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Arren Wilkinson is keen equine enthusiast , with a journalism background. When he’s not working for you will normally find him with either a soccer ball at his feet or his kitten ‘Alba’ in his arms! This article originally appeared on

The Cost of Owning a Horse

After considering the expenses of actually buying a horse, the next costs to calculate will be how much you will spend owning one. Again the circumstances vary from one owner to the next so do your research and find out prices for your area with each of these variables in mind.

DIG-18025-Headers-for-Important-article---ASAP-please_traileringyourhorsehome_costtoboardyourhorseThe Cost To Board a Horse

Paying Rent (Board)

Are you lucky enough to keep your horse at home with you? Or will you be boarding at a boarding barn or at a friend’s farm? Do you want to keep your horse indoors in a stall or outdoors? Will it need special care or facilities? Do you need a riding area, particularly an indoor riding arena for during the winter?  All variables will determine how much you are able spend on “rent.” Your location is going to greatly affect how much you will spend keeping your horse somewhere. A boarding facility in Connecticut is (probably, unanimously) going to cost a lot more than a boarding barn in Montana.

If you are interested in taking lessons or training for competitions, factor in the price of keeping the horse at the facility where you want to train, versus the costs and your time of trailering there each session. In some cases, your trainer or instructor may be allowed to travel to you. This is dependent on liability, insurance and trainer-barn contracts, and should be set up with prior approval.

Self/Pasture Boarding

The least expensive type of boarding with the most amount of work for yourself is self or pasture boarding (or if you are fortunate and can have a simple pasture and shelter to keep your horse at home). Think of it as a land-lease agreement. You are the sole responsible person for your horse’s health and diet. Self-board barn owners are very hands-off, keeping the cost of keeping your horse there very inexpensive.

Responsibilities that come along with self or pasture boarding include purchasing and storing hay and feed, organizing vet and farrier appointments, keeping an eye on water tank levels and light pasture or facility maintenance. If this type of boarding is located right “around the corner” from where you live or on the way to/ from where you work, you may not find it inconvenient to feed and check your horse one to two times daily.

If you have to travel out of your way to go there, calculate how much money and time you will need to invest each day in maintenance and feeding and make sure you have enough time after that to enjoy your horse. If you are juggling that with a full-time job and family, think about if the money saved doing the “grunt” work is really worth it.

Approximate price

Per month of self/pasture boarding: No more than $125/month

Annually: $1500 (or less)

Full Boarding

Full board, the most common type of boarding is quite the opposite to self board. Feed, bedding and care should be included in the basic price. Additional services may cost extra such as bringing the horse to turnout, blanketing and holding the horse for the farrier or veterinarian. For busy, full-time working horse owners, this is the hassle free way of owning a horse. Price of full board greatly varies and is dependent on the quality of the facilities (arenas, round pens, pastures, trail access etc.) and its location.

DIG-18025-Headers-for-Important-article---ASAP-please_traileringyourhorsehome_costtofeedyourhorseThe Cost of Feeding a Horse


If you have property or are interested in keeping your horse in a self or pasture board situation, it is good to sit down and calculate just how much money it will cost you feeding your horse every month.

A rough estimate to how much hay a horse eats is 2% for every 1000 pounds. If it weighs 1000 pounds, 20 pounds of hay per day is the base amount to begin with. If the horse has access to grass and is able to graze, this may be too much hay, if the horse is using more calories to stay warm in the winter for example, 20 pounds/day may not be enough.

So if an average bale of quality hay weighs 60 pounds (which it may not, weigh yourself holding a bale  to always know how much hay is in the bales you buy) and you purchased the bales at $4/bale, you will be spending $4 every three days on a horse that weighs 1000lbs.

This calculation brings you to about $9 per week or $36 a month for the cost of hay. Keep in mind transportation and storage costs for hay have not been calculated.

Hay at $4/60 pound bale for a 1000 pound horse = $36/month

$36 per month x 12 months= $432 annually


The amount of grain required also varies. Simple factors to keep in mind when determining how much to grain to feed include the horse’s age, weight, condition and workload. A performance horse will need to consume far more grain than one used for light, recreational riding. Talk to your local feed stores about the different grain options available and have them help you calculate rough estimates on how much you might spend per day, week and month on grain.

For example, if you take the same 1000 pound horse eating 20 pounds of hay per day that is only used for light riding, 2 pounds of grain per day is all the horse might need. Maybe none at all! A 50 pound bag of grain can cost anywhere from $10 to $20. Using an average of $15 for a bag of grain, the owner will go through a bag of grain every 25 days (50/2lbs=25).

To calculate more specifically weekly or monthly costs, take the price of the bag of grain and divide it by the number of pounds to get the price of grain per pound. Take the price per pound and multiply it by how many pounds the horse should receive to find out how much you are spending daily on grain. Then multiply this by the number of days in the month to see how much you spend per month. Please note that this calculation can also be used when determining mineral or nutritional supplement costs.

Normally you should not “over invest” and spend a lot of money on supplements. Try and see how the horse’s health is, and then discussing any potential nutritional deficiencies with a veterinarian, farrier or a professional.


$15/50=.30 cents per pound

.3 x 2 pounds daily=.60 cents daily

.60 cents x 7= $4.20 of grain weekly

.60 cents x 30= $18 of grain monthly

$18 x 12 months= $216 worth of grain annually

DIG-18025-Headers-for-Important-article---ASAP-please_traileringyourhorsehome_veterinariancostsVeterinarian Costs

The price you pay for your horse’s health care is an inevitable cost of being a good owner. Standard veterinarian expenses include annual vaccinations and dental checkups, feed supplements, and dewormer. All will vary in price from region to region and if you can avoid paying a full “farm vet call” in any way, you will be able to reduce your veterinarian costs every time you have a vet out.

New studies suggest a 2-4x/year deworming program is best suited for managing a horse’s “wormy situation.” Too often (every two months) will create super drug resistant worms. The best way to save money on worm infestations is to maintain a stall and pasture free of decomposing “horse apples”.

Cost of annual vaccinations plus vet call:    $200

+ dental checkup                                          $150

+ dewormer (3 times per year)                     $50

Total                                                             $300

Include a “buffer” and calculate another $200 in additional veterinarian services/ feed supplements. You can never have too much money saved when an emergency vet call is needed. $200 will at least cover a basic farm call and services.

Approximate annual vet expenses: $500

DIG-18025-Headers-for-Important-article---ASAP-please_traileringyourhorsehome_farriercostsFarrier Costs

Equally crucial to horse ownership 101 is selecting a reliable farrier. Different types of riding and equine activities shape how much money you will spend each year on your horse’s feet. Some only require a monthly or every other month manicure (or would it be a pedicure?). Others will need ultra custom fancy shoes, “Pradas” in terms of horseshoes and will need a farrier every four to six weeks.

For two, very vague and general options, we can compare the approximate annual prices to a horse that goes barefoot, natural or otherwise known as without shoes, compared to a one that has a standard set of four horseshoes.


Trim, all four feet

every six weeks                                $50

Annually (52/6= 8.6, 8.6x$50)=      $430



Standard full set/4 shoes and trim

every 12 weeks        $150

every 6 weeks            $80*

Annually (52/3= 4.3, 4.3x$150, 4.3x $80=344)= $645 + $344=$989

*This is an example of reusing the shoes, setting new shoes on the horse every other time he/she see’s a farrier (money saver!). If the farrier suggests new shoes are needed each time for specific reasons, your costs will remain the same every 6 weeks. Factors include how much the horse is worked (wears through the shoes), its footing conditions, and the state/health of the horse’s feet.

DIG-18025-Headers-for-Important-article---ASAP-please_traileringyourhorsehome_tackandgroomingsuppliesTack, Grooming Supplies and Additional Equipment

If you have ever been to a horse expo or a well loved local tack store, you know that the possibilities of things to buy are unfathomably endless. Local “tack swaps”, second hand sales and good online shopping tactics can reduce costs associated with your beloved equine, but the equipment and daily supplies to take care and to ride a horse are always things to budget into your costs.

Picking up a horse catalog is the easiest way to estimate your tack and equipment costs. Big purchases such as saddles, saddle pads, bridles, girths, cooler sheets, boots, tack trunk, shampoo and grain buckets, a new helmet and a complete set of grooming and first aid supplies will cost you an initial investment of normally over $1000. Replacing or repairing things that wear out such as girths or blankets become annual costs. Monthly costs may include fly spray, a fly mask in the summer and your horse’s favorite treats. Each month you may want to calculate $50 for “the little things” or tuck the unspent money away for a bigger investment and or emergency fund.

Initial tack and equipment costs: $1000+

Annual costs of equipment and supplies: $50 x 12 months= $600

DIG-18025-Headers-for-Important-article---ASAP-please_traileringyourhorsehome_othercoststoconsiderOther “Optional” Costs

Included in the list below are all secondary costs beyond the basics of horse ownership. Today’s market is flooded with must-have products, bombproof insurance policies, god-like clinicians and boosting/magical supplements that might not be completely mandatory to have for your four-footed friend but in any case, a bonus.

  • Lesson Costs
  • Training and Clinic Costs
  • Supplements
  • Equine Insurance
  • Truck and Trailer
  • Show Costs
  • Specific discipline equipment (i.e. barrels, poles, jumps, etc.)

In Conclusion

Before you throw in the towel, or horseshoes in this case, on your horse-owning dreams as a result of the start-up and annual costs, think about how rewarding and refreshing it would be to have a horse of your own. The initial costs may be intimidating, the long term costs constricting but the final conclusion is that you will always run into costs in order to do the things you love to do. Don’t let the costs of owning a horse turn you away from the equine world. Rather calculate and monitor your budget. Know what you can and cannot afford, your limits and equally important, remember to set aside time to enjoy your new horse!

Arren Wilkinson is keen equine enthusiast , with a journalism background. When he’s not working for you will normally find him with either a soccer ball at his feet or his kitten ‘Alba’ in his arms! This article originally appeared on

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 9.15.40 AMThere comes a point where riding lessons, leasing, or a using a friend’s horse just doesn’t cut it: you want a horse of your own. Today horse ownership requires many responsibilities, both at the barn and at home. Luckily it can, and will be rewarding when you buy a horse. But you must ensure your buy is best suited to your needs- and within your budget. Pull out your calculator and take this as a guideline; do some more research on the costs explained below, especially within to your area specifically. Hopefully this article will go someway to helping you understand the average cost of owning a horse.

If you are taking lessons, discuss with your instructor the price of a horse within in your preferred riding discipline, and that fits your experience. They will have a good idea of how much you will need to spend (or not spend). This article is not going to answer how much a horse is, or how much you should pay for a horse, but rather the actual cost of horse ownership.
So, how much does a horse cost to first of all buy and then to own?

The Cost of Buying a Horse

Before You (Really) Begin

The only gray hair you should potentially get from the buying process should be from a gray horse, shedding fuzzy flecks of love that stick to everything you own. Not your own hair! Before you start looking at what’s for sale, know your budget. Don’t fall into a pit of debt, an ambush you have created for yourself after becoming an owner. A free horse is never free and the best way to prevent financial chaos, especially the first year of ownership, is to plan and sketch out your horse-owning-budget. It is unfair to the horse (and the people around you) to buy it, then realize you cannot afford it, and wish it a sweet farewell shortly afterward.

Add up the costs it will take just to buy the horse of your dreams, and then the cost of owning as described below. Check, then double check again that your income can afford it, along with your own costs of living, before moving forward. If not, look at other options such as leasing or co-owning a horse.

Enlist Help of Others: Trainers, Friends and Family

If you are really interested in competing and wish to do it often, it is best to find a trainer in your area who specializes in that type of training, and start building a good working relationship with him or her immediately. Most likely you will all be together a lot, maybe even boarding at the trainer’s facility. Trainers have a network of horsey connections and are a great resource to use when looking for a horse. Sometimes trainers will take a 10-15% “finders fee” for helping you find and purchase the horse, helping select the horse for you. This option should be determined at the beginning of the hunt so there are no complications or misunderstandings.

Trainers also make great companions when you are going out to look at and try horses. Find out how much they want for their time on the road with you. The distance/ number of hours it takes usually determines how much they charge for their service. If the horse is for sale nearby, the trainer may charge anywhere from $50- S75 for about two to three hours of their time.

If you are not interested in working with a trainer, at least take an interested friend, and or critic with you. Have them record the experience with a smartphone or video camera so you can watch the experience later. Many people make the mistake of falling for the first horse they check out, their mind over-rationalizing the good things and saying to themselves, “I like him a lot! He’s great!” forgetting to process the negative, even dangerous things wrong from the get go. A skeptical or experienced horse buying friend or family member may be the only yield sign or half halt you need as you scan potential advertisements, reminding you of exactly what you need versus what is being shown to you, saving you precious time and money in your quest to buy a horse.

Whether you bring a trainer, friend or family member along, calculate your cost of gas there and back and include a lunch or snack break if it is going to be a longer trip. Hungry trainers are always dangerous to transport.

The Pre-Purchase Vet Check: What is it?

Endoscopic tests, drug testing, bone scans, ultrasounds, and thermography scans are all additional ways to learn more about the horse for sale but with significant investment from the interested buyer. Generally these are only used on high-performance and competition horses or if the veterinarian highly recommends them after his or hers’ basic pre-purchase exam.

Expect the pre-purchase exam costs to be no less than $200. $200-$300 should cover a thorough, basic exam, with lots of scribbled notes and numbers written down by the vet throughout the exam. Many times it is printed very neatly and sent to you shortly after the exam.

If the horse didn’t “pass the test” for whatever reason in your mind, and you decide not to purchase it, swallow the money you spent on the pre-purchase exam and quickly pat yourself on the back for not buying the horse. Keep from feeling pressured or obligated to buy a horse just because you invested in a vet check, no matter how much money you think you’ve “lost”. It is far better in the long run to keep your search going then purchasing something not completely suitable to your needs.

DIG-18025-Headers-for-Important-article---ASAP-please_horsebillofsaleHorse Bill of Sale


Luckily, the bill of sale is free. Sometimes people write their own, but it is more common to print a standard bill of sale from an online source. When you do find a horse you feel 100% confident in buying, print 3 copies (one for you, one for the owner of the horse and one to keep in the vehicle you transport the horse in), and start preparing a folder for the day you pick up the new member of the family. This is also the time to start thinking about equine insurance policies for your new bundle of joy if you have extra money in your budget to invest in equine mortality or medical insurance.

Tidyforms is a great place to find examples online. Click here for a equine bill of sale sample.


Trailering Your New Horse Home

If you have not taken the “plunge” and bought a dependable truck and loyal trailer yet to complete your equestrian “lifestyle”, you need to figure out how to bring your new purchase home. If you are lucky, the horse is local and the current owner is able to haul the horse to you, free of charge. If not, reaching out to fellow trailer-owning friends or commercial haulers is your next best bet. If you are lucky, the going “minimum” rate is around $.75-S1 per mile. Depending on where you live it may start as low as $2 per mile. Factors include how many other horses are in the trailer, who is shipping the horse and what the current price of gas is. Contact reputable haulers in your area and request a quote and do your research to find one that works best for you.

Hauling a horse adds wear and tear to both the truck and the trailer being used. If a friend is helping you, be considerate of both their time and their personal property being used and offer to pay them comparably.

For example a trip from Green Bay to Chicago is 210 miles. Round-trip it is 420 miles. If you have a newer truck and your own trailer, the cost of gas will cost you between $60 and $80 for the entire trip (again depending on the price of gas, gas mileage, etc). If you are unable to haul the horse yourself, a quote from a professional hauler may range between $350 and $600 for a 420 mile trip.

DIG-18025-Headers-for-Important-article---ASAP-please_traileringyourhorsehome_travellingacrossstatelinesTraveling Across State Lines

In this example, and in many situations, the horse will be crossing state lines. Check with the veterinarian who completed the pre-purchase exam to learn what is required to have with you as you take the horse over state lines. Every state requires something different, but the minimum you should have is your bill of sale, current Coggins test paperwork, and a health certificate no older than 30 days tucked somewhere dry and safe in your vehicle. Normally, the horse already has a Coggins test when you buy it and is valid for one year, so only an additional health certificate is needed. The total costs for a health certificate could be:

Farm Call + Exam + Certificate = total cost (depending on veterinarian)

     60    + 20     +    15    = $95

If you want to save money and have a bit of time and patience before taking physical possession of the horse, talk to the current owners or barn owner and see when the next time a veterinarian is scheduled to come to the barn. If the vet is going to be there for other services, the farm call fee may be dropped or divided among a number of people, greatly reducing the high farm call cost.


Request a health certificate on the day of the vet check.  If you think the horse might be coming home with you in the next 30 days (meaning you are very interested in purchasing him) request a health certificate for after the end of the exam. The veterinarian will most likely charge you only for the cost of the certificate, saving you both time and money.

Potential Total Minimum Costs around Purchasing a Horse- local, in-state, without finders fees

Trainer’s Costs 1x                                     $75

Costs of Trip to “Try a horse 1x”             $75

(including gas and lunch for two people)

Pre-Purchase Veterinarian Exam 1x        $200

Trailering the horse                              $60

(personal truck and trailer, gas only)           

Total                                                           $410

Keep in mind this is only adding up the cost of checking out one horse. Multiply your costs of checking out one horse and any additional pre-purchase exams if you are having a hard time deciding between horses.



Did you know that 15-20% of the average established nonprofit’s budget comes from grants?

cera-3Grants can come in many forms, but for horses specifically, they can come from national welfare organizations, corporate, family or private foundations. The application process can be daunting, but with a little perseverance, you can successfully apply for funding for your organization.

  • First, identify organizations that offer grants that are relative to what you do. Are you a rescue? A therapeutic riding center? What is the population you serve? Knowing the answers to these questions will be key to finding grants that you are qualified for.
  • Read through the directions, requirements and deadlines, and be sure to adhere to them. If you do not follow their specific instructions, your application may be thrown out without any consideration.
  • Know the skillsets within your network – you may find that there is an experienced grant write who is willing volunteer for your organization!
  • Know your submission deadlines. Grant writing can be complicated, so you want to make sure you give yourself adequate time to clearly communicate your need for the project you are funding. Applications should include every document requested by the foundation you are requesting the grant from.
  • Proofread all documents. Grammatical errors and typos are careless errors that can easily be avoided.
  • Whether your grant application is accepted or declined, respond in a gracious and timely manner. A rude response may ruin your chances of ever receiving a grant from that foundation in the future. If accepted, personally thank, and publicly acknowledge the foundation’s award of the grant.
  • Submit progress and final reports according to the grants requests and guideline. Be thorough, and don’t be late! You may compromise the ability to successfully receive funding for a future grant request.

Rescue is a great option when you begin your search for your next horse, but there are many things you should take into consideration when you begin your search.  As with any horse shopping process, you will want to be sure that you are able to try the horse and that it matches your goals and abilities. Some horses may only be suitable as companion animals, while some may have a full athletic career ahead of them.  Not all horse rescue organizations are created equally, so choosing which organization to work with is an important choice.

Adoption Policies

Many organizations have policies about returning the horse to the organization if you ever find yourself in a position where you are unable to care for the horse.  Be aware that it may mean you are unable to sell the horse in the future.  Signing the adoption contract means you are willing to give that horse a home for the rest of its life.


Finding the right horse means that you may have to see the horse several times before you decide if you want to take it home.  Begin your search by finding rescues that are convenient to travel to from your home. Not only do you want to be sure it is convenient for you, but many organizations also have geographic restrictions for adopters as the rescues continue to be responsible for the horse.

Check each organization’s website to learn more about their adoption policies.


Because you are going to be responsible for the horse for the rest of his days, know that a young horse will live for 30-40 years.  Throughout that time you will need to provide for the horse.

Understanding your goals of the horse is an important step in finding a suitable match for you.  Horses come with a variety of personalities, so find an organization that will work to understand your goals and needs.  No responsible rescue should match an unstarted young horse with an unexperienced rider/owner unless that person is working closely with a professional.

Bringing home a rescue horse can be a great experience, and a rewarding life choice. You are choosing to save a horse, and the rescue organization will be able to fill that stall and save another life. That said, it’s important to make sure that you are matched with the right horse.



cera-8Every year there are tens of thousands of unwanted horses across the United States that don’t have a home, or are in danger of starvation or going to slaughter. While the data from various sources changes, last year over 140,000 horses were shipped across US borders to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered.

In the United States rescue facilities have the resources to care for a little over 30,000 horses, and these organizations often work towards placing these horses into homes where they will be able to live out the rest of their lives.

Each organization is different, and each organization works with different types of rescue horses. Rescue horses can come from a variety of sources:

  • Racing (both thoroughbred, standardbred, QH racing)
  • Mares and foals who are by-products of the production of the drug Premarin (pregnant-mares-urine (PMU), used to treat menopausal symptoms for which there is a synthetic alternative)
  • Over breeding and “backyard” breeders
  • Irresponsible owners – their horses are acquired by questionable buyers through auctions or free on Craigslist.
  • A changing economy – not all owners are aware of the lifetime cost of horse ownership (horses can live for 30-40 years)

Organizations rely on donations to function, but the directors tend to be incredibly driven and passionate people. Adopting a rescue horse can be a great alternative to purchasing, although be warned – while the up front cost might be less, horses are expensive to maintain!

Click here to find a horse rescue in North Carolina! 

Nine life lessons I learned from the Equine Nonprofit Network (in no particular order):

1. Strategy, strategy, strategy. If you go into a project of this scope without a clear written plan and timeline, you will have trouble succeeding.  If you are doing social media, write out your strategy. If you are going to market the project, write out your strategy. Write a mission statement and live by it, because when things get tough and you have to make a hard decision, it will be have to be your moral compass.

3. You have something to learn from everybody. I met some incredible people along the way.  After visiting close to 20 farms, having 30-40 meetings, and driving ~2,500 miles in just 3 months, I felt totally immersed in this world I had inserted myself into.  From Chris, my tour guide in Corolla, to Dan and JoAnnah in Asheville, I have made new friends in every corner of the state.  Literally.  (Draw a line from Boone to Corolla to Shackleford to Southern Pines to Waynesville.  I pretty much hit every corner and I have stories to tell from all of them.)

2. When in doubt, be objective.  Never judge. As a subject matter expert to some degree, and in a field/discipline as subjective as horse ownership, it was absolutely crucial to go into this project as open minded as possible.  Everyone does things differently, and my opinion doesn’t matter. If I didn’t have a clear mission, I might have unintentionally let my opinion and bias sway my work as a storyteller and connector.

4. Back up all your work, and always save iteratively.  In the weeks before my launch I got excited and tried to move my site from the test space to my domain on WordPress.  In my haste I ruined the whole site. Broken, just like that. Just two weeks before my launch date I had to remake the whole 200 page website. Luckily though, I used Google Docs for my organization system and was able to recreate the content even better the second time.

5. Know why you are doing what you are doing, and speak knowledgeably about it. I’m not a web developer. I’m not a designer. I’m not an interactive designer.  But this project included all of those things.  I knew that what I was doing was bigger than that, and I positioned myself as a creator and visionary instead of each of those job descriptions.  Knowing my goals, and being able to talk about my strategic approach, I was able to find and foster a set of people who believe in this project.  It is my hope that it will become bigger than me and maybe one day I will be able to step back from it.  Seeing the big picture also helped me to land my dream job, where I will be doing similar work for a company I really believe in – and of course employment was a goal all along.

6. People believe in those who believe in themselves.  One of the first people I met in this project was Whitney Wright from Hope for Horses in Asheville.  I drove down from Elon (3.5 hours) to meet with her on a Saturday morning in November, and she kindly gave me two hours of her time.  When I visited her again at the end of the project (the final visit for the project) she admitted that often times she gives an hour of her life to talking to someone who has a big idea, and she never hears from them again and never sees any follow through.  I was able to show her the site (pre-launch), the map, and I was able to talk about the multitude of experiences I had and people I had met along the way.  Simply following through made her feel like I didn’t waste her time.

 7. Being around brilliant people on a regular basis is a privilege.  As a student in Elon’s MA in Interactive Media program I have had the opportunity to be around really smart people everyday.  This spring I was also an intern at VisionPoint Marketing in Raleigh – between the two places I had the opportunity to bounce ideas off of some really cool people.  Special thanks to Iris and Ashley who kept me company on farm visits and endlessly brainstormed with me to keep me on track, Justin and Chris who helped me when Google Analytics was failing me, and Phil Motley for setting the bar high and pushing me to raise it higher.  Everyone who has been around me this spring deserves a big thanks for letting me be the “horse girl” and not making fun of me too much for it.

8. Smile.  It will all be over too soon.  In the moments counting down to the launch of the site I felt like there were an endless amount of tasks to complete.  It feels like your life will end if they don’t get done, and the stress just continues to build.  I’m sure this will continue to happen and I’m sure I will continue to feel stress in life and work.  I’ve always subscribed to that old maxim “if you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life.”  I might be an extreme example because I find ways to do the things I want and make it work.  For this project though, I combined all my favorite things – horses, nonprofits, photography, video stories, long car trips, sunrises alone on the beach, wild horses, and witty best friends.  No matter how tedious things are though, its important to take the time to appreciate the little things. The people you meet for too short a time, yet feel like you have known forever.  The cold chill at dawn while watching the stars fade into the sun rise.  The tears of someone who is so passionate about what they do that it just pours out of them while sharing their story. The people who go out of their way to be kind, even when you wouldn’t expect them to.  Being able to look in on, and be welcomed into, families and communities of people that love each other unconditionally.

9. Everyone has a story. I think this one goes without saying, but still, its worth reiterating.  Listen, ask questions, be humble.  Telling stories is a privilege and responsibility. If someone is willing to open up and share, and let you tell their story, it is so important to have integrity and be true to them.  I feel so privileged to have been able to witness not only the beautiful side of rescuing, wild horse preservation, therapeutic riding, and equine assisted psychotherapy throughout this spring.  But people have also opened up about the less glamorous parts. The struggles of not being able to save all the horses that need saving. The pain of a child losing their battle in life. The frustration of bureaucratic red tape that will destroy our wild horse herds.  These organizations focus on the best parts of what they do to keep their focus on the successes, so its important to take care when sharing the hard stuff.  Running these organizations is hard and I don’t think I could do it.  I have so much respect for the professionals I have met along the way who took the time to let me into their organizations. THANK YOU.

On May 1 I sent out an email to several hundred people announcing the launch of the Equine Nonprofit Network. For a long time it seemed like it was some intangible idea, an illusion that would never be completely finished.  Throughout the whole process very few major changes were made to the original concept.  I went into the research phase with a clear plan and an open mind, and along the way I was able to tweak and adjust my path for the best possible outcome.  When I started this blog in September I set the countdown counter for May 1, 2013.  And on that day, it launched.

This project was hard. It took a lot of time, covered many miles, and introduced me to some interesting people.

Are there things I would do differently? Definitely.  Would I do it all again? Absolutely.

In an industry as precarious nonprofits, particularly horse related nonprofits, one bad organization can ruin the reputation of a whole industry of organizations. Recently some major grant contributors decided to stop funding organizations because of too many cases of fraud.

Whitney Wright, Director of Hope for Horses, had such an experience several years ago, “there was a terrible woman, here a few years ago, that was going around telling people that her for profit stable was a non-profit, down to the point of having tractor supply have donation jars for her until we tipped off the management, they were mortified and stopped supporting her!”

So with the last blog post we ended by looking at what makes a quality organization, as shared by leaders in NC’s horse nonprofit community. This post will expand on how we take an understand of what a good organization should look like and examine the organizations we are interested in.


What does it mean for a nonprofit to have 501c3 status, and is it really that important?

I mentioned in the last post situations in Nebraska, Louisiana, and West Virginia where rescue organizations went under and hundreds of horses starved.  These organizations may have convinced the public that they were doing right by the horses by having good marketing or  by simply convincing donors that tax-exempt means quality.

“501(c)3 status is your means for funding. Applying for grants from foundations and being able to give individuals a tax write off for donations.” – Whitney Wright, Hope for Horses


cropped-front-image1.pngThe word “good” is kind of ambiguous, and always relative.  Good is better than bad but worse than great.  Throughout this series I will let you define “good” by what it means to you and what standards you have for nonprofits that you support.