Horse Adoption: The Transition Period

After completing the adoption process and bringing your new charge home, help him adjust to his new surroundin
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After completing the adoption process and bringing your new charge home, help him adjust to his new surroundings and lifestyle.

Remember the first time you traveled away from home for more than a few days? No matter how exciting your new adventure was, homesickness likely hit at some point. It might have taken you a while to make friends and adjust to your surroundings.

Any horse entering a new environment will go through a similar transitional period, which is magnified when that horse is an adopted animal. Maybe he suffered abuse, starvation, and neglect and needs a great deal of TLC. Perhaps he used to be a racehorse and now he not only is confronted with an unfamiliar environment but also has to learn a new job.

No matter the circumstances, when you adopt a horse you face a different and greater set of challenges than you would if you had purchased a "made" horse. Instead of flinging a saddle on his back and going for a ride immediately, you will need to give your adoptee time to adjust to his new life and patiently teach him what he needs to know. Along the way, you might find yourself bonding with this horse in a way you haven’t with any other animal.

Cassie Sprenger of Lakeville, Minn., and Leigh Gray of Bradbury, Calif., each train and rehabilitate rescued horses for adoption. Sprenger and her husband run the Complete Equestrian Company, where Cassie trains horses and riders of all disciplines. Cassie was the grand champion of the 2010 Trainer’s Challenge of the Unwanted Horse at the University of Minnesota, conducted by the Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue Foundation (MHARF). The competition gives trainers an opportunity to show off their skills after putting about 90 days of training into a rescue horse. Then people can adopt these horses, knowing the animals have a base of early training on which to build

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Written by:

Tracy Gantz is a freelance writer based in Southern California. She is the Southern California correspondent for The Blood-Horse and a regular contributor to Paint Horse Journal, Paint Racing News, and Appaloosa Journal.

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