Monday, January 26, 2009

Cutting Corners

This is an old horse. Pinky the One-Eyed Wonder App has been retired and boarded with me for nearly twelve years. Pinky is a very lucky old horse. His owner fell on rough times and contacted me, and we worked out a decreased board so that she could still afford the costs of keeping Pinky healthy and happy to the end. Not all old horses are so lucky.

Last month one of the horse mags ran a survey asking what their readers had seen or experienced personally in the Unwanted Horses arena. Another mag (or maybe it was the same one . . . I'm old; I forget) asked what readers' plans were for the coming year given the state of the economy. Good questions! I wonder, though, how honest the answers were.

I doubt that anyone had the guts to admit that they are dropping regular dentistry. And I don't think I saw anyone say that they were forgoing vaccinations or cutting back on hay and grain or avoiding the horse shoer. Yet in conversations with Average Joe the Horseowner, those are the answers I'm hearing.

A rant about penny-wise-pound-foolish decisions would be appropriate, but I like my blood pressure where it is. Instead, I'm going to dissect and comment upon an editorial in one of those horse mags wherein the editor suggested in a well-worded article and a tongue-in-cheek essay that instead of pushing for more breeding, and instead of the competition among breed registries for bigger numbers, it's time to stop registering new horses and start registering new horse owners. She suggests that a lack of new horsemen is a contributing factor in the number of unwanted horses.

I suggest otherwise. I suggest that more owners who aren't ready for the responsibility or can't afford to pay the freight is not an answer. I suggest that more people allowing horses to get by on minimal care isn't an improvement. I suggest that the Horse Biz take a huge step back, put itself on Time Out, and rethink how best to address the Horse as House Pet misconception. We need to stop worrying about retraining horses and address retraining horsemen. AQHA has a Professional Horseman registry, which is very nice. I want a Professional Horse Owner registry, with a test (I like the CHA levels 1 and 2 standards myself) and certification required before any honest seller will release a horse into a buyer's hands.

The breed registries might, in good conscience, step up now and do something about wanton horse buying. There's no time like the present while a new slaughter bill is working its way through Congress. Stop the problem at its source, and the business will suffer briefly then move on in a much saner direction.

Pinky gives the idea two hoofs up.

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