Study of equine abuse and neglect patterns produces surprising findings


Horse eating hay. Google image.

EWA (Chicago) June 25, 2013 — The Equine Welfare Alliance today released a statistical study on the rates of equine abuse and neglect across the US since 2000. The research examined equine abuse statistics from Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Maine and Oregon.

Historical records of the number of cases of equine abuse and neglect from these states was correlated with three potential causes; the rate of equine slaughter (or lack of it), unemployment and the cost of hay.

Surprisingly, the researchers found that the rate of abuse has been in decline in four of the six states since 2008. Five of the six states had shown a spike in abuse and neglect around 2008 and two have shown a significant increase in the past two years.

The dominant factor the analysis produced in every state was the price of hay.

The dominant factor the analysis produced in every state was the price of hay. “My assumption was always that unemployment was the dominant factor”, admitted EWA president John Holland. “In fact, the analysis showed that the rate of unemployment in the state was the least important predictor of the level of abuse and neglect.”

The analysis showed the second most important correlation was the rate of slaughter, but the analysis found more slaughter consistently correlated with more abuse and neglect.

“Correlation is not proof of causation,” explained Holland, “but it certainly contradicts the theory that slaughter decreases neglect by culling “unwanted horses.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) have long urged Congress not to ban horse slaughter on the basis that to do so would increase abandonment, abuse and neglect.

A shift of land use from hay to corn for ethanol has reduced the hay available to horse owners, cattlemen and dairy farmers.

This study follows on the heels of a peer reviewed paper in the Kentucky Journal of Equine, Agricultural, and Natural Resources Law by Holland (EWA) and Laura Allen (Animal Law Coalition). That paper documented enormous increases in the cost of horse ownership between 2000 and 2011. The paper demonstrates, among other pressures, that a shift of land use from hay to corn for ethanol has reduced the hay available to horse owners, cattlemen and dairy farmers.

Severe drought in some states has made an already insufficient supply of hay all but collapse. In 2011, Congress ended the long standing subsidy for ethanol in gasoline and removed tariffs on sugar cane. EWA hopes this will put a downward pressure on hay prices in coming years.

Report Link:

– # –

7 thoughts on “Study of equine abuse and neglect patterns produces surprising findings”

  1. I had no clue that PMU Industry was moving now, thanks for the info. Too bad we have to all be so snotty, same mission, same outcome, different egos. Wicked indeed.


  2. Price of hay relates to ability to afford to buy hay which directly relates to the economy and what people have in their pocketbooks. Economic conditions always affect farmers/hay prices, but combine that with sky high fuel costs, job loss, farm foreclosures and you have a major crisis with entire herds and family horses being dumped into the slaughter pipeline. Over breeders, race horse industry changes, and many other factors have led to ever increasing numbers of “high risk” equines, dumped because owners can no longer make money in their prospective industry. The decline of PMU products caused many PMU farms in Canada to dump their horse stock and U.S. rescues have been inundated for years with PMU foals and now their mothers. Until the EXPORT of our U.S. horses for the purpose of slaughter is banned, no equines sold at auctions will be safe from slaughter.


      1. Honey, I am all ready all over the PMU information. I am Canadian and have friends very close to the industry. But thanks for being so uh, helpful? I think you resent anyone that has more info than you do. Just putting my 2 Cents in since I don’t agree with every word you post and like too offer others some other FACTS to think about. Thanks, for your condescending help???


        1. Please do tell what information you have about the PMU industry that we seem to have missed. I too am Canadian and have ties with several sources of information here in Canada. In fact I have ties to information with those in the new farms abroad. Anything we have missed would be more than appreciated. We are always open to information that will benefit the horses. The PMU industry is on it’s way out here in NA. It is only a matter of time. The controversy here, together with the damning results of the numerous studies on the ill effects of equine estrogen derived HRT and the patent loss of Premarin, is more than enough to drive it underground. Not to mention the economical factor. If you are truly a horse lover and an advocate for their welfare you would help rather than hinder and refrain from degrading what we have to say. We are not infallible; we work to shed some semblance of truth on the horse situation from many aspects, not just slaughter.


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s