The ASPCA Horse Adoption Express

Adoptable horses can now ride the fast lane to a new home thanks to the ASPCA Horse Adoption Express.

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The ASPCA Horse Adoption Express
Photo courtesy ASPCA

Matching the right horse with the right person is the ongoing task of equine rehoming groups across the country, and many are discovering that location is a factor. The good news is that adoptable horses can now find a ride to their new homes with the Horse Adoption Express, an innovative new transport program from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

The program works with its Right Horse adoption partners to move horses between facilities so that they have a better chance to connect with the right person as soon as possible. It grew out of collaborative efforts with Right Horse adoption partners across the country, launching in March 2021.

“One of the things we found is that there are people [interested in providing a home] for these horses, but they aren’t always necessarily where the horses are,” says Emily Weiss, Ph.D., vice president of ASPCA Equine Welfare. “If we can just get that horse to the right location, we can get him home.”

Supply & Demand

Transport has become an established practice for dog and cat shelters, helping to save more pets by moving them to locations with fewer animals and more available homes. For horses, Weiss explains that it’s less about numbers and more about supply and demand for a particular type of horse.

Stories from the ASPCA Horse Adoption Express are proving the case already. One successful relocation effort involved a group of Thoroughbreds in Florida suffering from anhidrosis, a decreased ability to sweat and cool off properly. Safely managing this condition in Florida’s hot, humid climate was a challenge.

Fortunately, there were Right Horse adoption partners in the cooler climate of Michigan with wait lists for Thoroughbreds. The ASPCA Horse Adoption Express took a load of these horses up there, where they were quickly snapped up by adopters.

“Stories like that help us solidify that there are homes for these horses, and when we’re seeing them sit for longer periods of time, [it’s] simply because their particular adopter isn’t right there in that area,” says Weiss.

So far, 180 horses have been transported between Right Horse adoption partners or trainers in the program’s first year. A total of 95 were adopted by the end of 2021. Weiss reports that they now have a constant flow of horses moving through the program, with Right Horse partners collaborating to figure out which horses might be a fit for their organization or someone else’s.

An Existing Network

While shipping horses all over the country sounds more complicated than transporting small animals, getting the equine program established had a built-in advantage because there are already horses moving all over the country via professional haulers. By tapping into this existing equine transportation industry, the ASPCA was able to get the Horse Adoption Express on the road relatively quickly.

“We were able to engage transport of the big companies that are moving horses, such as Brook Ledge and Equine Express, as well as some of the very reputable and responsible smaller haulers to help us to be pretty nimble, and we’re still working on becoming even more so,” says Weiss.

Transport for Training

The ASPCA Horse Adoption Express also helps transfer horses to trainers and programs where they can receive any training or physical rehabilitation needed to make them more adoptable.

“Sometimes [a horse’s] right trainer or right opportunity for a smooth transition isn’t in his backyard, so getting him to the right place and finding that match can make a big difference,” says Weiss. “Engaging those trainers has been really powerful.”

An equestrian pets her gelding
Putting professional training on adoptable horses or pairing them with locations that want a certain type of horse, like off-track Thoroughbreds, has been the goal of the Adoption Express. Photo courtesy ASPCA

Daisy Petrey of Petrey Horsemanship in Texas is one trainer who has been a frequent stop for the Horse Adoption Express. Trainers like Petrey are often able to network with their contacts to facilitate a successful adoption.

“With just a little bit of training and a sensitive eye to the needs of that particular horse, the horses found their homes much more quickly than they would have otherwise,” shares Weiss.

Such was the case with Miakoda, a horse that had been at Kentucky Equine Adoption Center (KyEAC), a Right Horse adoption partner, for some time but had yet to find his perfect match. The team at KyEAC reached out to the community of Right Horse partners, and he was transported through the ASPCA Horse Adoption Express to Petrey Horsemanship, where he quickly advanced as a riding horse.

Petrey worked with him and matched him with a teenage girl, who has also stayed on with her as a working student. After adopting Miakoda, the teen now has an ambition to open her own non-profit organization to rehome and adopt out non-riding horses!

“Sometimes location is everything, and it makes perfect sense if a rescue does not have the resources to train and adopt one, or simply has too many, to help get these horses to places where they can get what they need quicker,” says Petrey.

Transportation benefits adoption programs on both sides of the process. “Because of the Horse Adoption Express, we were able to find the perfect situation for Miakoda,” says Kelli Sorg, KyEAC development director,. “It would have been beyond our reach to know about Daisy and the perfect home for Miakoda without it!”

Miakoda, a horse that traveled the ASPCA Horse Adoption Express from Kentucky to find the right home in Texas
Miakoda traveled from Kentucky to find the right home in Texas with Kristina (center) thanks to training and support from Petrey Horsemanship. Photo by Lindsey Arnold/Cricket Photography

Safe Landings

In addition to supporting the ASPCA’s mission to massively increase horse adoption, Weiss sees the ASPCA Horse Adoption Express also becoming a vehicle to help ensure safe transitions for all equines in need.

For owners who can no longer care for their horse, the Horse Adoption Express could help provide transport to a Right Horse adoption partner so he can be transitioned into a new home.

“We are actively supporting our partners in moving toward open admission and making sure we’re supporting the horses before they get at further risk,” says Weiss.

Adoption Listings

Online horse listings make it easy for equestrians to search available horses anywhere, and this now includes adoptable horses on myrighthorse.org, the ASPCA’s online adoption platform for equines. 

“Through myrighthorse.org, adopters can look across the country for their right horse,” says Emily Weiss, Ph.D., vice president of ASPCA Equine Welfare. “Our goal through the Horse Adoption Express is to eliminate distance as a barrier for finding your right match.”

This article about the ASPCA Horse Adoption Express appeared in the April 2022 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!

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