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Writing Article on Unwanted Horses

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  • Writing Article on Unwanted Horses

    I'm writing a short article for a high-style Washington DC magazine on unwanted horses.
    Article will be in April issue, keyed to Ky Derby and Madeline Pickens and the mustangs.

    I have two of those "unwanteds" and have read many of the rescue threads on COTH over the years.

    With TBs, there certainly is more focus on the issue and some good things happening (Suffolk Downs, Old Friends, new book about rescue of Skip Away's brother, etc.) Wondering about other types of horses.

    Would love to hear thoughts about a few issues:

    1. What would be the best solutions to reduce/eliminate unwanted horses?

    2. What's planned for Congress in 2009?

    3. For rescues, are you more overwhelmed than ever? What do you need (money, obviously)? Is there enough land for all the horses?

    4. Seems like there are folks (often COTH members) monitoring many of the auctions. Is this increasing? What percentage of horses sold at New Holland end up going to slaughter now? (what number would that average at a typical auction day there?)

    5. Are there more/same number/fewer horses going to slaughter in Canada and Mexico? If more, is there concern this is less humane than had been in U.S.?

    My email is cfdodge@msn.com if that's easier. Or pm or respond here.

    Penny Loeb

  • #2
    Tutt, Sorry that I don't have any answers or info for you, but I wanted to find out the name of the magazine so I can pick it up when the article comes out?
    Katie Ruppel & Yellow Rose Eventing *Website* & *Facebook*
    Email for Questions/Clinics/Sponsorship


    • #3
      You have email.
      Visit us at Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society - www.bluebonnetequine.org

      Want to get involved in rescue or start your own? Check out How to Start a Horse Rescue - www.howtostartarescue.com


      • #4
        Originally posted by Tutt View Post
        2. What's planned for Congress in 2009?

        5. Are there more/same number/fewer horses going to slaughter in Canada and Mexico? If more, is there concern this is less humane than had been in U.S.?
        well, this is the kind of research you'll need to do

        OK, seriously, as for #5, the numbers to Mexico have drastically increased since slaughter stopped in the US. In 2007, iirc, the number of horses sent to Mexico was well over 40,000, as compared to around 11,000 the previous year. I'm not sure where to find stats on Canada, but the USDA keeps a running total of the MX exports on their website.

        here's the most recent one:


        Current YTD total horses going to MX marked for slaughter: 56,059
        Last year at this date: 45,609

        I imagine there was a similar giant increase in 2007 to Canada, and a similar increase over the course of this year as well, but I'm not sure how to get solid data on that (though you might be able to get real numbers from the actual slaughterhouses).

        If you go here there are some reports for Canadian live animal imports, but those look like only weekly totals, and look suspiciously low to me (lots of horses going as "other" and nothing in the slaughter column).

        As for #3, the biggest thing, I think, is money. I'm just a lowly volunteer with CANTER, but know that we can't take a lot of horses that people would like to donate because the money and facilities aren't there. That's several horses per week, not just the odd one here and there. It's kind of disheartening. And from my perspective it seems like interest in adopting is down right now, which puts a further bottleneck into it, because in order to take in horses, we have to move horses out.
        "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

        My CANTER blog.


        • #5
          I sent you an email with excellent contacts.


          • Original Poster

            Thanks everyone!

            It's Capitol File.

            Not much of it's online.

            It's mailed to upper income households in the DC metro area.
            I haven't seen it in stores in western Loudoun, though I would think it's sold closer to DC.

            If anyone wants to see the article, but can't find the magazine, I can mail a copy when it comes out.


            • #7
              You'll have to do some research to see how prevalent this is in other places, but I've always felt like a large part of the problem around here (rural east TX) is that the state only offers an ag exemption for horses if they are part of a breeding program. I see a lot of folks around here keeping sub-standard mares constantly in foal to sub-standard studs because if the land falls out of ag-use, they get hit with back taxes. The local weekly auction runs 60 or so horses, and many, many of them are under a year old, though I've not made an effort to find out if any/how many are bought by kill buyers.

              I don't really know of a solution, but then, I'm not into politics. I hate the idea of the government licensing breeders, and I would hate to see legitimate breeders lose their exemptions.

              I also don't see the property tax issues of (mostly poor) rural Texans being of extreme interest to the upper income households in DC, but I thought I'd throw those 2 cents in anyway.


              • #8
                The American Horse Council has information that you could use for your first couple questions. The Unwanted Horse Coalition surveys people to find information about unwanted and abadoned horses. Tha AHC also monitors legislation in Congress dealing with all aspects of the equine industry. Their headquarters is located in DC, so if that's where you're located, you could go talk to the people in charge of the issues that interest you.



                • #9
                  TV station NBC25 out of Hagerstown, MD had a story this morning about a horse abandoned in town just this week. It wandered around town for a day or so before Animal Control picked it up. The story isn't on their web site yet, so it may take them a while to update it.


                  • #10
                    I see the lack of accessible, inexpensive euthanization and disposal services being a barrier. It is expensive to euthanize and remove a horse, so people abandon them, try to give them away (usually with no success) or neglect them until they die. In some areas, local laws prohibit burying a horse, leaving the owner with yet another problem.

                    As horrible as may sound, a euthanization and removal service might be the answer. Large van comes to farm. One section of van is a comfy, bedded box stall. Back section is a freezer box. Horse goes into stall, vet (or other professional) euthanizes horse, conveyor under stall floor moves horse to freezer. Van drives away to next scheduled stop. When full, van drives to facility that processes dead horses. Something on that scale would still cost the owner, but would be cheaper than individual euth and removal. Right now, I think we are at the same place package delivery was before FedEx. There's lots of room for improvement.
                    It's 2017. Do you know where your old horse is?

                    www.streamhorsetv.com -- website with horse show livestream listings and links.


                    • #11
                      What Archieflies said. Getting RID of that dadgum ag. tax break for breeders would be the best possible thing in the world!!!!!
                      "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by War Admiral View Post
                        What Archieflies said. Getting RID of that dadgum ag. tax break for breeders would be the best possible thing in the world!!!!!
                        My worry is that it could be a double edged sword. Taking away ag tax breaks related to horses can cause a bunch of other problems making it harder to keep horses for everybody.
                        "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

                        My CANTER blog.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by caffeinated View Post
                          My worry is that it could be a double edged sword. Taking away ag tax breaks related to horses can cause a bunch of other problems making it harder to keep horses for everybody.
                          I totally see where you are coming from, but over the last couple years I've come to the conclusion we've reached the point of no return on this one. If breeders will NOT breed responsibly, I just don't think we have any choice.
                          "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief


                          • #14
                            I think this makes the most sense to me.

                            Also the euthanasia and disposal problem is important but honestly it's not any more costly than keeping a horse for another month or two so I feel that burden is used too often as an excuse rather than a real problem. If you can afford to keep a horse, then you can afford to euthanize and dispose of the body. The biggest part of that problem is that people doing it are leaving the business and few are around that do it. I think the local municipality should include it in their service, or whomever removes dead animals from the roads could do it if there is no other option available. If someone has enough land they should be allowed to bury their horse, just have a way of managing it, even if you pay a small permit fee, often posthumously. Or else there would have to be someone available 24/7 to offer the permit, just get a permission to bury permit for that possibility in advance. Sometimes horses die without euthanasia, mine did.

                            Originally posted by War Admiral View Post
                            What Archieflies said. Getting RID of that dadgum ag. tax break for breeders would be the best possible thing in the world!!!!!


                            • #15
                              You are so right!

                              Originally posted by War Admiral View Post
                              I totally see where you are coming from, but over the last couple years I've come to the conclusion we've reached the point of no return on this one. If breeders will NOT breed responsibly, I just don't think we have any choice.


                              • Original Poster

                                Yes. I spoke with the Unwanted Horse Coalition in DC yesterday. They are expecting to release the survey results on the number of unwanted horses in February.


                                • #17
                                  We had several threads on that survey. Many did not feel it was reliable or representative of what they thought. Many refused to even take it. Most who did take it already had preset conclusions that matched the desired results.

                                  I think the best thread on COTH in recent years was a poll about slaughter if its was humane. The anonymous poll was quite different then when you read one of our lengthy battles where only the big mean dogs chose to post.

                                  There are many unwanted horses because providing for them is not a top priority. People get rid of the horses before they get rid of their new cars, big screen TVs and sell everything they own of value.

                                  Not only does supply far outweigh demand, but caring for the horse falls very low on the list of things that are absolute musts. They cant have it all, so they get rid of the horse.

                                  I have been in financial hell for many years. I sold everything of value I owned to care for my horses until his dying day and gave up most other luxuries because I knew he would not find another home. That included no new cars, no DSL, no cable, no eating out, no hair dye or jewelry or retail anything for many years. It meant waiting on tables and working extra hours.

                                  I see these people who say they are far too poor to care for their horses anymore as they stand in front of a new SUV and a house with a satellite dish and cry because they only have $1,000 for new Christmas presents for their kids. No way they go without cable for a year to pay for euthanasia and burial. That's just silly. A good house cleaning and eBay can raise the funds for the proper solution to an unwanted horse. Even a good yard sale or a trip the merchandise auction can if you are willing to part with your non-living luxuries.

                                  I really think most of the large number of excess horses are in places were people know how to shoot and its legal to bury an animal. I just think they do not want to be sad or bothered to do so. I live in such an area. It was not until last month that I saw any Criegslist ads for free horses in a 3 city search.

                                  I see no more starving horses then before--because they were always lots of those--but I do see many cheap horses that are advertised above auction prices. The problem does exist and its getting worse, but its not universal and I think many of problems will self correct when this generation figures out having a horse may mean no cell phone or Ipods or new TVs and they stop breeding horses just because the are soo cuuuttteeeee.


                                  • #18
                                    There are so many reasons a horse ends up "unwanted", it's hard to place the blame in just one place or a particular group of people.

                                    One of the reasons people send a horse off to auction is because they operate a horse business. The animal has pecuniary value, even if that value is per pound. That's not my personal belief, I'm just stating a fact.

                                    If you don't operate a business properly, especially an equine business, the IRS declares you a hobby. I can very well see the IRS not having a problem with a business owner receiving cash for assets, but I can see them having a problem with giving assets away, "re-homing", or performing other acts that are not in keeping with accepted business practices. Not as a regular part of doing business anyway. Accepted business practice is to send horses to auction. Not all auctions are hellholes.

                                    The purpose of having a business it to make a profit. One way to omit horse slaughter as a viable option for business owners is to not punish them for making a more humane decision, which includes euthanasia.

                                    I guess I could join in on the bandwagon and blame the breeders, but I've seen many a horse go through auctions and for every "fugly" out there, there were many more fine horses. I'm only speaking from my experience with auctions in my area. It's a large country and no doubt experiences and perspectives will differ.

                                    If you're looking for a sound bite or a quick and easy read that points the finger at a great satan, no doubt you'll receive plenty of feedback that will make your piece very popular. Personally, I think this is a very complex subject with many causes, and many possible solutions. Not something to be discussed lightly.

                                    If we're honest with ourselves, we'll admit that every horse owner is complicit. We're the ones who insist upon a certain breed, height, color, way of going, pedigree, and we're the ones that sell them or get rid of them when they don't measure up to our expectations, or become unsound or unfashionable. We also suffer devastating losses due to divorce, illness, death, or other circumstances largely beyond our control.

                                    Horses don't come from the cabbage patch, and they certainly don't all end up with a nice retirement, though they all deserve it.

                                    Complex issue, complex solution.

                                    Good luck with your piece.
                                    Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                                    Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                                    -Rudyard Kipling


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Thanks JSwan.
                                      Well said. I'll try to qualify paragraph on reasons by saying they are complicated.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by War Admiral View Post
                                        I totally see where you are coming from, but over the last couple years I've come to the conclusion we've reached the point of no return on this one. If breeders will NOT breed responsibly, I just don't think we have any choice.
                                        And who are you (or anybody else) to say what is "breeding responsibly"?