The “Unwanted Horse” has become an all too familiar presence in today’s horse industry, as tough economic times and emerging cultural trends make rational decisions about the care and disposition of animals difficult for horse owners. The public perception of horses is changing, and nowhere does the debate rage with more heat than in defining standards for their welfare. Categorized by the USDA as livestock, horses are now considered by many in the general public to be companion animals, or pets, which invites vocal arguments about their use, care, maintenance, and end disposition.
The dilemma is complex, and engaging the next generation of horse owners is critical to realizing solutions. The Animal Welfare Council is offering an important new program to help youth leaders and teachers do exactly that: “Lessons About the Unwanted Horse” is a 6-lesson curriculum for youth that covers the issue from a factual and historical perspective. AWC is offering the program at no costthrough its website; it is downloadable either as a package or in parts, at www.animalwelfarecouncil.org. A paper version, for those without internet, is available for a small fee to cover printing and postage.
Each lesson includes goals, background information, a teaching outline, and resources for further study, plus student activities meant to reinforce the lesson in various entertaining, lively ways. The underlying message of all six lessons is the vital importance of conscious, responsible horse ownership.
Program highlights include:
- Differentiating livestock from companion animals
- Cultural perceptions about horses
- Defining and explaining the Unwanted Horse
- The legislative process and pending laws affecting horses
- Current options for disposition of unwanted horses
- Challenges faced by horse rescues and sanctuaries
- Specific costs and obligations of horse ownership
- Evaluation “Jeopardy”-style game
Lessons are designed for the 10-12 age group, but may be easily modified for older students, and are suitable for use in youth activity settings such as 4-H, Girl or Boy Scouts, breed association youth groups, or Pony Club. Not only do the lessons teach critical aspects of horse ownership, each lesson is also aligned with specific Common Core State Standards for curriculum and may be used to teach such skills as mathematics, vocabulary building, reading comprehension, writing, understanding statistics, and more.
Animal Welfare Council members support the use of animals in recreation, entertainment, industry and sports. The organization is dedicated to advancing the responsible and humane use of animals in these activities. For more information about the AWC, visit www.animalwelfarecouncil.org. For more information about the 6 part Lessons About The Unwanted Horse, contact Jill Montgomery at JRAM Enterprises, Inc., 719-547-7677 or [email protected].