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How to Adopt a Horse, Pony or Donkey

Updated on March 31, 2012

Sponsor a Horse to Help Equine Rescue Centres

Do you love horses but don't have the time, money, space or resources to own one of your own?

Then why not think about helping rescued and neglected equines by finding out how to adopt or sponsor a horse, pony or donkey from a horse sanctuary or charity.

There are thousands of horses, ponies, donkeys, mules and hinnies rescued every year around the world. Some have been neglected, some mistreated, some abandoned. Some are simply in need of a place to go because their owners have died or can't afford to keep them.

Many of the organisations who take in these horses offer adoption programs to raise funds for their equines. Some of these send out adoption packs, photos and updates, so you can keep up to date with your chosen horsey friend!

This lens brings together a review of some of the adoption programs available in the UK, USA/Canada and Australia/NZ, and also introduces my own adopted horse and pony, Finnegan and Harry Potter!

Photo Credit: Images copyright of the author unless otherwise credited.

Why Adopt a Horse?

A year's adoption fee goes directly towards the daily care of your chosen equine and their friends.

Redwings Horse Sanctuary

Redwings is the largest horse sanctuary in the UK, with over 1100 horses, ponies, donkeys and mules in its care. In addition, they have around 500 equines living in guardian homes and about 70 more horses that are re-homed each year.

There are currently eight rescue centres in the UK, three of which are open to the visiting public in Essex, Norfolk and Warwickshire. Redwings' welfare helpline answers more than 3,000 calls every year, and their horse adoption scheme has been running since 1984. One of the original adoptees, Rusty, is still going strong!

Horses, ponies and donkeys on the scheme include Harry Potter the Shetland pony, Boo the white Arabian, Choccy the donkey, Muffin the mule, Dolly the pony and Oliver Twist, the pony with the twisted nose.

Adoption costs just £12.50 per year and the two options available are:

Standard Nosebag

Includes a beautiful A5 photograph and adoption certificate plus the horse's story and information about how to visit your new friend. There is another update and a new photograph just before their birthday, complete with an invite to their party!

Online Nosebag

Online Nosebag provides a year’s worth of access to your chosen horse’s website, featuring their exclusive diary plus loads of photos, videos and wallpapers to download. There's even a chance to help take care of your new friend yourself.

Redwings Adoption Horse Boo - Boo's Birthday Party

A Redwings supporter takes her niece to see her adopted Arab horse Boo's birthday party!

World Horse Welfare

World Horse Welfare is a registered charity dedicated to giving abused and neglected horses a second chance in life, dealing with around 33,000 calls a year. Formerly known as the ILPH (International League for the Protection of Horses), the charity changed its name in 2008 after 81 years, as it felt that ILPH no longer reflected the breadth of work undertaken.

World Horse Welfare deal with welfare issues, run a Horse Loan Scheme, provide international training overseas and passionately run campaigns such as the one calling to end the long-distance travel of horses destined for slaughter in Europe.

There are currently four horses under the WHW Adoption Scheme - Starsky, Zeam, Homer and Spencer. The scheme helps staff to care for a chosen horse at one of their four UK Recovery and Rehabilitation centres.

World Horse Welfare Adoption Scheme Pack

Adoption costs £5 per month and includes:

A pack about the chosen horse that includes a DVD, colour photo, pin badge, notebook and recent seasonal updates from the grooms and centre manager.


Four exclusive updates each year, with notes from the groom, and the chance to visit the adopted horse during farm open days.

Adopt a Horse from World Horse Welfare - WHW Adoption Horses

This video explains what the World Horse Welfare adoption scheme includes and how each donation helps the horses.

My Adopted Horses - Meet Finnegan and Harry Potter!

I have been adopting two horses from Redwings Horse Sanctuary since 2003. Twice a year I receive updates and photographs of them, and have visited them twice, back when their visitor centre was in Suffolk (it has now moved to a better, drier site in Essex). The picture above is me getting to know Finnegan on the day of his birthday party, back when the Stonham Rescue Centre had not long opened.

Harry Potter is a black Shetland pony rescued along with 42 other ponies in 2002. At the time, the rescue in Devon was the largest Redwings had undertaken. Although Harry suffers from clubfoot it does not stop him from being a cheeky pony and enjoying his time at Redwings with his best friend Frodo!

Adopt Harry

Finnegan is a skewbald cob, rescued in 1996 from London via the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). He arrived at Redwings with two other horses, in very poor condition due to neglect. Beautiful Finnegan is 15.2 hands high and his best friend is called Henry!

Pick me! Pick me!

Pick me! Pick me!
Pick me! Pick me!
Copyright Jupiter Images Corporation
Copyright Jupiter Images Corporation

Horse Power Sanctuaries - Redwings USA

Redwings USA are an entirely separate organisation from the UK Redwings, based in California. Their official name is Horse Power Sanctuaries but they chose to adopt the public name of 'Redwings' as a thank you to the UK charity after they worked with them to help with their fundraising and welfare programs.

The mission of Redwings Horse Sanctuary is to eliminate the causes of equine suffering through education and community outreach programs, rescue abused and neglected equines, and provide permanent sanctuary or selected foster homes for those equines.

Redwings USA offer a sponsorship program with several levels of sponsorship, and nine horses available for adoption, including Geronimo, Jenny and Junior. Prices start from $35 and go right up to $180, which purchases the Mustang Diary and provides sponsorship of the entire Redwings Mustang Herd.

Did you know...

A mule is the offspring of a male donkey (jack) and a female horse (mare), while a hinny is the offspring of a male horse (stallion) and a female donkey (jenny).

Who Would You Like to Adopt?

Which equine would you most like to adopt?

See results
Copyright Jupiter Images Corporation
Copyright Jupiter Images Corporation

Other Ways to Help your Adopted Horse, Pony or Donkey

Fundraising Ideas

You can help your adopted horses and their friends further by:

* Donating money

* Participating in a sponsored event

* Selling items at a garage sale

* Selling items for charity through eBay, Zazzle etc

* Volunteering your time and services to the rescue centre

For more ideas on how to fund-raise for your pony, check out the brilliant lens below!

All About Horses

A beautiful and comprehensive guide to the horse. Anything purchased via this page means a percentage will be donated to the Horses for Healing charity.

The Encyclopedia of the Horse
The Encyclopedia of the Horse

"The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and fire. With too many wonders close inspection dispels both mystery and joy. Not so with the wonder that is the horse."


Horses on Amazon

Fulfill your horsey passions with these great products!

Write your own page for The Horse Review

It's open to everyone who loves horses. Is that you?

THE HORSE REVIEW is an ever-growing guide of recommendations about the very best horse stuff around. If you have a favorite saddle, boots, horse movie, riding vacation, make a page about it here. You can even just create a tribute page to your beautiful horse. You even earn a royalty from the Horse Review pages you write! Totally for free.

Try making a page, then join us on Facebook to get help, meet other equine enthusiasts, or just say hi.

Do you have an adopted equine? Tell us about them here, or leave a comment to say you were here!

The Horse's Nosebag - Thanks for reading my Horse Review page!

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    Post Comment

    • karen-stephens profile image


      5 years ago

      What an interesting idea.. I love it! Thanks for sharing.. Angel Blessings.. xxo

    • laki2lav profile image


      6 years ago

      they are such a noble animals and so often gets mistreated. great idea to put it on a lens!

    • WildFacesGallery profile image


      7 years ago from Iowa

      This is really a wonderfully done lens for a great cause.

      an April Fools Blessing since the Fine Arts Angel is working the horsey section today. :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I hope this lens helps many horses. ponies and donkeys.

      Nice job, blessed by a Squid Angel,

      Robin :)

    • missbat profile image


      7 years ago

      What a great idea for those of us who love equines but can't have one to call our own. Thanks for sharing how to help out these beautiful creatures!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      8 years ago from United States

      What beautiful animals! I wish I had a place big enough to adopt a few! Congratulations on the purple star!

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image


      8 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Congratulations on your Purple Star and Best Wishes in the SSA! :)

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      8 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Horses for Healing should be happy - two purple star lenses today that I'm aware of. Congratulations, MissMerFaery, for yours on this great lens!

    • HorseAndPony LM profile image

      HorseAndPony LM 

      8 years ago

      Another great Horse Review. I love your adoption stories. What a great feeling to help these beautiful animals. I have nominated this review and it is featured on my charity lens Become a Horse Rescue Volunteer. Blessed by The HorseAndPony Angel!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This is wonderful! I didn't know you could adopt a horse without having to take physical ownership of them. I'm going to look into adoption in my area. Thanks for this great information! Lensrolling to Gypsy Horse. :D

    • sheriangell profile image


      8 years ago

      It's a great thing you are doing and a great lens too! Lensrolled this lens to my Horse Review lens.


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