Regardless of whether you will surrender or adopt a horse first take the time to find out as much as you can about the rescue.  Don’t be shy about asking questions and expecting honest answers.  Don’t rush into any decisions and if you feel like the answers are not forthcoming or too vague then – and this may be very hard but move on. You are making an important decision that effects not just you but the horse and if a rescue is not run in a transparent ethical and humane manner they don’t deserve your business.

Try to talk to as many people at the organization as you can: employees, volunteers, board of directors, previous adopters and donors. Ask around at the local vets, feed store or where you buy shavings and other supplies. Try to visit the rescue at different times of the day to get a feel for the day to day care and attitudes of those who look after the horses.  Reputable rescue groups that are registered charities or registered non–profit societies are required to keep minutes and financial records. These reports may be available on request and will give you a good understanding of how they do business.

All rescues should be running in compliance with the standards set out in the Equine Code of Practice.

Familiarize yourself with the Equine Code of Practice which was written and developed by a large committee of industry experts and scientists. This is an excellent educational tool to help both new and experienced horse owners understand the new minimum standards of care for horses. The Codes are available to download for free through the National Farm Animal Care Council. Hard copies available at no charge through Horse Council BC.

Rescues: The Good and the Bad – Shared here courtesy of Saddle Up Magazine


The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine has developed a set of guidelines to help ensure that horses maintained within equine sanctuaries and rescue farms receive adequate and proper care.

The guidelines address all issues related to sanctuary management and operations. They provide information on proper facility design, construction and maintenance, suggestions for management and financial organization, and instructions on the proper husbandry practices and health care necessary to ensure the successful operations of all types of sanctuary and rescue facilities.

An evaluation checklist, based upon the content of the guidelines, is provided within the appendix to assist individuals who may be called upon to evaluate the quality of any such facility.

Equine Sanctuary & Rescue Facility Guidelines – by Gregory Ferraro, DVM; Carolyn Stull, MS, PhD; and John Madigan, MS, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM; published by the Center for Equine Health, School of Veterinary Medicine, UC Davis.

Rescue Retirement Guidelines – The American Association of Equine Practitioners have produced an excellent publication on rehabbing horses and running a rescue facility.


Circle F Horse Rescue Society

Greener Pastures – BC Standardbred Horse Adoption Society

New Stride Thoroughbred Adoption Society

Pipsqueak Paddocks Miniature Horse Haven Society

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act