By Hoyt Rose
Ever think what’s in it for the horse? We use them for our entertainment. No matter how you look at it most of a horse’s captive life is not about them. It’s about us. Now that we feel bad, I have another take on it, too. If a horse could choose, I would guess they would prefer someone ride them over having a wolf eat them. Just sayin’. But in the long run we need to be conscious about our role in the horse’s life and our responsibilities.
Now let’s think about the horse industry. Horse welfare is in the news often. The problem with “horse welfare” is there’s not a singular definition. It means different things to different people. To define the words is impossible without considering why it’s a problem.
Uneducated Public – This means most of the public hasn’t worked around horses.
Urbanization – There is not enough rural area for horses to live.
Economic Struggles – Over the last 10 years, general income is down and horse prices are down – 14.5% to19.5% depending on where you look.
Indiscriminate Breeding Practices Prior to 2010 – People bred horses without a purpose or a plan to care for the foal for its life. I think this was/is a big problem. A very smart man told me that if you breed a mare you better be willing to feed and care for that baby for the next 20 years in case no one wants to buy it.
So what’s the solution?
Educate the Public – Every horse association should put on public events centered around horse care and horse training. It amazes me that with the internet there isn’t more of this.
Promote and Subsidize Beginner Horse Ownership – There should be events for beginners. Even open shows are extremely competitive now. No one wants to start at the bottom.
This is a small list for a big problem, but if we start a conversation we can get to a better solution. I have thought about a program like the Wild Mustang Challenge but with an untrained horse and a novice horseman. It would be interesting to see what instructor could teach how to train a horse to a newbie.
This is more of facts and figures blog, but my hope is to get a discussion started.
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