Recession and horses – Part 1

Recession and horses – Part 1

Time Magazine - Abandoned Horses ArticleAlthough I started writing this post a year ago, it’s just as relevant today. It doesn’t seem like things have improved much with the economy since then and in many ways, things have become worse. The effects of this current recession are widespread when it comes to horses. I’m no expert and I don’t run an equine-related business for a living but the evidence is all around me and is very noticeable.

In the news

Tempe’s horse-mounted patrol may be cut to save money

The whole idea for this post came as a result of an article I saw on the Arizona Republic’s website AZCentral about Tempe, Arizona’s horse-mounted police patrol possibly being cut or eliminated to save money. Arizona is in a world of hurt this time around and they’re cutting all over. But it was particularly sad for me to see this historical use of horses (they’ve been doing it 35 years now) be shut down.

I’m a subscriber to several news feeds and I see news articles almost every day from all over the U.S. about horses being neglected, malnourished and sometimes rescued. Even Time magazine did an article on “An Epidemic of Abandoned Horses“. A couple of other recent examples:

Marion County authorities investigate horse deaths

Effort Underway to Treat Horses in Indiana

Local Observations

At a local horse and tack auction, horses are regularly brought in to sell that have been underfed. Someone typically rescues them from a family who can no longer afford to feed them and tries to sell the horse to someone who can. Some of these are fine looking horses, except for being thin. We often hear stories about horses being found and no one claiming them. Sometimes at livestock auctions, farmers return to their cow trailers to find a horse or two tied to their trailer with a note saying someone can’t take care of them anymore. How sad.

Horse sales are way down locally and prices have dropped dramatically for all but the best trained and most in-demand horses. Good barrel horses can still command $5k-$10k but regular old trail horses and horses without much training routinely sell for $25 to $50 (more for special colors, such as solid white). We hope these horses go to good homes but worry than some won’t. Some probably end up in Canadian or Mexican slaughter houses.

In part 2, I’m planning to bring up how the poor economy has changed the market for horse products and services such as feed, tack and fencing.

How about you? Has the economy changed the way you purchase products or services for your horses? Have you seen evidence of a higher rate of neglect and abandonment in your area?

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