Unwanted horses find advocacy home

Unwanted horses find advocacy home

Aug 01, 2006
By dvm360.com staff

WASHINGTON — The Unwanted Horse Coalition is being folded into the American Horse Council (AHC).

"The issue of unwanted horses has faced this industry for some time," says AHC Chairman Nick Nicholson, president of Keeneland Association. "It is an important and challenging national issue that faces all breeds and all activities in the horse world. Putting this initiative under the umbrella of the AHC, which represents all segments of the horse industry, is a natural fit."

The mission of the Unwanted Horse Coalition is to explore ways to reduce the number of horses that are unwanted each year and to improve their welfare through education and the efforts of organizations committed to the health, safety and responsible care of the horse. Owner education will be a focal point.

The coalition grew out of a workshop that the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) organized as part of the 2005 AHC National Issues Forum in Washington. That meeting, and a subsequent summit in Chicago five months later, drew together equine and welfare organizations to begin discussions about the tens of thousands of unwanted horses and those sent to slaughter facilities.

During the last 18 months, the group developed a mission statement, began identifying long-term solutions for improving the quality of life for unwanted horses, and considered an operating plan that ultimately led to the suggestion that the AHC provide a permanent administrative home for the group's work.

"The need for a more formal structure, funding and staff to accomplish the coalition's mission prompted many of the members of the coalition to suggest that it be affiliated with the AHC," explains Dr. Tom Lenz, a past president of the AAEP. "Many of these associations already have a relationship with the Horse Council and feel comfortable in getting the council more involved."

Members include AAEP, American Quarter Horse Association, National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Professional Rodeo Stock Contractors, The Jockey Club and the U.S. Trotting Association.

The coalition will be hiring a staff person to run the day-to-day activities of the coalition and a Web site will be launched in the near future to provide horse owners with resources about caring for horses and finding new homes for them.