The face of animal welfare is being shaped by factors including the separation of production agriculture from consumers and the anthropomorphization of companion animals by the general population. These trends and the influence of animal rights ideology are creating real changes in the United States regarding industry practices for the traditional use of livestock. A new category of horses has emerged, the “Unwanted Horse,” that is now the focus of much discussion; as their numbers surge in a time of economic hardship in this country, the need is great to educate the public in general, and horse owners specifically, about the issue from a factual and historical perspective. The AAEP (American Association of Equine Practitioners) defined unwanted horses as “horses which are no longer wanted by their current owner because they are old, injured, sick, unmanageable, fail to meet their owner’s expectations (e.g., performance, color or breeding), or their owner can no longer afford them.” The Animal Welfare Council developed this set of lesson plans to provide tools and resources to assist horse industry youth leaders and agriculture teachers to explain this trend and its impacts on horses and animal welfare.
Animal Welfare Council members support the use of animals in recreation, entertainment, industry and sports. The organization is dedicated to advancing the responsible and humane use of animals in these activities.
This six-lesson program guides students through key elements contributing to the rise of unwanted horses in the United States, with the goal of stimulating understanding and potential solutions for the issue. Each lesson includes a teacher’s guide with goals, background material, resources for further reading, presentation outline, hand-outs in reproducible format for the students, and a re-enforcing group or independent activity that can be completed either as part of the lesson or as a field exercise. The lessons may be presented in series, as might be used in traditional classrooms or home schooling programs, or independently in youth activity settings such as 4-H, Girl Scouts, or Boy Scouts. A bonus lesson has been included as an overall evaluation tool with questions that can be used in a Jeopardy- style quiz game.