Sport Equine

Training Center

Donated horses find new careers
September 05, 2008
Capital press news
For many horse owners, it's not easy affording expenses these days. And oftentimes, selling horses isn't easy, either. So what's an owner to do?
Many people aren't aware of the number of options for donating horses to good causes. In some cases, it can result in a tax write-off. There are organizations out there that will take horses ranging from unstarted 2- and 3-year-olds to performance and trail veterans. Broodmares can also find a place. There is even a program for problem horses that need to be retrained in order to become useful and go on to bright careers. Also, horses that need advanced training can benefit. In addition to helping a worthy cause, the donated horse gets a new chance at a useful, successful life.
Such an opportunity is offered through New Hope Equine, a nonprofit 501c3 that offers tax-donation receipts for horses or any item or gift received. Debbie Davis, head trainer of Sport Equine Training Center in Clovis, Calif., oversees the training and rehabilitation of horses received by New Hope Equine. As a trainer, she specializes in dressage and combined training, but knows how to channel horses for all different kinds of careers. Over the years, she has developed a reputation for fixing problematic horses, getting them properly re-directed and finding their best niche in the market.
Some horses she has worked with came to her with a variety of problems they'd developed for, she said, "a myriad of reasons - like (being ridden by) trainers that wouldn't keep them mentally fresh and interested in their work. Or riders that drill them repetitiously and never get them out of the arena to enjoy a pleasure ride.
Some of these horses are rejected by other trainers, but Davis said she doesn't hesitate to give these animals another chance at a new career and a productive life.
A 7-year-old Thoroughbred gelding she is working with now didn't have a lot of problems, but just needed more schooling. He had been confined to a small pen, Davis said, and didn't have the advantage of the training he needed. He was on the market for two years and didn't sell, so his owner donated him to New Hope and he immediately went into training with Davis.
"This is the kind of horse that thrives in my program and will go on to an illustrious sport horse career," Davis said.
Her program, she said, "prepares horses for a better life, and for me, it's such a huge reward to find unhappy, unused horses that have a bad background, bad or inadequate riding and training. I thrive on my project horses that were problematic and/or given up on. I can usually turn their lives around, find them a purpose and make them successful at something. These happy outcomes are the biggest reward. I love the horses, love helping them and when I can put it all together and help people too, it is the greatest experience."
When the horses are ready for their new careers, they are carefully matched to qualified new owners who can ride them well, provide for their needs and see them reach their full potential.