I got to thinking about this on the way home tonight (a 1 1/2 hour drive will do that to you) and I know this market has made me think a LOT differently about my horses.
This used to be my horse-life:
My girls, running in for their grain, with babies in their bellies or at their sides.
Seeker (Fabian's momma), Rita (now owned by Kelly in Oregon), and Cilla (Bambi's momma) all running in from a 60-acre pasture for their feed. It was my dream realized....
Sully (JJ's momma) and Penny and her baby Dot, following close behind....
These are wonderful memories, don't get me wrong, but now if I had this many mares and babies (although they were all lovely) I'd pull my hair out, scream, and hide in my closet with a bottle of tequila.
And never come out.
Right now it seems that every home for a horse worth having is completely filled up, and the only people left who are looking for horses have no business having one. One look at Craigslist and a person can find the scariest sites: horses standing with junk laying all over the place, a horse so sickle-hocked she could barely stand up, and then perhaps the scariest thing of all, horses that actually aren't bad at all--nicely bred, nicely put together, trained, safe and reliable, going for absolutely nothing at all.
It's enough to make a person wonder where is this all going? Thank goodness a lot of people have cut back on their breeding but many people who never had any business breeding horses to begin with keep pumping out double-digit foals each year out of their backyard? Good Lord Almighty WHY???
I won't go into details but the stories I hear seem to get worse and worse everyday. I suppose now that actually purchasing a horse is more affordable now (although caring for it surely isn't, but we're talking about the type of people here who never think that far ahead), these people with IQ's lower than their shoe size think it's a great time to "invest."
I would love to get my numbers down to 3 total, maybe four including Eddie, but with the way things are, I have resolved to just do the best I can with the six that I have. My plan? Well, it's pretty simple: keep my horses, grab a bottle, hunker down and pray for daylight (name that TV show :)
So what's your plan? Are you breeding less? Showing more? Trail riding more or even taking up a new equestrian activity? Are you selling/adopting out any horses successfully? Are you just hanging onto what you have and getting through these tough times as best you can?
If you are breeding a few horses, what are your plans with the foals? The (responsible) people I know still breeding are only planning on breeding one or two horses next year because they realize they'll need to keep the foals for a few years, most likely, or they are breeding for a horse they want to keep and do something with. I have a few friends with VERY nice, but unfortunately very young stallions and very nice producing stallions with their first one or two foal crops. It makes it nearly impossible to still produce responsibly but yet promote a young sire in this market. If you own any stallion, what are your breeding goals? Have you considered gelding/selling because of the market? Are you preparing to promote the foals yourself until the market improves?
To answer those questions for myself, as a stallion owner, I very much considered gelding Eddie, but due to kidnapping threats from friends and family (I *think* they were kidding???) I decided not to and just keep him intact and try to wait things out. I do have a few close friends wanting Eddie babies of their own, so he'll still be busy enough. The only horse I own that I could cross with him is Laramie and I can't see the sense in breeding her before she's shown. She's just too nice. So, once Miss Laramie has some points under her girth, we'll see about how she feels about being mother to a moose.
So...what are your plans? What are your goals? Where are you headed?