So how does ACTHA plan on stomping out horse hunger? Many have tried, many are trying, but it has been getting worse. There are approximately 120,000 neglected horses in the USA; some studies claim as many as 170,000.
To understand ACTHA?s planned impact one must understand the root causes of this shameful epidemic. These include slaughter laws, over breeding, lack of education on the cost of horse ownership, and a poor economy, among others.
When we set out to take this project on, one glaring fact stood out: 50% or more of the ?forgotten? horses taken in by rescues are ?sound? -- hungry, sad, confused, yes -- but sound! What happened?
Here at ACTHA we think a very large part of the dilemma is ?equine unemployment.? The owners lost their jobs, their rider went to college, they couldn?t pay the feed bill, a dealer couldn?t sell him, there was no place that a race owner could sell their slower horses, etc. As unromantic as it sounds it's a basic economic problem of valuation and market demand.
Here at ACTHA we want to give owners a job ? like carrying you on fun rides and winning prizes in our Competitive Trail Challenges??. The jobs we have are fun, natural and are??come one, come all.? Almost any horse can enjoy and participate in our rides. It's in essence a laid back, untimed 6 mile trail ride. Sure it will be even more fun if you and your horse learn some skills, but just showing up and seeing what's out there is most the fun.
Some critics may say ACTHA won?t make a difference. Consider this:
- Currently about 20% of the horses competing in ACTHA events have been rescued by their owners. (Our members tend to walk the talk).
- If ACTHA?s growth continues and we have 1000 rides this year as planned, about 50,000 horse/rider teams will mount up. Most of our members ride multiple times, often with several horses during the year. Therefore, many of the horses are repeat performers. Best estimates are we'll have 20,000 individual horsesand their riders show up to ACTHA rides over the next 12 months -- performing, volunteering or just checking it out. That's 4,000 rescued horses being ?valued? by their owners.
- ACTHA?s best estimates are that it will max out at 5,000 rides per year and average attendance will grow to the point where 300,000 horses are registered with ACTHA (this also gives them value). With a 9 million horse universe that is just 3.3% of the horse population in America. The main limitation we face is the calendar. There are just so many rides that can be held in a 2 day week, Saturday and Sunday.
- Assuming our membership continues seeking the good, calm trail horses found in many neglected situations, 60,000 horses will be saved and put back to enjoyable work in loving homes.
Our current infrastructure of legitimate rescues and sanctuaries are well equipped to handle the remaining horses not up to the task of a CTC.
Here at ACTHA we work around the clock racing towards this end result and feel privileged to steward such a wonderful solution. We serve the horse and vow to honor our unwritten agreement with all equines: "Allow us on your most vulnerable place, your back, and carry us to sights unseen. Plow our fields, stand by us and die with us in war, build our tunnels and carry the riches to us from below the earth. Give up your freedom to roam and teach us; we in turn will take care of you."
So call us optimists, call us PollyAnnas ?but just call? and sign up for a ride. ?We do not discard that which has value, and all of us know the value of a good trail horse.?
- To provide an enjoyable venue showcasing the wonderful attributes of the great American trail horses, granting them the recognition they so richly deserve.
- To maintain a registry open to all breeds and a point designation system which will stay with each horse for its lifetime, thereby adding to their value and distinction.
- To enable the humane treatment of horses in need.
ACTHA sanctions 6 mile trail ride competitions whereby competitors perform 6 natural trail obstacles and horses and riders are judged on performances. ACTHA calls them "casual" competitions.? All horses automatically become part of the trail horse registry and their performances follow them for life.? Up to 50% of ACTHA's proceeds go to charity.
Read more on the ACTHA website.??