Finding Homes for Horses at Equine Affaire

May 3, 2024

Woman with horse
Equine Affaire owners, Coagi and Chad, adopted Cookie and Abrilla.

As the doors opened to Equine Affaire on April 11, 2024, thousands of horse-lovers streamed through the gates toward their favorite activity. Many attendees went straight for the shopping, while some claimed front-row seats at one of the many demonstrations. Others hurried towards the Gilligan Complex to meet the 32 fabulous, adoptable horses waiting for homes at the Adoption Affaire.

From April 11-14, the ASPCA Right Horse program hosted eight Adoption Partner organizations in Columbus, Ohio, for the largest equine-adoption event in the country. We sponsored stalls and promoted the event within Equine Affaire, with the goal of finding loving homes for the available horses and showcasing equine adoption.

As the dust settled after a busy weekend, 28 of the 32 attending horses had found wonderful homes and the remainder left with pending adoption interest. On Sunday, the aisle was filled with orange “adopted” signs on the stalls and the barn was busy as horses stepped into trailers to head to their new homes.

A Three-Peat

Group of people with horse
Brianne, Hunter and Toledo joined the ASPCA Right Horse and Happy Trail teams for a celebratory photo.

Brianne adopted her first horse, Tootsie, at Equine Affaire in 2023. Soon after, her husband, Hunter, decided he also wanted a horse of his own and the couple welcomed a second adopted horse from the ASPCA into their family.

This year, Brianne and Hunter returned to Equine Affaire as volunteers. As they helped visitors find their #RightHorse, they both kept feeling drawn to a sweet, older mare named Toledo. Toledo, available for adoption from Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary, had a unique personality that charmed the couple — she was mature, with a workmanlike personality. She didn’t like being fussed over but loved the job of showing young riders the ropes of horse ownership.

By the end of the second day, all the horses around Toledo had been adopted but Toledo hadn’t yet found her home. Brianne had started wondering if Toledo would be a good fit for her growing family; she is preparing to welcome their first child and already thinking of nurturing a love for horses. She started talking to Hunter about the possibility and the details of transporting Toledo to their home in Tennessee.

Woman kissing horse
Toledo now lives in Tennessee with Brianne's two other adopted horses.

Before they could figure out the details, Brianne was filled with mixed emotions to learn Toledo had been adopted. As Toledo walked out of the stall for a celebratory photo with her new family, Brianne prepared to congratulate the lucky adopters, happy for this special horse to have found a home with others — but burst into happy tears when she learned that Hunter had secretly completed the adoption and staged a surprise for his wife. Happy smiles were shared by the family and onlookers, and Toledo seemed to understand that she had an important job ahead with the upcoming arrival of her new rider.

The Perfect Pony

Girl with pony
Noelle instantly connected with her young new adopter, Harper.

Similar to Toledo, West Virginia Horse Network’s 30-year-old adoptable pony, Noelle, had a strong preference about what type of home she wanted: She was standoffish to adults, but adored children. She’d even shown the ropes of in-hand obstacle work to several youth rescue volunteers at a recent horse show.

Harper and her family had been looking for a pony for several months before coming to Equine Affaire. They’d met several ponies, but Harper had been clear after each test ride that they weren’t the right ponies for her. One was too fast, another too tall. But after meeting Noelle, Harper felt an instant connection with Noelle’s kind personality.

Once the adoption was complete, it was evident to all that Noelle had picked her new family and their affection for each other was both instant and mutual. Noelle couldn’t take her eyes off her young adopter and stayed right by her new friend’s side.

Ribbon for adopted horses
When each horse found a home, the adopter received a special sign and ribbon.

“This is my dream-come-true day,” shared Harper. She plans to do in-hand obstacle courses with Noelle and was especially excited about taking Noelle over some poles on the ground, sharing, “I am looking forward to jumping with her and leading her around.”

Connecting Good People to Good Horses

Saddle with Adopt Me sign
Adoptable horses wore branded saddle pads and blankets around the event to engage passersby and bring awareness to adoption.

The Adoption Affaire at Equine Affaire powerfully connects available horses with potential homes. Beyond that, it brings needed visibility and awareness to equine adoption. Many attendees had never considered adopting a horse before and were surprised and delighted to meet the wonderful horses looking for homes.

Adoption of horses is not yet as popular as it is for dogs and cats, and events like the Adoption Affaire play an important role in opening minds and homes for adoptable horses. Twenty-eight horses were adopted in Columbus, but countless more will benefit from the exposure and excitement generated by the event.

Inspired to adopt? Plan your trip to Equine Affaire in Springfield, Massachusetts, in November 2024, or visit to browse hundreds of adoptable horses today.