Unwanted Horse

Undesirable horses

Unwanted horses" are a subgroup of horses within the local horse population. There is a growing problem in the United States with "unwanted" horses that their owners no longer want for various reasons. An unwanted horse is one of the most important welfare problems in the US horse industry.


It is our aim to inform current and future horse owner, breeder, seller and horse organisations about the long-term responsibility of the ownership and care of the horse and to concentrate on the possibilities for these same. UHC emerged from the Undesired Horse Summit organised by the Association of Equine Practitioners in association with the April 2005 April 2005 event of the USHC.

It was convened to gather the main players to begin a dialog on the hardship of the unwanted horse in America. The UHC joined the 501 (c)(3) charitable organization, the American Horse Council Foundation, in 2015.

Unwanted horse and horse slaughter

Unwanted horses" are a subgroup of the local horse populations. This can be in the form of sound ponies that can no longer keep or give food to their holders; ponies that are hazardous to handling and have hurt (or may hurt) humans; ponies with an injurious, lame or ill condition for which their holders are not willing to take good-care, or ponies that are no longer able to do as their holders wish, whether for races, leisure or other purposes.

Many of these animals had several proprietors, were transported from place to place and finally refused for any kind of responsibility and long-term upkeep. In the horse business there will always be unwanted animals. When you think about it, whenever a horse is on sale, the salesman no longer wanted the horse.

When the horse is successfully put on the market, it is no longer undesirable, but if it is not put on the market, it will remain undesirable. The last US facility for horse slaughters was shut down in 2007. Previously, many unwanted animals were probably sent to the United States for butchering, with a smaller number saved, rehabilitation, euthanasia or discarded through renders ing, funerals, landfilling or composted.

More and more ponies have been exporting to Canada and Mexico for slaughtering since 2007. From 1992 to 2007, about 1 to 2% (75,000 to 150,000 horses) of the native horse populations in the United States were sent for slaughtering each year. A further 10,000 to 20,000 were sent to Canada for abattoir and an undisclosed number to Mexico (6,500 in 2005, 12,000 in 2006 and 45,000 in 2007).

The USDA Economic Research Service's Foreign Agricultural Trade of the United States (FATUS) Export Aggregations reports that nearly 150,000 equidae were sold to Canada and Mexico in 2008 and slightly less in 2009 and 2010. Slightly more than 1% of the local horse populations were sent for slaughtering in 1997 (approx. 72,000 horses).

According to the 1998 NAHMS report, by contrast, 1. 3% of the six-month to 20-year-old dying horse (approx. 80,500 horses) either passed away or were put to sleep in 1997 in all the farms examined, while 11. 3% of the young horse was put to sleep. 1 per cent of the ponies 20 years of age and older (approx. 55,000 horses) either die or are put to sleep in the same year.

Suppose these figures are somewhat indicative of what happens each year, then almost 100 either or 50 slaughtered animals will be killed or put to sleep, and at least 200,000 horse corpses will have to be discarded each year. Before 2007, one third was prepared for food processing, the rest was incinerated, burried, ingested, dumped or melted out.

Combining the number of unwanted ponies with the more than 30,000 unacceptable wild ponies kept by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in private reserves, plus the 7,000 to 8,000 ponies kept in short-term housing establishments of the BML that are expecting their acceptance (temporarily unwanted), plus an unfamiliar but considerable number of ponies that wait in emergency and pension institutions for a new owners, it is easy to see that the number of really and/or potentially unwanted ponies is a considerable number.

Horse charities, breeding-specific organisations and a large number of sympathetic supporters and horse proprietors have worked conscientiously and concertedly to ensure either the supply of unwanted animals, the financing of their maintenance or the search for appropriate accommodation for them in both the domestic and state sectors. This, together with major campaigns to keep the general population informed of the hardship of the unwanted horse, fewer slaughterhouses in the United States, changes to the IRS taxation law and a relatively high level of horse buying by potential purchasers, have probably resulted in a decline in the number of animals sent for butchering over the last 5 to 10 years.

Load-bearing capacities for senior citizens' or emergency farming enterprises and protected areas are not yet known, but the 2009 Unwanted Horse Coalition poll showed that 39% of the SARs had the highest capacities and another 30% were almost fully utilized at that point in year. 38% of the animals taken to them are rejected on them.

In spite of the gallant attempts of these organisations to look after many equidae, the number of unwanted animals far surpasses the currently available statistical resource. Unfortunately, well-intentioned voluntary workers can sometimes be overloaded to the disadvantage of the horse they work with. Not enough volunteer, financial or placing capacity is available for all unwanted horse owners, and since the last US slaughterhouse where horse owners are housed has been closed, the strain has soared.

What are there so many unwanted horse? Are there, as some say, an excess supply of horse in the United States today? Were there an even greater surplus of horse supplies when 200 to 300,000 animals were sent for butchering each year in the early 1990s? To a large extent, the horse and rider industries depend on the purchase and sale of horse products.

The horse industy would not have existed without the demands of purchasers and the offers of vendors. Overall total horse consumption in the last 5 to 10 years has been very good. However, this level of appetite occurs in cyclical patterns that often reflect other cyclical tendencies. Generally speaking, when the horse market is low, the number of unwanted animals rises, regardless of their blood lines and qualities.

Latest changes in the regulations of various stud organisations, such as the authorisation of the use of egg transfers and freeze sperm, have favoured the stud farming of equidae, enabled the stud farmers to make more than one progeny per year from broodmare, and enabled a more effective choice for those animals with desired lines or proof of achievement. Unfortunately, not every time a horse is mated it is produced that corresponds to the purchaser's expectation.

To those engaged in horse rearing, an unsold horse becomes a commitment rather than an investment. According to the authors, there is currently a shortage of information on the demographic development of unwanted equidae. The United States Department of Agriculture has reported that battle stock mainly follows the demographic evolution of the horse populations in general (i.e. almost the same number of broodmares and geldings, mainly Quarter Horse, followed by the other races classified in order of their comparative numbers in the general horse population).

If a more comprehensive analysis of the demographic development of undesirable equidae were to be carried out, it would show the horse sector where it needs to concentrate its resources. Former racers, for example, are often picked out as unwanted horse cases when their career comes to an end and they are not eligible for stud or other sporting activities.

There are, however, undocumented estimations indicating that less than 10% of equidae coming for killing are thoroughbred workhorses. So, how many of the more than 100,000 stallions that went to Canada and Mexico for butchering last year were former racing ponies? How high are the mean ages and gender of these unwanted animals?

What was the point of not wanting them? Is it pure-bred horse or first-class horse? If we are to be able to understand the cause of the problems and work towards a reduction in the number of unwanted horse, we need to know the answer to these and other theories. Recently, two major nationwide polls of horse ownership, coaches, vets, life support workers and the general community carried out by the US Horse Council indicate that the undesirable horse issue has become dramatic in the last three years.

Most of the reasons for the owner's renunciation of the horse are the economics and their incapacity to pay for the maintenance of theirs. In addition, there was the shutdown of the US horse handling plants, the high costs for eluthanasia and waste management as well as non-discriminatory rearing. A more worrying observation of interviewees on these polls is that the number of exposed and disregarded or ill-treated horse has significantly risen.

Horse carelessness is taking many shapes and is due to a multitude of different reasons. Might the upturn in carelessness be due simply to an increase in the number of ill-informed horse lovers who are not familiar with the correct way to look after a horse, or could it be due simply to commercial pressures caused by the slowdown in the market?

Might this be due to the absence of affordability of responsible means for the safe and responsible management of unwanted horse waste arising from rules banning the funeral of dead animals in some places; the cost of spent animals for incineration, indigestion or destruction; and the closing of abattoirs that process horse for food?

These are all undesirable effects that have to be taken into account with such a large number of unwanted animals. How can we make sure that the horse is dignified and humane until the end of its life? Ongoing attempts are being made by some horse -policy groups to convince Congress to adopt laws banning the killing of equidae for humans in the United States and the exporting of equidae for this use.

However, despite all these legal activities, there was no suggestion that the 70,000 to 80,000 horse that would otherwise be sent for abattoir would be cared for. When slaughtering or transport/export to be slaughtered is forbidden, what will be done with these animals? But will the owner, who does not want these horse, experience a sudden sensory shift?

Is it not our responsibility, if there is a ban on slaughtering, to make sure that there is an adequate infrastructural framework to safeguard the well-being of these unwanted animals? Very unlikely, if slaughtering is prohibited, the issue will just disappear. In 2004, the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), with the support of an undesirable horse in Washington, DC, launched a discussion on the emergency situation of the undesirable horse.

The Unwanted Horse Coalition, consisting of vets, horse industries and wildlife conservation organisations, was established following the Summit to inform horse lovers how to "act responsibly" and how to find new ways to address the unwanted horse population.

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