Saturday, November 22, 2008
The following is an email letter I submitted to a public
radio show. They were asking for stories of communities affected by the
economic downturn. And, of course, I thought of our horse community.
the letter: I listened to your show today while driving from barn to
barn. I take care of horses for a living. One segment prompted me, the
audience, to write about our community during this economic struggle.
And so here I am!
am writing on behalf on the horse owner community. Now you may think
horse owners are a well-heeled bunch. And you wouldn’t be entirely wrong.
People who hire me to take care of their horses aren’t the ones I’m
But many, many horseowners live paycheck to
paycheck. I know lots of horse folks from across the socio-economic
spectrum and we all agree this winter may bring the Perfect Storm we
I hope you’ll consider airing my point of view.
the past year or so, prices for grain, hay, shaving, and other supplies
essential for horse care have gone up dramatically. Some blame biofuels
for grain increases. Lumber mills are burning their own wood instead of
oil, so wood shavings (for horse stall bedding) are no longer a cheap
byproduct. Their cost has shot up.
It costs at least $4,000 per year to care for a horse, so a 30 percent hike in food prices is pretty hard on people.
in Maine (and much of the northern US), costs shoot up in the winter
anyway as we lose our pastures to cold and snow. So we replace our
“free” pastures with more hay and grain. And then, of course, they need
more hay and grain just to stay warm, too.
Maine is a poor,
rural state to begin with. Add a tough job market and I’m thinking the
laid-off worker will feed his kids before he feeds his horse.
my opinion, even the recent, well-intentioned ban on horse slaughter
will put horses and their owners in a more miserable position.
envision horses dying in their fields. I drive by farms where they’re
suffering already. So, which is more humane – a captive bolt to the
head or death by starvation and exposure?
My friend in Montana sees the same thing happening there.
I talked with a man who works for the Bureau of Land Management and he sees the same thing.
aren’t enough equine rescues in Maine to handle all the neglect cases
that are piling up. And I fear there aren’t enough horse owners with
deep pockets and big hearts to adopt or foster all those being
surrendered or seized.
Just today, I heard of a dozen seriously neglected miniature horses surrendered at a local veterinary clinic.
of my clients asked me to spread the word, he had a good quarterhorse
and was asking $5,000 for him. I just laughed. In this climate, I doubt
he could give him away. Just look at craigslist, I told him.
true – boating and horses are two of the most expensive recreations.
But you can’t throw a tarp over your horse for the winter.
hope you might consider airing this point of view on behalf of all us
committed to keeping equines safe and sound during this tough time.