Study Suggests 1.2 Million Homes Available In U. S. For Unwanted Horses

by | 09.11.2017 | 1:08pm

A survey recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Animals suggests that there could be an estimated 1.2 million potential homes for unwanted horses throughout the United States.

Orchestrated by a team from the American Society for the Prevention and Cruelty to Animals and headed up by animal behaviorist Dr. Emily Weiss, the survey set out to estimate the potential homes available for the estimated 200,000 horses that are sent to slaughter, placed in rescue facilities or kept on federal land each year.

According to the findings of the survey, which was conducted via telephone, there are approximately 1.2 potential homes that have both the desire to house an unwanted horse and the resources to properly care for it.

These estimates for potential homes for unwanted horses were gleaned from a sample of 3036 adults over the age of 18 who were asked interview questions about their interest and capability to care for an adopted horse. Of the 3,036 adults interviewed, 17 percent were deemed the “horse-interested population,” which was defined as someone who currently owns a horse or who has owned a horse in the past five years or interested in owning a horse in the near future. Of the “horse-interested individuals,” 5.6 percent were classified as potential adopters.

“This study points to opportunities and need to increase communication and support between individuals and organizations that have unwanted horses to facilitate re-homing with people in their community willing to adopt them,” the article stated.

While the numbers vary widely depending on the source, it is estimated that there are 9.2 million “unwanted horses” in the U. S. The Unwanted Horse Coalition defines an unwanted horse as “horses no longer wanted by their current owner because they are old, injured, sick, unmanageable, fail to meet their owner's expectations or their owner can no longer afford them.”

According to the research team, horses that were relinquished most often were Thoroughbreds (22 percent) and Quarter Horses (19 percent).

The research team noted that the demographics of horses shipped to slaughter between 2002 and 2005 closely reflected the demographics of the U. S. horse population. Therefore, creating better ways to facilitate existing horse owners in re-homing their horses could impact the numbers of horses going to slaughter.

According to the 2015 U. S. census, the U. S. has a population of 321,418,820 and approximately 135 million households. When the demographics of the sample group are applied to these numbers, it is estimated that 2.28 million people would have interest in obtaining a horse and perceive they have the resources to adequately care for it.

Read more at HorseTalk New Zealand

  • Minneola

    “…need to increase communication and support between individuals and
    organizations that have unwanted horses to facilitate re-homing with
    people in their community willing to adopt them…” That does seem to be the one thing that is needed more than anything else. What I, also, have found perplexing is the lack of interest by some trainers or owners in communicating with those who might be interested in being on a list of those who would want to be contacted if a horse is no longer able to race and in need of a home. While I did have one trainer that did keep in contact with me, when that horse was claimed, the new trainer would not even acknowledge my phone calls, letters, etc. Who knows where that filly ended up?! Hopefully, somewhere that kept her alive and in a good spot. But, why not keep up communication with those that are willing and wanting to help out? How hard is that? How much time to send out a quick email to thank someone and acknowledge the offer? Also, couldn’t tracks be involved in this? If a horse is in need of a new home, can’t the tracks have a link on their website to connect the owner or trainer with that person interested in taking over the ownership of the horse?

    • Blue Larkspur

      You have the right idea, but be aware that unscrupulous jerks tell trainers they will place their horse in a “good home” and the trainer has to explain to the former owner why his horse is entered at Podunk Downs three weeks later. Even the TAA, and their “accreditation” of rescues can be dicey.

  • I find that extremely hard to believe. If people already have a horse or horses it doesn’t mean they will or can take in another one. Also if asked an emotionally loaded question such as would you take in an unwanted horse or a retired racehorse, people are likely to say yes, but that is not a realistic answer. Each year over 2 million shelter animals are put to sleep. there are many more people who can take in a dog or cat than can take in a horse. And yet there are not enough homes for them. I talk to a lot of people, and yes, they feel bad about horses going to slaughter or being neglected and starving. These are people who have the facilities to take in another horse – but they don’t. To answer the possible questions asked in the survey, with a “no, I don’t want to take in a horse” is not how people want to be thought of, so they will say yes. Doesn’t mean they ever would, or even could.

    • Blue Larkspur

      And how many have shifting economic conditions?

  • Caroline

    So, a total of 29 people in their sample of 3036 satisfied the authors’ criteria for potential adopters, yet 12 of those had never owned a horse before. I wonder, have the authors ever tried placing a mustang or a track trained only Thoroughbred with a first time horse owner? Other comments note one of the inherent dangers of empirical work based on survey responses – there are incentives of respondents to misrepresent preferences and resources – and I’d need more details on the sampling strategy of the private firm hired to conduct the survey to comment on representation.

    But mostly, I cannot tell you how grating this sentence is to those of us actually running “horse organizations” who have tried for years, and continue to try every day and week, to place “unwanted” horses in good homes:

    “It is possible that horse organizations have not embraced the importance of finding new homes as an important part of allowing them to save more horses.”

    Are you KIDDING me?

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