Unwanted horse problem to be analyzed in initial study

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Unwanted Horse CoalitionThe Unwanted Horse Coalition has launched a nationwide survey in its first step to study the problem of unwanted horses.

The American Horse Council-affiliated organization encourages all stakeholders to respond to the online survey, which can be found at survey.ictgroup.com/uhcsurvey/.

Julia Andersen, director of the AHC, said the survey should be available for several months, at least until February. Answers will be confidential, and the feedback will be used in developing a strategy to solve the problem, which is phase II. Answers will be made public.

Despite numerous media reports and anecdotal evidence of a growing problem with unwanted horses, no studies or surveys have been done to document it, said Jay Hickey, president of the council.

The aim of the survey, according to the AHC, is to collect and examine input from horse industry stakeholders, including horse owners, equine associations, veterinarians, breeders, and rescue groups, to better understand the magnitude of the problem.

Few documented facts exist about the accurate number of unwanted horses, their age, sex, breed, recent use, value, or what happens to them in the long run. The AHC says the study on contributing factors surrounding the unwanted horse issue will be instrumental in filling factual gaps with actual data on the following:

  • awareness of the unwanted horse problem and perceived trends in recent years
  • degree of concern
  • factors contributing to the problem
  • direct and indirect experience with the issue
  • actions taken by owners
  • expectations about responsibility and assistance
  • solutions

Currently there are estimates of tens of thousands of unwanted, neglected, and abandoned horses in the United States. Some say that figure continues to grow because of the downturn in the economy, rising costs of hay, drought in many parts of the United States, the costs of euthanasia and carcass disposal, and the closing of the nation's slaughterplants.

The AVMA has a comprehensive list of articles related to unwanted horses under the Issues section.