We Need Our Horse Councils

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For many of us, the American Horse Council (www.horsecouncil.org) is an organization we know exists. But that's about it.? Many don't even realize there are state horse councils, too. And that's too bad. The American Horse Council (AHC) is an incredible organization, and many state groups are pretty amazing as well.

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One of the most important efforts the AHC makes is through its division called the ?Unwanted Horse Coalition,? which focuses on the welfare and safety of homeless horses. Its primary goal is to educate would-be horse owners before they plunk down $500 to purchase a horse they actually can't afford?a horse that then often ends up falling on bad times. As the old saying goes, ?Stop whining that you can't save enough money to buy a horse. If you can't buy a horse, you sure as heck can't afford to care for it.?

The AIM Equine Network?of which Horse Journal is part?began its ?A Home For Every Horse? program in partnership with the AHC?s Unwanted Horse Coalition. You can visit www.equine.com and click on the ?Rescue? tab to see the astonishing number of wonderful horses looking for a permanent home. But, I'm warning you, it'll tear your heart out.

If you're a horse business, you should be aware of what the American Horse Council does for us legislatively, with issues like horseback riding in parks, taxes and equine businesses, liability and insurance laws, even USDA rules.

AHC membership begins at just $25 per year, and you get a lot for the money, including some commercial discounts.

At the state level, I've been amazed at the brilliant ideas underway.? The Kentucky Horse Council promotes how to recognize horse abuse and abandoned horses and what to do about it: Visit: http://www.kentuckyhorse.org/reporting/ to learn about it. (Yes, people actually turn horses loose in the wild, humming ?Born Free.?)

The Virginia Horse Council (www.virginiahorsecouncil.org) offers the ?Ride Alert 24/7 Emergency Identification Support Service? as part of its membership package. It gives you a unique wristband ID Device, which is recorded with the Ride Alert 24/7 Emergency Support Team (www.ridealert.us).

Like many state groups, the Iowa Horse Council (www.iowahorsecouncil.org) is working on keeping horse trails available. (Parents, they also offer a scholarship program!)

I will tell you that not all the state councils I investigated were impressive. If your state?s group is one of those, maybe it would be worth your time to get involved and revive it. it's more important than ever to support these organizations to keep trails open, equine laws fair and to protect horses.

Cynthia Foley, Editor-in-Chief