On the national news tonight – I think it was CBS, they had a story on the drought in Kentucky. The story focused on the horse owners and the raising costs of hay to feed their horses. The reporter showed a stack of hay that normally sold for $50.00 a few months back and then showed another view of what $50.00 would buy today. The amount of hay was reduced by half but it was still more than I pay here in wet Oregon, where half the state is devoted to growing hay. $50.00 will buy me 4, 120-150 lb, bales of hay. The going wholesale price of alfalfa and grass hay is $12.50 to $16.00 a bale depending on the weight.
Now my point. I budget for my horses’ feed. Even if the price doubles – which it might, I still buy feed. The story showed that people are starving their horses or abandoning them. My guess is that those same people are still paying for the little luxuries like cable TV, going out to dinner or smoking a pack or 2 of cigarettes a day. If they own a large animal they must take responsibility for it. Horses are NOT disposal pets! The life expectancy of a horse is 25-30 years, not like a dog that lives about 15 years. It looks like too many inexperienced people thought that they could make money and become horse breeders. I guess they found out that most horse buyers want more than just a backyard bred horse for what those so called breeders where charging. Experienced horse buyers are very picky about the horse they buy but they will also pay a high price for the best horse. The horses that are finding their way to the auctions and being abandoned are not the high priced performance or show horses, no, they are the untrained, badly bred, couldn’t be sold or giving away by their breeders. Now that the horse market dried up with the lack of hay, if you’ll excuse the pun – they are saddled with them.
Now don’t go thinking that it is just the backyard breeder that is at fault for the current over population of horses in the USA. There are plenty of high production horse breeders at work too. I know of one in the Sierra foothills of California that cranks out at least 50 to 100 AQHA foals each year. There are other breeders in Texas, Idaho and Oklahoma that do the same thing. The sad thing is that the ones that I know of have no horses with show records to prove that they are worthy of becoming breeding stock. So they are just cranking out registered horses much like the horse version of a puppy mill.
Did you know that the USA has the world’s largest horse population? There are more horses now than there was before the automobile. When will people learn to quit breeding horses when there is no demand for them!