Summit Charts Historic Course for Unwanted Horses

More than 25 equine-industry organizations and one U.S. congressman participated in the nation's first-ever Unwanted Horse Summit on Tuesday, April 19, in Washington, D.C. Hosted by the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), the Summit served as a catalyst for identifying long-term solutions designed to improve the quality of life of unwanted horses.

"While participants came to the table with divergent views on many as aspects of the issue, they were able to reach a remarkable degree of consensus," said Scott E. Palmer, VMD, 2005 AAEP president. "Everyone focused on the welfare of the horse."

Discussion surrounded the factors that contribute to unwanted horses as well as the approaches to addressing the problem. Summit participants recommended as the next step the formation of a national steering committee dedicated to addressing issues affecting unwanted horses. Working groups to tackle specific areas, such as horse owner education, also will be developed as part of this effort. A summary report of the Summit's discussions that were prepared by the meeting's professional facilitator will be released by the AAEP by the end of April.

Summit participants expressed their desire to remain committed to the process and the AAEP will help facilitate the group's future work on the issue, said Palmer. "The unwanted horse problem can not be solved by any one segment of the industry. The goal is to get as many people and organizations involved as possible."

In addition, an educational session held as part of the American Horse Council's annual meeting preceded the Summit and provided an overview of issues affecting the unwanted horse population. Each presentation is available in the press room of the AAEP's web site,

Participants in the April 19 Summit represented breed groups, sport and discipline organizations, rescue and retirement facilities, veterinary associations, and welfare groups. In addition to the AAEP, the following groups and individuals participated:

  • American Horse Protection Association
  • American Paint Horse Association
  • American Quarter Horse Association
  • American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
  • American Veterinary Medical Association
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Carriage Operators of North America
  • Day's End Farm Horse Rescue
  • Hooved Animal Humane Society
  • Pennell Hopkins (Humane Officer) - Pennsylvania SPCA Humane Society of the United States
  • Daniel Manzanares (Executive Director) - New Mexico Livestock Board National H.B.P.A.
  • North American Equine Ranching Information Council
  • North American Riding for the Handicapped Association
  • Oak Tree Racing Association
  • Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association
  • Standardbred Retirement Foundation
  • State Horse Council Advisory Committee
  • The Jockey Club
  • Thoroughbred Charities of America
  • United States Department of Agriculture
  • United States Equestrian Federation, Inc.
  • United States Trotting Association
  • Congressman Ed Whitfield (KY - 1st District)
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