I am writing this story as a warning to those that want to adopt...proceed with caution.
So, a while ago I fell in love with a horse, who we will call "T". He had a hilarious personality, was fun to ride, and although he needed some TLC and groceries, was an all around great horse. He was, at the time, situated with a renowned rescue group, who we will call "SR". I took my time with him and made sure that I was fully prepared to own a horse and take care of his needs. After a while and numerous visits back to the facility to see him, a decision was made to proceed with the adoption.
Now, I consider myself a well versed equestrian individual who's ever evolving knowledge is based on book knowledge mixed with real world experience. Although I had no idea what was to come, I felt that I was prepared to ride this journey through it's successes and blunders.
I reviewed SR's adoption contract, of which at the top, it stated "Adoption/ Caretaker," which I thought was interesting at the time, but didn't think much more than that. This was my first blunder, which I didn't even realize at the time. When I look back at it now, I want to slap myself upside the head. You see, the contract didn't afford me the right to own the horse that I just paid an adoption fee for. SR still kept all ownership papers and rights to the horse. In a way, I was just leasing him. Sadly, it only snapped into place when I re-reviewed the contract and talked with a friend who went through the same situation. The spokeswoman (who no longer works at the facility), had told me that he would be mine, that it wasn't a lease or just as a caregiver, I was adopting him.
In a way, I can see from their side- that they want to provide a forever home for the horse and they think the only way to do this is to retain ownership and limit anything and everything that you can do with the horse, to include showing, breeding, leasing, racing, etc, etc. Some of those, I can understand...but others are going a bit over the top. They send out vaccination reminders every spring and fall with an ever expanding list of vaccinations for their horse that you have to pay for...including an up to date Coggins for that unlikely time you will take him/her out of state for the show that you will never be in (because they forbid it, lest they take your horse away). They advise that the horse has to maintain a score of 6 at all times no matter what the horse had a score of coming off of the facility (T was a 3 when he came to me and maintained a score of 4/5 per my vet throughout the winters and summers that we spent together). However, if any of these requirements are not met, they can come and get the horse, at your expense. This means that every dime, every hour, every training session, vet visit, grooming and bonding moment you spend with the horse, it still is not yours.
This also means that in the case that you cannot take care of him due to, in my case, a car accident that put me in the hospital and exorbitant medical bills that insurance would only cover a small percentage on, you can bring him back (of course, again at your expense). I was not able to lease him out to a friend at the barn to help with costs, or put him in as a part-time school horse as per SR. They were staunchly un-moving when I asked for some leeway so that I can care for him in the same manner and within the same group that he was used to. They only wanted him back so that they can send him on to the next person.
In the end, after hours of going over the numbers time and time again, and looking for options, I came to the realization that because this horse will never be mine, that SR will never work with me, this can never be. So, I returned him back to the facility as a fully trained, well mannered, happy horse and is now up for "adoption" again.
I have learned a great many things during the time that we shared, and hope to pass some measure of that knowledge on to others. Even though he is no longer in my care, he will always have a spot in my heart.