Statement on Wild Horse and Burro

In 2017 both the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) leadership approached the American Horse Council (AHC) with requests to investigate the health and welfare of the wild horses under the protection of the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1974. After exhaustive research including numerous interviews with stakeholders, presentations from BLM, input from the American Association of Equine Practitioners, others, and attendance by AHC personnel at the Summit on Management of Free-Roaming Equids, the AHC is issuing the following statement.
“The free-roaming wild horse and burro population has reached a critical level, which is negatively impacting the health and welfare of the horses & burros as well as that of wildlife and the ecosystem.
“The American Horse Council strongly encourages the Bureau of Land Management to take immediate, meaningful action to positively impact the health and welfare of wild horses, burros, wildlife and the ecosystem.”


AHC Position on Slaughter

The American Horse Council (AHC) is a national association that represents all segments of the horse industry.  The AHC includes equine organizations representing all horse breeds, disciplines and virtually every other facet of the horse industry, as well as individual horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, race tracks, horse shows, trainers, rodeos, farriers, breed registries, horsemen’s associations, state horse councils and commercial suppliers.

The United Horse Coalition (UHC), formerly named the Unwanted Horse Coalition, is a broad alliance of equine organizations that have joined together under the American Horse Council to educate the horse industry about the problems facing at risk horses. This coalition reflects the industry’s interest in collaborating around the importance of aftercare and the progress and extensive resources that have come to fruition since the UHC’s inception.

A recent effort to quantify the breadth and severity of the unsupported equine population in the United States has caused some individuals unfamiliar with the AHC to suggest that the AHC and the UHC have taken, or are planning to take, a position either in support of, or opposed to, equine slaughter or processing. A survey of AHC member organizations in early 2018 indicated an equal divide amongst those organizations who have developed a formal position. Because the American Horse Council has members both supporting and opposing slaughter, the organization will continue to maintain their neutral position.

From its inception, the UHC has focused on the common interests of its members, their concern for horses that may become unwanted and un-homed, rather than their differences, including slaughter. All members of the UHC agreed the coalition would not take a position on the federal legislation or get involved in lobbying; and it hasn’t. The function of the UHC was always, and will continue, to prioritize that common concern of the welfare and safety of the horse. UHC members are working together in a common effort to help horses transitioning between homes.

It is true that the horse industry has continually tried to resolve this difficult issue and the underlying problem of horses who do not have a permanent home. Despite their neutral position, the AHC will continue to monitor the debate and facilitate conversation and education at all levels on behalf of all segments of the equine industry. Stakeholders can be assured that any and all undertakings of the AHC or the UHC are done so with transparency and good faith.

Prevent All Soring Tactics Act


On March 30, 2017, Representatives Ted Yoho (R-FL) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) re- introduced the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act of 2015 (HR 1847) (PAST act) in the House of Representatives.   The bill is intended to strengthen the Horse Protection Act (HPA) and prevent the soring of Tennessee Walking Horses, Racking Horses, and Spotted Saddle Horses.  The bill is identical to the bill introduced last Congress and is supported by the American Horse Council and most national horse show organizations.

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The Horse Protection Amendments Act


Representative Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) has reintroduced the Horse Protection Amendments Act (H.R. 1338). This is the exact same bill DesJarlais introduced last year to amend the Horse Protection Act (HPA).   The bill would create a single Horse Industry Organization (HIO) that would be responsible for enforcement of the HPA. This bill is opposed by the AHC.

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Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act

The Safeguard American Food Exports Act (H.R. 113) was re-introduced on January 10, 2017 by Representatives Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). The bill is identical to legislation introduced last Congress and similar to other earlier bills that would in effect prohibit the slaughter of horses in the U.S. and the export of horses for slaughter.

This bill cites health concerns as the primary rationale to prohibit the sale or export of horses or horsemeat for human consumption, because they are frequently treated with drugs that pose a serious threat to human health if eaten.  The bill would make it illegal under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to knowingly sell or transport horses or parts of horses in interstate or foreign commerce for purposes of human consumption.

The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the House Committee on Agriculture.

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015


Congress has passed a tax extender bill called the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 that includes several provisions important to the horse industry and supported by the American Horse Council. 

At the end of 2014, a number of favorable tax provisions for horse owners, breeders and businesses expired.  In all, over sixty tax provisions expired; some applied to all businesses, including the horse industry, and one was specifically applicable to owners of race horses.  All of the provisions extended are retroactive for all of 2015.


This bill has been signed into law.

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National Equine Health Plan Published

The American Horse Council (AHC), in conjunction with the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and state animal health officials, is pleased to announce that the National Equine Health Plan (NEHP) is now available at

The goals of the NEHP are to protect the health and welfare of the U.S. equine population, facilitate the continued interstate and international movement of horses and their products, ensure the availability of regulatory services, and protect the economic continuity of business in the equine industry.

The NEHP also functions as a roadmap for coordinating horse owners and industry organizations with veterinarians and state and federal animal health officials to prevent, recognize, control and respond to diseases and environmental disasters. The plan facilitates horse industry preparedness, effective rapid communication, and owner education, which make up the foundation for preventing diseases and disease spread. Links to information and resources are included in the NEHP document, including a list of “Roles and Responsibilities” for all stakeholders in the industry.

The NEHP provides immediate access to resources and communications needed to optimize disease mitigation and prevention. It serves as a guide for regulations and responses needed to mitigate and prevent infectious diseases. The AHC and the AAEP encourage sharing this document as it will help educate horse owners about how veterinarians and state and federal officials work together to decrease the risk of disease spread.

NAHMS Equine Health Study Update


The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) announced the launch of an equestrian health study called “Equine 2015” that began in May.  This is NAHMS third national study of the U.S. equine health issues; the previous studies were conducted in 1998 and 2005.

Equine 2015 is designed to provide participants, the horse industry, and animal-health officials with information on the nation’s equine population that will serve as a basis for education, service, and research related to equine health and management. The study will also provide the horse industry with new and valuable information regarding trends in the industry for 1998, 2005, and 2015.

AHC Position

The American Horse Council supported the initiating of the study and encouraged anyone contacted by NAHMS to participate.

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USDA Five Year Equine Health Business Plan


The U.S. Department of Agriculture has developed and published its five year Equine Health Business Plan.  The Plan outlines the steps that USDA will undertake to partner with the states, tribes, the horse industry and others to safeguard the health of U.S. horses and the equine industry over the next five years.

AHC Position

The AHC supports USDA’s efforts in creating the Five Year Equine Health Business Plan that will result in a system that fits the needs and requirements of a growing industry.

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AHC Changes Position on Federal EIA Rule Proposal


In January, 2012, the AHC advised the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA} that it opposed the USDA’s proposing a new federal EIA rule. At the time, the AHC did not consider a change was needed because a very small percentage of horses tested positive for EIA and the disease appeared under control.  The AHC felt that the USDA funds, resources and staff time spent on drafting and proposing such a rule could be better spent on other more pressing equine issues.

AHC Position

The AHC no longer opposes the publication of a federal rule on EIA so that comments can be provided by interested parties.

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