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Title of Article: "Tough Times for Many Horse Owners - Tips for Horse Donations to Nonprofit Organization"
Author: Sharon J. Oscar, Esq.

Many horse owners are feeling the effects of a tough economy.  Businesses and individuals are tightening their belts and deciding whether maintaining horses properly and humanely is financially possible.

In an effort to ensure that their horses are being taken care of and to relieve themselves from the financial responsibility of proper maintenance, many horse owners are considering donating their horses to a nonprofit entity that can use the horses for a variety of purposes such as equine therapy; riding programs at schools and colleges; or pasture/retirement.

While donating a horse may seem like a straightforward option that results in a win-win-win situation (horse, horse owner and nonprofit), horse owners should proceed carefully. Here are some basic tips for horse owners to consider: 
  • Take time to investigate the entity to make sure it holds nonprofit status.  Is it a 501(c)(3)?
  • Talk to your accountant, financial advisor or attorney to determine the tax and financial implications of the donation. 
  • What is the history of the entity?  Are the horses properly cared for?
  • Talk to someone within the entity to understand what the purpose of the entity is and how it complies with the Internal Revenue Code.
  • Make sure the entity will not sell the horse during the “no sale” period under the Internal Revenue Code.
  • Get an appraisal. There will be an appraisal fee and a veterinary examination.  Photos and show records, if applicable, may be required.  If the horse has value, it is worth doing the appraisal, exam and accompanying paperwork.  Keep copies of everything.
  • Complete the proper IRS Form:  your accountant can provide this.
  • Complete any other transfer forms and consider release language.
  • Change owner name for any horse registrations.
The above are only some of the procedures. There are other considerations if you simply want to give your horse away to someone who will care for the horse. Consider release and warranty issues and the ability to take the horse back if it is not being properly cared for.

Donating a horse can be both a financial and an emotional matter. Take all issues into account before you act.

Sharon Oscar, Esq.
Sharon Oscar, Esq.
Sharon Oscar and her horse, Nadia

Ms. Oscar is Fennemore Craig’s Equine Law Practice Group Chair. She handles a variety of equine-related issues, including training, management and breeding contracts; releases and indemnities; horse show-related contracts; sale and leasing of horses; sale, purchase and leasing of horse properties; filing of athlete visas relating to horse-related sports and staff; and assisting with equine-related litigation.  

She can be reached at
This article is not intended to and does not provide legal advice.  Please contact your financial advisor or attorney for your individual needs.

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