Have you ever gotten a horse for “free”? While owning and caring for horses is never really free, some situations require owners to find a new home for their horses, and some choose to do so at no cost to the new owner.

In last week’s online poll, we asked our readers if they’ve ever gotten a horse for “free” (without the previous owner asking for compensation). More than 500 readers responded and we’ve tallied the results!

Of the 502 respondents, 348 (69%) said they had received a horse for free, while the remaining 154 individuals (31%) had not.

Additionally, more than 100 people shared their thoughts and experiences related to free horses:

Many people commented about their experiences with free horses:

  • “I took an OTTB on a one month trial. I wasn’t interested. Then I couldn’t get them to take him back.”
  • “Yes, I have four that I got for free. All have turned into great horses.”
  • “Yes, I’ve been given six horses in the past who need a soft landing and were/are wonderful.”
  • “Yes, a friend has given me two wonderful horses. If I had to give mine up, I would do the same.”
  • “Several. They have been some of my best horses. You have to be able to work though some difficulties.”
  • “My farrier gave me her roping donkey, who is still with me ten years later.”
  • “I presently have two that came to me for free with no background info at all. Both had issues.”
  • “My first pony was given to me when I was 10 years old by an older woman who wanted nothing in return.”
  • “Our hay supplier recently gave us a mule! Handsome and friendly, but not trained.”
  • “Milly (an ex-racehorse) was given to me two years ago after half-leasing her for 6 months.”
  • “I was given my first horse. She was a tough old thing and taught me a lot!”
  • “I received a very well-bred, young and lovely Arabian mare and a spectacular Welsh yearling filly.”
  • “Over the years, I have had two wonderful horses given to me for free.”
  • “I got two older geldings from a therapeutic school that closed. Fantastic experience.”
  • “He finished fourth in the nation for solid Pinto last year. His upkeep is not free though.”
  • “I have had four horses (one mare and three geldings) given to me free of charge, all from friends.”
  • “A purebred 3-year-old Arab gelding didn’t fit into owners’ breeding program. I had him 28 years. Best horse ever.”
  • “Free retired trail rider. He is 31 and the love of my life!”
  • “Solid palomino 4-month-old colt unwanted by Paint breeder, given without cost.”
  • “No horse is ‘free’, but yes, from my dad! I still have her. She’s 19 and works as a therapy horse now.”
  • “I found a woman who needed a retirement home for a lightly rideable draft cross. Worked out great!”
  • “My two Quarter Horses were free! Great horses!”

Several others shared the reasons why they obtained the horse for free:

  • “They could no longer keep him, and liked how I cared for mine, so they gave him to me. Great horse!”
  • “Horse was two, found wandering on town square. Now she is seven. She is wonderful. Police wwere never able to find owner.”
  • “A lovely, well-trained mare with anhidrosis. Owner had changed hobbies and wanted a good home for her.”
  • “I was given a mare that loves people but hates other horses.”
  • “A good friend gave me a mare I was riding for her after I lost my colt to colic surgery.”
  • “I had many offered, usually had chronic costly conditions that the owner didn’t want to deal with.”
  • “I am a small adult. My tall friend owns a riding school. She gave me a pony that bucked kids off.”
  • “All three were free in the purchase portion, but nothing is really free … vet, training, etc.”
  • “We have a lesson barn and several owners with good quality horses wanted them to have a safe home.”
  • “I inherited one of my Minis when I bought the farm. Best part of the my move!”
  • “Gorgeous 8-year-old Thoroughbred could not be sold because of behavior issues under saddle and on ground.”
  • “Originally belonged to a friend that needed to rehome him but didn’t want to take him to auction.”
  • “I purchased one horse and one got thrown in on the deal.”
  • “They wanted a good home for a horse no longer able to race.”
  • “I needed a companion for my horse, they needed a home for a lesson horse no longer usable.”
  • “People don’t want to keep an older horse around based on expenses and health issues.”
  • “My Mini was given to me for free. He has locking stifles and had just retired from combined driving.”

A few respondents said they have adopted or rescued a horse at no cost:

  • “I recently adopted two ex-show horses that are perfect for trail riding but could no longer perform.”
  • “I rescued three horses and a donkey.”
  • “A Warmblood was donated to my therapeutic riding group. He did not work out so I adopted him.”

And others left general comments:

  • “I actually got several well-trained and good all-around horses free. Be patient and look.”
  • “But really there is no such as a free horse”
  • “Doing that requires knowledge. Blind trust is fraught with perils.”
  • “It has been a good experience but wish I could have gotten more info about the horse.”
  • “My ‘free’ horse was the most expensive horse I ever owned medically!”
  • “I haven’t had the opportunity yet but would definitely do it and plan on doing so in the future.”
  • “I have gotten several free horses. Not a good idea. All had some sort of health/behavior problem.”
  • “I have given away a horse for free with no restrictions.”

You can find additional information on how much a horse costs, things to know before you adopt a horse, learn how you can help rehabilitate, refeed, and rehome rescue horses, questions to ask when adopting a horse from a rescue organization, and additional resources at TheHorse.com!

This week, we want to know: How do you keep your horse’s barn cool during the summer? Vote now and share your comments at TheHorse.com/polls!

The results of our  weekly polls  are published in The Horse Health E-Newsletter, which offers news on diseases, veterinary research, health events, and in-depth articles on common equine health conditions and what you can do to recognize, avoid, or treat them.  Sign up for our e-newsletters  on our homepage and look for a new poll on  TheHorse.com.