6 reasons for unwanted horses in America.
Killbuyers are a symptom of the problem. They are not the cause of slaughter. Too many horses, not enough homes are the reason for 177,000 unwanted horses in the United States, and over 130,000 horses shipping to slaughter each year. Below are 6 reasons we have unwanted horses:
- Today’s riders take lessons and are less connected with the horses they ride. Most riders spend time trotting around in circles in the ring, and less time allowing their horses to move forward and burn off excess energy. Riding horses is a commitment of time (and money). Horses need constant work, training and exercise. Every time you mount-up, you are either training or untraining a horse. Many of the younger generation riders lack the commitment and ability to train a horse. They are more likely to train a good horse bad behaviors – and horses with bad behavioral problems are often discarded through auctions.
- Horses are kept inside, fed high energy diets then brought out to open riding rings for a trot-around. Since most horses don’t have the opportunity to frolic, some simply frolic under saddle, tossing their riders in the playful exchange. “Sowing Wild Oats” has real meaning. Suddenly paying $300-$1000 per month to keep a horse doesn’t seem like a good idea when you are frequenting the emergency room with injuries.
- A fall from a horse took down Superman. When Christopher Reeve fell from a horse and became a quadriplegic, the average American became more aware of the dangers of riding horses. The new generation of ‘helicopter-parents’ with a little girl who loved horses opted to push for piano lessons and soccer rather than a pony and horseback riding lessons.
- The shrinking middle class means that many are shying away from big purchases, especially ones that require monthly feed, veterinary care, and new shoes every six weeks. Therefore, selling horses is increasingly difficult. Selling a horse that bucks off its rider on occasion is near impossible at any price. Unsold horses eventually fall into the precarious category of “Unwanted Horses.”
- Horses are a profitable business. Many equine hobbyist, create a horse business where they can deduct their horses and farm expenses if they can prove to the IRS that they are an equine business. The IRS considers a breeding business as a farm with a stallion and mare that produce (and sells) a minimum of one foal per year. Further, many state tax codes encourage racing horses, performance horses, and overbreeding. For example, sales taxes are waived on breeding livestock. Since horses are considered livestock, most states do not collect sales tax on mares and stallions.
- Finally, the United States has always slaughtered unwanted horses. Most people just didn’t know of the common practice of slaughtering unwanted horses until killpen pages started popping up on Facebook. If they did know of the practice, they assumed that slaughtering horses had been abolished in 2007 when the slaughter plants shutdown. However, we because of Facebook, most horses people now know that the same number of horses that were slaughtered in the USA before the plants closed, are now being slaughter in Canada and Mexico.
What can you do to reduce the number of unwanted horses? Read “Lost Horses: A guide for horse lovers to make a difference” and find out what you can do to help save lives and make a difference!