HORSES AT-RISK, OR IN TRANSITION:

From Unwanted to United changing the way we think about horses.

Since its inception in 2006, the United Horse Coalition was created with one goal in mind – to create a neutral coalition and safe setting, in which all organizations within the equine industry,  no matter their background or role, could discuss the plight of what was then known as the “unwanted” horse population.  The coalition was tasked with bringing everyone together to create programs and initiatives to help the “unwanted” horse population, including those at risk for export and potential slaughter.  The mission of UHC continues today, including a recent name change from the “Unwanted Horse Coalition” to the newly branded “United Horse Coalition” –  a better reflection of the need to change the way in which we discuss the equines who need our help the most.

In the age of social media, words can mean everything, and we understand the importance of conveying the right message.  With that in mind, a movement has been started in which the “unwanted” horse has now become the “at-risk” horse, or one in “transition.”

To further define these words:

AT-RISK:

An equine that has an increased possibility of experiencing a situation of neglect, abuse, or general poor welfare.

IN TRANSITION:

Any equine that is currently in transition from one home, vocation, opportunity or owner to the next. Throughout its lifetime, most horses will have multiple homes and owners. Often, these horses find themselves in transition due to no fault of their own, rather as the result of a change in the owner’s circumstances (time, location, finances, need, etc.)

Although these horses are considered at-risk, or at a transitional point in their lives, there are options available to them:

For a variety of reasons, there comes a time in many horse owners’ lives in which they are no longer able, physically, or financially to provide care for their horse. Sometimes the horse is very much wanted, but an owner’s circumstances do not allow them to keep their beloved horse.  Other times, there may come a point in which a horse does not meet the owners expectations.   It is at this juncture that owners may need to make the decision to find other available options for their horse.

*If you find yourself in a situation, in which you want to keep your horse, but need temporary assistance until you can get back on your feet physically or financially, there are various safety net programs available to help. Please visit UHC Safety Net Programs and Resources for more information.

It is important to note, that not all horses at-risk or in transition have suffered from neglect and abuse.  A child may have outgrown his or her pony or moved on to different interests and the parent now has to contend with the monthly care and expenses of a large animal in the backyard or at a boarding facility.  Another scenario is the horse that has been a great working animal throughout the years but is getting older and can no longer perform up to the standards that the rider needs, but may be suitable for another career, or retirement. It is incredibly common for these reasons, that horses change hands frequently throughout their lives.

Horse owners should feel some moral obligation to make sure their horse in transition ends up receiving proper care and treatment. Legally, as a seller, you must share anything important you know about the horse’s behavior and physical condition. If the horse is healthy and of a reasonable age, it is always best to find a suitable new vocation, owner, or home, rather than have to euthanize the horse. On the other hand, if the horse is old and not in good health, or suffering, then the most humane decision may indeed be euthanasia.

In most cases, there are 4 options available to owners: sale, donation/gift, surrendering to a rescue/sanctuary, or euthanasia. The options available to you may be based on the health, soundness, age, training level, and temperament of your horse. Some options have strict criteria for qualification; not every horse is suitable for every job.  Fore more information visit our Resources for Owners section.

Owning Responsibly:

The United Horse Coalition is a broad alliance of equine organizations that have joined together under the American Horse Council to educate the horse industry about the problem of horses at-risk. We seek to provide information for existing and prospective owners, breeders, sellers, and horse organizations regarding the long-term responsibilities of owning and caring for horses, as well as focusing on the opportunities available for these horses.

Our Mission

Through industry collaboration, the UHC promotes education and options for at-risk and transitioning horses.

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