Horse neglect is on the rise in the United States as owners find themselves unable, or unwilling, to take care of their animals because of the high cost.
Across the U.S., the number of horses whose owners won't or can't properly care for them is mushrooming. Spurred by retiring baby boomers and their penchant for second homes in the country, horse ownership boomed in the U.S. over the past decade. Americans own more than nine million horses today, up from just over six million horses in the mid-1990s, according to the American Horse Council, a trade association....
The price of hay, the main source of horse nutrition, has more than doubled over the past year because of drought and record-high costs of fuel needed to grow and haul the crop. Though horses naturally graze on grass, they need hay and other feeds, especially in winter when the growth of pasture grass slows or stops. A 50-pound square bale of horse hay, a two-day supply for the average horse, costs more than $6 in most states, up from as little as $2.50 in 2005. Even a small horse farm must buy hundreds of bales each winter.
If only we still had slaughterhouses for these horses to go...
"Animal lovers with big hearts and no idea what's required to take care of a horse have shut down slaughterhouses that were needed," says C.J. Hadley, publisher of a cowboy magazine called Range, based in Carson City, Nev. Calling horse lovers who oppose slaughterhouses "innocent," Ms. Hadley says, "Ranchers love their horses enough to put them down when the time comes."
Now, some unwanted American horses wind up at Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses. But others linger and starve, often ending up at rescue homes and other charities.
Photo by Dennis Bouman.