Why we require adoption contracts

Intentions don't protect horses

We want to give people the benefit of the doubt. We want to believe the words people tell us. But when the lives of precious creatures rely on our judgment, we need more than promises and good intentions.

Swingin’ D Horse Rescue is here for horses – period. The benefits we provide to humans are happy bonuses to our primary objective. Every time we’ve compromised our principles, rules or policies in order to accommodate the needs of humans, our horses have suffered. That’s why we have contracts. That’s why we ask potential adopters to carefully study our requirements and our contracts; and it’s why our contracts are not negotiable. 

We don't sell horses

We don’t sell horses, and our adoption contract is not a bill of sale. So, if you’re checking out rescues in search of a cheap horse, you’re in the wrong place. Our adoption fees are well below our horses’ market value, but our horses are not what you would consider cheap. In exchange for the break in price, adopters enter into a prolonged relationship with Swingin’ D.

Our objective is not to get rid of the horses we save. If moving horses was our goal, we wouldn’t have blown $70,000 of our personal savings, and we wouldn’t hold on to horses for months or years waiting for the right adopter.

Our objective is to rehabilitate hopeless horses, then match them with adopters who can help them realize their brightest future. We do that through careful screening, rigorous requirements, and an iron-clad adoption contract

How adoptions succeed (or fail)


For most adopters, the contract is a non issue. They understand horses are expensive and time consuming. They know what it takes to keep a horse healthy and active. Those who are new to horses should carefully study the contract before making the commitment, then use it as a guide to caring for their new horse. Responsible horse ownership is one of our main objectives, so everything we do is designed to help adopters succeed. Most see the contract as an aid, and Swingin’ D as support – not a looming threat. 

Along with defining standards of basic care, the contract allows us to check in on the horses we spent thousands of dollars saving and rehabilitating, to ensure the adopter is providing the care they committed to provide (little things, like food, water, farrier, vaccines and safety). When we see an active, healthy, energetic and productive horse, the contract has served its purpose and we all happily move on.

When we see thin, sickly or neglected horses, the contract gives us the right – and the duty – to intervene. We are, after all, a horse rescue. We intervene only out of necessity – not because it’s fun to intervene. It’s actually quite time consuming and expensive.

Revoking an adoption

We want adoptions to last forever.

When we perform a site visit and find the horses we’ve entrusted to an adopter in worse shape than we left them, we may demand immediate return. At the very least, we’ll ask some hard questions. If the answers are satisfactory, we work with the adopter to find solutions in the best interest of the horse. If the answers are unsatisfactory, or if the adopter indicates they’re unable (or no longer willing) to provide the care to which they agreed, we end the adoption and re-rescue the horse. The contract gives us that right.

If the horse is in poor condition because the adopter lacks experience – or even finances – we do what we can to correct course and ensure the adopter’s success. If the owner has lost the will to care for the horse, or if she becomes defensive and belligerent to the contract she signed, all hope is lost and we rescind the adoption.

Lets just pretend that never happened

The last thing on earth we want or need is for an adoption to fail. It would be so much easier to walk away and pretend the adoption was a success so we can pat ourselves on the back and move on to the next abused, neglected or starved horse. But our mission is to save hopeless horses, rehabilitate them and adopt them to responsible people who are capable of providing their care – not to dump horses on irresponsible adopters and perpetuate the cycle of unwanted horses and horse slaughter. Sometimes that means keeping horses forever. Sometimes it means saving the same horse over and over again.

We will take every legal measure to enforce our adoption contracts and protect our horses.

Buy or adopt?

If you want to be part of the solution to the problem of unwanted horses in America, and you want to know the correct age, abilities and temperament of your horse, then consider adopting from a rescue. You’ll know whatever the rescue knows about the horse, its soundness, attitude and aptitude. All the guesswork has been done for youYou don’t have to worry about dental, veterinary, vaccine or deworming costs for a while, and you have the rescue and its affiliates as experienced resources for your horse’s care. If your intent is to feed, maintain and nurture your horse in a safe environment where it will thrive, you’ll never give our adoption contract another thought.

If you want to be able to do what you want with your horse – allow it to lose hundreds of pounds, neglect its feet until it’s an emergency, or let it run wild and lose thousands of dollars in training – then buy a horse. Sadly, the “it’s my own business, trial-and-error” brand of horse care is an all-too-common right in America, which is why horse rescues and kill pens are overflowing with horses that did nothing to deserve their fate.

Because horse rescues see so many victims of the best intentions, we demand a minimum standard of care to protect horses from trial and error care. Contracts bind adopters to the rescue’s standards; which means adopters sign away the right to care for the horse (or not) however they see fit.

It’s not a surprise. It’s all there in black and white.

We are watching...

If you've adopted a horse from Swingin' D and you're unable to provide the level of care to which you agreed, talk with us about options before we show up to check on the horse. We may be able to help if you're overwhelmed. If necessary, you can surrender the horse to us, along with its veterinary records; feeding, vaccine, dental and farrier schedule - no questions asked.