Free Horses In Texas

Free Horses In Texas

There is a Facebook group I used to belong to called “Free Horses In Texas.”  Contrary to many of its members, I did not join it because I wanted a free horse.  I have a free horse.  Let’s do a quick refresher.

  • I initially paid $0 for Simon
  • I would be shocked if he passed a vet check very cleanly
  • I have spent several thousand dollars on training
  • I have spent several thousand dollars on soundness maintenance & diagnostics
  • I have spent a lot of time in the saddle to get him reliable

He’s an excellent horse and I don’t regret any time or money spent on him, but those are the facts.

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So why did I join the Facebook group?  Honestly, I joined it so I could write this post.  Almost without a doubt, posters fell into one of two categories:  I want something valuable for nothing or I have something worth no value that I am no longer willing to maintain.

Here are some examples (paraphrased, I am not copying/pasting anyone’s personal information or words).  I may or may not be adding a level of snark to these…

I need a horse for my 10 year old daughter.  She is a great kid!  She’s a very timid rider who is an absolute beginner.  We want a horse, but don’t have any money to pay for one.  This horse cannot be older than eight years old.  It has to be sound, calm and healthy.  I stay at home with my kid all day, so that’s why I should get this well trained, calm, free horse.

I have four rescued horses.  They were all rescued from a feed lot, because their previous owners could not take care of them.  I can no longer take care of them either!  The youngest is 25, and the other three are in their late 20’s or early 30’s.  One is too old to be ridden, one is too hot to be ridden, one is too lame to be ridden and one is blind.  They are hard keepers too… can’t just be turned out!  Would be great for someone… but that someone obviously isn’t me.

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I rescued an aged mare and her foal last year. Foal is doing great! Mare cannot keep weight on now that it’s summer… she is also lame. She is sweet, but has bad feet. Needs more groceries than I can give her. Must find her a home soon before I have to make a tough call.

I need a horse for my kid to show 4H in. We already have several horses, but they are out of control and my child can’t ride them. I promise I will give a calm horse a good home! I can’t afford to purchase one.

This is not a knock about people wanting to find a free horse. This is not a knock about people wanting to give a horse away to a good home.  There are plenty of people out there with horses they didn’t pay a purchase price for (me me me) and there are plenty of horses out there who need good homes.

Pleading for something that has a significant value and adding restraints on it?  That’s kind of like saying I want a fancy show pony and I want it to be at least 17hh and I want it to not buck or spook or bolt and oh it needs to be sound enough for 3′ and I would like a pinto but I don’t have any money.

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If you don’t have enough money to buy a reasonably priced older show horse or younger prospect, how do you afford to show?  Or lesson?  Or board?

On the flip side, not every horse gets a forever home folks.  I honestly think it is kinder to euthanize the 25 year old lame/blind/untrained gelding hobbling around the pasture than it is to try to find him a “dream home”.

Do you know what a semi-retired “dream home” often turns into for crippled old show horses?  Saintly old horses getting ridden anyway because they know their job.  The “kid safe leadline only” steady eddy gets friends or neighbors or dad with one too many drinks thrown on him for a long trail ride or gallop around the pasture.

I think for every one “perfect retirement home” there are five nightmare situations for old horses.

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My time observing this group reminded me of two things I think are consistent in the horse world.  You usually get what you pay for, and we are responsible for our horses throughout their lives… even if that is sending them to horse heaven with love and safety.

Maybe I’m just grumpy today though, what do y’all think about some of these ads?

41 thoughts on “Free Horses In Texas

  1. Red was also free, but he came from a family member/needed a lot of weight/medication/work, we’ve spent a lot on him (of course, he’s worth every penny, not just because I’m biased but because he actually is the perfect horse for what I use him for) and I’ve realized something – any free horse will probably have issues. It’s not bad to look for a free horse, it’s not bad to ask for a cheaper horse. I would personally never spent over $1,000 for a horse, not because I think that’s a bad thing to do, but because I have a soft spot for rescues and I believe that I actually work best with rescues and since I don’t have any desire to show big (not saying rescues can’t be show horses 😉 ) that works with me. But to put restrictions on a FREE horse…that’s ridiculous. My biggest worry is this – if you can’t afford to pay a small fee, maybe even just up for $500 for a good horse, how will you pay for VET bills? Farrier fees? Boarding? Lessons? Tack? Medicine? Feed? Other necessities? Horses are expensive animals, even if you manage to find the easiest keeper in the world. It’s not a hamster.

    Another pet peeve is when someone gets a horse for free, maybe even rescues it, just to make money off of it and asks a RIDICULOUS amount of money for it a week later. A “friend” of mine just rescued a pitiful little mare, in terrible shape, for free, when they can’t even take care of their own. A week later, they ask me to buy her…for $900. Um…..wish I could, but nope! If you are going to look for a free horse, realize that you have like, a %1 chance of getting a kid-broke, friendly, healthy, calm horse.

    And rant over, sorry. This is close to my heart for various reasons, haha!

  2. Yes, yes, yes, yes, agreed wholeheartedly. I have this conversation often as a result of knowing two reasonably high profile breeders well. We have chatted about the fact that yes, the up front cost of a horse from a breeder is higher, but you end up paying in vet and farrier bills later on. Not saying more expensive horses are not going to go lame or have arthritis etc, but the horses they end up on the free boards typically weren’t purpose-bred for good feet or athletic ability or shoulder angles that predispose them to less concussive force on their joints. And the free horses hurt the breeders, because it is one of several market forces that force the price of horses in general down.

    In the slaughter wars, I always say I am against irresponsible breeding. I am in favor of slaughter only to correct the unwanted horse problem. It sounds harsh, but what else can the industry do besides see prices tumble so low that the good breeders stop breeding? All of our sports will eventually suffer as a result.

    1. Since I’ve never been in the position to buy a really nice horse directly from a breeder, I am more pro-slaughter just due to the overall logisitcs. Like you, I hate backyard breeding and careless breeding… but mostly I hate it because it creates so many unwanted horses – not necessarily because it drives down prices for breeders. I guess we agree on the problems but just have different reasons for agreeing 🙂

  3. It makes me SO ANGRY when I see ads that are essentially people trying to dump their elderly horses because they aren’t useful and/or they don’t want to pay for them anymore. Guess what – you made a commitment to that horse. See it through!!!

    1. Ugh! This makes me really angry too! I have an older horse, and it’s been my life goal to get him trained to a point where I can retired him as a lower level school horse for someone when it’s time for us to part ways. Still, I always want to retain ownership of him. He’s done so much for me, how could I not give that back?! If he’s ever unable to be a school horse for someone, I’ll retire him to pasture with a friend, or have to put him down. Just the facts of life, and though awful to have to think about, is a plan I’ve made.

  4. I share your grumpiness. My last horse was “free” – I wasn’t even looking at the time. A friend called because she knew his breeder/owners were looking to retire him from the track and looking for a good home. They are fabulous people and were committed to finding him a place. Even “free” cost money though. I shipped him to a layup farm near the track as the meet was closing until I could drive the five hours up there to pick him up. Then, there’s board, vet, farrier, etc….He is a wonderful athlete, helped me get back into shape after having my son, did a bit of showing. I knew he wasn’t a “heart horse” for me, so once he had solid skills and value he moved on to a prelim eventer who LOVES him. Kyle Carter says he has potential to go Advanced. I got a great deal on him. But I went into with my eyes open and prepared to do whatever he needed. So many of the “problem horses” we see are passed down the line because people are looking for a deal.

  5. There was a story in the news here recently, where a girl was no longer able to keep her horses at home, so she tied them to a tree in the woods and abandoned them (during the coldest winter I can ever remember), where they starved to death still tied to the tree. This same girl had been hanging out on the ‘free horse’ Facebook sites, looking for free horses until she found those two yearlings. I’ve often wondered about those people that say they can’t afford to buy a horse. 3 of mine have been free…and the ‘purchase’ of them was the cheapest part since then nothing has been free. The upkeep, feed, vet, farrier, training, lessons etc is where the real cost comes in. If you can’t afford to buy them how the heck can you afford to keep them?

  6. Good to know WV isn’t the only place with ads like that! I could rant and rave forever about it. I share your grumpiness! What gets me the most is when non-horse savvy folks tell me, “Oh I found X horse on Y facebook group for Z dollars.” I tell them okay, but X horse probably won’t work for them because of A and B reasons. They reply, “Oh, but you found both of your horses for cheap and got lucky! We want to, too!” No. No I didn’t “get lucky”. I put hours of work multiple days a week into these horses. I seek professionals and others for advice and research feeding, training, and care.

    WHY don’t people understand that we work very hard to have such good animals? GRUMBLE.

    I think it would be really neat if you did a “part II” response post to this one where you have tallied the # hours you rode/trainer rode, # hours at barn not riding, # vet visits, # shows attended, places obtained at the show, and sum total $$ spent in only one month on Simon. Add any other necessary fact blippets along the way. Maybe it would help someone to see that kind of information. :-\

  7. I also am a big fan of the ones who want a going 3′ hunter that is 16.2 or bigger, does its changes, can win the hack, requires no prep, and costs under $3k. It’s AMAZING how often people post looking for that. You and everyone else, honey.

  8. YES, YES, A THOUSAND TIMES YES! As the owner of a nearly-free pony (Dino cost me a whopping $25 adoption fee to my college) I agree 110% with everything you’ve said. While my pony didn’t cost me hardly anything, I made sure that I could afford to KEEP him before I even filled out the adoption application. I found a place to board him, got information on local vet and farrier costs, and factored in all of the ‘stuff’ one needs to ride, train, and show a pony. And I wasn’t expecting to march right into the show ring and win on him, either. He was a college dropout for a reason! I see so many people on boards like that with totally unrealistic expectations about what it takes to properly care for a horse, and seemingly no conscience when it comes to dumping an oldster instead of continuing to care for them, or euthanizing them if that’s the only option. I know my $25 import would not thrive in the average home, so he has a place with me until his last breath. I think we owe it to our horses to make sure they are well cared for during their entire lives.

    And for what it’s worth, I’m also pro-slaughter. I’d rather see a horse die a quick death and then be used to feed other animals than slowly starve and live out months or years in pain.

  9. I am not pro-slaughter but I do agree that if you really are at the end of your rope and can no longer maintain your horse, it is much more humane to have them euthanized rather than to put them in a situation where you can’t/aren’t willing to check up on them. That said, I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve had to face that difficult decision of what to do with a horse that is impossible to rehome. However I have seen very difficult horses take up a LOT of resources at rescues because their previous owners could/would not. But not all unwanted horses are that lucky of course.

  10. Gah! Free horses are not free! You hit the nail on the head Lauren- more than likely a free horse will require vet care and training plus the perseverance of the owner to make the horse usable for the chosen discipline (trail riding, 4H, etc, etc included).

    This is exactly the reason why I have yet to consider rehoming Wilbur- I would hate for him to end up in a place where a free horse equated to not having enough money to give him proper care.

  11. I am in the free horse category. There’s no wayi could’ve afforded a horse of wizard’s caliber but he also was completely green so it took work and there was a bunch of wondering if I was ready to take on fully breaking a green horse. I also wrote up the bill of transfer bc I had just taken a contract class and was scared the owner could take him back if there was not a valid contact. A valid contact requires consideration, so the consideration for this free horse was taking over complete costs of care and training. Aka I realized how expensive horses were, that I was doing her a favor, and budgeted wisely. (And had no unrealistic expectations-I knew the only way to get a nice free or inexpensive horse was to get a green one, which means they could turn out to be anything and it was a gamble). I also made sure I have the right to sell him if it doesn’t work out, and plan for his future.my old horse got too old to be ridden and I put him out to pasture for 50$ a month and feed. He didn’t get show quality care but he got to be a horse until his life quality was too diminished and we put him down. I agree it’s more ethical to put some of these horses down, but before even purchasing a plan people should have a contingency plan.

    That was long but a great post on a serious sometimes sobering subject.

    1. Also this is why I’m not a fan of back yard breeders, even though that’s kind of how I got wiz. For the most part, it just adds to the over population problem with ill bred horses prone to lameness who end up being shuffled from place to place, which I think is a little unfortunate.

  12. We have the very same ads in Oklahoma! Everyone wants a free horse that’s perfect in every way. Craigslist is a hotbed of free horse activity.

    I think I became disenfranchised with the whole free horse thing while working as equine manager at the therapeutic riding center. Every day, I’d field calls or messages from people who said, “I want to donate my horse to your center! It’s an unbroke, three year old stud!” or “This mare would be perfect for your program! She’s dead broke- she’s 29 years old and taught all my kids to ride, but now they’re grown and I just can’t afford to keep her around.” (We actually ended up with that last one when her owner unceremoniously dumped her in our parking lot. I am happy to report she WAS a good fit for the program and is still alive and kicking at 32.)

    It’s great when stories of free horses have happy endings, but I think your questions of how a person who can’t afford to buy the horse is going to feed it, house it, and provide adequate care to it.

    1. Oh gosh, yes! I’ve had a the same experience! Why does everyone think the horse they can’t sell will be perfect for a therapeutic riding program??? Our local program got so sick of it that now they don’t take donations. They basically require the owner to retain ownership and cover partial board when they take a horse into the program.

  13. I have “purchased” 4 horses in my life. $10,000; $2,000; $1,500; and free. Guess which one is the BEST HORSE EVER! Guess which one is sound, sane, wonderful, kind, funny, spirited, beautiful, adventurous and athletic? Guess which one is joining me on our first baby endurance ride (25 mi) next weekend? Guess whose super-duper excited? (Okay, that last question is ‘me’, but really, I am so totally excited!) In my case, my ‘free’ horse has been the best thing that ever happened to me (hubby & kids excluded). Maybe because the previous horses got me to a point where I could take a ‘free’ horse and not get killed – certainly a possibility considering he was a 6 year old wild Mustang when I got him. I’m pretty sure this is going to come off elitist and wrong but I suspect most people that are actively looking for a ‘free’ horse are pretty horse ignorant, and those who are trying to sell 25+ year old horses who are lame, blind, etc., are pretty much a piece of crap, in my mind. Have the decency to have the horse put down. But wait … instead of spending money to put the horse down, we could MAKE some money by selling it … yeah … that’s the ticket! Ugh.
    As far as slaughter, I’m against it. Stop breeding beyond the market. Stop indiscriminate breeding. Stop breeding just because it has testicles or a uterus. If the breeders support slaughter because they think it affects their bottom line, just imagine what having fewer but quality horses out there instead of a ton of crappy ones will do to their bottom line? Just a thought from a non-breeder horse lover in Texas.

  14. Beka over at The Owls Approve recently wrote a similar rant, and she used a phrase that really stuck out to me: Horses are not like dogs; they are more expensive, require more routine care and are a bigger responsibility.

    Sometimes, I think people just don’t get that, and think horses are just like a big dog.

  15. I agree. Some of those people sound ridiculous. How can you expect to get a perfect show horse for free? Really people. A good horse takes time and commitment. If you can’t afford to buy the horse I don’t think you can afford to keep the horse. With all that said, both my horses were indeed free! One was given to me by my neighbor who fell ill and couldn’t get out to take care of it. That horse had been a pasture ornament for several years. She is an amazing horse now but that is after two years of hard work. My second horse was found by my farrier. She falls under the category of the owners simply lost interest in her and wanted her out the door. She is the newer horse who I am now putting a lot of work into. Both my horses’ price might have been “free” but they certainly are not. They take a lot of time and a lot of money put into them. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

  16. Those examples are so very true, and really is sad. I see it all the time on my local CL or my local FB pages. “Want dead broke, totally sound, low maintenance, young, horse for free! I can’t afford to buy anything, but I promise they will have a good home!” Its just insane. If you can’t afford to buy a horse, you probably can’t afford to own a horse!!

    1. Hey YouTube Assholes!I got your fucking e-mail from "Sam". It's funny how you pricks prattle on copyright infringement when IN FACT Mark Bunker didn't commit any copyright infringement on XenuTV1. Look over his channel in your archives before you shoot off an e-mail response!

  17. I think belonging to that FB group would drive me nuts, for all the reasons you listed PLUS you probably see photos of horses not in the best condition of their lives…

    But I do disagree about putting a horse down just because it isn’t useful. I personally only believe in euthanasia as a way to end suffering. I think that if you own a horse and he gets an injury (or ages) and can’t be ridden but can still enjoy life (even with some mild to moderate pain) that you should still keep your horse and provide for it as best you can. They still have A LOT to offer even if they can’t be ridden.

    As to the big picture of unwanted horses in America, irresponsible breeding is a large factor. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

  18. Is it the backyard breeder who pumps out 5-10 foals a year or the thoroughbred or QH breeder who has so many mares they just have numbers, not names, that pump out hundreds of foals per year that is the problem? Back yard breeders reeding crap horses are a problem, but so are the large, prestigious farms/ranches that are producing huge numbers in search of “the one” champion. Most of the horses produced by those ranches are going to end up the same way as the byb horse, sort of like purebred dogs ending up in shelters.

    Don was free. Well, except for all the money I spent on travel and feed and tack and the huge amount of vet work he had at the end. And the absolute heartbreak of the euthanasia and getting the bill for it, it cost more to lose my horse than it did to get him.

  19. You hit the nail on the head. I could probably find Ghazal a decent home doing kids lessons or something but at 25 there is no way. I just wouldn’t trust anyone to have his best interests at heart this late in the game and if finances ever became a real issue I would have him humanely euthanized. It would be hard but so much better that than finding out he suffered the last few years of his life.

  20. I’ve paid a lot (and paid nothing) for several horses. I had a free horse, a $20,000 horse, a $25,000 horse, a $1000 horse, a $2000 horse, a $600, and a $510 dollar horse. Guess which ones were the sound ones?

  21. I never understand how someone can “not have money” to buy a horse but then has the money on a monthly basis to give it care?! I get that the initial investment it a chunk but add up your monthly costs over a year! And if you are investing in a good horse, vet check etc you won’t have as many surprises down the road… there are exceptions I know.

    Example in CA for the cheapest at my barn-
    Pasture $325
    1/2 shoes $75 ish
    That is $400 without grain, supplements, training, vet… or any other cost that comes up. Times 12, that’s almost $5000 a year. I know it can be done for less but come on people!

    There is that saying that I think is so TRUE.. most people need a $1000 horse with $10,000 worth of lessons 🙂

  22. I occasionally see a lot of decent “cheap” horses that I feel have good potential if they recieved good training and proper care. A long time ago I knew a lady who got a free arabian, the horse was GORGEOUS, show-quality looks, only thing was that the mare reared if there was contact on the reins. I saw her rear when one of my friends was riding her and the owner’s reponse was “oh that will scare so-so if she does that with her!” So-so being a 9 yr old beginner. My trainer stopped accepting the horse for training. But I agree with the post completely, it is pretty annoying seeing ads of people asking for a free horse with a, b, and c qualities but how can they afford the care if they can’t spend more than $500? Why not save up for a few months to have a back up fund and wait for the right horse to come along?!

  23. Those ads seem a little outrageous to me! I hate to see even elderly horses put down and would love to give all of them a good home, but you are so right. Most of them end up in a home that is worse for them than euthanize-ation (?). I could probably manage to take another one or two needy seniors in, but at the moment, I think it better to spend my money in giving the two I do have the best things possible and keeping them in good health.

    As for the people wanting a really nice horse for free? Yeah, they must not understand how much work should go into owning a horse! Crazy.

    For that matter, I have owned two free horses and two 500 $ horses. All were terrific. 🙂

  24. i’m so with you on those comments. people seem to have no money to buy a horse but they want something of value without paying anything for it. like your first comments about simon about getting what you put in. animals (and children) don’t just magically turn out to be wonderful and successful without investment: be it time or money or otherwise. and to euthanize an older horse that is lame or otherwise, is the best call t make if they can’t be kept. i mean it isn’t exactly a funfun happy choice but it’s a necessary choice that may need to be entertained.

    i get really disappointed because people don’t really want to make the full commitment to something (the horse, in this case) and just want something that suits them at the moment. when you make a commitment like owning a horse, that commitment needs to be for their entire lives. it’s the main reason that i’ve decided i probably won’t own a horse in my lifetime: i can’t truly afford to keep the horse, have lessons and show all at once as i live in the city and go riding a couple times a week right now. the likeliness of me moving to the country to keep my horse is not going to happen anytime soon–i have a mortgage so keeping a horse and saving for retirement is just unrealistic.

    i wish people would be more realistic about these types of things b/c i’m sure it would make things a lot better for the horse and the people involved.

  25. “Theres nothing more expensive then a free horse” ~ Me

    Beyond that i have a real issue with people who wont humanly put down a horse they can no longer care for. Or a horse too sick or old and is in obvious pain that they keep alive because of how THEY feel, without regard for the horse. Every horse is just one step out from ending up on a meat lot. Every horse! It’s one of the things we take on when we make a promise to our horses and give them homes. “I will not let you end up on a meat lot, i will take care of you and i will do what i need to do even if it pains me and breaks my heart” We make that promise, it’s a promise worth keeping.

  26. There are a few others to add to the category in my experience – the knowledgeable and capable horse owner looking for something good for a good price (free – like myself and you who got great horses free), and those who take these free horses, rehabilitate them, and rehome them appropriately (not a rescue, just a person). I know a few people who do this wonderfully.

  27. I need a gelding horse, about 7 or 8 yrs old, but it has to be big enough for an 11 yr old. The thing Is I DON’T HAVE THE MONEY

  28. My name is Renee i am looking for a mare. The breed isn’t the greatest of importance but i have a male horse that needs a friend. Tango loves to play an run around the pin. He is happy for the most part but he just needs a friend to run an play with. Tango is a Tennessee Walker and he is beautiful. Rbrown5221@gmail.com. please contact me i am not rich but i will pay for the right one.
    In the subject line put Tango. Thank you

  29. Would I love a rescue horse? Hell yeah I would! I am past my riding years but not past my horse adoration years where nothing would make me happier then a an hour or so a day grooming a carrot eating velvety nosed buddy who might someday allow them selves to be stroked gently on the nose by my grand kid. I am aware if you want to show you pay for training and a sound animal. I will never show but I can administer a dewormer twice a year,clean and trim feet and I live in some of the richest pasture land in the country. There are 3 horses anymore for every qualified land owning rider . Pasture and stable are on the decline and many who spent thousands on their dream horse suddenly find they are with out the means to keep it and have no venue to resell except the meat market. I have been at those auctions where once 100k animals who are young and sound are sold for butcher. Far better they go to anyone willing to pasture and feed rather then end up at slaughter.

  30. Very good advise for me! Looking to get into it, Boarding owning caring. I have a soft heart and could easily be taken advantage of and put in a bad situation except for finding this post and comments. Thank you for your expertise and advise! Please continue!

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