In It For The Money

In It For The Money

High end horses are a big business and there’s a lot of money to be made.  Unfortunately it comes at a price and the horse is the one that pays that price. Young horses expected to perform maneuvers of a finished, older horse; horses are basically thrown away when they can no longer perform. Where does it end and just how big of a price are these horses expected to pay?

Three year olds are expected to compete in futurities that require a level of training that they shouldn’t attain until they’re 6 or 7. Sliding stops, spins and rollbacks for reiners at such an early age have to take a toll on their legs and joints. Think about how young they have to be and how hard they have to be pushed to be able to compete in futurities. I’ve seen countless jumpers that are doing 4′ fences as 4 year olds.

Then there’s the ever popular (and most mistreated) Western Pleasure horse. Granted, they only have to walk, jog, lope and back, but how they’re broken is extremely questionable. I just heard the other  (from a very knowledgable source) that some trainers teach them to keep their head down by attaching a rope to their halters, run the rope thru their front legs, throw it over a beam and tie a heavy bucket of water to the other end. I can’t imagine just how they teach that crippled looking, disgraceful lope.

Race horses and nurse mare foals …. I’m not going there.

If the horses are stallions or mares, and they’re able, they’re retired for breeding. If you visit kill sales around the country, you’ll find the geldings, as well as the mares and stallions that weren’t suitable for or injuries prevented them from breeding. Sell the horse to a kill buyer, never look back.  Start over with another horse that can win the almighty dollar and bring the prestige that goes with the titles, ribbons and buckles.

Although I’ve been aware of this, I never gave it too much thought until recently. In January I bought a pleasure gelding. I was unaware of his past until I started digging around. It turns out that my very sweet, lovable horse was rescued from a kill sale not 2 years before. If you’re interested, you can read about his rehab at What really brought this issue to the front of my mind was a survey I received from AQHA a month of so ago. At the end there were several questions: What do I like most about AQHA and what do I like least. As I answered the last question I really got to thinking about the horse industry as a whole and how horses are treated/mistreated for the love of money and prestige.


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