Examining Horse Neglect, Why They Do It

By Max Resnik

May 11, 2011 Updated May 11, 2011 at 6:46 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Cases of animal neglect, namely horses, have been popping up more frequently in the news cycle, but why? Today, Indiana’s NewsCenter met with an equine veterinarian to examine the reasons that lead to horse dumping.

Dr. Ryan Rothenbuhler with Conley, Finch and Koontz Equine Hospital in Columbia City says there are simply too many horses and not enough responsible horse owners. What used to be considered prized possessions by many, horses now can be bought online for just a few hundred dollars. He says horses have not lost their appeal and that is what drives people to take the risk in owning one.

He says, “Well for $200 it's not very expensive to go buy a horse. We're not talking about a thousand-dollar investment, we're talking about a couple tanks of gas and they could go buy a horse. Then they start to incur those other expenses. That's where the problems take place.”

Those expenses really can be expensive. Rothenbuhler says that even at the absolute minimum, caring for a horse will cost its owner at least $2,000 a year.

Breaking It Down:
-Hay: $730 a year
-Grain: $365 a year
-Farrier: $540 a year
-Vaccines: $200 a year
-Dental work: $200 a year
-Additional medical emergencies could send owners deep into their pocket books with surgeries costing thousands of dollars.

So how do these figures compare to that of more typical household pets like dogs? Compare the bare minimum requirements for horses to that of your average sized adult dog.

Breaking it down:
-Dog Food: $600-$700 a year
-Vaccines: $120 a year
-Teeth Cleanings: $150 a year
-Heartworm meds: $180 a year
-Extra meds/check-ups: $150 a year

Comparing the two, there is about a $500 difference.

Rothenbuhler says potential owners need to research and plan for horse care. He says dumping is irresponsible because horses are used to fenced-in living. Their ability to survive outside a farm is greatly reduced and Rothenbuhler says an owner should drop his or her horses at a rescue before he or she chooses Johnny Appleseed Park.

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