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Adopting an Equine 


Below is an in-depth view of our adoption process,

if you have any questions or concerns, please contact us. 


Due to the Equine Rescue League's pre-adoption screening and post-adoption follow-up procedures, we cannot adopt animals to homes farther than a three hour drive from Lovettsville, Virginia. This range, more or less, includes northern and central Virginia, most of Maryland, eastern West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. 

If you are interested in adopting a rescued horse, but live outside ERL's adoption range, please check our Equine Rescue Organizations listings to see if there is a similar shelter near you.


Horse ownership can be a happy, rewarding experience. It is also a very large and demanding responsibility. Be certain you are willing to accept these responsibilities. You must consider the commitment that you will be making in money, time and emotional involvement before you acquire a horse.

Financial Commitment

Use this list to research what the cost of horse ownership will be in your area: stable or barn/boarding fees, veterinary and dental expenses, farrier expenses, hay and feed expenses, deworming, fence/barn/and stable maintenance, grain tub, bedding, grain container, shovel, water bucket/trough, brushes, muck fork, salt/supplements, tack, lead rope, rake, treats, halter, blanket(s), vaccinations, training and/or lessons...

Time Commitment

Plan to spend a minimum of one hour each day feeding and cleaning. More time will be spent hauling feed, hay and bedding. Fence and barn maintenance will use up several weekends a year. Weather will affect the amount of time needed. Winter will require ensuring that water is not frozen, ice has not built up in feet, and blankets are used when needed and are in good condition. Hot weather means maintaining extra water buckets and controlling insects.

Emotional Commitment

Many abuse cases result from children left to assume total responsibility of an animal. Parents who acquire a horse for minor children should have knowledge of proper horse care and must personally monitor the daily care and feeding of the horse. Horse ownership can give parents an opportunity to educate children about responsibility and commitment, but only when the parents commit to daily reinforcement of the lessons. Is there a responsible person available to care for the horse if you go away for vacation or become ill? This is something to think about before the situation arises. Horse care without an emotional commitment is just a lot of hard work. A great deal more time will be spent on care and maintenance than on riding. If riding is your only interest, you might want to look into riding at a commercial riding school or stable to save yourself the cost, labor and time of caring for a horse of your own.

It is the Equine Rescue League's policy to attempt to place each horse in the home best suited to the individual horse. In addition, horses adopted from the ERL cannot be resold, given away, or used for breeding. The horse cannot be relocated from the original approved facility without the permission of the ERL.


Before a horse can be adopted from the ERL, the following steps must be taken:


You must complete and return an Equine Rescue League Preliminary Adoption ApplicationPlease print, fill out, and mail this application to the ERL. You may also send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the mailing address listed on the contact page and the League will send you an application, which you may then mail to the ERL. Please allow 7 to 10 days for the ERL to receive and review the application.  After that time, please call the ERL at (540) 822-4577 to schedule an appointment to go over the application, tour the farm, and have a short interview with an ERL staff member.


If the personal interview is satisfactory and the ERL has a potentially suitable horse, the ERL will schedule an appointment to evaluate the potential adopter's facilities. In addition, the ERL will interview the references that the potential adopter provided on the Preliminary Adoption Application.


Upon satisfactory completion of the above, the ERL will schedule a minimum of five (5) working sessions with the potential horse to determine if the match is suitable.


Upon completion of the five sessions, it will be determined whether or not the horse and potential adopter are compatible. The ERL may at that time require additional sessions and will approve or deny an adoption. Please note that the ERL reserves the right to deny adoption for any reason in its sole discretion, and is not obligated to

state any reason for such denial.


When all requirements and preliminary adoption procedures have been satisfied, the ERL will require the following at the time of adoption:

- Completion of a Permanent Adoption Contract with such terms and conditions as ERL may determine in its sole judgment and discretion. 
- Payment in full of a non-refundable adoption fee which is based upon each individual horse and set at the ERL's sole discretion.

Upon final adoption of a horse, the adopter is responsible for the transportation arrangements from the ERL farm to the adopter's facility in a manner acceptable to the ERL.


The ERL reserves the right to conduct unscheduled follow-up checks on the adopted horse and facility at the ERL's discretion. Upon placement of a horse, the adopter is required to submit to the ERL an annual health statement from the adopter's veterinarian and farrier.

The following are the terms of the Equine Rescue League's Adoption Contract which will be completed following satisfactory completion of all preliminary terms and approval of adoption in question:

- At the time of adoption, the ERL will provide the Adopter with any health records it has relating to the animal, a halter and lead line, and information as to the kind and amount of feed the animal is presently receiving. Animals adopted from the ERL include no guarantees regarding the soundness, temperament, or general condition. Adopter recognizes and agrees to hold harmless the ERL, its heirs or assigns forever, for any damage or injury to property or persons by the adopted horse.

- The adopter will, at his/her own expense, provide the adopted animal with adequate and proper quantities of wholesome feed and water; safe and adequate shelter; proper and adequate exercise; appropriate hoof care and veterinary attention (including such treatment and preventative care against parasites as may be recommended in the Washington, DC Metropolitan and Northern Virginia areas); and, in general, treatment in accordance with humane and prudent practices of equine and/or large animal care.


- The adopter agrees to advise the ERL of the place where the animal will be kept, then further agrees that a representative of ERL may make unannounced visits at any time to any location where the animal is located to confirm that the care required in paragraph above is being provided. This agreement authorizes the ERL to enter such property to make an unannounced visit.


- The adopter agrees that the animal will not be moved to any facility for stabling, training, or general care without the prior approval of the ERL. The adopter further agrees that the animal will not be sold, leased, or otherwise transferred without prior approval of the ERL.


- The adopter agrees that the animal will not be used for breeding or racing purposes. In the event that the placement does not work out for any reason, or the adopter is unable or unwilling to care for the adopted animal, the ERL requires that the horse be returned to ERL. The animal will be transferred to ERL without charge or liability for expenses incurred by the adopter.


- The adopter agrees to notify ERL in the event of the animal's death.


- The adopter further agrees that in the event that ERL determines that there has been a material violation of the terms of the adoption agreement (including, but not limited to, failure to provide adequate care as described, failure to allow access for an on-site inspection as described, or by moving the animal without prior approval) or is notified of the adopter's involvement with a Humane Society or Animal Control agency resulting in a warning or citation for the inhumane treatment of any animal, adopter will be in breach of the adoption agreement and ERL may recover immediate possession of the animal. If such an event takes place, the ERL may enter any property where the animal is located and take immediate possession of the animal with no liability. At such time, adopter's rights shall terminate and adopter agrees that he shall have no direct cause of action of claim against the ERL, its officers, directors, staff, or volunteers regarding such removal and termination of rights.

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