No accurate figures document how many unwanted horses actually exist, their age, their sex, the breeds represented, how many are purebred versus grade, their most recent use, their value or what happens to them in the long run. The estimate runs in the tens of thousands.
Unfortunately, the number of unwanted horses exceeds the resources currently available to accommodate them. The estimated cost of providing basic care for a horse ranges from $1,800-$2,400 annually. Currently, there are not enough volunteers, funding or placement opportunities for all of the unwanted horses.
In an effort to combat the unwanted horse population, AQHA has developed the Greener Pastures program. The program allows AQHA members to indicate on a horse's registration certificate that should that horse ever become unwanted, unusable or simply ready for retirement, the member will – if possible – assist in finding the horse a suitable home.
The program is free, completely voluntary, does not imply that a buyback or exchange of money will occur, or that a horse is guaranteed a home, because sometimes situations can and do change. It simply allows members – who can and want to – an opportunity to provide for the long-term care of horses they've bred or owned. However, you must be an AQHA member to sign up for or enroll a horse in the program. Go to www.aqhamembers.com to sign in with your AQHA member ID and personal identification number.
"AQHA wants to help responsible horse owners," said Tom Persechino, AQHA Executive Director of Marketing and Communications. "We believe we can better serve the equine industry and help ensure the long-term care of horses we register with this program. By implementing Greener Pastures, we begin to fill a void."
AQHA believes that being "green" means more than reducing one's carbon footprint; it's actually a much larger issue of social responsibility to the earth and all of its creatures.
Essentially, the Association will act as a clearinghouse by tracking Greener Pastures-enrolled horses and AQHA members who have indicated the desire to help.
AQHA news and information is a service of AQHA publications. For more information on The American Quarter Horse Journal, The American Quarter Horse Racing Journal or America's Horse, visit www.aqha.com/magazines.