of the Arnall Family Foundation, The Right Horse Initiative works to achieve that goal by strategically funding projects, programs and organizations that result in more horses finding homes. Our funding efforts are supported by a dynamic network of industry and adoption partners and a nationwide campaign to promote equine adoption.
When making investments, we look to support programs in three key areas including industry collaboration, community resources and directly increasing adoption. By focusing our grants in these three areas we magnify our impact on equine welfare.
The Right Horse Initiative has awarded $6.2 million since 2017.
Regional Training Centers for Transition Horses
For the most part, adopters are looking for trained horses. Most equine adoption centers could place more horses into adoptive homes if they had more resources to provide training to their horses while in transition. In some cases, horses may just need some minimal finishing training to transition to a new career; and in some cases horses may need complete training if they have never been ridden.
Many equine adoption centers operate on small budgets and not all equine adoptions centers have the budget or the operational infrastructure to have trainers on staff. The Right Horse is piloting a program at Dumb Friends League Harmony Equine Center to provide a regional training hub. Local equine adoption groups can bring their horses in transition to Dumb Friend’s League Harmony Equine Center for training. Once training is completed, HEC will perform the adoption with potential homes or the horse will be sent back to the original adoption center to process the adoption. The goal is to assist local groups in providing better trained and more desirable horses to their adopters. In addition, this increases movement in all the adoption centers and decreases their length of stay while increasing their ability to take on additional horses in transition.
Building on the success of the initial pilot program, The Right Horse Initiative is partnering with Colorado State University’s (CSU) Temple Grandin Equine Center to pilot an expansion of the Regional Training Center. The partnership with CSU will work in collaboration with the Dumb Friends League Harmony Equine Center and Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) and will focus on training transition horses for placement in equine-assisted therapy, beginner horsemanship programs or other placement opportunities. The goal of this project is to create an infrastructure in which transition horses receive the care and training required for them to prime candidates for non-traditional adoption or placement opportunities in therapy and/or beginner riding programs. With replication on a national scale this model has the potential to move a large number of horses through transition, allowing adoption agencies to increase their capacity to help more horses in need.
The Right Horse is committed to providing more resources in communities for horse owners. Many neglect situations in this country are a result of a good family simply falling on hard times. Or in some cases, neglect can be a lack of information or education. At The Right Horse we believe that we can reduce the number of bad outcomes for horses in transition simply by providing alternatives for owners in tough situations.
- Open Admission Shelters
- One-Day Open Shelters
- End of Life Services
Horse owners today frequently find themselves in a tough situation when addressing end of life options for their horse. In many communities it is very costly to humanely euthanize and dispose of the carcass of a deceased horse. Often horse owners will take their horse to an auction as an alternative to addressing end of life care. In some cases, horse owners do not want to take their horse to an auction; but they also do not have the finances to humanely euthanize their horse. Thus, their horse may experience neglect out in a pasture that is not necessarily intentional but rather a result of no good options. The Right Horse is supporting programs that provide open admission access to horse owners giving them a humane alternative for end of life options. Owners can surrender their horse for free to a shelter; and the shelter will determine if the horse needs to be euthanized or could be an adoption candidate. The Right Horse piloted a program to provide one-day open shelters throughout the country in 2017.
Collaborations Between Welfare and Industry
Traditionally, equine welfare advocates and the equine industry have not been great at collaborating to promote good outcomes for horses. The Right Horse intends to change this by supporting programs that promote collaborations between stakeholders. All the partners of The Right Horse share the same goal of improving the number of positive outcomes for horses in transition. The WaterShed Animal Fund is currently funding some pilot programs that not only give horses in transition a new job, but also help provide great horses to industry groups that need them. A great example is the pilot program being implemented by New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program and the Pony Club. New Vocations is providing off the track thoroughbreds to Pony Club members to use as well as providing them with a stipend to cover their cost of care. This program is a win/win for the Pony Club members as well as the horses coming off the track that are transitioning into a new career.
The Right Horse will continue to identify and empower potential collaborations between the equine industry and the equine welfare industry.