The American Horse Council board of trustees is considering a proposal that would place under the organization's umbrella a coalition working on the issue of unwanted horses.
At the American Horse Council issues forum a year ago, the American Association of Equine Practitioners held what was called the "Unwanted Horse Summit" to bring industry representatives together to address the issue. Subsequent meetings were held, and in November a consensus was reach to develop a memorandum of understanding for consideration by the AHC.
The coalition has decided the focus should be on education, not advocacy. The issue of unwanted horses has been colored somewhat by an industry debate over horse slaughter.
"We're not going to go from 50,000 unwanted horses to zero unwanted horses," said Remi Bellocq, executive director of the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. "We need to provide information in the different regions of the country on the resources that are available."
The coalition has developed a mission statement and is committed to finding long-term solutions to the problem.
"There are a lot of different forms this could take," said David Foley, executive director of the AAEP. "We just want to see the effort move forward. Regardless of what happens, the AAEP will stay involved in the issue."
AHC president Jay Hickey said the organization "is interested in being involved in this and will be responding to the coalition's proposal in the very near future."
Bellocq said 90% of National HBPA members, primarily owners and trainers, would prefer to find homes for horses that can no longer race. However, he said members are adamant that no options be taken off the table.