Big Mama

Big Mama is up for adoption
Big Mama is ready for adoption! She is a very beautiful and sweet Off Track Thoroughbred mare who stands approximately 16 hands tall. She is 18 years old and has good ground manners, loves attention a…

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Stemma - horse for adoption
Stemma is a very beautiful and sweet Thoroughbred mare who stands approximately 16 hands tall. She is 15 years old and has good ground manners, loves attention and is good for the veterinarian and fa…

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Available soon!  Sydney is a 25 year old Morgan cross mare who stands 13.1 hands tall. We found her as a skinny, wounded, and traumatized horse ready to ship to slaughter in December 2022. It’…

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Heidi portrait
Heidi is available for adoption and we are looking for a very special home for this special needs mare. She is a 20 year old Haflinger and stands 13.1 hands tall. She is available as a retired compani…

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Success Stories


Cassidy was an unwanted small Welsh pony who arrived with us as a 13 year old in the winter of 2019. We quickly learned she was safe for kids and had a very sweet personality. Cassidy wasn’t with us…

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We rescued Holly from a kill-pen in the winter of 2019 as a four year old. We named Holly after our friend Holly who created a fundraiser for us to assist use with rescuing this mare. She wasn’t wit…

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Zipper is available for adoption as a companion horse and is searching for his special person. He came to us a year and a half ago as an owner surrender after his owner passed away, who Zipper had bee…

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sadie horse available for adoption
Sadie came to us in 2018 through law enforcement due to a neglect case. She was just 4 years old and was a body score of 3. Her hooves had not been trimmed in a very long time, and quite possibly had…

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Montauk arrived at The Dorset Equine Rescue in December of 2017 after his owner unexpectedly passed away. He quickly bonded with another horse that had already been with us for a couple of years named…

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Memphis arrived with his mother Apache in the summer of 2017. They were both owner surrenders. Memphis was adopted in March of 2018 along with his buddy Nipster. We are thrilled that he and his buddy …

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Tess arrived with us in January of 2018 as a four year old. She and another horse, Sadie were part of a neglect case and were seized by law enforcement. They were both very underweight and neither had…

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Twister was a local owner surrender who arrived with us in the summer of 2017. He wasn’t with us long before he was adopted. He is now a companion to Barney (now known as Lovebug) who was adopte…

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Apache is a very beautiful and gentle horse who arrived with when she was  18 years old as an owner surrender in the summer of 2017 along with her colt Memphis. She gave birth to Memphis on a trailer…

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We rescued Foster when we outbid a kill buyer at an auction in the spring of 2017. We also outbid a kill buyer for another horse at the same auction who we named Sheila. They were named in memory of a…

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Maggie arrived with us as a 6 year old with her son Nipster in the summer of 2017. They were both well cared for but were surrendered due to their owner having a serious illness. Maggie was adopted in…

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Nipster was a two year old when he arrived with us along with his mother Maggie as owner surrenders. They arrived in the summer of 2017. Nipster has a kind personality and loves attention. He was adop…

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Sally and Lucy

Sally and Lucy are an adorable mother and daughter pair of miniature donkeys. Sally is the mother and is the lighter colored donkey. She is five years old and Lucy is two years old. They were a local …

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Turtle was a local owner surrender who arrived with us in Spring of 2017. Even though he is blind in one eye, he was very trusting and was always willing to go out for a trail ride and be handled and …

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India (Indy)

India came to us as a scared and completely unhandled yearling filly who we saved from slaughter in February 2017. She had come into a kill pen with a group of 8 young horses. We only had room and fu…

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Orion is a beautiful 15.1 hand, 7 year old gelding who was slaughter-bound when rescued. He arrived with us in the winter of 2016/2017.  He has a young and lively personality. Orion has an old injury…

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Luna is a 16 year old beautiful flea bitten grey quarter horse mare. She has a very sweet personality and loves to stand to be groomed. She is good for the vet and Farrier and great with other horses.…

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Jaks is a 10 year old appendix gelding who was owned by a kill buyer and about to ship to slaughter and we pulled him. He has been with us since August 2016. He was very underweight when he came to us…

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Ferdinand is a thoroughbred gelding and arrived at DER in August of 2016 as a four year old. He had been raced several times and won a couple of races. When he stopped running as fast, he found himsel…

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Barney was one of four neglected stallions who arrived with us in March of 2016. They were a local owner surrender and very feral. We had them gelded right away and trimmed their feet long feet while …

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We rescued Fred along with three other mini’s from a local neglect situation in 2016. All four were stallions and had foundered. Their hooves were very long and they were very afraid of people d…

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Manning was rescued when he was 6 years old from shipped to slaughter back in December 2015.  He was very sick with pneumonia and very underweight when he arrived at DER. But after a few visits from …

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Jack (shown right) and his mother Ruby were rescued in the spring with the help of Spring Hill Horse Rescue. They were full and asked if we had room to take them. They were trapped inside an old campe…

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Duke (left) and Daisy
Duke (left) was rescued along with his sister Daisy. The photo taken at his rescue (below) was taken in the spring of 2012. You can see how skinny he was by the bones on his face, even showing through…

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Daisy Success Story
Daisy (left) first came to us with her brother Duke from a neglect case in the spring of 2012. The “after” photo was taken about 6 months later (August 2012). She has come such a long way! She was…

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Bella in her new home
Bella was rescued in the early Summer of 2015 because she was owned by a kill buyer and was scheduled for slaughter.  Ten years old at the time of rescue, Bella was adopted in the fall and is doing…

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Ollie Success Story
Ollie was rescued in the early Summer of 2015 because he was owned by a kill buyer and was scheduled for slaughter.  Three years old at the time of rescue, Ollie was adopted in the fall and is doing …

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Sarge - Success Story
Sarge came to us in August 2014 from an auction in New York where he was bound for slaughter. He came to us very scared, due to him not having his full sight. After he was examined by the vet we learn…

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Coco Success Story
Coco was rescued in June of 2014 from a known kill-buyer in PA.  He is an 18 year old pony with a wonderfully sweet personality. He was adopted by a wonderful family in CT and is now called Spirit an…

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Walter in new home
March 2015 Update – Walter (above left) found his new forever home in Massachusetts where he lives with his new equine friend Ace! It was very hard to say goodbye but we know his new owner Rebecca…

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Champ came to DER in 2014 as a ten year old when we rescued him from slaughter. He was adopted into a perfect home in NH in 2017 where he lives with his two horse buddies.  

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Lorelei Success Story
Lorelei came to us in June, 2014 from a known kill buyer in PA. She was very underweight, was missing a lot of hair, and was having trouble eating (pocketing her food in her cheeks). After a full vet…

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Rain was rescued in August of 2015 at an auction where we outbid a “kill buyer” for her to prevent her from shipping to Canada for slaughter. She was only at our rescue for four short mont…

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Pike and his friend Violet were rescued soon after they both lost their mothers due to severe neglect. Violet was just two months old and very scared. Pike, being just a few months older, looked after…

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We rescued Violet in August of 2014 when she was two months old from a local cruelty case. She tragically lost her mother due to severe neglect. She was at The Dorset Equine Rescue for two years and h…

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Lady has been with us for a couple of years and we are very excited that she was finally been adopted in the spring of 2018. Her best buddy Montauk is also getting adopted along with her. We couldn’…

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Ireland came to us in the Spring of 2015 when she was three years old. She was in a kill pen and in danger of shipping to slaughter. Ireland was very ill when she came to us and clearly had an extreme…

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We outbid a kill buyer for Dixie in the summer of 2015 so she wouldn’t ship to slaughter. When we’re at an auction trying to decide which horses to save, it can be a very tough decision wh…

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Buttercup is a sweet and beautiful 15-year-old buckskin mare who we purchased in August of 2015 from a known kill buyer. She was literally standing on a scale getting weighed after the auction, about …

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Nash with Lorelei
Nash came to the rescue in June of 2014 after he was seized by animal control due to neglect and severe malnutrition.  He was about 400 pounds underweight and we are still working to increase his wei…

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Ruby and her foal Jack were rescued in the spring with the help of Spring Hill Horse Rescue. They were kept in a pop-up camper for nearly 6 months, completely neglected. Jack was just a new born when …

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Morgan was rescued from shipping to slaughter from NY in the fall of 2014. She’s was adopted in the summer of 2016 and lives with her new mom in southern VT.

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Adoption Requirements

Thank you for your interest in adopting a rescue horse from DER! Our goal is to find our available horses a loving, safe and compatible home.

  • Since all adoptions require a farm visit, we only adopt out within a three-hour radius from Dorset, VT. Please do a map check from your property to Dorset, VT to see if you are within that range. This range is a little flexible, but not by much.
  • You must be at least 18 years old to adopt a horse. If you are under 18, your parent will need to sign the adoption contract and they will be legally responsible for the horse.
  • Each adopted horse must have an equine companion at their new home to be turned out with. Horses are herd animals and are happiest with a buddy.
  • The horse must have 24/7 access to a barn, or a three-sided run-in shed to block the prevailing winds and protect them from the weather. The shelter must be large enough to house all the animals in the turn out area in bad weather.
  • The horse must always have access to a clean water trough that is heated in the winter.
  • You must have safe and sturdy fencing. Some examples of fencing we will not approve is barbed wire fencing or fiberglass fence posts. T-posts are acceptable but must have plastic caps. Plastic step-in fence posts are not tall enough or sturdy enough to be used on their own. Livestock fencing that has 2”x 4” holes is ok. Anything with larger holes is not safe as they can get their legs or feet caught in them. Some of our favorite fencing includes (but is not limited to) wood fence posts with 3-5 wooden rails, or ElectroBraid fencing with wooden posts.
  • The adopter must be physically able to handle the adopted horse for their basic care (must be able to safely catch, halter, lead the horse and pick up all four feet).
  • You must have horse experience. We generally do not adopt out to first time horse owners UNLESS they are boarding the horse at a full-care boarding facility, are working closely with a trainer and are receiving regular lessons. This is for the safety of the horse and the adopter. You don’t have to board your horse forever, but it is always a good idea until you are very familiar with basic horse care and become a more confident horse handler and/or rider. 
  • The adopted horse must reside within 40 miles of adopter’s home.
  • We require the adopted horse stay up to date on these basic vaccines: Eastern/Western Encephalitis, Tetanus, Rabies, Influenza and Rhino.
  • Our adopted horses leave with a strict NO BREEDING policy. Why? Because there is a large overpopulation of horses and overbreeding is a major cause of horse slaughter.
  • If you have ever been convicted of any type of animal cruelty related charges, you are not eligible to adopt.
  • You must have a veterinarian and farrier that will vouch for you. Please include their contact information in your adoption application.
  • We require that the adopted horse stays up to date with regular feet trimming (6-10 weeks depending on the time of year), deworming (minimum of 4 times per year), and annual dental care.
  • The adopted horse must have a minimum of 8 hours of turn out time daily.
  • The minimum turnout requirement for two full size horses is 1/2 acre. For each additional horse, the minimum space requirement will increase by an additional 1/8 acre per horse. Miniature horses and small ponies require less space. The minimum turnout requirement for two mini horses is 5,000 square feet. For each additional mini, the minimum space requirement will increase by 500 square feet per mini. You must have a dry lot (no grass) available to put the minis in as needed. Too much grass can cause health issues in minis such as founder, metabolic issues and obesity. Occasionally there are exceptions to the turnout size requirements depending on the specific horse’s needs. A sense of freedom to move is extremely important to a horse’s mental state and we are adamant that all our horses get that daily.

Adoption Process

If you are interested in adopting one of our horses, please download the Adoption Application and submit the completed application to us either by scanning it and sending it back to us in an email, or mailing it to us (all applications are reviewed on a first come first serve basis).

We will then contact you to discuss the horse and you in more detail and any other possible horses that might be an appropriate fit.

We love all of our rescue horses and we are ALL about making a compatible match between horse and adopter. If a horse and adopter sound like a good match, we will schedule a time for you to come and meet the horse. Once a compatible fit is made, we will move forward with the application process and call the references you listed on your application including your veterinarian and farrier (please notify them ahead of time and give them permission to discuss you with us). And lastly, we will schedule to come out to your farm or boarding facility to do a farm visit. Once you are approved, you will be asked to sign our adoption contract. Please note that we have the right to deny your application for any reason. If denied, you will receive a letter in the mail. We realize that our adoption process is very thorough, but this is all for the love of the horses and to protect them from ever falling on hard times again.

Although we strive to make a perfect match, we understand that sometimes things happen that are out of our control. If you are no longer able to care for your adopted horse for ANY reason, you must notify us immediately. We will either assist you in placing the horse in a pre-approved home through our adoption program, or the horse must come back to us. Please note that we have very limited space at our shelter and may not be able to take the horse back until a space opens. Adopted horses are not to be sold, given away or transferred without first going through our adoption process. We reserve the right to visit the adopted horse throughout their life.

Please do not ask for an adoption discount! These adoption fees are a mere drop in the bucket as compared with the expenses we have invested into each horse. Adoption fees go back into our organization to help support our programs and the horses at our rescue. All of our horses come with a current negative coggins, current vaccines, and are current with dental and farrier care.

Please remember, most of the horses that come to us, came from an unknown background. Some have trust issues and are very shy, others may have issues having their feet handled, or issues being handled for the veterinarian. In these cases, we really look for very experienced adopters, because these kinds of issues could be dangerous and some issues could last for years. In general, we find that horses are very forgiving, and learn to trust us and soon get over their fears. Most of our horses will easily become a loveable new member of your family. Thank you for considering a rescue horse and for giving them a second chance. We look forward to working with you!

The Sad Truth

The slaughter of horses is opposed by the vast majority of Americans. Horses are widely perceived as companion animals like cats and dogs, and deserving of humane consideration because of their roles serving Americans as working animals and for sport. Although horse slaughter in the U.S. is currently illegal, our horses are still subjected to intense suffering and abuse through transport and slaughter over our borders to other countries. More than 140,000 horses get shipped from the United States to Mexico and Canada every year.

Most horses bound for slaughter are brought to the slaughterhouses by contract buyers, also known as “kill buyers,” who drive around the country buying horses at auction. USDA statistics show that 92% of all horses sent to slaughter are in “good” condition, meaning they are sound and in good health. 

About 90% of the horsemeat is exported for human consumption overseas. The rest goes to zoos and big animal parks.

Lorelei at rescue
Lorelei at rescue

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