Many of us go through that “I want a pony!” phase. For a lot of us, that dream is never fulfilled. However, there are many horses out in the world who are considered “unwanted” or “extra.” Many of these are perfectly sound, healthy horses.

When looking for a horse to buy, many good options are not even considered. Rescue horses are most commonly overlooked. This is because rescue horses are usually believed to have problems. These problems could include the horse not being perfectly sound, having small health problems. The horse could even have trust issues or be spooked easily due to neglect from past owners. Their owners may have been unable to give them proper care, and so they gave them up. There’s a chance that the horse just wasn’t able to perform in the discipline their owner rides in. Sadly, even a small problem like this causes careless owners to send their horses away.

Eighty percent of first-time horse owners reportedly get rid of their horse within 5 years. Many of these horses are sent to auctions, and some are purchased by buyers who intend to kill them. Often such buyers can outbid those interested in giving a horse a good home.

Horses can be saved from such a tragic fate, however. Horse rescues across the United States work hard to save these animals from being slaughtered. Lots of rescue horses are available to adopt for a reasonable price, and it only takes a little research on the Internet to find one near you.

When considering a horse, you first have to decide if you are ready to take on the responsibility. Owning a horse is a lot of work, but by taking that work on, you gain an amazing friend and companion. Aside from that, you save the life of an innocent animal.

Next you have to decide where the animal will stay: on your own property or boarded at a nearby stable. Wherever your new family member is living, make sure to clear up some time in your schedule to spend time with the horse and gain its trust. Depending on the horse’s past and what information the rescue center provides, you may be able to ride the horse after he or she settles in. Even if a horse is not rideable, it is still a great companion for anyone. Just spending time with horses is shown to help people relax and may even lower blood pressure, improving overall health and mood.

Horses that are not rescued usually end up in the slaughterhouse. Even though horse slaughter has been illegal in the United States since 2008, many horses are sent across the borders to Mexico and Canada, where slaughter is legal. Any horse can be sent to slaughter. Ferdinand, a famous racehorse who won the 1986 Kentucky Derby, was sent to Japan in hopes of having better luck in breeding. When only eight of his 247 foals in the United States became stakes winners, he was sent to Japan.

What happened to him there is a mystery.