Unwanted Horse Group Asks Industry to Advocate Responsible Ownership

The Unwanted Horse Coalition (UHC) is asking breed registries, equine organizations, state associations and individual horse owners and service providers to spread the word to "Own Responsibly."

That was the message delivered by Coalition representatives Katy Carter, UHC Coordinator, Sally Baker of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and Kristin Hix of The Jockey Club, at the American Horse Council's (AHC) Fall Issues Forum in early November in Lexington, Kentucky.

The UHC is a broad alliance of equine organizations that have joined together under the American Horse Council to reduce the numbers of unwanted horses and help horse owners understand the various options, services, and help available to them when they are considering what to do with a horse they can no longer care for.

"Spreading the word is the next important step for the Coalition," said Tom Lenz, DVM, UHC chairman. "We have received support from a core group of organizations and individuals and we've put together a comprehensive package of educational materials.

"Until enough organizations and people understand and appreciate their responsibilities to the horses, we will not find an effective solution to the problem of unwanted horses," Lenz said.

At the Issues Forum, the Coalition representatives reviewed the various materials available to equine organizations and individuals. The list includes a brochure, a comprehensive handbook, "Own Responsibly" flyers, filler ads for publications, window decals, and lapel pins. The UHC Web site at www.unwantedhorsecoalition.org includes information on the issue of unwanted horses along with an ever-expanding resource section dedicated to educational materials and news articles.

The UHC brochure, The Problem of the Unwanted Horse, explains the Coalition and its activities. The Coalition handbook, Own Responsibly: Guidance for current and potential horse owners from the Unwanted Horse Coalition, includes chapters on the responsibilities of horse ownership; options for owners with unwanted horses; programs that extend the useful lives of horses, such as retraining, second careers, therapeutic riding programs, and retirement facilities; questions to ask when trying to place a horse; and the tax ramifications of contributing your horses to a charitable organization.

Both pamphlets are available online and can be downloaded. Printed copies of both can also be obtained by calling the AHC at 202/296-4031 or emailing the Coalition through its Web site.

"These materials can be made available at conventions, meetings and new owner seminars, or by veterinarians and other service providers and through articles in magazines and on websites," said Jay Hickey, president of the AHC. "It is up to equine organizations, horse owners and all involved in the industry to use them to spread the word on Owning Responsibly and what it means to the horse industry. We urge organizations and individuals to contact the Unwanted Horse Coalition to find out how they can help these efforts."

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