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Indiana Faces Serious Issue of Unwanted Horses

October 17, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana has an excess of unwanted horses. Horse rescue facilities are 'maxed out,' people say they can't afford to feed them, and the animals grow old or become ill.

Dr. Tim Bartlett, director of equine programs for the Indiana Board of Animal Health, says several equine organizations in the state are in the early stages of planning to create a receiving facility in Central Indiana that would take in unwanted horses and evaluate them.

"We would hope it would give people a place to go when they're in these desperate situations, where hopefully you can find a use for those horses."

Bartlett says the central receiving facility would not be government-run, and would likely be a nonprofit organization. He says the plan is to accept unwanted horses from around Indiana.

"The horses could be received and evaluated and hopefully adopted out rapidly."

He says the facility could offer educational opportunities to universities and colleges.

"Include Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine, Saint Mary of the Woods equestrian program, Purdue's equestrian program and possibly a few others, as far as internships."

The Indiana horse industry relies on donations to help deal with many equine issues, although more details need to be ironed out before funds are sought for the receiving facility. Bartlett says people interested in getting involved should contact the Hoosier Horse Council.

Bartlett says that some parts of the Indiana horse industry are doing very well, notably the higher-end pursuits, such as racing; Amish communities that still use horses for farm and other work; and people who keep horses for trail riding. In all, Bartlett says, there are more than 600,000 horses in the state.

Information about the Horse Council is at www.indianahorsecouncil.org

Leigh DeNoon, Public News Service - IN