As equine adoption gains in popularity, more horse enthusiasts will come to you in search of their perfect horse. Whether they’re interested in riding, need a working partner for lessons or therapy, searching for a friend, or simply want to be part of a horse’s rescue story, capturing their interest and making a good first impression is critical to creating a community of support for adoptable horses.
Make a Good First Impression
For many, this will be the first time they’ve ever considered adopting a horse, and the experience they have will determine if they become long-term supporters of adoption and your work or turn away.
With lives hanging in the balance, it’s critical that everyone who knocks on your barn doors walks away feeling positive about equine adoption, whether they ultimately end up adopting one of your horses or not. Word of mouth can grow your community or isolate you from a network of potential adopters and donors.
Why and How to Keep Potential Adopters Engaged
While adoption is an important goal and may be the top reason that people initially reach out to you, keep in mind the many other impactful ways people can engage with your organization—especially if you don’t have the right horse for them right now.
Establishing pathways to engage all potential adopters regardless of their experience level will help make adoption the first option for horse seekers.Some adopters may be brand-new to horses and your reception will be their first impression of the equine community. Whether they adopt right away or choose to wait, there are many ways to help them stay involved and build their skills.
These 5 strategies can keep adopters connected to your organization when you don’t have an immediate match.
Encourage Riding Lessons
Point them towards a Certified Horsemanship Association instructor where they can take riding lessons in a fun, safe environment. This is also a great way to build mutually beneficial partnerships with local professionals. Plus, a beginner adopter will be better equipped to take on their dream horse with the help of a professional.
Provide Volunteer Opportunities
Encourage new adopters to volunteer at your organization where they can learn horse care and management skills.
Pair them with a Foster Family
A knowledgeable foster family can teach new adopters hands-on skills and grow their confidence. Then, when, they’re ready to adopt, they’ll a have a built-in support system too.
Add Them to Your List
Keep potential adopters on a list for a beginner-friendly horse and keep them updated as potential horses come into your program. Get them started with your adoption counseling or pre-approval process and ensure they’re ready to adopt when the right horse comes along.
Support First-Time Horse Owners
Might there be a horse in your program, who would do well with a new horse owner with a little extra support from you? If so, complete the adoption and help your first-time adopter connect with local resources and support. And then pat yourself on the back for making someone’s dream come true and growing our industry of horse lovers.
If a potential adopter is not willing to wait for a horse. Collaborate with other adoption agencies to see if their right horse is available for transfer from a partner!
Guiding the adopter through searching via myrighthorse.org is a great way to start. If they see a horse they like at another organization, you can help them navigate the transfer and adoption process.
Remember that potential adopters have many other options when seeking a new horse, and it’s key to capture their interest when they first reach out to you.
Adopters who feel welcomed, valued, and connected to your mission become your longtime donors, volunteers, and supporters. They’ll also be important messengers in engaging others in your work and spreading the benefits of equine adoption.