Sound Equine Options was founded in 2009 by Columbia Equine Hospital’s veterinarian, Dr. Scott Hansen, and practice manager and veterinary technician, Kim Mosiman, to assist the growing number of area horse owners who could no longer afford to properly care for their animals.
Since 2009, Sound Equine Options has grown from a small fund offering low-cost veterinary services to struggling owners to a licensed rescue focusing on ending the cycle of abuse, neglect, abandonment and suffering for local horses. By caring for abused, neglected and abandoned horses, Sound Equine Options fills a great need not met by local or state governments, which often lack the resources needed to address the increasing numbers of unwanted horses.
Sound Equine Options assists with law enforcement cases, often in partnership with Oregon Humane Society. We currently have working relationships with law enforcement agencies in Multnomah, Clackamas, Columbia, Marion, and Wasco counties in Oregon, and Clark and Klickitat counties in Washington.
In Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington, as in the rest of the country, the number of unwanted horses and horses not receiving basic care exceeds the resources available to accommodate them.
Although there are currently no accurate figures on how many of unwanted horses there are, our research and work with regional animal control officers tell us the numbers are on the rise. People who suddenly find themselves financially or physically unable to care for their horses—usually due to foreclosure, job loss, illness, death or divorce—have very few options for surrendering them, which all too often results in neglect or abandonment.
Although Oregon leads the nation in animal welfare legislation, it lacks the resources to address the increasing numbers of unwanted horses in our area. Unlike cats and dogs, horses don’t have a publicly provided safety net. While no one knows exactly how many unwanted horses there are, we know it greatly exceeds the resources currently available to accommodate them. By caring for abused, neglected and abandoned horses in our area, SEO fills a great need not met by local or state government or other area nonprofits.
Putting an end to the downward spiral of horse-trading, auction dumping and neglect is a top priority for us, and it informs everything we do. The best way to make sure a horse does not find itself back in a bad situation is to give it the care and training it needs to be a reliable partner and find a good home. Sound Equine Options’ emphasis on high quality natural horsemanship training sets it apart.
Once a horse is taken into our program, it is frequently sent to a veterinary facility for triage. This gives us the opportunity to have the horse medically evaluated and monitored. We can also then determine the horse’s personality to better match the appropriate foster home to the individual horse.
Most horses need to go into a foster home for a few months to gain weight and recover from mental and physical effects of their previous environment. In the foster home they receive quality nutrition, and are dewormed and vaccinated several times. Often a horse takes 3 – 4 months to recover enough before they can start into a training & exercise program. Our foster horse program is the heart of SEO.
Proper training is a life insurance policy for the horses we rescue. Good training makes our horses much more desirable and reliable partners, which leads to more successful adoptions. Some of the horses that come to us have never been handled by a human.
To help ensure stronger matches with potential adopters, SEO has provided training for all adoptable horses since 2011. Training included ground manners, desensitizing, and whenever possible, riding.
Once a horse is healthy enough, it is sent to a Natural Horsemanship style trainer who will usually put invest at least 30 days of ground training with the horse to build both its trust and confidence. We believe it is crucial to get these horses to a point where they are well behaved and ready to be ridden. Usually a horse has 60 days under saddle before we feel it is ready for adoption.
Natural Horsemanship focuses on creating a bond of respect and communication between people and horses. It builds a horse’s confidence and is the fairest way to communicate with your horse. The result is a solid partnership and connection between horse and rider.
Properly rehabbed and trained rescue horses are as good, if not better, than those available for sale through private sellers.
Sound Equine Options’ horses are offered for adoption to pre-approved adopters that complete our application process and site visit inspection. Adopters must also demonstrate that they have the skills, knowledge and resources needed to properly care for the horse, which must include regular veterinary care, farrier care, and proper feeding. Adopters must agree not to sell or rehome the horse without prior approval of Sound Equine Options. All new homes are also inspected.
The adoption fees for our horses vary depending on the age and ability of the horse and the amount of training the horse received. Adoption fees also take the kill buyer market into account, as well as the level of resources required to properly care for a horse. The purchase price of any horse is usually the cheapest part of owning a horse.
We are proud that our adoption return rate is very low, and we attribute this largely to the training protocols we have in place. Having happy adopters also helps spread the word about our remarkable rescue horses and increases the number of people coming to adopt our horses.