Summit Charts Course for Unwanted Horses

More than 25 equine-industry organizations and one U.S. congressman participated in the nation's first Unwanted Horse Summit on 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 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 was prepared by the meeting's professional facilitator will be released soon by the AAEP.

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 cannot be solved by any one segment of the industry," he said. "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. Participants in the April 19 Summit represented breed groups, sport and discipline organizations, rescue and retirement facilities, veterinary associations, and welfare groups. To see a list of participants, visit

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