Equine Welfare

The ASPCA is dedicated to ensuring equines nationwide live good lives. To that end, we’re developing innovative programs and partnerships with the equine welfare community, as well as equine industries, to help at-risk, abused or neglected horses, and horses in transition.

Our efforts to protect equines focus on three main areas:

Helping Horses Find Homes

Thousands of horses across the country are at risk of homelessness and poor welfare as they move from one career to the next. The good news is that research conducted by the ASPCA suggests there could be at least 1.2 million households—or approximately 2.3 million adults—in the U.S. with both the resources and desire to adopt horses in need. 

The ASPCA aims to help horses transition to new careers and safe homes by increasing the number of successful horse adoptions. One way we are working toward this goal is through The Right Horse Initiative, which became an ASPCA program in November 2019. The Right Horse promotes the bond between horses and humans, and supports a national movement to improve the lives of horses through equine adoption and a dialogue of kindness and respect.

Keeping Horses Safe

For many horse owners, lack of access to affordable veterinary care in times of financial hardship puts horses at risk. Our equine safety net programs are designed to keep horses and their owners together, provide humane end-of-life options or find a new, loving home for the horse. When someone is unable to keep their dog or cat, there are safe havens where owners can bring their pets. This is not always the case for horses. Without an option for safe relinquishment to a shelter or rescue, horse owners are often left with few alternatives, and horses’ welfare can suffer. 

To increase the likelihood that horses can remain in their homes, the ASPCA is collaborating with local veterinarians on a pilot project in which veterinarians identify and provide services to horse owners in their communities who may be in need of support: In July 2018, we launched the ASPCA Regional Support Center in partnership with The Right Horse Initiative. The Center, which was based near Dallas, Texas, was a six-month-long pilot program serving several Texas counties that provided an option for horse owners to relinquish a horse they can no longer care for and offered access to certain veterinary services for horses in need.

During its operation, the program helped nearly 60 equines. The ASPCA collected data to determine how the Center positively impacted horses and owners in the pilot area and what opportunities may exist to implement similar programs in other locations across the country. In August 2019, the ASPCA opened a second ASPCA Regional Support Center pilot program in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, which will be operational through the end of the year. This program offers assistance for owned equines in the surrounding area, such as rehoming opportunities for horses, mules and donkeys who need new homes, and basic veterinary care to help horse owners in need of support. Through this work, the ASPCA can improve the welfare of equines, and share learnings with the animal welfare community across the country. The Center will be operational for a period of up to six months, and the goal is to determine opportunities to expand the service area and implement similar programs in other locations across the country.

In addition, we have funded the development of the American Horse Council’s microchip look-up tool, which will help provide reliable means to identify horses to better assist them through safety net programs, prevent theft and monitor their welfare. Microchips can also help to reunite lost horses with their owners if disaster strikes.

Combating Cruelty and Responding to Crises

The ASPCA has always been at the forefront of disaster response and cruelty intervention. Our Field Investigations and Response Team has helped tens of thousands of animals, including horses and other equines, displaced by hurricanes, wildfires, mudslides and other disasters.

The ASPCA also deploys at the request of federal, state and local authorities to assist in animal cruelty cases. We help with investigations, forensic evidence collection, rescuing animals and transporting them to safety, providing sheltering and care for the animals, and providing legal services to bring those responsible to justice. 

Legislation is another key component in protecting horses and preventing cruelty. The ASPCA works to protect animals and provide for their well-being through legislative and policy work to improve the lives of all horses and end horse slaughter.