Unwanted horses are being left on roadsides across the country to fend for themselves.
Tom Persechino, marketing director for the American Quarter Horse Association says this is an issue we have been facing for two or three years as the rising price of fuel and corn has increased the cost of caring for a horse. But he says there is another, even bigger reason, the number of unwanted horses has increased.
Congress banned horse slaughter in 2006. Persechino says slaughter provided an economical and humane way to take care of horses that became unwanted. He also says the ban shut down an outlet for people who needed it.
People like Virginia Rogers, who two years ago, had to send her 25 year old mare to slaughter because the alternatives were too expensive. She says, "they are God's creatures but they need a humane way to be put down other than being thrown out like garbage."
But now, things have changed. Persechino says the horse market is tough, but usable horses have options.
One option: friends with land. Friends of the owner who could provide land for a horse to be turned out to pasture.
Another, second careers. Some racing horses could go on to compete as jumping horses or speed horses.
Lastly, donating a gentle horse to riding programs for the mentally and physically handicapped.
But these are realistic options only for a small number of horses. Dr. Don Topliff of WTAMU says, "there are options for some horses, but for the vast majority, there are no end of life options palatable for most people."
For those unusable horses, the seemingly only option available is euthanasia.