The Science of Rehoming Horses

British researchers found sport horses and those with higher adoption fees found homes most quickly.

Despite the declining U.S. horse population—currently about 7.2 million compared to 9.2 million in 2005, according to the American Horse Council—the number of unwanted horses each year remains steady. That is, approximately, 200,000 horses in the country are deemed “unwanted,” and yet an estimated 1.2 million homes are available to provide places to land for these orphan animals, according to an American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) survey.

“These data suggest that efforts to reduce unwanted horses could involve matching such horses with adoptive homes and enhancing opportunities to keep horses in the homes they already have,” the ASPCA said in a 2017 article published in Animals.

This is why veterinary researchers Sarah Rosanowski, PGDip VCS, PhD, and Kristien Verheyen, DVM, PhD, MRCVS, recently explored the unwanted horse issue in the United Kingdom. Similar to the United States, the number of horses in the U.K. has risen at an alarming rate over the past decade, creating an important welfare issue.


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