11 March 2013

Hay--The Last Straw

Over the last eight years or so, horses have suffered more and more from the ripple effects of the economy. Now with growing evidence climate change in the form of persistent droughts, the soaring cost of hay and grain adds to the dilemma.

Obviously, the ideal is to shift horses to new homes, but that's harder and harder to do. My neighbor, a well known animal cruelty expert, told me how dire the horse rescue situation has become--full to overflowing, long waiting lists. It looks like the situation is not getting any better as time passes.

Here's the latest story: "13 Paso Fino Horses Need Homes."

The bit about breeding for the agricultural exemption raised a red flag with me, but this owner tried to surrender them, something a number of other owners have failed to do, and a serious illness can push anyone over the edge. It's sad, but both marginal owners and many formerly flush horse owners look to be totally ill prepared for bad times, and their horses are paying the price.

In the last year or two, the more exotic breeds began to show up in the news. In the past year or two Lusitanos and Arabians hit the headlines. What next? Friesians?

I suspect the situation's only going to get worse. Some forty or fifty thousand ferals warehoused by the BLM, a glut of horses bred by hobby breeders, the usual flood of failed race horses, all this points towards a horse holocaust as the middle class shrinks and feed prices edge higher and higher.

UPDATE: The same economic problems afflict Ireland, England, and other European countries. Horror stories abound. For example, a 7 year old Irish Sport Horse was sent to a rather well known rider to be offered for sale. Here's how he was returned to the owner:

Since I recently purchased an Andalusian gelding that I adore, this 12 Mar. 2013 story brought on a shudder: "Thousands of Spain's Horses Head for the Slaughterhouse As Economic Crisis Results in Abandonment." 

Of course, I already knew how bad things were there. Just a few days before this article appeared, English trainer Heather Moffett posted a photo of a highly trained Alter Real stallion on her Facebook page with a plea for someone to grab the horse. Located in Portugal or Spain, the stallion was being offered for 3000 Euros, a fraction of what a stallion of his quality would have gone for a few years back.

People screw up and animals suffer.