Rescue Horse Adoption Fee Vs. Fair Market Value? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 05-12-2020, 05:22 PM Thread Starter
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Rescue Horse Adoption Fee Vs. Fair Market Value?

Hello! I am new here. I am the director of a horse rescue and I am just looking for some opinions. When we adopt horses out, I am so torn between setting a standardized adoption fee across the board (Ex. All horses over 2 years old have an adoption fee of $650.) or pricing each adoption fee separately and based on fair market value. Here is why I'm torn.

I feel that fair market value would better weed out adopters that aren't in it for the right reasons and help us balance out our expenses better. But I know that some people will flip that some horses are priced so high. For example, we have one horse right now that I know we could adopt out for over $2000 very easily. She is pretty, well trained, sound, and only 14. On the other hand, we have another horse that is not sound, doesn't want anything to do with people, and isn't all that pretty. I think we'd be lucky to get $300 for her. Obviously we have put more into her than that so between those two horses, the difference would balance out and help us from going in the hole.

My only real issue with fair market value is that I don't really want to deal with people biting my head off about why our adoptions are so expensive and accusing me of being in it for the money. I have not taken home a single dollar and often use my own money to cover rescue bills when donations are insufficient. If we adopt all horses out for one set fee, we are likely to lose a lot more money and have a difficult time adopting out some of the harder to adopt horses.

What do you all think? Thank you!
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post #2 of 12 Old 05-12-2020, 06:12 PM
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I can only speak for myself, but as someone who has been shopping horse rescue sites for a while, I think it's totally fair that you are charging more for a horse that has a higher market value. I would be willing to pay more for a horse that is rideable than for one that would just be a pasture pet, for instance.

When I first started shopping rescues, I was disappointed that the prices were like that. I guess I just was making a parallel between a horse rescue and a dog/cat rescue, where you can get a dog or cat for free. I hadn't thought about everything that went into getting a horse to where someone wants it. After a while, I came to understand why the prices were like that. If I were you, I'd craft a standard response for anyone who is upset about the price difference, laying out how much money is involved in getting these horses ready to adopt, and how it typically costs more to do this than what you are asking for the horse.

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post #3 of 12 Old 05-12-2020, 08:50 PM
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I agree with @ACinATX that pricing a horse with more value higher makes sense.
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post #4 of 12 Old 05-12-2020, 09:23 PM
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Many horse rescues have sliding fees based on each animal...
Young, old, sound, companion only, ride-able or not, fees are different and need to be.
Companion animals only {pasture ornament} are sometimes a few hundred rarely free to a riding horse of younger age can be as much as $3500 I've seen.
Everything in between.
It costs money to rehab animals in care and food fed, forget if training is needed.
No sale contracts are done, legal and binding and you are life-trusted but do not own is how ones I've seen are worded.
A quick search online of rescues in the state you are in should show detailed contracts information required and some actually have cost to adopt posted, but not all for reference and to compare.

Same for dog/cat rescues. It costs to adopt.
Real rescues, legit and legal ones can not afford to not have some return compensation for all the $$ outlay caring for the animals they do.
I volunteer at one now.
Dog, cat, horse and other animals..You name it it has come through the facility at one time or another.
Fees for cats are around $30.
Dogs are $125 except for black animals, they have special pricing because "black" is harder to find homes for.
The rescue I am affiliated with adopts with spay/neuter done, vaccinations UTD, current rabies and micro-chipping done so animal if ever gets loose can be reunited with their family..
Contracts, law binding are required for adopting with background "vetting" of prospective adopters done.
All that care costs money, regardless if horse, dog or cat, it costs...
...
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post #5 of 12 Old 05-13-2020, 02:09 AM
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I personally would be happy to pay the full price but I volunteer rescuing dogs and know how much it costs. It might be helpful to have a pre-set sliding scale for prices and explain in a few sentences why you do it. Thank you for being there for horses in need.
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post #6 of 12 Old 05-13-2020, 04:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rescue2020 View Post
Hello! I am new here. I am the director of a horse rescue and I am just looking for some opinions. When we adopt horses out, I am so torn between setting a standardized adoption fee across the board (Ex. All horses over 2 years old have an adoption fee of $650.) or pricing each adoption fee separately and based on fair market value. Here is why I'm torn.

I feel that fair market value would better weed out adopters that aren't in it for the right reasons and help us balance out our expenses better. But I know that some people will flip that some horses are priced so high. For example, we have one horse right now that I know we could adopt out for over $2000 very easily. She is pretty, well trained, sound, and only 14. On the other hand, we have another horse that is not sound, doesn't want anything to do with people, and isn't all that pretty. I think we'd be lucky to get $300 for her. Obviously we have put more into her than that so between those two horses, the difference would balance out and help us from going in the hole.

My only real issue with fair market value is that I don't really want to deal with people biting my head off about why our adoptions are so expensive and accusing me of being in it for the money. I have not taken home a single dollar and often use my own money to cover rescue bills when donations are insufficient. If we adopt all horses out for one set fee, we are likely to lose a lot more money and have a difficult time adopting out some of the harder to adopt horses.

What do you all think? Thank you!

Charge what is fair. You are running a business and people that want a horse will understand your thinking. They would not want you to go out of business. You can hire a copywriter to add explanation to your website or do a campaign in which you explain your thinking. (I am thinking showing the public graphics that are very concrete like: when x buys this horse we can train x horses) Make it visually appealing or funny. If people understand where you are coming from they will understand better. Look for job students or people that are willing to offer their expertise for free or for a low fee. In my opinion communication is often underrated in organisations.


also attitude of potential buyers is important, a bad attitude tells you something about them. You want your horses to find a good home. If you are in charge you will have to be tough sometimes. It comes with the job and yeah people are not gonna like you or your decisions sometimes but you have two goals: keep your organisation running and getting the horses to a new good home. That's priority. The rest of your job can be made easier (communication style, interpersonal style, branding, marketing) but some parts will remain unpredictable (people and how they react)
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post #7 of 12 Old 05-13-2020, 01:37 PM
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Remember that whatever price you get for these horses can go back to saving more horses, and potentially even give you more resources to put towards more severe cases. So yes, definitely ask fair market value. I think rescues that have set prices are just asking for trouble with getting the attention of inexperienced, in-over-their-head "adopters". I believe by asking a fair market value, you will find more homes that are capable of providing lifelong care to a horse, rather than homes that keep a horse long enough to discover they can't afford it. Asking fair market value will help set horses up for success in their future homes, rather than having them land back in your hands, or needing rescued once again.


Let's look at the rescue I got my horse from - it is by far not a rescue I would consider "good". I do not recommend people to look at horses there, I will not adopt from there ever again, and I made sure that the owner of the rescue has zero means of contacting me. Her highest adoption fee currently is $700 for a pony that needs to be re-started undersaddle and has been started to drive. The highest price adoption fee I ever saw was $1000 for saddlebroke horses. There has been horses with no rehoming fees. She gets horses returned way more than a successful rescue ever should. She begs for donations constantly. I have zero idea how she is still able to 'rescue'. She gives a bad example of a rescue.

Now what I would consider a successful rescue operation is CANTER (the rescue, not the trainer listings). The cheapest I have ever seen a horse listed is $600, and I have seen some of them be listed for $3000+. Light riding sound horses go for $500-900, re-started horses go for $1000-2000, and the horses that are solid citizens are $3000+. I would consider that market value. I follow my state's page, and I don't think I have ever seen a mention of a horse getting returned. There isn't many times I've seen them straight up ask for donations unless they get a horse in that need special treatment. It seems like people that have adopted from them before, return to adopt again.


Just food for thought, of course.
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post #8 of 12 Old 05-13-2020, 02:06 PM
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The only thing I would that would give me pause on the "fair market value" is that if I am going to pay actual "fair market value" I might as well buy a horse and have full ownership of it. It would probably give ME ulcers to think that I didn't really own my horse and some rescue could come in and take it back at any time. However, that's me, and I understand many people probably wouldn't worry about that.

We did "rescue" of one of our cats from the pound, and I don't worry about them stealing her back, I guess mainly because I know they have tons of dogs and cats. And to be honest, it some ways it's nice that if I couldn't keep an animal, I would have a place to fall back on that would take her back, but that would be an absolute LAST resort. Because our pets are like family.

Our horses are family too.

Now a BLM horse it wouldn't worry me so much because after about a year I would have a clear title. And I understand the rule is in place to keep them from being bought to ship to slaughter. So I think it's a great idea to protect the horses. But to pay $2000 for a horse that wasn't really mine and I couldn't sell if I wanted to........I dunno. That would have to be an exceptional horse for me to agree to that. But again, that's MY own comfort level. I am probably the exception to the rule. I would be more likely to adopt if it was more like the BLM and I got surprise inspections for a year and then the horse was really, truly mine after I proved I was a good owner.


I like that the horse has a place to fall back on........but I don't like that the horse isn't truly mine. But I understand that's how rescues work. If I want to rescue something, for me personally, I will probably just go buy it myself and then it's mine.
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Last edited by trailhorserider; 05-13-2020 at 02:13 PM.
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post #9 of 12 Old 05-13-2020, 02:12 PM
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Yes, I want to be clear that I don't think that a rescue should charge full market value, because I don't like the idea of not actually owning the horse. I would NOT pay "full market value" (whatever that is) for a rescue horse. One thing that keeps me away from rescues right now is that I'm going to be moving to a different state in a few years, and it seems like most rescues want you to surrender the horse in that case. I get it, but if I have put time and money into a horse, and building that relationship, I don't want to have to give it away if some trigger event happens.

I do agree with charging more for a more marketable horse. I just wouldn't pay as much from a rescue as I would from a sale where I'd have clear title.

I'm not a horse trader, but the feeling I get from rescue sites I've looked at is they are typically charging about 50% of the horse's fair market value.
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Last edited by ACinATX; 05-13-2020 at 02:25 PM.
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post #10 of 12 Old 05-13-2020, 02:15 PM
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I agree with everyone here. Ask what you can get. First, because what you are doing is expensive, and you will not likely ever really come out ahead. Secondly because people looking for cheap horses may not realize how much it costs to properly care for a horse and therefore not have the budget to keep up with regular expenses, much less vet bills. If your goal is to get horses out of a bad situation, then the last thing you want is for them to return to one. People should be prepared to pay a reasonable price for the horse because that is the cheapest part of horse ownership. When you have a horse that rehabs well and is worth more, use the money to help other horses. I like @Jolien 's suggestion of being transparent about the cost of rehabbing a horse and how the adoption fee helps you rescue more horses. Write something up that you can post on your Web page or send to people who complain.
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