Managing Unwanted Horses in Maryland

Maryland has an opportunity to lead the nation in the management of unwanted horses. The Maryland Horse Council is the only state or national horse council to come out to support the ban on transport of horses for slaughter to other countries. (Domestic slaughter is already prohibited.) If this is Maryland’s position we must address the issue of what to do with unwanted horses. None of us want to see horses shipped long distances without oversight but it is undeniable that there are horses that have no one willing or able to care for them.  The Maryland Fund for Horses is working to create a mechanism for a best-case outcome. In some cases, the owners are going through a temporary rough patch and financial assistance can allow their owners to keep them. Some of these horses can be re-purposed but the owners have no idea as to the available options. For some euthanasia is the best choice. The concept is to have a paid staff member who will be a resource for anyone who has a horse which is unwanted or who is unable financially to provide care.  This person would do farm visits to assess the horse and situation.  If the horse can be maintained in place with some short term assistance that is the best outcome.  If the horse can be re-homed and re-purposed then it will be redirected to the most appropriate rescue with available space.  If the horse cannot be placed, then euthanasia at the home farm is the most humane alternative. The Fund for Horses is making an application for a foundation grant as seed money for this effort.  If it is to succeed there will have to be an ongoing revenue stream.  We as horse owners spend a lot on our horses. If a small (1%) surcharge was added to the price of purchasing a horse, entry fees, training, boarding, tack, and veterinary care, there would be enough to fund this program and perhaps expand it to a dedicated surrender facility. 

This is not about whether we subsidize other people’s poor choices or bad luck, this is about the welfare of horses in our community and avoiding the option of horses being transported long distances under poor conditions for eventual slaughter.

Stay tuned for updates on this effort.

Let me clarify the above post a little.  The comments about funding are mine and do not reflect the official position of the Maryland Fund for Horses, the Maryland Horse Council or Damascus Equine Associates.  If this effort is pursued, it will cost money. That money has to come from somewhere and the greater horse community is the logical place to start. Perhaps surcharge was a poor choice of words or should have been modified by "voluntary".   My point was that if we dedicated a very small percentage of the money spent on horses and horse sport we could reduce the number of horses shipped from Maryland to Mexico or Canada for slaughter.

Peter Radue