Q&A with This Old Horse
Where is This Old Horse based?
Our home base is in Hastings, Minnesota, located within the greater metropolitan area of Minneapolis/St. Paul. We have seven other farms we manage in the area. Our foster network expands throughout Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin.
How did your program begin?
In 2012, This Old Horse was founded to support retired or sidelined service and performance horses that through age or infirmity were no longer at the top of their game. Our mission was to create a community of horse lovers who were less interested in what the horse could ‘do’ and more interested in honoring the full spectrum of its life. Focusing on the needs of older and lame horses gave us unique expertise in nutrition, soundness, effects of aging and rehab. In 2013, we expanded to include serving rescued, neglected and special needs horses.
What makes This Old Horse unique?
First: We stand with horses at the end…end of a career or the end of a what we hope is a long, valued life. We honor and value horses at a point in their lives where they are most vulnerable to neglect or hardship if they fail to meet the expectations of their owners.
Second: We are a volunteer-based organization with no paid administrative staff or central office. We have welcomed over 2,000 volunteers into our community since 2012 with an average of 200 volunteers spending time on this mission every month.
Third: We ask our community to support our horses, and we expect our horses to support the community as well. For example, our horses help vet tech and equine studies students gain clinical and practical experience as part of their education. We have the only ‘horseless horse’ 4H program in the country where kids that don’t have horses actually work with ours and show them at the County Fair. We have an active miniature therapy horse program and several education programs that run year round.
What happens when a horse is accepted into your program?
Once a horse is in our program, we take responsibility for it until the end of its life. Adopted horses are bound by the ‘safety net’ clause in our contract whereby our placement team continues to follow along and periodically check on the horse to assure all is well. And if the circumstances change for the adopters where they can no longer adequately care for the horse, it comes right back to us with no questions asked.
How big is the property where your sanctuary is located? How many horses can retire there?
We operate 8 different farms, both owned and leased, ranging in size from 5-43 acres plus we have a network of foster hosts, in total serving about 200 horses on any given day.
Do you also accept horses and then retire them to new homes?
We offer sanctuary (long-term) placement, placement within our foster network, transfer of ownership through adoption and manage a wait list where horses referred to us and waiting for placement are featured to prospective adopters. If a match is made, the horse may end up going directly from the owner to a foster or adoptive host. The horse is signed over to us and our placement team follows along.
Do you require new owners to do reporting?
A member of our placement team is assigned to each horse, and they do regular follow along and visits with the foster hosts or adopters to continue to support them and the horse along the way. This is a requirement of anyone who agrees to be part of our network.
How many horses have gone through your program?
We have directly supported more than 350 horses of 35 different breeds. We also help community members access resources that help them keep their horses at home when they encounter a short term or temporary hardship.
How does This Old Horse receive funding?
Primarily private donations. We have three major horse events that consider us a charity partner that provide a donation in exchange for our volunteers working their show. We have one major fundraiser a year.
Do you have a story about a horse that we can share with our readers?
We love this little clip about Big Betty, a Belgian mare who came to us in terrible condition through a law enforcement seizure. You can watch it on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNQJC0J6O7w
If people want to help your program, what can they do?
Donate, adopt, foster. We have people all over the country that have adopted a horse from us and provide for its cost of care while the horse stays at our place! We keep them updated and connected with their horse, and they can enjoy horse ownership from wherever they live!!
To learn more about This Old Horse, please visit their website.