Higher Education

Equine Tips: The Right Horse Initiative

By Christy Counts, PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee Member

In 2017, there were 873 certified PATH Intl. centers in the United States. On average, the centers utilize well over 8,000 horses in their programs. Although we do not yet know the exact average service time of horses in these centers, we believe it is approximately three to seven years. Thus, thousands of these horses are transitioned out of service annually. Each time a horse transitions out of service in a PATH Intl. center, the center is faced with two challenges. First, they have to find a new home for the horse and second, they have to find a new replacement horse. Where do all of these horses come from? What happens to them when they are finished providing service to the programs? These questions are particularly interesting to The Right Horse Initiative. 

The Right Horse Initiative (TRH) was launched 18 months ago by the The WaterShed Animal Fund. The Initiative was developed to massively increase the number of horses adopted each year in the United States while also creating more community resources to provide humane transitions for horses. Each year in the United States, 200,000 horses fall at-risk and a large majority of them have much left to give to this world. There are currently over 7 million horses in the United States, but sadly, in 2017 less than 10,000 horses were adopted from adoption facilities. The public is unaware of the vast supply of healthy, trained horses that are currently living in these adoption centers awaiting new homes and careers. An increase in market share of adoption horses will directly reduce the number of horses that fall at-risk in our country each year.
In 2018, PATH Intl joined as a partner of TRH. The partnership with PATH Intl. is a natural fit as the EAAT industry continues to grow so does its need for horses. In fact, thousands of horses are needed each year to replace horses transitioning out of service. In addition, EAAT centers all have different types of horses they are looking for with different levels of training and behavior characteristics. There is a huge opportunity to create programs with streamlined partnerships between PATH Intl. centers and TRH transition facility partners that are looking for jobs and homes for their horses. In these programs the horses are transitioned into a new EAAT career and the PATH Intl. center has a reliable, transparent source facility for their horses.

Another issue that is often reported by PATH Intl. centers is the struggle locating new homes for horses needing to transition out of a PATH Intl. center. TRH is working to create programs with transition centers that accept the return of the adopted or leased horse from the PATH Intl. center. This partnership can relieve the barn of the headache of constantly looking for placement for their retired horses. Creating this type of placement partnership can provide a win/win for both parties. The PATH Intl. centers are participating in safe and humane transitions for horses and also have a feel-good message for their supporters. Not only are they providing a valuable service to people but also to horses potentially expanding their donor base to a broader pool of funders.

When a PATH Intl. center is building out their development/fundraising plan they most often target their efforts on donors that have an affinity for humans with special needs. We all know that raising operating funds is one of the biggest challenges nonprofits face to sustain their programs. Utilizing transition horses from adoption facilities can be a fantastic way to target an entire new audience of potential donors. Suddenly, a center can attract animal welfare donors as well, if they can demonstrate the PATH Intl. program not only helps the humans but also provides homes and jobs for at-risk horses.

Surviving today in the world of nonprofits requires savvy fundraising skills. The organizations that can attract multiple bases of donors will be the winners in the end. In addition, they are directly participating in solving the horse welfare issue we are facing in this country. Programs like these could potentially provide jobs for thousands at-risk horses each year while also creating fundraising opportunities for the programs. What could be a more perfect partnership? TRH is currently working to build out the infrastructure to create efficient programs that alleviate the burden of randomly sourcing horses while also providing good, sound and trained horses in a transparent system.

The Right Horse is thrilled to welcome PATH Intl. as a partner to the Initiative and is eager to get to work building programs with PATH Intl. centers and PATH Intl. instructors. The first thing PATH Intl. members can do to get involved is spread the word about The Right Horse and its adoption partners. Sharing the adoption message and happy adoption stories goes a long way to opening horse owners mind to adoption. Furthermore, reach out to PATH Intl. if your center is interested in promoting adoption horses and wants to be partnered specifically with a Right Horse Source Shelter. The plan is to begin by piloting some regional placement programs while finetuning the system. After the regional pilot programs are completed, The Right Horse plans to expand the partnership with PATH Intl. to provide resources nationally to participating centers. For more information please contact The Right Horse at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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