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Help Unwanted Horses

Equestrians are being asked to complete an online survey regarding the problem of unwanted horses.

18-Nov-08

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Neglected horseYour input on the problem of unwanted horses is needed. The issue of unwanted horses is being studied through a nationwide initiative of the Unwanted Horse Coalition (UHC) with help from equine associations, veterinarians, breeders, state and local law enforcement, horse owners, rescue/retirement facilities, and other facilities using horses. The first step is an online survey—and everyone with an interest in the welfare of horses is encouraged to respond at http://survey.ictgroup.com/uhcsurvey/. (Please note: as of February 9, 2009 the survey is closed and no longer available.)

With tens of thousands of unwanted, neglected and abandoned horses in the United States, some say the problem is a fast-growing epidemic. However, much remains unknown. Currently, there are few documented facts about the accurate number of unwanted horses, their age, sex, breed, recent use, value or what happens to them in the long run.

“Although there are numerous media reports and much anecdotal evidence of a growing problem with unwanted horses, there have been no studies or surveys done to attempt to document it,” says Jay Hickey, president of the American Horse Council (AHC), the national association that represents all segments of the horse industry in Washington, D.C. The UHC operates with the AHC. “The downturn in the economy, rising costs of hay, the drought that has affected many parts of the United States, the costs of euthanasia and carcass disposal, and the closing of the nation’s slaughter facilities have all made the problem worse. But no one knows its magnitude. That’s why the first step toward a solution is to gather and examine the facts. The goal of this survey is to get the input, observations, opinions and suggestions from anyone and everyone involved with horses.”

The Study on Contributing Factors Surrounding the Unwanted Horse Issue will be instrumental in filling factual gaps with actual data on:

 • Awareness of the unwanted horse problem and perceived trends in recent years
 • Level of concern
 • Factors contributing to the problem
 • Direct and in-direct experience with the issue
 • Actions taken by owners
 • Expectations about responsibility and assistance
 • Solutions

Phase I of the study is an online survey of people most affected by and involved with the issue of the unwanted horse. An independent research firm developed the questionnaire and is hosting the online survey site. The firm will also tabulate and analyze responses, and provide a full report.

A comprehensive view of the problem depends on representation from all corners of the horse industry, according to Dr. Tom Lenz, chairman of the UHC. “To ensure the broadest possible participation, we’re working to involve a variety of individuals, associations, state and local agencies, and equine-related companies to actively encourage their constituencies to take the survey and voice their opinions.”

The American Association of Equine Practitioners defines the term “unwanted horse” as, “Horses which are no longer wanted by their current owner because they are old, injured, sick, unmanageable, fail to meet their owner’s expectations, or the owner can no longer afford or is incapable of caring for them.” This definition, according to Lenz, is a starting point to discover what’s causing the problem and what can be done to correct it.

“Regardless of how horses reached this state, every owner—and the equine industry at large—has a responsibility to ensure that everything possible is done to guarantee the humane care and treatment of unwanted horses,” Lenz says. “Our message now is to please go to http://survey.ictgroup.com/uhcsurvey/, and provide us with feedback. Answers will be confidential. More important, this feedback will be invaluable in developing a strategy to solve the problem.”

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Reader Comments

Jessica    Verona, MO

2/20/2010 10:42:31 AM

I am interested in helping unwanted horses!! if there is any in missouri email me northtownclown417@yahoo.com!! will provide a wonderful home. I am very experienced with horses, we have one and looking for another.

kathy    Braggs, OK

9/20/2009 9:16:45 AM

my name is kathy i have rescued 2 horses my self one i paid 200.00 for she was so sick and so skinny,i was raised on a horse ranch when i was younger.i have a good working knowledge about horses. she the filly i bought i so beautful now she was 6mo,old when i bought her she is now 17 mo,old. i am looking for another 6to8mo old filly to keep.can any one help me out with another young filly?

Katie    Clarington, OH

7/11/2009 5:37:00 AM

Interesting!

Shawna    Las Cruces, NM

6/23/2009 8:47:03 AM

My husband and I went to find a young horse for my daughter and we ended up with a 8 year old gelding that "picked us". I have searched some of these rescue groups and found that they require home visits and want the pipe fencing and things of that sort. We own 5 acres that is fenced in straight wire and none of my horses are mistreated at all. They are used for Gymkhana, hunting, general pleasure and things like that. According to the rules that I have read we would not qualify under their rules. That also leads these places to be over run. We have decided to go back and to try and rescue a few more from that fate. We are not a rich couple but do provide a nice home.

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