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post #1 of 15 Old 08-27-2009, 10:55 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Wimberley
Posts: 14
• Horses: 7
Question About Rescue Horses


I'm new here so I guess I'll make my first question count. (haha)

My family and I run a rescue facility in a small village in Texas called Wimberley. We have been getting a HUGE amount of incoming horses that are pretty well trained but they are rusty and some times a little green.

I could turn them over for really low adoption fees but I am having a dilemma. The longer we keep these horses, the more money and training we put into them.

For instance, down here it is roughly $350 a month for to board your horse MINIMUM anywhere you look. The cheapest (reputable) place I have found for board + training is $650 a month or MORE depending on what state of training the horse is in when it arrives.

My question is this, do you think it is poor ethics for me to offer the horses at one price and add the boarding/training fee if the horse has not been placed by the time training is complete?

My example is a Horse named Q that we got just the other night. He's SUPER green but has UNBELIEVABLE potential. We have started working with him every day and it looks like he will be an EXCELLENT barrel or poles horse.

I have his adoption fee set at 800 or 900 bucks right now on age, potential and breed alone. But after another month or so of training, the value of this horse is going to be two or three times that much!

We feed and care for the animals we get with the adoption fees we collect when we place a horse. I run the rest out of my pocket and from collection can donations etc. It doesn't seem fair to short change the amount of the horse. It takes food and care and transportation funds out of the mouths of the horses and our personal pocket. It makes it harder for us to afford going to pick up horses all over the state. Texas is HUGE and some times we travel 10 and 11 hours round trip... pulling horses that far is NOT cheap. A trip we made last month to Rockport for 3 horses cost us over $400 in gas ALONE!

We are new at this and I'm just not sure how to proceed in some of the situations. Is it wrong to ask what the horse is worth in an adoption situation? How do I calculate that?
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post #2 of 15 Old 08-27-2009, 12:56 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Missoula, MT
Posts: 6,594
• Horses: 1
Rescuing horses is not something you go into expecting to make a profit. Make sure that you're only getting the amount of horses you can handle. Do you have volunteers working for you? Are you non/not-for profit status?

I don't know what it is like for you in your area, but around here I can get a fairly well broke horse for about 1,000 and just add on any specific training I wanted. I just saw a awesome little ranch horse sell for about $800 at the auction. He had good papers, moved nice, and wasn't bad looking either.

I'm a little bit confused though. Are you just buying horses at auction then re-training? Are you paying for boarding and training?
The smaller over-head you can, the better. Your money should be spent on getting the horses and rehabbing them as far as vet/farrier goes. If you can find some good volunteers to work with the horses as far as training goes, that will save you a lot and if you are paying for full board instead of having your own facilities, that is going to add up as well.

As far as your horse you mentioned that has potential and you're putting training on him...I wouldn't pay much for a horse that has a month or so of training on him and the rest is counting on potential. At least for me, potential isn't as valuable as what the horse already has especially with the market the way it is now.

There are some people on here that work with rescues more than I that can give you some valuable advice. What I would really suggest though is making sure you're only rescuing what you can handle and really taking a look at your business to see where you can cut unnecissary expenses (IE: 650$ a month per horse for board/training)
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post #3 of 15 Old 08-27-2009, 02:09 PM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Seminole, OK
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When I saw you name, I thought my younger daughter had joined this forum and I was going to have to quit griping about my son-in-law!

Horses are a business - a business of love, but a business none the less. The notion that a horse's value should increase with more training is an interesting one. If you have a horse that your local market says is worth $1000, and you invest $1,500 in his care and training - you will not be able to sell the horse for $1,500. If you do sell the horse, the local market dictates that he is only worth $1000 and that is all you will get for him. A rescue generally can't afford to have many losses like that. Around here, they will bring the horse up to good health and/or a good weight and sell it at or slightly below market price. They attempt to provide quality care and hope for donations to minimize the economic investment and losses incurred. Any "potential" the horse may have is used to help market the horse and result in a sale as quickly as possible. The training required to help the horse reach that potential is up to the buyer.

Plain Old Dee, horses Dancer and Rain

I believe in dragons, unicorns, good men and other mythical creatures!
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post #4 of 15 Old 08-27-2009, 02:45 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Wimberley
Posts: 14
• Horses: 7
more specifics

Down here the drought is bad. You can pick up horses for under $200 at auction and it's a horrible place. There are many horrible men who take these sweet babies straight to Mexico for slaughter. You can get a horse for a hundred or so and take to Mexico and get 500 or more for slaughter. It's a real shame. They are making laws to stop it but it is still happening as long as the evil @#$%@$'s can pull it off.

We get horses from auction and from people who donate their horses. We have 20 acres divided into 4 pastures that serve us really well. We only keep 7 or 8 horses at a time (That's max... we usually have 5 or 6). Never more than that! Not because there isn't room but because we just can't afford it. We don't board. I am sorry for being unclear. I was stating the boarding and training prices because I am trying to get a handle on how much $ to put into the equation.

Green broke horses with no papers go for around a grand down here right now and some for a little less. Papers make a difference and you can't get a good barrel horse that is trained for less than a couple thousand unless God is smiling on you that day. Trained and working barrel horses and other sport horses are $3,000 and up, papers or not. Sometimes you can find good deals on them on craigslist.

We do all the training, farrier work and everything ourselves. We have relatively no overhead so we can keep prices really low. We are trying to keep them to $1,000 or less except for special horses with extensive training. In three weeks or so we can take a broke to ride horse and have him riding bareback with a hackamore. We are taking well broke horses and training them for events if they show talent.

We have a slew of volunteers who come out each weekend and some during the week to help make sure everyone gets ridden every day unless it rains. We have a few horses that enjoy rainy rides but for the most part rainy days are for mud wallering! haha

We are in the process of filing for our own charter but are umbrella'd right now. We aren't taking cash donations. Our motto is that we don't offer tax shelter to people, we offer food and shelter to horses. We have numbers on our site where people can call our feed store and buy feed and such for the horses. It's working well and it keeps people's intentions pure.

Also, we make people go through classes with us before the can foster or adopt. We also make sure our cost per horse is more than the average cost per pound in mexico. We hope that those measures will stop people from praying on rescue horses, cause God knows they have already been through enough. We also make buyers allow us to deliver the horse(s) so that we can actually lay our eyes on where the horses will be kept. We tell people that if they don't like those rules they can get a horse from some place else.

I guess my main question was just about the ethics of pricing, because they are rescue horses. I looked recently for a well broke barrel prospect. I took the price of the horse I looked at and cut it in half. I deducted gas money for picking her up, estimated delivery price as the same and deducted it, took out for feed and for the time we had her and $10 an hour training. I came up with -$175.00. That sucks. If I would have charged what the going market rate is, I would have came out about $500 on top. That $500 could help with buying food and supplies and keeping us up and running.

How do I keep it under market price and still stay afloat? I have relatively no overhead. I'm doing this from my house! My overhead is food and supplies... transportation costs... vehicle upkeep... that kind of stuff. I don't need the rescue program to support me. That would be awesome. But it's not why we started. If I can keep it supporting itself, that would be great. I can't afford to carry it. That's why I need to know how to efficiently and ethically price the horses.

Thank you so much for your patience with me and I really appreciate any info anyone can share.
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post #5 of 15 Old 08-27-2009, 02:52 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Missoula, MT
Posts: 6,594
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I think if you can break even, you are a step ahead of the game.
I think dee had a good post. Most people who are rescuing, are aware that the horse is going to need some extra work and go into looking at rescues knowing this. I think if you can get these horse into good medical and mental condition with a few rides on them you should start looking to place them and allow the new owner to start putting specialized training on them.
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post #6 of 15 Old 08-27-2009, 04:39 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Wimberley
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Thank you both for taking the time to talk to me about this. I think you are both right. I don't think I'm going to solve the situation with an equation. I'm going to have to sit down with my husband and my sons and talk to them about what we can do to decrease the amount of time we spend getting a horse ready for adoption. I think more foster placement may also mean more horses can move through our program and get into the hands of people who can care for them.

My concern in that would be, of course, that if we put them into foster care too soon, they could end up back here. It's going to be a delicate balance I suppose. And I think you are right, spastic dove, my "overhead" in keeping and feeding them for more than a month is what is putting the break even level so high.

2 out of every three horses we place spent more than 3 months here.

And you are right too Dee, we need to make it below market value without cutting our life lines.

Thanks so much,
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post #7 of 15 Old 08-27-2009, 05:06 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: New South Wales, Australia
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Horse rescue is not a business that is ever going to do great, in fact most horse businesses are difficult because they are expensive.

If you have a horse that you think is worth more then I think its okay to charge more. Not because you have put time in it, or the equivalent of agistment, but because you can, and you need to make money to save more horses. If people want a horse they can pay for it, and generally people respect horses that they pay more for. I know that sounds weird, but its true. People who get free horses, regardless of how good they are, just treat them as though they don't really have a value, where as those who pay more for them treat them as precious. It varies between people, but that is a trend I have noticed.

Above all I think you need to focus on rehoming to the right people and getting rid of them quickly. Once a horse is ready to be rehomed you don't want it sitting there for a week or two while buyers get their act together, you could lose profits in feed and time, and its taking the spot of another horse. Your better of charging less and getting rid of it a bit quicker, than holding for ages for a little more money.

Still remember you are selling rescue horses, most who probably have some kind of psychological issue that may resurface, these people are taking a risk buying a somewhat 'damaged' horse, so they aren't going to pay full price. They think they are doing something good, but at the same time if you are charging just market price they may as well go elsewhere.

Also - cash donations. I mean whats more important to you, saving horses or caring about what other people do with their taxes? If you refuse it its not like they are going to just say 'oh now i won't do it at all' they'll just go to another charity.

I don't know if I helped at all, but thats just what I think about your situation.
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post #8 of 15 Old 08-27-2009, 05:14 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Missoula, MT
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Good idea with the foster homes :) Just make sure you have a pre-screening process and contract just like you would with a buyer.
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post #9 of 15 Old 08-28-2009, 01:37 PM
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Location: UK
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Shea, In this harsh modern world you have to make money otherwise you fold. That doesn't mean you are greedy - just means you are needy.

To an established horse owner, the value of the horse lies in the pleasure and companionship it gives. The real cost to the owner of a horse is the feed, the barn, the training, the tack and the time it takes to look after it. The original purchase price is irrelevant.

To me, I wrote off the cost of buying my horse the day after I bought her and she costs me a lot more to keep in the UK than over there in Texas. But she makes my day - every day. WHat's the value of that?

If you put the training in and the horse recovers from whatever life it had before it met up with you, then you have the right, indeed the obligation to charge for that time. If you have the money then you can go on and rescue another poor mutt.

I don't know how to make you into an entrepreneur over the Internet but I sure wish I did know how. Just keep up the good work.

Barry G
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post #10 of 15 Old 08-28-2009, 01:50 PM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Central Pa
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I don't want to start a fight, but I have to disagree with Saskia's comment. She stated that people who get free horses don't value them as much as someone who spends thousands of dollars on one. My horse was given to me for free, and after only a month of having her, I've had the vet out twice and the farrier out twice, which has cost me well over $500 total so far. I am preparing to send her to full training which is going to cost me $715/month, for at least 2 months, and I just ordered her well over $600 worth of supplies, including a vet kit, supplements, etc etc. I don't think that everyone who gets a free horse is going to step up and care for it properly, however there are those of us out there that will go above and beyond. Just because a person has money to purchase the animal doesn't mean it's going to be cared for. I was the director and founder for a small animal rescue(bunnies, rats, birds, etc), and while the cost to maintain these animals is much less than horses, there is still a major expense. I've been known to do home checks, vet references, personal references, etc, and based on what I saw, was willing to either set the adoption fee WELL below what was put into the critter, or not adopt to them at all. I firmly believe it's a case by case situation. I wish you the best of luck with your rescue, and thank you for taking in these horses to give them a second chance.
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horse adoption , horse for sale , horse rescue , horse sales , rescue horses

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