Owner factors central to unwanted horse issue

July 10, 2009

Three of the top five reasons for no longer wanting a horse relate to the owner, not the horse, a survey has indicated.

The Unwanted Horse Coalition, in an internet survey of 23,000 horse owners in the US, asked respondents to rate 10 reasons through which they believed horses became unwanted.

Economics - or being no longer able to afford to keep a horse - was mentioned by 91% of respondents.

The horse being too old was mentioned in 40% of cases, with horse injury mentioned by 29% of respondents.

However, loss of interest in owning a horse was mentioned in 26% of cases and change in job status in 24% of cases. Finding the horse unmanageable rated a mention by 27% per cent of respondents.

Fifteen per cent suggested a horse not meeting expectations was a factor, and 13% mentioned no longer having time for a horse as a factor.

Seven per cent named divorce as a reason.

The most appealing solutions offered by respondents were:

Solutions viewed as least appealing by respondents included:

On the slaughter issue, 56% of 2245 respondents identified as industry stakeholders felt the closing of slaughter plants was a contributor to the problem. Sixty-one per cent of the 20,484 respondents listed as horse owners felt the same way.

Changes in breed demand and indiscriminate breeding were also cited heavily, with 30% or stakeholders and 37% of horse owners giving it as a major contributor. It was cited by 53% of adoption/rescue facilities as a major factor.

The Unwanted Horse Coalition defines unwanted horses as: "Horses that are no longer wanted by their current owner because they are old, injured, sick unmanageable, fail to meet their owner's expectations, or the owner is no longer able to afford them."