Debate On Horse Price Recovery Continues

“If ever there was a time to buy a horse, it’s now.”

That’s somebody else’s newspaper story lead, but there’s certainly truth in it.

Prices of horses are at the lowest level in decades, possibly since the early ’70s, and no change is in sight.

“Tough economic times and a glut of animals have left buyers room to be picky as they press for bargains,” the second paragraph of the story continued, which again is   accurate.

High-end horses with the best bloodlines, or in their prime for breeding, still bring good prices. Otherwise, horses are going for a fraction of what they would have two years ago, which was already down substantially from a short time earlier.

Actually, average quality horses are available for just a few hundred dollars, and young, thin and unmanageable horses often will not sell. Thus, frequent newspaper classifieds offer free horses for the taking.

Reports of dumping horses in pastures, farm corrals and tying them to another’s trailer at sale barns, horse shows, trail rides and wherever the opportunity arises are not uncommon.

“Out of sight, out of mind” is the philosophy as the inability to care for the horse is transferred to another without having to be inhumane. At least, one doesn’t have a personal guilty feeling of euthanization and the high costs and legal stipulations

“What a horse sells for depends on many factors,” said Joe Maley, senior director of programs for the Texas Farm Bureau. “Besides a slow economy, the end of horse rendering for human consumption in the United  States three years ago also has fed the glut in the market.

“Part of the economics of horse trading has to do with the cost of upkeep, raising and training the animals,” Maley said. “It could cost $6,000 to care for and train a young horse through its first two years of life, only to bring a few hundred dollars at a sale

“Right now, a good saddle costs more than a horse. You can pick up a kid-friendly older horse for about $300 to $600. A good saddle will cost you $700 to $1,000,” Maley continued.

“Individuals have priorities other than paying for food, boarding and upkeep for those horses. Folks cannot afford to feed horses when they are having trouble feeding themselves,” Maley evaluated.

However, in some expensive specialty breeds, the best horses are still bringing prices in the six figures, tabulated Shawn Crews, general manager of Arabians Ltd., a Waco, Texas-based operation that breeds Egyptian Arabian horses. “The top of the horse market is still selling, and selling real well,” Crews said.

Another horseman critiqued, “The poor economy is a big factor in low horse prices, true, but the major reason is PETA’s lobbying for the rule against selling horses for human consumption.

“They thought that they were ‘protecting’ the horses from ill treatment, but they only made it worse, because now horses are being trucked to Mexico in horrible conditions. The ‘my pretty pony’ people need to realize that horses are livestock, not all backyard pets,” he emphasized.

For clarification, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), with more than 2 million members and supporters, is the largest animal rights organization in the world.

PETA officials claim the group focuses its attention on the four areas in which the largest numbers of animals suffer the most intensely for the longest periods of time: on factory farms, in laboratories, in the clothing trade and in the entertainment industry.

“We also work on a variety of other issues, including the cruel killing of beavers,
birds and other ‘pests,’ and the abuse of backyard dogs,” an official claimed. “PETA works through public education, cruelty investigations, research, animal rescue, legislation, special events, celebrity involvement and protest campaigns.”

“Let PETA take care of the unwanted horses,” a horse-loving observer exclaimed.

“Even though our society frowns on the horse consumption market, it is an accepted practice in many other regions throughout the world. PETA is working this like a stepping stone,” another horse owner pointed out.

“They want a totally meat-free diet for the world, but they just don’t realize how that would completely destroy ecosystems because it would lead to little to no control of game and livestock populations. Save the world, eat meat,” he advised.

“Legislation to end the slaughtering of horses for human consumption in the U.S. was rather misinformed, but the real problem is a lack of control on the horse breeding industry as a whole. There is still no regulation on breeding horses,” a former horse owner stated.

“As long as people can continue to ‘back-yard breed,’ there will be a surplus of horses. Many of these horses will end up in inhumane and squalid conditions, whether that’s in a slaughter house in Mexicoor Canada, or starving and neglected on someone’s property in the U.S.

“I know this is a radical opinion, but people who want to breed horses should have a license, and it should be regulated. This will reduce the number of unused, unwanted horses and maintain price consistency in the market,” he predicted

‘‘No horse police and animal police system needs to be established in America,” a southwest Kansashorse owner argued. “We need to allow the proper handling of horses in America that are not able to be cared for humanely.

“Willie Nelson and Bo Derek need to recant their efforts that helped lead to the horrors happening to horses that are now being trucked to Mexico by the thousands, tortured and then killed in terrible ways,” he proclaimed.

And, the argument and debate continues as horse demand and prices in general are rock bottom.

Despite any positive changes that might come about, be it reduced breedings, horse processing facilities in this country and an improved economy, most likely the return to higher prices for low to average quality horses will be long in coming.

Past down cycles have been a quarter of a century long, and any economical graph would point to that period or longer with the present situation.