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Archive for the ‘Boutique breeder’ Category

One of the things we hear from the slaughterphiles the most is the screeching about how slaughter is going to give dignity and use to all these mysterious unwanted horses and how the rest of us, the antis, won’t step up and offer solutions.  Never mind the fact that largest contributors to the `unwanted’ horse population seems to be slaughterphiles and that they certainly are not exempt from abusing and neglecting their horses *cough*dorothyrobertson*cough*.  Other than kill and eat them, I have yet to see a single PSA offer any alternative solution or accept a shred of responsibility for the existing problems.  By and large, they hate rescues unless said rescue supports slaughter.  They think that if there will never be slaughter again, that all the unwanted, neglected, and starving horses should be dumped off on the lawns of anti-slaughter people.  Obviously, not a realistic or viable solution, but they refuse to accept the inevitable or look at alternatives.  When a viable alternative is presented, they work double-time trying to shoot it down, claiming a violation of their property rights and waving the confederate flag.  Well, guess what?  Somehow in our quest to address the problems that even PSAs agree on, we have managed to offend their delicate sensibilities once again.

offended

News has come out recently that the HSUS if forming a “‘Responsible Horse Breeders Council”.  Yeah, I know.  If the HSUS is involved that automatically means it’s all kinds of evil and you must immediately put on your tinfoil beanie to prevent the constant bombardment of conspiracy theories from polluting your mind.  Whatever.  The goal of this council will be “to decrease the number of horses in the United States who are at risk of being neglected, abused, or slaughtered for human consumption.”   I don’t know about you, but I can’t really see this as a bad thing.  I see this as a some anti-slaughter people stepping up with solutions.  They are trying to address over breeding of horses by having breeders voluntarily be added to their list.  This means the breeder will take responsibility should that horse become homeless or at risk for being abused or sent to slaughter.  Nobody is telling any horse owner/breeder they must sign up, it’s voluntary.  You can read more about it here : http://www.thehorse.com/articles/31238/responsible-horse-breeders-council-formed.  Is it going to fix everything?  No, but it’s a start.  Many of the larger Thoroughbred breeders already have a similar policy in place.  It works.  It makes you want to do business with them.

foal

While I’m sure many of you agree that this idea for a breeder’s council is a pretty good one, you shouldn’t be surprised to know that it has bunched some panties with the PSAs.  For your amusement and disgust, here is a selection of comments from the UH brain trust.

“If you’re a horse breeder, do you feel you should be responsible for the horses you sell from birth to death? HSUS thinks you should be. But remember…horses can live 30+ years. And how will this affect our rights to private property and animal ownership?”

– This comment is courtesy of Mindy `Puppymill’ Patterson.  I would like to know how she thinks that anybody volunteering to be added to a list will affect HER rights to private property and animal ownership.  If you don’t agree and want to carry on being an irresponsible dickhead, by all means, don’t sign up and continue contributing the problem.

“I have been a horse breeder for 30+ years. Of course we can’t be responsible for what others do with ‘our’ horses after they leave our premises!”

– Did I mention that PSAs have a huge problem with reading comprehension?  Nobody is going to hold anybody `responsible’ for what somebody else has done.  They are asking you to step up and do the right thing by animals you have bred and put out there.  You could choose to bring them home and euthanize them humanely even.  Or, you could choose not to be responsible and go on with your bad self.  I’m beginning to sound like a broken record…

“No. The reason a breeder raises horses to sell is to fill a market niche. If you are limited on your selling, you’d not be able to do your job as a responsible breeder.

Those who’re responsible are raising the best possible horses they can, research genetic diseases, and do their best to make a positive contribution. But HSUS is determined to remove private ownership of all species, not just horses. If breeders sign up for this, they’re tilting at windmills.”

– If you truly are raising the best horses you can and are not over breeding, then you probably won’t get that many that need your help. Nowhere in this article do I see anything about it affecting private ownership of horses, let alone all species.

“With the 3 largest stock breeding paying out incentives to breeders, stallion owners and mare onwers, does the HSUS expect to wag the dog. I know they have lobby powers and cash up the ying yang, but we are talking AQHA here boys and girls. Turn them loose. Who has the moxie to tell them good ol boys who can or cant breed and how many to allow or not”

– Ahhh, yes.  The good ole AQHA.  The breed that just happens to be one of the favorites of horse eaters and the association that supports slaughter.  Way to value your product!  The same breed that allowsthe  breeding and registration of horses with HYPP, HERDA etc. Conditions that could be bred out of that breed within one generation should they just close the books on breeding stock that tests positive.  No, wouldn’t expect that association nor the APHA with their OLWS Russian breeding roulette that they allow to go on to come on board with something like this.

“I think the Jockey Club has a program called the Breeders Cup program that has the richest 2 day or horse racing in the world fed by owners, breeders and trainers that know the gamble and game better than any HSUS flunky ever dreamed of.”

– I’m not sure what the Breeders Cup has to do with any of this, but the Jockey Club has adopted an anti-slaughter stance.  As I have stated, many of the larger TB breeders already do have programs or mandates in place to deal with their former horses and keep them out of the slaughter pipeline.  Three Chimneys, for example, will go one further and assist with the rescue/rehab of a horse that is merely sired by one of their stallions whether that horse was ever on their farm or not.  Thoroughbreds also have several dedicated rescues just to deal with racehorses once their careers at the track are over.  They probably don’t have a problem with being on a list of responsible breeders at all. Nice try though.

“And then we have a great industry of purposely bred horses for consumption. These horses have been selectively bred, culled, fed and studied to meet a standard of excellence that is not different than Wagyū or Black Angus cattle. Explain to these very affluent business people that the horses that they produce and fly live to Asian markets at double digits per pound can’t do that any more because they have to provide a birth to natural death life promise. Hell Dane likely cant even extort that kind of promise from his own Family members.”

– Way to shoot yourself in the foot!  According to the IEBA and UH, slaughter is for unwanted horses, so that they don’t have to suffer and go to waste.  Now this idiot is suggesting that there is a booming business of breeding horses specifically for consumption?  Which is it?

“As a breeder I do not believe I need to be responsible for the horse, dog, goat, duck, or what ever I raise and sell until it’s death. The new owner is responsible for the animal after it leaves the property. I may on occasion make a deal with the new owner to have the option to buy the animal back, but that depends on the situtations. This is like telling someone that raises beef cattle or hogs for meat sale that they need to be aware of where the animal is at all times. That’s like telling a parent that once their child hits 18 and moves out that they are responsible for every thing their child does until they die. Hogwash!!!”

– Really?  As breeders we keep track of the horses that leave our property.  If we found one to be in a bad situation, we would absolutely do the right thing by it because we care.  Not because we are responsible for that bad situation, but we care about the animals we bring into this world.  Even if it was in such bad shape that it was suffering, we would gladly take one back to euthanize it humanely.  Lucky for us, we don’t flood the market, nor do we breed crap so those situations don’t really come up for us.

“Animals are private property. Under that premise, the new owners are responsible. This proposal by HSUS opens up a huge can of worms. I posted this on The Cavalry Group Facebook page as well, and someone brought up the important point that if something like this were to take hold, what would keep them from limiting the age of breeders to prevent them from breeding past a certain age? Scary precedent.”

– This was from Puppymill Patterson again.  She’s right about one things, the new owners ARE responsible for the animals they buy.  However, what happens when you sell one to somebody like Dorothy Robertson and it ends up in dire straits?  Are you ok, just shrugging it off  and saying it’s not your problem anymore?  Legally it’s not your problem, but many people would probably want that horse back or at least have a hand in seeing that it was not suffering.  Hell, maybe they would throw a rescue a few dollars to help with rehabilitating the animal.

“I have taken horses back after they have been gone for years. Life changes and sometimes the horse is no longer part of that life. I will take back their horse and give it a foreverhome or place it in a good home if I can. That horse was foaled here and if it needs help in life I will try to be there for it.”

– Thank you.  That is all anybody is asking.  If every single breeder did this, there would be no need for slaughter.  Think about it.

” Before this thread takes a turn for the worse….I breed to MAKE MONEY. Sorry guys, it’s a business and we have a business plan set up. I’m not going to keep something around that doesn’t have a job or potentially can make money.

– I know that this particular `breeder’ actually works at Wal-Mart.  Want to see the kind of stock she is putting out there?  I wonder how that `making money’ thing is working out for her…

One of this breeder's yearlings

One of this breeder’s yearlings

One of the above `breeder's' stallions.

One of the above `breeder’s’ stallions.

I guess I’m not surprised at the puffing out of chests and paranoid ramblings of the UH PSAs given that they have Puppymill Patterson fanning the flames.  They seem to not grasp the concept that nobody is forcing anybody to sign up on this list.  One of them suggested this list is 5yrs old and was sold to the HSUS.  I don’t know that to be true.  Given the challenges many PSAs have with the English language, I will wait for a reputable source to weigh in on that.  What I do know is that breeders on this list (allegedly over 800) should be praised for doing the right thing.  Each and every time you breed a mare, you should ask yourself who is going to want that foal and do you have the funds to raise and train it properly so that it will attract your target buyers.  If you truly are breeding for a legitimate market demand and are breeding quality stock, then you probably won’t see very many, if any, of your stock in dire straits.  I know it can happen to any horse, but those are not the usual cases.  I think the real problem PSAs have with this list is that many of them breed complete and utter junk and they dump them wherever they can.  They realize that if they ever signed onto something like this, they would be inundated with `returns’.  There is one way to prevent that.  Stop breeding anything and everything with a uterus.  My question to these people is; why do you even have and/or breed horses if you don’t care what happens to them?  Wouldn’t there be far less suffering and problems if people like the PSAs just stuck to inanimate objects?

 

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If you’ve been following along with the slaughter stuff for any length of time, I’m sure you’ve heard all the trumped-up reasons why we absolutely MUST start slaughtering all our horses again.  I could write forever punching holes in them.  However, one of the ones that irritate me the most is the whole `slaughter sets a base price for horses’ argument.  WTF?  Seriously!  I’m not usually given to direct responses to the petulant pony aside from the weekly recaps of the lunacy she perpetuates, but some things you just can’t let slide on by.  Misinformation pisses me off.

So, if we are to believe the slaughterphiles,  horses aren’t selling well because there is no `base’ price per pound on them.  I don’t even comprehend that line of thinking.  Horses are not raised to be food animals.  Does anybody look at the steak on your plate and wonder if it was papered or how well-trained the cow was before it was slaughtered?  I didn’t think so.  Because this is the type of horse that I’m most familiar with, I decided to pull up the stats for the recently concluded Keeneland fall sale for Thoroughbreds of all ages.  This sale is 11 days and features everything from weanlings, to race stock, to breeding stock.  The prices run from in the millions all the way down to $1000, but when averaged out over 11 days, it always gives us a pretty good indication of where our market is and how we’re doing.  Do you know what the verdict was?  The market is strong.  This is especially gratifying because everybody knows those damn thoroughbreds don’t make the best meat horses.  If you believe Holy Theresa Manzella, they cost double to feed than any other horse (complete and utter bullshit btw).

In the interest of fair reporting and full disclosure,  if you look at the hard numbers from Keeneland’s fall sale this year it was down a little.  However, last year’s sale featured once in a lifetime dispersals of some fairly high-end breeding stock which they have attributed to the higher numbers.  The late Bernard Evans holdings along with Saud bin Khaled’s Palides Investments N.V., Inc   were dispersed and brought some crazy high prices.  Included in that consignment was Royal Delta who sold for $8.5 million.  With those horses factored out of the numbers from last year, the prices are actually higher this year.  So, the `real’ numbers from this year saw the gross up 5.36% , the average up 2.74% and the median up 10%.  That doesn’t mean much to most people unless you attach the actual dollar amounts though.  So, this year’s average sales price over the 11 days was $52,248 and the median was $22,000.  Not sure about you, but those are pretty good numbers to me.  I’m not alone in that opinion.  Keeneland vice president of sales, Walt Robertson stated:

“This was a very good sale, and encouraging in that the market laid down a stable foundation for the industry, Last year’s sale was enhanced by the vintage dispersals. This year we saw a truer market. And while there was general support throughout, we definitely saw a concentration on quality with regard to all types–broodmares, weanlings and horses of racing age. There is no doubt the money is out there for a good horse.”

I think the last sentence is pretty important.  People are still paying good money for good horses.  That’s the one thing slaughterphiles like NT will never be able to wrap their minds around.  No thoroughbred breeder bases the value on their stock on meat prices.  They breed for quality and performance and meat prices neither factor into their choices nor do they set their `base’ prices.  I suppose when you sell horses that are unpapered, not finished for anything and look like the ones below, you probably can’t wrap your mind around the real horse industry and real sale prices.

Sale picture courtesy of NT

Another NT sale horse

Now, I have been accused of being elitist a time or two by the slaughterphiles.  I’m actually not all that elitist when it comes to horses.  I’m a realist.  What I keep as my personal pet horses are one thing, what I deal with for a living are another.  I’m not looking to resell my personal horses, but I’m also not breeding them.  Many of my `horsey’ friends ride grade horses or show culls and they are still great horses for what they want to do with them.  They also aren’t breeding them or looking to make a living from flipping them.  The fact is there will ALWAYS be cheap horses as long as there are idiots involved with breeding them and horse trading.  EVERY single breeder has a foal that doesn’t quite come out like you had hoped.  However, if you are breeding quality stock, raising them correctly and either training them or presenting them for sale properly, it’s far easier to find a good home for the odd cull than to keep creating them.  If you are a bottom end horse trader and the lack of slaughter is putting you out of business, I don’t feel even a little bit sorry that you can’t make a living selling horses to slaughter.  Whine and cry all you want, dead horses don’t drive the industry.  They don’t need tack, feed, veterinary care or any number of other related purchases.  If Suey and the IEBA gets their way, you still wont’ be able to afford to be in the horse trading business because it’s going to cost you more to do business with her than to put a horse down.  I won’t shed one tear if all the slaughterphiles get out of the horse business and it also won’t change my lifestyle and income one bit.  If you need meat prices to value your stock, please find another business to be in because the horse industry will be better off without you.  Just give us some time to clean up the huge mess that the slaughterphile mindset has created.

Havre De Grace — recently sold for $10 million as a broodmare prospect

 

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I’m so glad we have PSAs (pro-slaughter advocates, to our new readers) around to educate the rest of us and let us know why we need to slaughter horses.  Although, I have yet to see a single anti-slaughter person say that they want to stop all breeding and have no domestic horses, the PSAs insist that is our mission.  I have also seen them say we are all atheists and tree huggers too.  Not sure about y’all, but I have never been able to find a passage in the bible that said that eating horses would get me to heaven and the last time I tried to hug a tree, there may or may not have been alcohol involved and I ended up with bark in my unmentionables.  I don’t recommend it at all.  Since our PSA pals are such fine horsemen, I thought we might be able to learn the error of our thinking as it pertains to breeding horses.  For the record, I have never said to wipe out all breeding, I have only said we need to be far more selective in what we breed.  Warmblood registries have a complex approval process for their breeding stock and rare is the occasion you find one in a kill buyer’s pen.  Perhaps we could learn something from them?  Probably not, the PSAs have other ideas about breeding, so let’s check up on their expertise….

The PSA lesson on breeding began with one of them complaining that a friend wanted to breed two horses because they were pretty, even though they didn’t have the pedigree to justify making more of them.  So far, so good……Sadly, their resident experts decided to chime in and thing went south in a hurry….

 

” if you afford to feed it i have no problem with anyone breeding anything they want. I ain’t the breeder police.

– Of course this PSA will take this position if you take a look at her super special gaited Appy she is breeding.

 

“I have a problem with PROVEN mares and stallions as the only reason for breeding. While breeding just to breed is stupid what’s wrong with taking a relatively unknown stud with good conformation and great disposition and breeding it to your unknown but lovely mare? You could end up with the next champion. You could end up with a dud. Or you could get the horse you have dreamed for your entire life”

– Clearly this person is not clear on minimizing risk.  Out of nothing by nothing is far more likely to beget nothing than the offspring of world beater and world beater.  Unless you plan to keep that foal for life, you have no business dumping more crap on the market.  According to PSAs thousands of would be champions are shipped to Canada or Mexico every single day.  Why not just waltz on down to the kill buyer and pick one up for the $20 they say they sell for?

 

“Secretariat never bred a winner… just sayin’. I have a problem with all the people who are *only* breeding to popular lines. They are concentrating the gene pool, and there are a lot of people who are not having their horses tested for things like HERDA, but are breeding those lines anyway. I don’t want anyone telling me that I can’t breed my grade mare that has a fantastic”

– I just love it when people that don’t know a thing about Thoroughbreds make comments like this.  Secretariat sired 1986 Horse of the Year, Lady’s Secret.  He also sired Melbourne Cup winner, Kingston Rule, stakes record-setting General Assembly, Grade 1 winner Tinners Way, Belmont and Preakness winner Risen Star, just to name a few.  Secretariat sired many winners.  More importantly, he was the broodmare sire to horses like Storm Cat and Gone West, as well as the grandsire of horses like AP Indy and great grandsire of Giant’s Causeway.  While he never reproduced himself, he was hardly a flop in the breeding shed.  His success as a broodmare sire is believed to be because he passed on his `X-factor’ which was the large heart gene through his daughters.  The North American Thoroughbred would not be remotely the same today without Secretariat’s contribution in the breeding shed.  He was still commanding a $125,000 stud fee when he died in 1989.

 

“Logic would tell us that there are way more *great* horses out there that will never be “discovered”, for many reasons. Just because a horse hasn’t ever done anything noteworthy in the world doesn’t mean it isn’t a worthwhile animal. My very first favorite horse of all time was ugly as unrepented sin, and a stubborn jughead, but he was the most trustworthy horse I’ve ever seen. He was worth a lot to me and a lot of other people. Other folks would wrinkle up their noses and say he was just ugly…”

– I half assed agree with some of this statement.  There are many good horses out there that aren’t the prettiest or don’t have a fashionable pedigree.  The problem is that if you breed horses like that, you are lessening their odds at staying out of the slaughter pipeline.  If Suey and D-bag have their way, there will be a whole bunch more great horses that never get discovered because they will be on dinner plates.  What will be left to buy cheap is the old, sick and crippled ones that aren’t suitable for human consumption.

 

“Bloodlines lessen the odds, they don’t eliminate them. Known winning cow horse lines bred to the same usually produce a good cow horse. Every now and than you get a peptoboonsmal or a High Brow, but the world will never ever know how many were produced that were ruined by the owners or trainers, or gelded and would have made great producers. I have known bloodlines but my studs are proven, only their sires and dams are. My mares have won some and broduced winners but if you went by their records alone, no…..most are small time winers. I agree with N’Tee……give a horse that has good conformation and good blood a chance. If it does not produce, move it on down the road. I’ve done this often and am pretty ruthless if it won’t at least produce as good as it is.”

– I still don’t have an English to illiterate translator, but I think this person is saying her stud is unproven and her mares aren’t either, but they are pretty?  At least she has set the bar low in saying they have to produce as good as they are being the benchmark.  Pretty easy to produce unaccomplished horses….just leave them in the field.  I just want to know who is the buyer for all these horses…

PSA Breeding Experts

I think you get the idea of what we’re dealing with.  None of these people see themselves as part of the problem.  They all have quality stock, just ask them.  Yet, they scream and cry that they need slaughter to return to set their market price.  I know I’ve been at this horse thing a long time and the slaughter price as never had any effect on what the horses I was dealing with were worth.  These are the same people that think pedigree query is the ultimate resource on performance and pedigree.   It can be a decent resource the same way Wikipedia is.  You can’t take anything on either as gospel because ANYBODY can go in and add or change things. In the future,  I think that I may need to swap out my tinfoil beanie for a helmet when I go and read their stuff.  My forehead is getting very sore from hitting the desk.  😦

 

 

 

 

 

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One of the rallying cries of the PSAs is that horse prices have plummeted since the last slaughter-house was closed in 2007.  While both the GOA report and the AVMA both state that there has been no decrease in the amount of horses slaughtered since 2007, the PSAs still whine that it has wiped out the market.  Guess what?  On some levels I actually agree.  The market for low-end horses has definitely tanked.  I don’t even think this is in question no matter what side of the slaughter issue you stand on.  What our PSA friends refuse to acknowledge is why the market has dropped out for the bottom end horses.

I feel like I’m stating the obvious, but right around the time the last slaughter plants for horses closed in the US, we went into a global economic crisis.  Many people lost their investments, their homes and their jobs.  Economists say this is the worst recession since the dirty 30’s.  According to the AHP Industy Survey, nearly 60% of the horse industry’ is made up of pleasure riders.  (http://www.americanhorsepubs.org/resources/AHP-Equine-Survey-Final.pdf) These are largely recreational riders and horse owners who were the very same people who shopped the low-end of the horse market.  Their lives are not dependent on having horses, so it stands to reason as their disposable income went down, so did the demand for low-end horses.  I am NOT saying they all rode low-end horses, but their investment in the horse industry was and is directly relational to their income.  It isn’t a huge leap to guess that the people who had less money to spend and were buying lower end horses may be out of horses all together now.  As a result the kill buyers have far less competition for the young, healthy horses they prefer and prices are way down for these kinds of horses.

Now,  we should look at the higher end of the market.  Because I’m lazy, I’m just going to use the `Big Two’ for examples.  That would be the AQHA and the Thoroughbred sales  stats. They have the biggest registries and are also far easier to pull up, so we’ll go with the stats from the AQHA World Sale and the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.  They are the premier sales for their respective breeds.    In 2006 the average for all sessions of the AQHA World Sale was $6698 with 379 horses sold.  That same year, the Keeneland September Yearling sale saw 3556 horses sold for an average of $112,427.  Skipping ahead to last year the AQHA World Sale’s numbers were 183 sold for an average of $4690.   Last year Keeneland had 2921 sold for an average of $76,511.  I know as far as these sorts of sales, the median is the most important number as one or two extremely high selling horses can throw the average out .  The high selling horse for the AQHA sale in 2006 was $200, 000 while the high seller in 2011 was $65,000.  At Keeneland, the 2007 sale topper went for 3.7 million, while in 2011 it was  1.4 million dollars. It should be noted that last year saw the highest median at Keeneland September Yearlings in the last few years and marked increase in sales averages over the previous year.  Unfortunately, the sources I used for the AQHA World Sale did not list the medians although a comparative analysis drawn between 2010 and 2009 sales results also indicated things very much on the road to recovery for QHs.

http://qhd.com/sales/AQHA_2010_World_Sale_Analysis_Final.pdf

http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/thoroughbred-sales/results/2011/9/11/keeneland-associaton-september-2011-yearling-sale

Since my point of reference is TBs, I can say that the low-end dropped out of our horses too. Many smaller breeders got out of the business.  They weren’t all bad breeders either.  The rule of thumb for selling a yearling is that you need to get at least double your stud fee back in order to start seeing any sort of profit.  Of course that only works if you invested more than $5000 in your stud fees and that is still pretty cheap for a TB. The Jockey Club does not support slaughter and the market for TB sales is not driven by meat prices.  The drop in prices was blamed solely on the economic crisis and many leaders in the industry said it would bring about a market correction.  While nobody wants to see their bottom lines drop, it has corrected to a degree.  Stud fees reduced to reasonable rates allowing breeders to have more choices and value for their dollars.  With the middle to low-end drastically affected, people became much more selective in what they were breeding and as a result, have begun to revalue their `product’.  An example is KY Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another.  Because he is not considered to be well-bred or conformationally correct, there was basically no interest in the US market for him to stand at stud here.  As a result he is on his way to Japan in the next week or two.  Maybe prior to 2007 he would have had a chance to earn his stripes in KY, but there wasn’t much surprise among the industry insiders when this deal was announced. In general, TB prices are considered to be on an upswing again and the industry is recovering from the crash.  People are optimistic it will be stronger than ever.

The biggest complaint I see from PSAs is there are no good cheap horses to buy anymore and poor selection of the ones left out there. .  See https://shedrowconfessions.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/where-have-all-the-unwanted-horses-gone/ for some PSA quotes on the issue.  It seems they want to have a bunch of cheap horses to choose from, yet they all want top dollar for whatever broken down nag they are breeding in their back yards.  The concept of a market correction is well beyond their grasp.  Unless the PSAs want to go into the breeding for slaughter business, there is still going to be a poor selection if kill plants open back up.  Why?  Because those cheap,young, healthy horses that people want to get their hands on are going to be headed for the dinner plate.   The PSAs think that the anti-slaughter people want no horses bred ever.  They have a hard time understanding that nobody was said that.  We just want this backyard and indiscriminate breeding of poor quality horses to stop.  I may be a snob, but I’m perfectly fine if not everybody can afford to buy a horse.  I don’t think that is a God-given right.  Maybe  people will take better care of their horses if they can’t just go replace them for a couple hundred dollars after they wreck them.  Maybe it will make it harder to hoard them. Maybe the ones left standing in the horse industry will appreciate and do right by the horses. We can always hope anyhow…..

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A month or so before Christmas, I received a letter in the mail regarding one of my horses.  It asked if I would like to list him in the breed stallion directory.  Apparently, there had been some inquiries about him.  Imagine my surprise considering I purchased him as a gelding and other than getting his papers transferred and making sure my information was correct on there, I never looked all that closely at them. I’ve had this horse for quite a while.  It would seem that his original owner forgot to update his papers when she gelded him.  He never went through any testing to be approved as a stallion, so I assume he was gelded young.  I also don’t follow the bloodlines of his specific breed, so I wasn’t aware that he is considered very well-bred.  I know I wouldn’t breed to him.  It isn’t because he is badly put together,he’s not.  He’s actually a pretty nice example of his breed standard.  I wouldn’t breed to him because he isn’t exceptional nor has he done much to `prove’ himself worthy of anything other than being my toy.  I do know he had some accomplishments under his belt prior to the second owner getting him and that’s about it.  It doesn’t make him worth any more or less to me that somebody thought he was well-bred enough to inquire about breeding to him.  I love him just the same. I do think the person that inquired needs to give their head a shake though.  They had never even SEEN my horse.  This brings me back to the backyard breeding problem.

Almost without exception, I hear backyard breeders telling me how well-bred their horses are.  They will start spewing off names of former greats and hall of fame horses.  They will puff out their chests and tell you the horse has Easy Jet, Dash for Cash, Doc Bar,Seattle Slew etc. in their pedigree.  They become indignant and angry when you fail to show the appropriate amount of enthusiasm for this.  In these cases, we are talking about horses born more than 30 yrs ago.  Most of them have been dead for more than 20 years.  Who cares if they are on the pedigree if they are more than two or three generations back?  Even then, who cares if the generations in between haven’t accomplished anything?  EVERY stallion, no matter how prolific, has thrown a few substandard foals.  Every single one.  Being the son of or the son of a son of a world beater DOES not mean well-bred.  Even my own horse has Northern Dancer on his papers.  He isn’t even a Thoroughbred and if you could see his 17.2H bulky self, you would never believe it if it wasn’t right there on his papers several generations back.  It means absolutely nothing that far removed.  He probably can’t outrun a fat man going down hill nor would any of his babies have been able to had he been left intact.

Believe it or not,  I am considered to be a complete pedigree geek by people who know me when it comes to Thoroughbreds.  I consider The Blood Horse Stallion Register light reading material and I have spent uncountable hours looking at walking videos and past performance figures.  Of course I realize all breeds are different, but basic and sound breeding principles are the same.  Without a doubt, the most important part of a pedigree is the bottom side or dam side of the pedigree.  If you start off with a substandard mare, you have exactly nothing as far as value, unless the foal can grow up to prove their own value.  If you are breeding to sell, and most TB breeders are, you better have a good `page’ on the horse or you will end up broke in a hurry.  This means there better be black type within the first two generations, preferably all generations, and the sire better be fashionable.  All this will mean nothing if the baby doesn’t look the part, so you best be making sure you are breeding for conformation as well.  A classic example of this is this year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, I’ll Have Another.  There is a reason he didn’t sell for much money as a yearling and as a two year old.  While he had the `blood’ on the bottom side of his pedigree, there wasn’t much in the way of black type close up and his sire is considered cheap by industry standards.  I’ll Have Another himself, is an unremarkable specimen and very much on the small side.  As a result, he is now headed to Japan to begin his career as a sire because there just wasn’t anybody in Kentucky that felt he was worth as much money or willing to support him with quality mares as the Japanese were.

Even when all the boxes are checked and you think you are breeding the next superstar, things can go wrong.  It happens to everybody as some time or another.  The very best horse in the world, with a great pedigree may turn out to not throw much.  There was a horse called Gentlemen, that was a prime example.  He was a grandson of Nureyev, beautiful, and went on to win over 3.5 million dollars racking up several Grade I scores along the way.  I’ve seen him in person several times.  He has also been a colossal flop as a sire.  This is despite having the very best mares on the very best crosses to stand to.  For whatever ever reason, he has never been able to transfer his brilliance to the breeding shed. He is still standing at stud, but there probably isn’t a commercial breeder that will touch him, and they shouldn’t.  His babies don’t fetch in the sales ring and they don’t perform on the track.

I can already hear the shrieking from the PSA Backyard Contingent that this means nothing and I don’t know Quarter Horses.  Guess what?  I do know a little about QHs although I’m no longer involved with breeding them.  I worked with running QHs way back when and still have friends and family that are heavily involved with both racing and showing.  Sound breeding principles are the same.  Breed the best to the best and hope for the best.  That means that even if you love your badly put together, done nothing,  mare in the back 40, you have NO business breeding her unless you plan on hanging onto that baby for life.  You especially have no business breeding her or your nickel bred stud if you are pro-slaughter because, according to you, there are all these unwanted horses and good, papered babies are going to kill buyers for $15.  Breeding is very much `what have you done for me lately’ and nobody cares who your horse traces back to if there is nothing of note in the first few generations.  Period.

I could devote an entire blog to the ins and outs of breeding horses.  I’ve barely touched on important things like conformation, form to function, etc. etc., but even though there are many books written on the subject, it’s one of those lifelong learning things.  The bottom line is that if you are a PSA and you truly believe that there is a glut of unwanted horses and the market is gone, then you are part of the problem if you are a backyard breeder.  Sadly, it takes a modicum of self-awareness to realize that you are a backyard breeder and we all know that PSAs are pitifully deficient in that area.

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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.

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