There seems to be some controversy with the PSAs on exactly what a backyard breeder is. From what I can gather from their incoherent ramblings, they are operating under the misguided assumption that it means anybody breeding on a small scale. WRONG! A backyard breeder is somebody who breeds poor quality horses that produce even worse quality foals. They can breed two horses a year or 200. You know you’re a backyard breeder when you have a field full of mares that were the second cousin twice removed of a horse that was sixth at The Congress in the 70’s,but have no redeeming qualities themselves other than being in possession of a functioning uterus. The mares in question will often be unbroke or crippled. Many color breeders, no matter what the breed, will fall into this category. Please note I said `many’ and not `all’. Many backyard breeders will call their horses by breed names that don’t actually have a registry. Most backyard breeders will have their own `herd sire’ and he may or may not be broke and/or registered. Backyard breeders will almost always pasture breed and rarely have any idea if the mares in question are actually in foal or not. They don’t believe in preg checks, ultrasounds or any of that other stuff that would mean proper breeding management. As a result some backyard foals are dropped out in fields at odd times of the year. Many backyard foals will eventually end up in the slaughter pipeline.
A boutique breeder is always a smaller breeder, usually keeping no more than 3 or 4 mares that won’t always be bred every single year. This will be somebody that will always breed quality over quantity. They will carefully select their mares based on qualities that meet a strict criteria. The stallions they select will be carefully matched to each mare and the best quality they can get. A boutique breeder will very rarely ever stand their own stallion. They always seek out horses that possess traits and bloodlines that are both fashionable and sought after. Their stock will be from high quality and accomplished ancestors beginning in the first generation. Boutique breeders rarely have trouble getting high dollars for their stock. Their horses are all papered through a recognized registry. They are horses that are normally bred for a purpose, whether that be cutting, racing, dressage etc. Backyard breeders will preg check and ultra sound a mare as well as give the appropriate shots and vaccinations throughout the gestation. They will know the approximate due date of the foal and generally be in attendance when it is born or have it foaled out at a nursery. They will never leave things to chance. Boutique foals almost never end up in the slaughter pipeline.
These aren’t the only two types of breeders there are, they just seem to be the ones that get confused the most. I wouldn’t consider somebody who has a mare they love and want a single foal out of her to be a backyard breeder, unless they want a whole bunch of foals out of the mare and have no intention on keeping any of them. I guess my point is that if you must breed horses, know what it is you’re breeding for. Ask yourself honestly if there is a market for the resulting foal and is it likely to advance or uphold a breed standard. What will this foal’s job be when it grows up and does it have the genetic tools to excel at it? Every breeder will at some point end up with a foal that doesn’t live up to expectations or comes out defective. For a boutique breeder that will be few and far between. For a backyard breeder it will be more often than not.
I have to think that the warmblood breeds kinda have the right idea in that they put their breeding stock through rigorous testing and they need to be approved in order to have their offspring accepted into a registry. One of the battle cries on the PSA front is that there are all these unwanted horses. They become very indignant when they are told to quit breeding poor quality stock because none of them ever think that applies to them. What is the harm in breeding only quality horses? Re-opening slaughter houses is only going to increase the problem of backyard breeding as they will have an easy out again. I don’t know why that is such a hard concept for them to grasp.