Thursday, May 1, 2008

What makes a horse an "unwanted horse?"

Let's have our own panel discussion here. What do you think makes a horse an "unwanted horse," a horse that is hard to sell or even give away, a horse that is likely to wind up on a truck to Mexico?

Here are the groups as I see them, and illustrated with examples!

Young stock that have never been properly handled or trained appropriate to their age. Someone bred them and then just let 'em grow. Maybe they fed them, maybe not so much. Maybe they did things like feet and deworming but most likely they did not. They don't have social skills. They don't have life skills. They are going to be a huge, whopping project for someone and the number of people who enjoy taking on huge, whopping projects is greatly outstripped by the number of huge, whopping projects.
Here's our example. This is a 5 year old unbroke mustang that she claims she can't afford a saddle or bridle for - but she wants to trade him for a mini!

Old stallions that are not settling mares anymore, or weren't such great stallions to begin with. But no one has cut them, and the sellers don't seem to be doing it either, so their odds of finding a home are slim. Most boarding facilities will not take a stallion, and many people simply do not have proper fencing for one at home or want to deal with the liability issues of a potentially loose stallion. Furthermore, many of these stallions don't have the best manners, or aren't sound. Do you know how many homes there are for these horses? Um, almost none.

Example: $150 Arab stallion (pictured ridden by the expert equestrian who currently possesses him...)

Old broodmares that are not settling anymore. The TB industry is particularly notorious. Often, nobody rides these mares after their last race and it simply doesn't occur to anybody that they could ride. So around age 20, they start getting dumped. You see it in all breeds though, and in other breeds, you see a lot of broodmares that were never broke out at all. This is a problem. EVERY broodmare should be at least green broke. It is a life insurance policy. Please, please, even if you are going to keep her for a broodmare - put 30 or 60 days on her. You cannot predict the future and this will help find her a good home if you can't be that good home forever.
I have to reproduce all the text of our example here. This is a 15 year old TB mare for sale for $200 on Craigslist. (Yeah the ad says 13 but their web site says 15 so you figure it out) "she is a 13 year old thourobread has thrown champion babys with great blood lines she is a steal call for berading and more info #509-660-0737or509-659-4218" wtf? wtf? wtf? Good God, did you get through the third grade?

Horses with physical problems. EPM, wobblers, navicular, arthritis, blindness, etc. the list goes on. Sometimes the horse was born with major defects. In a perfect world, people would take responsibility and keep a horse who has developed one of these problems in their care. In the real world, they stomp their foot and go "but I want to shooooooow/barrel race/trail ride and I can't affooooooord two horses" - and old faithful goes to the auction. The only "cure" here is to take away that option and at least force them to put a crowbar in their wallet, pry out a couple hundred bucks and euthanize - because there is no other legal way left to get rid of that horse. People will pay for it when they have to. They pay to have other things disposed of when there is no other way to get rid of them. I recall paying $500 to have a crappy old mobile home removed from a property.

Example: "Special quarter horse mare, born premie, mostly deaf, slight cataract in right eye and small for her age, is now almost 3 years old. NO PAPERS. She does not like halters or most people. She will let me know who she wants to go home with. Due to my long hours she requires more time than what I have to progress into the horse I know she can be. She is halter/lead broke when you can get it on her. She is very strong willed, spoiled and does not get along with other horses. ONLY SERIOUS NEED REPLY! More information and pictures available only to those who are serious about this Very Special Young Lady. email for inquiries."

Victims of poor planning. These truly aren't unwanted horses AT ALL. They are often victims of human denial, like the lady who knows she is getting a divorce or knows she is losing her job and knows she is not going to be able to afford to keep her horses, but clings to them like a drowning person until - POOF - the day comes when she's moving to an apartment on Monday. And of course off go to the horses to the Sunday auction, or to the dealer who will come and pick them up and she doesn't have to do a thing except take the money. This is a hard one to deal with. Really, the best cure comes from her friends - if you know someone in a situation like this, please help them. They may be depressed and not able to help themselves or their horses. If you can put in some time helping them to market their horses, or riding time to tune up those horses and make it easier for them to find a proper home, that's the best thing you can do. Another solution could be finding people to lease their horses - it does not seem as final, and it's not. It can be a good way to help someone get past a tough financial time in their life without the horses suffering. Example: Ten that she's got to sell in thirty days. Only some of them registered. You can have them all for $3000. Sounds like a horse dealer's dream!

Victims of a flooded market. If you are going to breed, please breed something that is somewhat rare. I.E. high enough quality for the breed shows/A shows. Look on DreamHorse and see what it selling - it's not that tough! Really, trust me, the world is not going to be impressed with your palomino weanling that has a cross to Doc Bar once in the fifth generation. Or your Arabian colt just because he is black. None of these colors are as rare as you think they are! They do not, in of themselves, create an easily sold animal. Yes, they are a plus when combined with excellent conformation and movement. Color is like a state of the art sound system. Sure, it makes a Jaguar worth more money. It is not going to do that much for your 1979 Pinto Wagon.

Example: There are few markets more flooded than the mustang market. Yet these folks are breeding tons more every year! And they have an entire page chock full of information on how not to get killed by the wild-as-shit colt you buy from them - since GOD FORBID they get off THEIR ASS and even halter break these things! Nope, that would be just too much effort, I guess. You know they are wild-ass mf's when they tell you "Transportation should be in a closed trailer or a stock trailer with full doors." Uh, yeah. And they want $650 for foals. Folks, I can buy a BROKE mustang ready to go down the trail for $650. Easily. What a bunch of asshats.

Victim of poor training: Thanks to permissive or abusive training, the horse has learned habits which have rendered him nearly unmarketable. Check this out. This is a nice looking colt, but who wants to fix rearing and striking at a human? Not me!

All right, do you have some to add? What else do you think makes a horse unwanted in today's world?