Unwanted Horse Coalition


The mission of the Unwanted Horse Coalition is to reduce the number of unwanted horses and to improve their welfare through education and the efforts of organizations committed to the health, safety, and responsible care and disposition of these horses.

The Unwanted Horse Coalition, a broad alliance of equine organizations that have joined together under the American Horse Council, is concerned that some horses may slip through the various safety nets within the equine industry. Too many owners are unaware of, or do not give enough thought to, the available options, services and assistance available in the industry to help them ensure that their horse has caring and humane support throughout its life.

The Unwanted Horse Coalition will help educate the horse industry about this issue and help people learn to Own Responsibly.

Media Roundup (UHC E-Newsletter) Archives

What Is the Law?

Veterinarians can be challenged by conflicting professional, personal, public and legal standards of what constitutes inhumane treatment. In common usage, the terms “cruelty to animals,” “abuse,” and “neglect” encompass a range of behaviors harmful to animals, from unintentional neglect to malicious killing. Recognizing animal abuse is not always straightforward. Human mistreatment of animals extends across a spectrum ranging from passive neglect to intentional cruelty. The majority of cases arise from neglect, which is often unintentional due to lack of education or temporary lapses in care. In equine practice, the observation of a horse or group of horses with poor body condition scores in a pasture devoid of forage might be the most common presentation of neglect encountered. As rescue groups and concerned individuals have attempted to meet the demand for unwanted horses in the current economic climate, hoarding of horses (typically unintentional) has become more common.

After a report of abuse or cruelty, an investigation is undertaken by law enforcement. Seizure of horses by law enforcement agencies might occur if there is probable cause that the animals are suffering from abuse, cruelty and/or neglect. However, often the enforcement officer chooses to leave the animals in place and provides terms and conditions if an imminent risk of death is not present. Terms and conditions must be in writing and signed by the owner and the enforcing agency in the power of attorney form, and the owner must abide by these terms and conditions, or the animal will be impounded. In most cases, animals cannot be removed from a property if the owner is not present unless a warrant is obtained or the animal is in imminent danger and law enforcement is involved. Animals must legally be removed by law enforcement or a contracted agency; otherwise the act is considered theft. The arresting agency must have the ability and financial resources to remove and house any impounded animals. The lack of funding and housing can be a deterrent for law enforcement to investigate and prosecute cases of equine abuse/neglect. Contacting larger organizations for assistance might be of benefit in these cases. Read more.

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