2015 AHP Equine Survey Results

American Horse Publications and Zoetis have published the results of AHP’s 2015 Equine Survey.  The survey included results from 10,662 horse owners.  Here are some interesting highlights:

The equine industry has found stability and shows positive signs of growth, especially among young adult horse owners and event participants…

36.2% of respondents ages 18 to 24 said they expect to own or manage more horses in 2016 than they did in 2015

Results also show an estimated one of every three horses owned/managed by respondents is idle, retired or otherwise not working. 

Respondents were most likely to view their horses as family members (67.4%), companion animals (62.7%), performance partners (57.6%) and/or best friends (55.9%). A smaller percentage of respondents viewed their horses as an investment (22.4%), livestock animal (21.1%) or employee (7.8%).

As in the 2010 and 2012 surveys, the issue of unwanted horses (and what to do with them) remains the most significant challenge facing the industry today; however, the percentage of respondents identifying the issue has been declining (62.9% in 2010, 55.8% in 2012 and 53.7% in 2015). The cost of horsekeeping (47.1%) and overbreeding (37.3%) continue to be important issues, but land-related issues, such as loss of riding areas and competition for open space, are becoming increasingly important.

Details of the survey are only available to AHP members, but you can click AHP 2015 Equine Survey to read a summary that’s available to the public.

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The Horse | Demographics of Equine Donation and Adoption Examined

The Horse | Demographics of Equine Donation and Adoption Examined.

UC Davis study of demographics of those who relinquish horses to a rescue and those who adopt from a rescue.  Highlights:

  • About 66% of relinquishing owners were single women, while 62% of those adopting were families or couples;
  • Reported  incomes of relinquishing owners were evenly distributed among four possible income categories while most adoptive owners’ incomes were fairly evenly distributed between the upper three categories;
  • Most relinquishing owners had prior horse-owning experience and many still owned at least one horse; and
  • While relinquishing owners used their horses for a wide variety of purposes, most adoptive owners planned to use the horses for pleasure riding/driving or as a companion horse.

“These results report that owner financial hardship is responsible for many relinquished horses and point to the importance of targeting both new and experienced horse owners and adopters for education and efforts to help current owners keep their horses through difficult times”

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AVMA Issues new FAQ’s about Unwanted Horses

American Veterinary Medical Association has updated its FAQ’s about unwanted horses as of 2/1/2012.  Very long page that covers a lot of ground, including updates referencing recent legislative changes.  Click here to read it.

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Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation Update

TRF Plans to Relocate 600 Horses to Ranch

Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation is in the planning stages to move up to 600 horses from facilities around the country to a 45,000-acre ranch in Colorado.

Read more: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/67168/trf-plans-to-relocate-600-horses-to-ranch#ixzz1kcFjONFo

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Grant Funds Available to Help Horses

January 23, 2012 – After The Finish Line (www.afterthefinishline.org) awards grants to OTTB rescue and rehabilitation facilities.  After the Finish Line will award grants to 501 (c) 3 organizations in May 2012. If your mission is to save, care for and rehabilitate Thoroughbred ex-racehorses for a second career, please contact dawn@afterthefinishline.org to request a grant application. Please include your website address. Applications must be received no later than March 13, 2012 to be considered.

January 12, 2012 – Deadline for non-profit Equine Rescue and Retirement facilties to apply for free spring vaccines is February 1, 2012.  Equine rescue and retirement facilities are encouraged to apply for free vaccines through the Unwanted Horse Veterinary Relief Campaign (UHVRC), a program sponsored by the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) and Merck Animal Health. The deadline for applications for spring vaccines is Feb. 1, 2012. To qualify for donated vaccines, facilities must have 501(c) (3) tax-exempt status and abide by the AAEP Care Guidelines for Equine Rescue and Retirement Facilities. Rescue and retirement facilities are required to work with an AAEP-member veterinarian when applying for vaccinations.

For more information and a program application, visit http://www.uhvrc.org/

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Potentially Important Bright Spot in the USDA Appropriation Allowing Horse Slaughter to Resume

Amidst the high emotions of those decrying or celebrating the new USDA appropriations which no longer disallow inspections of horse meat intended for human consumption, it occurs to me that there is one important bright spot — the resumption of funding and authority to inspect horses in transport to slaughter.

The funding of USDA horse meat inspections does nothing to change the number of horses being sent to slaughter (roughly 130,000 US horses are transported to Canada or Mexico for slaughter each year), nor does it answer the questions surrounding whether current equine slaughter methods are humane, and it does not address the issue of whether the meat of US horses, most which are not raised for human consumption is safe. It does open the door for slaughter to resume domestically, rather than force all horses bound for slaughter to be trucked to Canada or Mexico.

But there’s another important aspect of the resumption of USDA horse slaughter inspection funding that isn’t getting much attention:   it reverses a glaring, unintended consequence of the USDA de-funding of the past five years: inspection and enforcement of humane transport regulations. Many people were unaware that one result of de-funding was that USDA no longer had either the staff or the authority to inspect horses on transport vehicles bound for slaughter in Canada or Mexico. APHIS (USDA Amimal and Plant Health Inspection Service) has regulations in place to protect horses on transport to slaughter (see below). However, when domestic USDA inspections were de-funded in 2006, the USDA’s ability to inspect the horses on slaughter transports and enforce humane transport regulations was removed. Now that funding has been restored, hopefully USDA will soon have more than one inspector devoted to inspecting slaughter transports crossing the border, and the inspectors will be verifying that humane transport regulations are being followed.

Is the system perfect? No. However, following the GAO report in June, the USDA moved quickly to finalize new language in September, 2011 expanding the definition of equines bound for slaughter to include “Any member of the Equidae family being transferred to a slaughter facility, including an assembly point (any facility, including auction markets, ranches, feedlots, and stockyards, in which equines are gathered in commerce), feedlot, or stockyard.” Previously, the regulations pertained only to horses being transported directly to slaughter. Hence, prior to the regulation change, paperwork indicating a horse is bound for slaughter, triggering the inspection process, only got created on the last leg of a very long journey. 

New regulations for humane transport, and funding to enforce them.  Baby steps… 

If you are interested in reading the new transport regulation changes, click on the Resources header above, or click here

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International Equine Business Association

I received a copy of the following press release in my inbox last week.  There is information in it that I thought UHP folks might find interesting.  I haven’t seen any press about it elsewhere.  As you may know, appropriations bills passed last week without the restriction on funding USDA inspections at horse meat processing facilities.  What that means is that horse slaughter for human consumption is now possible in the U.S.  Several states are considering opening horse processing plants.  So, all the concerns about humane transport (which exist regardless of whether slaughterhouses are domestic or international), humane slaughter methods and suitability of U.S.-sourced horse meat for human consumption are back at the forefront of the slaughter debate.  Those who are opposed to horse slaughter will doubtless continue the fight to ban it in the U.S., but for the moment at least, horse slaughter and meat processing for human consumption is possible.**

Enter the new International Equine Business Association (IBEA).  Make no mistake, this association is being formed by the groups who are promoting horse processing for human consumption.  That said, there are some interesting proposals in the following press release which, if implemented and done well, would be useful initiatives.  

IMHO, given that the organizers are operating with a profit motive, I’m skeptical about an industry’s ability to self-police.  Still I think the initiatives outlined below have merit.  What do you think?

Press Release from United Horsemen:
For Immediate Release

International Equine Associations Align with a Common Purpose
Following a series of meetings and discussions which began at the Summit of the Horse in Las Vegas, Nevada, in January, 2011, and culminated with a very productive live demonstration and documentation of technological systems at the Lindsay Livestock Auction in Lindsay, Ontario, Canada,- organizers are looking forward to forming an “International Equine Business Association” (IEBA).The Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada and United Horsemen of the United States share a common goal to mutually protect the welfare of the horse, strengthen the international horse industry, and to promote the use of horses and equine products in commercial enterprises.
The goal is to form an international and independent association that will be a separate and distinct “business” entity to deliver benefits to the entire equine industry. The mission will complement the ongoing nonprofit educational and charitable purposes of the respective existing organizations in both countries.
 The proposed structure of the Association will have divisions to facilitate services and support to segments of the horse industry including but not limited to: Breed Registries and Stud Books; Sport, Performance, and Pleasure Horse Organizations; and Equine Harvest Businesses where horses are used as food, dairy, leather, and by-product production animals.
Initial services provided by the Association to all segments of the horse industry may include agnostic technological solutions that integrate with existing legacy systems to seamlessly provide enhanced capabilities such as DNA and other forms of permanent identification and traceability, veterinary records, show and performance records, and optional enrollment in the IEBA Do Not Slaughter Registry (DNS). DNS Registry enrollment may be available through participating breed registries and organizations, as well as directly from the IEBA.
To provide these services the IEBA has contracted with Animal ID Solutions Inc., a Canadian company with operations in the United States. The Association will utilize Animal ID Solution’s Global Animal Identification Network (G.A.I.N.) with data centres in Illinois, USA, and Ontario, Canada, to house, manage and maintain IEBA databases. Other innovative and cutting edge technological solutions with potential to add value and convenience to all sectors of the horse industry are currently being studied for development.
The Do Not Slaughter Registry is an important initiative that will be developed as a safeguard to ensure that no horse is mistakenly or illegally slaughtered against an owner or registrant’s wishes. In simplest terms, IEBA will have agreements with horse meat processors to scan every horse for permanent identification before purchasing, and if the horse is in the DNS registry, the registrant is notified that the horse has been presented for sale to slaughter. This provides the registrant with the opportunity to pay all costs, make arrangements, and recover the horse. If a horse already enrolled in the DNS registry is stolen, an alert “Do Not Slaughter – STOLEN – contact law enforcement” alert will appear on any scanning device used by horse buyers, sale barns, plant personnel, or anyone else with reason to scan the horse for ID and tracability.
Initial services provided to the horse harvesting industry may include the comprehensive Equine Quality Assurance Program (EQAP)–an industry driven and policed humane handling and food safety and quality control program–that builds on efforts such as the Recommended Handling Guidelines and Animal Welfare Assessment Tool for Horses, in developing certification programs for horse purchasing protocols, equine transportation, management and audit tools and systems for monitoring both the humane handling of horses at processing, and food safety concerns. The system uses permanent identification of live horses, and traceability of carcasses that include scientifically sound and rigorously enforced third party laboratory testing protocols to ensure the highest quality, verified safe, and pure products to the end consumer.
IEBA could also be in a position to provide comprehensive facilitation services to businesses seeking to start, or improve equine enterprises, particularly those businesses seeking to operate in any aspect of the horse harvesting chain such as feed lots.
Included in the initial rollout of benefits to U.S. residents is the provision of a legal defense network of attorneys and counselors expert in animal and agricultural law. Legal defense services are provided through a contract with the Cavalry Group. The Cavalry Group provides legal defense from: Unreasonable searches of your farm, ranch, or animal related business; seizure of your animals or property; fines or fees associated with false claims of animal abuse or neglect; destruction of property by animal rights activists; and other various assaults on your animal enterprise and business.
Cavalry Group legal defence includes 24/7 emergency legal assistance and in some cases, may cover the entire cost of dealing with insured events.
In addition, the IEBA could facilitate industry services such as government relations and public relations; market development, market analysis and reporting; research and development; equine enterprise consulting including facility and equipment design; and more.
The first annual meeting of the IEBA will occur on May 29, 2012 in conjunction with the Second International Summit of the Horse in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on May 26-29, 2012.
For more information, to get on a list to receive updates as the IEBA moves through the formation process, or to become a charter member of the Association contact the initial co-chairs at the email addresses and phone numbers listed.
Bill desBarres (CA) lazydbar@telusplanet.net 403 529 7237 or 888 303 1070
Sue Wallis (U.S.) sue.wallis@united-horsemen.org 307 685 8248 or 307 680 8515

** The Unwanted Horse Project does not take a stand on the issue of horse slaughter, as our group includes parties with strong opinions on both sides of the issue. Our goal is to focus on addressing the problem of unwanted horses in Maryland, educate about the issues and share information, and build consensus across the MD horse industry about how to do what’s best for Maryland’s horses.

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