A Guide to Horse Donations

Leroy – 2014 IHSA Nationals High Point Horse


Have you been trying to sell your horse for the past few weeks, months or perhaps years?

All the bills associated with owning a horse continue to accumulate: board, training, farrier, veterinarian, chiropractor, etc. Perhaps donating your horse is the answer. Many equine programs are provided at colleges, prep schools, and facilities offering therapeutic riding programs. Both you and your can horse reap the benefits. As the horse owner, you may benefit on a financial level, putting an end to the month-to-month accumulation of bills, relieving the burden of selling your horse, and receiving a tax donation for a charitable donation.

Often, and even more importantly on an emotional level, is knowing your horse will be cared for and will have a useful life with someone else who can enjoy and learn. Maybe your horse is no longer suited for the job he was purchased for. Perhaps he needs to step down a level; maybe he was successful at the 3’6” and is now best suited for lower divisions. Possibly for various reasons, he may no longer enjoy jumping. Knowing that your horse will be going to a good home and appreciated by many riders can bring enormous satisfaction to the horse owner.  

What process is followed in order to donate your horse? The first step is to contact a Certified Equine Appraiser. The Internal Revenue Service carefully scrutinizes tax returns when non-cash donations represent a significant value. Taxpayers are required to obtain a Certified Horse Appraiser for donated property for which a deduction of more than $5,000 is claimed. The appraiser then requests the following information name of horse and proof of ownership, intended use of the appraisal, USEF # (not required), copy of registration certificates, copy of pedigree, proof of purchase, copy of insurance (not required), proof of health and soundness from a veterinarian (often horses are serviceably sound), copy of Coggins, effective date of the appraisal, recent video, etc. The value of the horse is then determined upon review of the information gathered, and a list of comparable prices of horses similar to the subject horse is gathered. The above information is compiled into a written appraisal, usually 12-18 pages, and the 8283 tax form for donations is completed.

Horse donations are arranged through colleges, prep schools and therapeutic programs. The IHSA Inc. provides collegiate riders of all skills, the opportunity to compete individually and as teams in equestrian competition. More than 8,300+ students (Hunt Seat Equitation, Western Horsemanship and Reining), 370+ colleges and universities across the United States and Canada, participate in the IHSA. In general, each horse is evaluated for 2-4 weeks, ridden by the staff, both alone and in a group, ground manners are evaluated, and he is checked by a veterinarian. It is of upmost importance that the subject horse be happy in the program offered by the facility.

Mac-A-Roani – Pegasus Therapeutic Riding

Upon evaluation, if the horse is accepted into the program, a letter of acceptance is signed. Cindy Ford, director of Riding and Women’s Riding Team Head Coach at Skidmore, prefers a horse that has horse show experience, is sound and safe to ride. Ms. Ford also prefers a horse that jumps, but will not pass up a horse that is nice on the flat. A horse does not need to jump high – the horse simply needs to be a legitimately nice horse. Often horses drop down a level or two, are great teaching tools and continue to be competitive at IHSA and USEF shows.

Students learn more easily on nice horses, not on bad horses. Years ago, Leroy, a very well known equine, was donated to Skidmore when he was 11 years old. Brian Walker had competed with him in the Junior Jumpers and he was a popular mount for students of Missy Clark in the Equitation. Upon donation, he continued to show in the Medal/Maclay with Grace Socha. He was most popular in IHSA Nationals for many years and was instrumental in winning the Cachione Cup for several riders. At the 2014 IHSA Nationals, Leroy was the high point horse; he competed in Novice walk, trot and canter, and in walk and trot divisions. Sherry and Peter Cashman are the coaches of the IHSA team at the United States Military Academy. Ms. Cashman encourages horse owners to look at schools when considering a donation. “I encourage horse owners to be honest with the riding facility as many horses do come with issues, and most of the time, these issues can be worked through. When the horse is accepted into the program, he has a new lease on life, a new job, and the horse owner receives a substantial tax write-off.” 

Richard Lockart is the head coach for Connecticut College’s IHSA team at Mystic Valley Hunt Club. The facility is situated on 175 acres, has 6 outdoor rings with all-weather footing, two cross country courses, and two indoor rings. Mr. Lockart explained that he accepts hunter/jumper horses, wants a horse that already jumps a 2’6” course, and has horse show experience. He also accepts dressage horses. One of the notable horses accepted into the program is Nantucket Bay who previously competed in the Adult Hunter and Equitation divisions and recently qualified a junior rider for the New England and CHJA Finals.

Many college prep schools accept donations. Donated horses and ponies accepted into programs have a second career. Streett Moore, director of riding at the McDonogh School, Owings Mills, Maryland says the goal is that the horse wants to do, can do, and enjoys his job. The goal of the riding program is to give the rider a background in equitation to prepare them to ride in a riding college successfully. Oberon, a famous Amateur Owner Hunter was donated and is presently competing in the Children’s Hunter division. He recently was awarded the Younger Children’s Championship at Loudon Benefit Horse show, ridden by Madeline McManus. Two Pony Finals Champions were donated: Dream Come True and Sham’s Logenberry. These ponies have now stepped down to do the Children’s Pony Hunter division. Sham’s Loganberry was awarded the Maryland High Point Children’s Pony for three consecutive years, with three different riders. In addition, he was MHSA Grand Children’s Pony Champion multiple times.

Oberon – 2014 Champion Young Children’s Hunter at Loudon County Benefit Horse Show

Dee Dee Wilbur, riding coordinator of Kent School in Kent, Connecticut, accepts hunters and jumpers into their equine program. Kent provides two heated indoor rings, two big fields, a grand prix field, two sand rings and a full cross country course. One notable donation horse to their program is Antaris, who formerly competed with Norman Dello Joio and ran away in the meter 1.40-1.50. He’s now jumping a full course with students.

Lynn Peters, volunteer coordinator at Pegasus Therapeutic Riding, Brewster, New York accepts both horses and ponies in all shape, size and movement. The equine does not need to jump, but does need to be sound. Temperament is an important factor in selection and determines if the horse fits into the program. The equine needs to accommodate a variety of participants from four years of age, with no upper age limits. A big misconception is that the job of the horse is easy. But, because the riders are so unbalanced, the horse’s job becomes difficult in a state of balance and rebalancing. Due to these factors, and the importance of the saddle fitting well, the saddle is fitted three times each year. The equines are well cared for, are provided with veterinarian care, acupuncture, chiropractic care, shoeing, etc. on a routine basis.

Rita Timpanaro has held her USEF “R” judges’ licenses in the following: hunter, hunter seat equitation, hunter breeding and jumper for over 35 years. She judges “A”, local, IEA and IHSA horse shows throughout the United States and Canada.
As a junior rider, Rita won a Junior Hunter Class and the 1963 National ASPCA Maclay Reserve Championship at Madison Square Garden. In 1966, she won the National AHSA (now USEF) Medal Championship. Throughout her professional career, she owned and operated her barn, Rita Timpanaro Show Stables, located in Smithtown, NY.

She is a USHJA Certified Trainer and Clinician and gives clinics nationwide, is certified as a Senior Equine Appraiser  with the American Society of Equine Appraisers, and provides horse owners throughout the country with professional and accurate appraisals.