A Second Home

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Your number one school master is slowing down . . . You’re so attuned to him that you see subtle changes that are not apparent to anyone else: it’s taking longer and longer for him to warm up, and when he finally does he still has trouble with transitions or collected work. Or, maybe he’s a little off, stopping, or is not able to make it over jumps that were once no-brainers. Yet, he’s a trooper who can be depended on to safely carry around a first-time rider as easily as he can do Second Level lateral work. That’s why you’ve left no stone unturned in your quest to keep him on track. You’ve cut down on his lesson load, kept up with his shoeing schedule, had a round of x-rays, chiropractic and acupuncture treatments, herbal remedies, joint supplements, injections, etc., but his hocks are still stiff, his knees remain noticeably larger and he’s become cold backed . . . You have to face it; he’s had enough.

And, while you’d love to keep him as a pasture pet, you’re operating a business and must move forward; however, the thought of selling this gallant comrade-in-arms after all you’ve been through together is not acceptable, either.

If he’s still sound enough, despite his age, you might donate him to a non-profit organization with a less demanding riding program, such as a therapeutic riding school, or even to a retirement facility. That may be the win-win situation you’re seeking.

If you choose the school route, find a professional, well organized facility that will provide your guy with a next career that won’t place him on the same kind of rigorous schedule that is inherent in a boarding/lesson stable. But, keeping him moving as long as he’s not being pushed is good for an arthritic or navicular horse. Plus, he’ll be in a loving environment filled with adults and kids who will no doubt spend time patting, grooming and generally spoiling him.

Of course, you’ve got to check out the options carefully. Not all programs are as they might seem from their websites or brochures. Ideally, you should visit several times beforehand, with an eye to ensuring the same high standards of care and management you employ at your own barn. And, of course, you need to make sure that the level of work is appropriate for your horse.

The same requirements, sans the riding regime, go for a retirement farm. In this case, though, pay special attention to the turn-out regime. Will your horse be alone, with a companion, or will he be part of a herd? What kind of space will he have? Fencing: is it safe? Water: is it kept clean?

Once you’re satisfied that your horse will be in good hands, you would do well to finalize the deal in writing. Whether you use a lawyer or a boilerplate form that you tailor to fit your needs, make sure that these basic points are addressed:

1)?For a therapeutic or educational riding program, determine a trial period: 15 to 30 days should be sufficient, after which be sure to stipulate that your horse will be accepted automatically. If it doesn’t work out for whatever reason, there also should be a provision that specifies who will be responsible for the costs incurred during his tenure.

2)?Have the care and management provisions detailed in writing, with a caveat that includes who will foot the bill for farrier/veterinary treatments and procedures, special medications, supplements, dewormers, etc.

3)?Also, have an indemnity clause that protects you and your horse in the event of an accident or injury, whether to him or as a result of his actions.

4)?Finally, have an “end of the road” understanding. For instance, you are to be notified when your horse is no longer able to continue on. Decide now how you want to handle it, i.e., euthanasia, return to the barn, etc., so you don’t wind up in an unfavorable situation.

Tax Consequences

And, keep in mind, there is also a beneficial financial aspect to take into consideration—when you donate your horse to a charitable organization, you are eligible to receive a tax credit. In order to do this, however, you need to make sure that the facility is qualified as a non-profit 501(c)(3) in accordance with Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidelines. A statement of purpose and an IRS exemption certificate will confirm that your horse will be used in connection with the purpose for which the charity was started. For further information on the subject, access Section 170 in the IRS code.

You’ll need to provide a fair market value for your horse at the time of your donation—in other words, what he’s worth now, not what you paid for him as a registered four-year-old in excellent health.

At a value of less than $250, the charity must provide a receipt stating its name and address, a description of the horse, how the dollar amount was determined, and the terms of agreement for his employ/residence. In addition, the horse must have been in your possession for 24 months prior to his donation.

If you determine a value of more than $250 but less than $500, an additional statement must be added that confirms there will be no financial compensation for your gift.

If you believe he is worth more than $500 but less than $5,000, in addition to the above information you will need to add an IRS Schedule A, Form 8283 in which you provide your purchase information—how, when and at what price you paid.

For a value of more than $5,000, you will also need to provide an IRS Schedule B, 8283 form, containing an appraisal summary performed by a qualified equine appraiser. According to the regulations, the summary should have a description and physical condition of the horse, the donation date, the terms of the agreement concerning the horse’s use, which must be in compliance with the purpose of the charity, the appraisal date, the method of evaluation, identity and qualifications of the appraiser including his/her background, professional title, memberships, education, etc., with a statement confirming that the document was prepared for income tax reasons, all of which must be completed within 60 days of the donation.

At the end of the day, you may also have netted benefits beyond your act of kindness. That your horse will be safe and well cared for will no doubt be a great relief, while at the same time you’ll be realizing a write-off, and on top of that, you can fill his stall space with a boarder or another school master, moving your business forward; a good deal all around.