Over-Breeding; What Do We Do?

A┬álink to an article in the Sioux City Journal.com was posted on the yahoo group “Morgan Bulletin Board” by one of the group’s members. I am very glad she posted it since it is a very real problem in the Horse Industry as a whole.

The article “Slaugherhouse legislation may worsen horse market” by Molly Montag, Journal staff writer, discusses the prohibition of horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. as well as the shipment of horses to Mexico and Canada for slaughter and processing:

Local sale barn operators say a 2007 ruling that closed a DeKalb, Ill., horse-processing plant — the last in the United States — along with high feed prices and high fuel costs has severely depressed a market already saturated with horses that were bred during better economic times. They say current legislation pending in Congress that would ban sending horses to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico would leave the region’s horse owners without viable options to get rid of unwanted animals.

The article went on to say:

Cleone Uecker, who runs South Dakota Horse Sales in Corsica, said the horse market peaked five years ago. It seemed everyone was buying stallions and broodmares, she said, even if that meant taking out loans or switching from raising cattle to horses.

Before the ban on slaughtering, she said, a 1,000-pound horse that couldn’t sell as a trained saddle horse would bring about $600.

“Everybody forgot about who was going to train those horses someday,” she said.

Uecker said the influx of horses in the market — many bred on pedigree alone by people who didn’t know how to raise and train a quality animal — produced horses that nobody wants. The monthly horse sale in Corsica was testament to that, with horse after horse — many of them purebreds but with little training — selling to the only people who wanted them — those buying for foreign horse-processing plants.

Stopping transportation of horses to Canada and Mexico would be “a catastrophe” that would result in horses without homes and an increase in animal abuse, she said.

“The people born and raised around livestock understand the necessity of horse processing for unwanted, culled horses,” Uecker said. “But we are far outnumbered by the city-raised people, big time, in numbers. “

The rest of the article is very thought provoking and well worth reading. I know it is making me think a little harder about breeding my mares in the future.

I have had this discussion with my vet who is very involved in the Quarter horse world. He agrees with the article; that not having an outlet for unwanted, or unusable horses is a huge mistake. He feels like the prohibition of horse slaughter in the U.S. will lead to a big increase in horses living in abusive condition.

It sickens me to think of horses in slaughter houses but without responsible breeding what are we to do? Any thoughts?

3 Responses to Over-Breeding; What Do We Do?

  1. Chris Moran says:

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Chris Moran

  2. Carole says:

    I think that over breeding of horses is akin to the ‘Puppy -Mills” of the dog world. Look at all the dogs that are killed in the animal shelters each year.

    I think the answer is individual responsibility towards breeding.

    I own five mares and NEVER rise a foal. I can buy a lovely, well ,bred horse cheaper than I can make one….I can also buy a not so lovely, well ,bred horse.

    I happen to really like mares and believe they can be highly funtional creatures with real jobs other than producing foals. I personally think that mares are an unsung usable part of the horses world.

    I have a friend who simply told me that my mares needed to ALWAYS have the same manners as a stallion in public. So my mares ALWAYS mind their manners no matter what is going on….

    Fewer foals for awhile might help the situation of unwanted horses in the future. People simply must be more responsible with the breeding of stallions and mares. How one is to inforce responsibility is the difficult problem. I have no simple answer.

  3. Black Eye Beth says:

    I agree totally with you Carole. I just wish there was a way to get people to breed responsibly. Don’t some of the Warmblood breeds have a grading system that the mares and stallions have to pass before they can be bred and the foals be registered? That may have to be the way thing start to be done “across the board”.

    I only own mares (except for a couple of old ponies that will be with me forever) and love them all. Luckily, I have never had a “mare-ish” mare so mine have all had jobs that can be used in the event that I don’t breed them. I am starting to agree with the buy one and not breed one idea. There are so many nice ones out there. My family (esp. my kids)just loves having a baby around every couple of years but if I am not prepared to keep it, I guess I really don’t need to produce it.

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