Unwanted Horses

The Unwanted Horse in Colorado

“There are no easy answers for what to do with unwanted horses in Colorado”
—UHC, Dr. Tom Lenz

The Colorado Unwanted Horse Alliance (CUHA)
A group of concerned Colorado organizations and individuals came together to examine the problems surrounding an increase of unwanted horses in our state. In April 2008 the state group formalized as the Colorado Unwanted Horse Alliance (CUHA) and determined to help manage unwanted horses in Colorado. The Alliance was established as a not-for-profit corporation with the multiple goals of conducting scientific research, educating the public, identifying and implementing programs for addressing the unwanted horse population in Colorado, and assisting other organizations engaged in similar pursuits.

Environmental Assessment Conducted by CUHA
Building upon the work of the Unwanted Horse Coalition, a broad alliance of equine organizations assembled under the American Horse Council, the Colorado Unwanted Horse Alliance commissioned an environmental assessment funded by the Animal Assistance Foundation to assess the status of unwanted horses in Colorado. They used the national group’s definition of the Unwanted Horse, “Horses which are no longer wanted by their current owner because they are old, injured, sick, unmanageable, or fail to meet their owner’s expectations.” (Source: UHC, Lenz PP 2006) as a starting-point. A three-part approach to assessment was used including gathering available empirical data, and surveying and conducting focus groups with stakeholders.

The Unwanted Horse Coalition (UHC) grew out of a 2005 American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) initiative, and is currently under the umbrella of the American Horse Council (AHC). It is financially supported by participating AHC organizations and is focused on education, communication and responsible ownership. Participating organizations include national, regional and local associations of veterinarians, breed registries, horse associations, breeders, performance groups, owners and equine publications. The mission statement of the Unwanted Horse Coalition is: “To effectively reduce the number of unwanted horses in the United States, and to improve their welfare through education and the efforts of organizations committed to the health, safety and responsible care of the horse.”

2009 Unwanted Horses Survey
The 2009 Unwanted Horses Survey, based on thousands of respondent perceptions, indicates the problem is perceived to be growing on many fronts. More than 90% of participants believe the number of unwanted horses, as well as those neglected and abused, is increasing. Almost all participants (87%) indicate that in the past year, this has become “a big problem,” compared with only 22% who said the problem was an issue three years ago.