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Adoption Fees

Wild Hearts Thoroughbred Adoption Society horse adoption fees are well below what you might expect to pay from a private seller. These versatile, intelligent athletes are often priced between $4,000-$7000 and even higher as rehabilitation (where needed) and retraining is underway. 

When you adopt a retired racehorse from Wild Hearts you not only are providing a wonderful new second career and forever home for your new horse, but you also allow Wild Hearts to make space in the program and provide quality, ongoing care + rehabilitation and training to the horse that will take your horse's space.


The upwards cost of having a retired racehorse transported, vetted, rehabbed, and providing consistent retraining along with farrier and other ongoing costs is often thousands. Adoption fees don't come close to the expenses a horse as incurred while in the program, and the majority of covering costs comes from gracious donors and grants. In short, while Wild Hearts appreciates anyone interested in making an ex-racehorse their heart horse, providing a GREAT (and vetted) HOME is a REQUIREMENT for any adopter of a Wild Hearts horse and will not be grounds for negotiating the already below market value adoption fees.


In general, our adoption fees are set as follows:

  • $2,500- 3,500: This range is for horses that have been assessed as and/or considered unlimited in their physical ability who possess exceptional qualities that would make them an upper- or high-level equine athlete.

  • $1,500 - $2,500: This range is for horses assessed as physically capable of a mid-level second career. They have few or relatively minor limitations.

  • $1,000-$1,500: This range is for horses that may have unique needs and/or those with more limited athletic potential. They are still capable of a successful second career but are looking for a more laid back second career (profile may indicate flat work only, etc.) They have been evaluated by our veterinarians and are otherwise healthy.

All available ultrasounds, x-rays, and medical records are available to interested approved adopters. While many horses come into our program with zero physical limitations, others have injuries that they have fully recovered from and will create no issues whereas others may require maintenance or require a lower level second career/life. New Vocations has a wonderful and thorough section on the more common injuries, prognosis, etc. HERE.


I would like to apply but can't find the application?

If you are interested in becoming an adopter, please initiate contact via email at Our facilitator will respond within 24 hours and provide additional information along with our application. If you do NOT hear back within 24 hours, please call or text 250-293-6193. Thank you!

Do you negotiate adoption fees?

Adoption fees are far below market value and will not be negotiated. Please review the above Adoption Fees section for additional information. 

What are the adoption fees?

Wild Hearts adoption fees vary based on several different areas (horse physical capabilities/limitations, maintenance (if any), ground manners and riding,etc.). Typically the adoption fees range from $1,500 to $3,500.

Can mares be bred?

Part of the adoption contract strictly prohibits any breeding of adoptive horses.

Can horses be adopted out of province or country?

Currently, adoptive homes may be located within BC, Alberta and Washington State only. 

Can I ride the horse before adopting?

Due to the high cost and level of liability with green ex-racehorses freshly off the track we do not facilitate adopter riding. We do, however, have riders on the team who arrangements can be made for you to watch your potential horse be ridden by. We also have a 60 day Wild Hearts adoption credit should you get your new horse home and find for some reason he/she is not the perfect match. 

Can I have my own vet pre-purchase exam completed on the horse I am interested in?

Absolutely! We recommend it! Often horses retire from the track due to small injuries that are easily rehabbed and heal without issue given time. Horses are under vet care at the track and subsequently undergo vetting while at Wild Hearts and all medical records are made available to interested and approved adopters. However, as with any animal, there are no guarantees so we absolutely welcome and encourage pre-purchase exams (at adopters expense). Matching horse and human to the best of our ability for the benefit of the horse is a top priority, and we go over and above to disclose temperament, known injuries or limitations, vices, etc.


A (very) important reminder as you compare all available options (adopting from a charity, purchasing a horse on the open market, buying direct from track, etc.):

When you purchase a horse on the open market, or direct from track, you are paying DOUBLE (or far more if NOT direct from track, and someone has trained the horse to a higher level) than what you can expect to adopt for. This higher price still assumes 'buyer beware'. The seller is not interested in taking the horse back, nor giving discounts, not covering ANY vetting to your benefit. 


There is ZERO additional handling if you buy direct from track, and you will likely have no luck 'returning' a horse, should he/she not be a good fit. The owner is not performing additional vetting, the horse will likely need teeth/vaccines/x-ray/ultrasound if retiring due to injury (while horses DO retire 'due to being too slow', some retire WITH an injury (varies in severity), and MOST ads show 'was just too slow'. Transparency through aftercare is unmatched as there is NO BENEFIT to mismatch human/horse. We openly disclose the known injuries/provide FURTHER x-rays/ultrasounds, and offer credit and accept horses back (barring space) should the horse NOT be a good fit. Aftercare is FOR the horse, and sales are for the human. 

It is important to recognize that all young, retired thoroughbreds, even those coming through aftercare are GREEN and you SHOULD expect that what you SAVE on purchase price, you will need to invest in supporting your new OTTB by way of time/training (if you are experienced), or, by way of a professional trainer to support you/your horse. 

The number of people who inquire about a 'point and shoot' horse they can ride out solo, who's had all teeth/vaccines/medical brought up to date, who has had a vet intake exam, any known injuries (re) x-rayed and/or ultrasound, and has had paid training put on them for $1,500 is concerning.


ASSUME you will need to invest in a pre-purchase to your satisfaction.


ASSUME you will be required to invest TIME and MONEY into continuing your new, young OTTBs training.


If you are disappointed in NOT receiving a bomb proof, zero challenges horse for $1,500, perhaps a horse (and especially an OTTB) is not the best road for you to travel. 

The PURPOSE of aftercare is to set up horses that would otherwise be sold directly off the track, to achieve HIGHER RATES of success and better LONGER TERM OUTCOMES. This is done by following AAEP transitioning protocols (diet, basic ground and under saddle training, vetting, etc.), disclosing all known limitations (which are often NOT disclosed, to the detriment of the horse), making sure they are brought current on all regular vet maintenance, taking them through a baseline vet intake, evaluating all known injuries to provide to adopters, and finally, by keeping a radar on their horse for years to come. We also stay in contact to ensure adopters feel supported and can reach out to us if for some reason the horse is NOT a good fit. 


What does your VETERINARY INTAKE EXAM entail?

*Our intake exams are aftercare industry standard, and described below/taken from FAQ - After The Races*

Our intake evaluations are meant to be thorough baselines but do not replace a full pre-purchase exam. Our vet:

  • Listens to and considers the history of the horse (whatever we have, some come with very little, some a lot).

  • Listens to the heart on both sides, checks the eyes.

  • Checks/palpates the spine from poll to tail, as well as the symmetry of the pelvis.

  • Runs hands down each leg, palpating all joints, tendons, ligaments.

  • Checks the range of motion in all fetlocks, both knees.

  • Follows this up by assessing soundness on a straight line.


If at this point the horse is sound without any significant concerns on the physical or in the history, this is where we stop. It’s common for horses to have a mild lameness (which is noted in any exam) due to presumed foot soreness after having racing plates pulled and being turned out. Suspected hoof pain aside, if any other lameness is detected, we often progress directly to diagnostic imaging.

  • We do not radiograph every horse. We only radiograph if we have a reason to based on the horse’s history or a significant finding on an exam.

  • We do not perform full flexions on every horse or even most horses. We will do flexions as part of further diagnostics if a horse presents lame for the exam.

  • We are full disclosure and will report all findings on the horse’s page once they are evaluated, and share with the horse’s eventual adopter.


How much is transportation?

Transportation is the sole responsibility of the adopter. Wild Hearts has a list of reputable horse transport contacts should you have issue finding one. Cost will depend on length of travel amongst other things (delivery address on regular routes, etc.). Arrangements are made between transport company and adopter and Wild Hearts has no affiliation with or part of the transportation. 

Can I view the adoption contract and what's in it?

Absolutely! You can view the adoption contract HERE. Some pertinent details are: 

  • Horses are NOT to be bred.

  • Horses are NOT to be sold within 1 year (must be relinquished back to Wild Hearts). Note: Some horses are adopted with NO SALES / RETURN ONLY contracts. These are those at higher, longer term risk due to more debilitating injuries/limited rideability/etc. 

  • If you wish to SELL your horse AFTER the one year has expired, contact information for the new owner must be updated with Wild Hearts so we can ensure the continued care and safety of all horses that have been thoughtfully placed in our program by caring trainers and owners. 

  • Horses are NOT to be sold at auction or to someone who deals in auctions or slaughterhouses.

  • Horse updates are required at 3, 6 and 12 months and Wild Hearts will continue following up throughout the horses second career. 

How well trained will my adopted horse be?

Wild Hearts is a non profit organization run by passionate volunteers which includes riders of varying levels and skill sets. Horses are not placed into the program by concerned and caring owners to retrain horses to the top levels of different disciplines, but rather to bring them along to a more relaxed and workable place where they can more easily thrive in their next career, regardless of discipline.


Horses in the program work on practicing relaxation, strengthening ground manners, learn to stand at the mounting block, and start to work on walk/trot/canter along with lateral movements while gaining an understanding of connection.


Other important factors to consider are both length of time in the program (some horse are here a year+, whereas another may have an experienced forever home come along after only a few weeks with the understanding that they will need to spend additional time bringing him/her along), and adopter's ability. An experienced home may be able to try a horse and see smooth transitions and experience a really connected ride, whereas a less experienced rider may experience a "different" horse showing up. Bringing a new horse into your life is an incredibly rewarding experience that also comes with important considerations.


If someone is looking for a finished upper level prospect this can be done by PURCHASING a highly experienced and established horse which typically you'll find starting at about 8K-15K and beyond the higher the level and increased training you go. ADOPTING a horse entails committing to a journey that WILL involve working with trainers, doing clinics, or ensuring you are an experienced home. Part of the below market value adoption fees means there WILL be finishing work to do as retiring racehorses are still very young, and often quite green horses that will require many months and years of a consistent, caring home. 

What are some common reasons a potential adopter may have their application denied, and what steps can be taken to ensure an application is approved?

Thoroughbred racehorses have done and seen a lot by the time they reach our program. They give their hearts on the track, and they've trained and worked as professional athletes. While they do spend time in stalls while at the track, they are meticulously cared for, exercised, and professionally managed by incredibly caring trainers and owners. To ensure their continued care and a soft landing, there are minimum requirements including but not limited to minimum turnout size and time, access to shelter, having a buddy, ideally 24/7 access to forage/slow feed, and the ability of the new home to provide adequate veterinary care and have access to professional guidance (working with a trainer unless the individual is providing a very experienced home). The ability to provide a friend(s), freedom to move around and forage (the 3 "F's") is the minimum standard that must be met.

It is also important to remember that caring owners and trainers donate their horses into our program for us to not only rehabilitate (where needed) and move through basic re-training, but they place their trust in us to connect their retiring horse to a suitable, well matched home, regardless of how long this may take. Most owners, by and large, are after 1:1 adopters, forever homes, and a gentle hand. While special circumstances may apply, most of our horses are not being approved for highly demanding homes, school strings, etc. Our job is to find that person for each horse whereby he/she will be their number one, and well looked after for life, including providing quality care.

Can a horse be surrendered back to Wild Hearts once adopted, if things don't work out?

Absolutely! Once in our program, a horse is on our radar and their best interest are at heart. If for some reason (due to vet care, life circumstances, etc.) you can no longer provide the best care for the horse, he/she may be surrendered back to Wild Hearts barring facility space. Wild Hearts does NOT refund adoption fees as typically MORE than this is spent on horse transportation, intake, care, feed, training, vet and administration.

Can I come by the ranch?

Interested volunteers, donor, adopters and supporters are asked to schedule an appointment by phone 250-293-6193, or via email at before coming by. Due to the number of horses, scheduled vet/farrier/training/adopter appts/intakes/etc. we are unfortunately unable to accommodate drop-ins of any kind. We also ask that you do not approach any of the residences on the ranch.


I am a first time horse owner, can I adopt a thoroughbred racehorse? 

While it's good to "never say never" as there ARE exceptions to the rule, a recently retired thoroughbred racehorse is typically NOT a first horse for MOST people. Depending on time in the program and individual temperament, these horses are young and have "green" moments that will require either a breadth of experience, OR, the consistent and ongoing support of a professional which brings about another level of financial commitment for the individual. 

My horse seems "crazier" since coming home, is this normal? What should I do?

It is completely normal for horses to experience the same feelings as we might when moving to a new school as a kid. They are leaving a familiar place, friends they've established relationships with (horses and humans), and they often experience fear over what to expect. Quite often the first 2 weeks (ranges horse to horse) your horse may be "different" than when you initially met them. The best thing to do is to remove initial expectations in the first few weeks and focus on building that trust and relationship with them during this period of time. This might look like just spending time with them, hand grazing them, letting them spend time getting to know their new horse friends, etc. This is a case where, at least initially, SLOWER will end up being faster. You don't want to start this special relationship with immediately high expectations before you've gotten to know each other. Wild Hearts is always available to chat or provide support if you are experiencing any challenges so please reach out! And, of course, should you find it's ultimately not a good fit, Wild Hearts will always accept horses back into the program. An adoption credit may be held if/until a more suitable match is found. 

*A great space for additional tools, resources and support is to consider becoming an ongoing Wild Hearts Patreon*

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