There you go - just ONE search for WA, on Gumtree this morning - one of several outlets which are constantly offering free horses: https://www.gumtree.com.au/s-horses-...8845?sort=rank
...and many, many more are word of mouth through trainers, veterinarians etc. The last time I was offered two free horses (hobby riding retrained OTTBs) was this week, when we adopted two additional donkeys. Again, I politely said I have enough horses and declined to look.
There are also a few dedicated re-homing societies which retrain ex-track horses and ex-rescues, and re-home them at basement prices, but are very selective in their prospective new owner criteria (thank goodness).
A few re-homing experiences I know of:
Sunsmart's dam (whom we retired at our place and who died last year) was free-leased, in-foal to a top-class imported stallion (whom my family were standing at stud for his owner, who had become paralysed in a car crash), to a friend of my father's who decided he wanted to breed a foal or two. A couple of hours after he picked her up, my father got a phone call: The mare was injured, did he want her back? The ignoramus had simply offloaded her into a large cow paddock, no other horses in sight, barbed wire fences all around. The mare came off the float, was turned loose, panicked (naturally), and flat-tack gallopped - straight into a barbed-wire fence, in which she became entangled. She had severe cuts to her face and legs and was so stressed she miscarried her foal. My father transported her back and the veterinarian patched her up again. It took her months to be back to normal, and she carried the scars for life.
Because she was a young mare and retired from racing and breeding, I spent a summer re-educating her to saddle, and we tried to see if re-homing to riding homes would result in better luck for her. Again, it was on a contracted free-lease basis, so that people wouldn't dump her or send her for slaughter, and so she could be taken back if the way she was kept fell below the standards outlined on the agreement. She went to nice people, but they weren't high in skills. It didn't matter very much, because all these kids wanted to do was ride her around in their own paddock, over low jumps etc, and they did this OK. Above all, they wanted a pet, and to brush her and feed her carrots, to which she was very amenable. Also, she loved children - and the couple of times we follow-up visited, everything was really good, the mare was happy, the kids were happy. We stopped checking.
A year later, we could no longer find the people who had the horse. They had moved and left no forwarding address (so much for the lease agreement!). Another year later, we had a phonecall from a concerned citizen: They had found a STB mare starving in a paddock and eventually traced back her breeder and last official owner (my father) through the brand and the Harness Racing Association. They had our mare in their care, had fed her back up again, and were trying to re-home her, and thought perhaps the prior connections would want to know, since no ownership transfer had been recorded - did we want her back? But there was also someone interested who seemed good, they said. My father agreed to give the new people a trial.
The agistment centre the mare went to ensured good physical care, feeding and turnout - that was not the problem. The problem was the starry-eyed, inexperienced pre-teen who was all "My Little Pony" and knew next to nothing about riding. Her mother said she would get lessons on the mare. In the arena things went fine - all she did was walk the mare around, at that point.
Before we left, I impressed on this girl that she should never, ever try to ride this mare outside of the arena without getting to walk-trot-canter-reliable halt-basic jump standard in the arena, as she was a hot horse except in the arena, and needed a confident and capable rider on a trail outing. I also warned her that she must ride in an experienced group of riders when she first started trails. This mare was very herd-bound and liable to panic when riding her alone on trails. (I could do it in training, but I knew very well that the average person would end up in a train wreck if they tried it - the mare was lastingly nervous away from other horses, and always looking to run back home if you didn't watch her like a hawk, and distract her, and keep her busy.) I impressed on the young lady that this was an ex-racehorse, very very fast, and that unless she wanted to ride a race-speed bolt, she should carefully follow the advice I had given her.
About a month later, a phonecall (and you can guess, I'm sure): The mare was "dangerous" and would we take her back please. We made no comment, and picked up the mare. I asked the girl what had happened as we loaded the mare up. Of course, she'd ridden her outside the arena down a bush trail on her own, gotten a couple of hundred metres down the road, then the mare had panicked, turned around and bolted home.
There is no telling some people. This is an example of dangerous humans who will not take advice or realise their own limitiations - not a dangerous horse. Experienced people could ride her just fine, and we had warned the starry-eyed girl that she needed to be much more skilled before even thinking about doing such a thing. I wryly commented on the trip home that people like that needed rocking horses, not real live prey animals with the DNA for racing.
That was the last time this mare was tried elsewhere. She then stood in a sand yard for many years before my husband and I adopted her and her full brother to run in our little herd, after my Arabian mare died. We adopted them because they were both sweethearts and because I'd known them since birth and helped to educate them - and because we needed another horse in case old Romeo suddenly died - which would have left Sunsmart without company of his own kind.
I could go on and on with stories like this from other people. I briefly want to mention, for its sheer prize idiocy, the story of a Partbred Arabian gelding free leased to a teenage girl interested in endurance riding. I still remember the letter she wrote me when I was 17: "He keeps limping, and we couldn't work out why, so we decided it was just a habit
." ...and kept riding him lame, "training for endurance".
A bullet is far kinder than some people.