As excited we are to find potential adopters for our horses, it is always more important to us that the match be right for all involved. Our adoption process is designed to ensure that both the horse and the adopter are right for each other, and we work hard to make sure that both parties are well acquainted with each other before the adoption becomes final. This includes multiple opportunities for both the rider and his or her trainer to meet and ride the horse, both at the beginning of the process as well as during the period in which we are busy checking references and performing the site visit. Sometimes things come up during this part of the process that stops the adoption. But even if there are no red flags or warning signs and an adoption proceeds, we still allow a 30 day trial period at the start of every adoption. This gives both the horse and its adopter a period of time to really test drive the adoption on site and make sure it’s a good match. During the 30 day trial, the adopter is free to return the horse to us for any reason and receive a full refund of the adoption fee.

We sent Misty out on a 30 day trial at the beginning of January with a young rider who had come out to Safe Harbor Stables and ridden Misty multiple times. Her trainer had come out to ride Misty and worked with the rider as well. Everything pointed to this as a good riding pair. Misty hit the ground running during her 30 day trial: she was put into the lesson program and even hauled to schooling shows. Everyone enjoyed riding her and she was good for her young rider. As a relatively young horse, Misty still needed work to improve her ground manners, and her adopters were well aware of this. They took on the task of learning to work through Misty’s impatience with standing in cross ties and holding her feet up for the farrier. Misty’s  young rider had a great support team around her including her mom who grew up riding and owning horses and her trainers who were helping both with training on the ground and riding.

Three weeks into the trial, her adopter wisely decided to do a pre-purchase evaluation with their veterinarian. Misty had had a few days off on the day of the vet exam, and she was very hot right from the start of the evaluation. She’d been brought in from the paddock, leaving her friends behind, and was tied up a stall. Unfortunately her tendency to be a herd bound mare overruled her manners, and she broke out of the ties and ran back to her pasture buddy. When they caught her, she was all jazzed up, and the vet did not feel comfortable continuing the examination. Understandably, Misty’s adopter’s mom was very shaken up by this incident, and made the difficult decision that even though things up until this point had been good, this was more than she could safely ask a 12 year old to be responsible for. We totally agreed, and Misty was returned to Safe Harbor last week.

When we send a horse on a trial period, we are as excited as the adopters that the horse has found what we believe is a good match.  On the rare occasion that horse proves us wrong, we share deeply in the adopters’ disappointment. Had we reason to think that Misty would behave this way; we would not have allowed her to go to a junior rider. While it saddens us to have Misty returned, we are content to continue to work with her training and get her ready for adoption. We take this kind of behavior very seriously, and we are re-evaluating her ground manners. She is available again for adoption but will only be matched with adult riders who have experience working with young horses.