SARANAC -Seventeen-year-old Marissa Horton is passionate about resolving the negative impacts overpopulation has on horses across the country.
The Saranac High School senior earned the title of Senior Level Presentation Champion at the New York State 4-H Horse Public Presentation for her speech titled "Unwanted Horse." Horton, who has been involved with 4-H for the past 11 years, gave the speech at Cornell University in Ithaca May 16, and it's a topic which she's very passionate about.
"This is a topic I've always been interested in because due to our economy and some natural disasters that have occurred in different parts of our country, the number of unwanted horses is getting to be a humongous problem," said Horton.
Horton, who has competed at the state level competition for the past four years, said she spent roughly three to four months researching the topic which has been widely reported in the media.
"There are unwanted horses everywhere - farms, places that house race horses and even where backyard owners just no longer want their horses," said Horton. "This is something that's just going to get worse if people aren't informed about it. They won't know what to do when this problem gets worse."
The 2007 closure of the final three remaining horse slaughterhouses in the United States have also contributed to the number of unwanted horses, said Horton, which, until that time, helped keep the horse population in check,
In her presentation, Horton gives proposals of how to resolve the issue, based off examples given by the American Horse Council.
"Throughout the presentation I shared what they are suggesting and a couple of those things were encouraging owners to do things like
leasing horses to someone who doesn't have one or donating your horses to therapeutic riding centers or colleges or contacting local rescue facilities," she said.