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Copyright 2010 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor;


RMR’s Horsepeople’s Forum - Status of 

the Horse Market - Spring 2010

Comments from RMR’s Website


May 2010 Issue


Our query to readers: What are your thoughts on the current horse market: 1) What types, ages, & breeds of horses are currently selling? 2) What hopeful signs do you see in the market? 3) Are “unwanted horses” still impacting the value of horses? 

     Thanks, Readers, for your responses!


u The current market for well-trained, correct conformation, and solid bloodlines is a little off, but overall, still viable. We sell quarter horses, foundation bred, and have no problem getting our asking price. So long as breeders and/or the recreational breeder watches what they are breeding, trying to not dilute or cross everything in the world to their "champion," the market will rise.

     Too many backyard breeders are crossing their "unrideable" horses to something, or anything, cheap, and this is bad for the horse industry. Let’s try to keep pure our QH's, Arabians, Paints, Saddlebreds, Drafts, Warmbloods....instead of crossing everything to death to create the New and Improved World Champion of Nothing.

     I do think the "unwanted horses" that are crippled, are sad, and I believe should be put down. The neglected horses should be fed, helped and placed into good homes.

     There are a lot of “good ol' boys” that need homes, and are competing with these groups that are trying to save everything, not at all with the best interest of the horse in mind. These horses are often traded from home to home, and mistreated because the person that usually picks one up is not equipped to handle these types of horses.


u The depressed current horse market should be no surprise to anyone who has been involved for a long time. Even in 2000, there was evidence that this slowdown was coming. So many people jumped into the business and like the inflated housing market there is a tipping point. The combination of over-breeding and economic recession created a saturation point in all markets.

     Like any other consumer good, supply is greater than demand, so prices fall. Unfortunately, we are dealing with living, feeling sale items and they often are the ones left unwanted and uncared for. It is up to breeders to pause in their activities. Quality should have always been a precedence in breeding rather than quantity.

     The market will continue to fluctuate as a sifting process happens, separating out quality breeders. The ability to produce large numbers of animals and mass-marketing schemes does not always mean quality is the goal of the breeder.

     It is time for the consumer, the buyer, to also place quality as a precedence. Buyers are in control of the market now, and hopefully their influence will be towards quality, not quantity.


u Very well-broke horses for pleasure or rodeoing are holding their own on price, the rest are very cheap or you are unable to give them away. So many are unsuitable for use, either age, unsound, or rank and until they reestablish the slaughter houses for these " unwanted horses," there is going to be a problem.

     Lots of individuals stop caring for them and starve them or turn them loose on public land to fend for themselves. It is more humane to slaughter them than let them starve and be abused. Let's work on getting the slaughter houses reinstated.


u Montana's in a serious market adjustment in the horse industry compounded by the slow national economy. Good horses are selling to knowledgeable buyers. Those horses tend to be older, proven performers, safe to be around, with an ability to win at the level the rider is competing.

     As a show and barrel race family, we don't see much light in the show market which has been really impacted by the overall poor economy and probably falls into the luxury items when families are cutting back. It was never a market driven by the cheapest horse, but is a market with too much breeding and too many young, unstarted horses. We'll continue to show, but will be buying select new prospects not breeding for our own.

     Juxtaposed to the show market is the emerging growth in youth rodeos in our area. With demand for the old, and even older horse, that has some talent and is kid friendly, this opens a market for the “next step up” performance mount. The new families become more knowledgeable about what can get a rider into the winner’s circle and if they're looking at high school rodeo...that's not the cheapest horse from the auction yard.

     Over-production is impacting the entire market, at a time when slaughter houses are being curtailed and cost of supporting horses is raising every year. We need slaughter houses for those unwanted horses.

     However, I think we need to be bolder in our education about what horse ownership means. As horse owners, we must assume responsibility to support our retired and injured horses, who have served us so well, through their aging years or coordinate for their humane ending, rather than sell them into the auction yard system to be passed around, starved and abused.


u As others have noted, well-broke, sound, mid-aged, no-holes geldings still bring similar prices to those of 5-10 years ago. Young stock and mares? Forget it!

     I do get weary of hearing breeders being bashed, as the majority probably don't contribute more than 10 new foals to the population each year, which normally would be easily offset by natural deaths.

     However, when the whole 'rescue' mentality hit the horse industry several years ago — in the form of PMU farm foals and mares that entered the market when estrogen therapy started getting bad PR, and PMU farm lost their quotas — it was the beginning of a domino effect that certainly contributed to the current state of affairs.

     PMU horses had been sold almost exclusively for overseas horsemeat markets prior to the intervention of US animal activist groups, and suddenly all the rage was to 'adopt' (for a fee) these critters to 'save' them from being slaughtered.

     The PMU farmers had quite a racket going, as did some 'rescues'....unbroke, unhandled, crossbred youngsters and mares were flooding the US , and the guilt factor became an issue. Buyers who considered a nicely-bred, domestic, papered foal or youngster were often chided for not taking in a Canadian 'rescue' horse instead.

     Added to the PMU burden was the growing number of BLM mustangs. Instead of controlling the populations and only holding adoptions to relieve the excess on the range, the government seemed to realize that it might have a new 'cash cow' on its hands, and private breeders were now faced with competition from that quarter also (at taxpayer expense, no less). Our then Senator Conrad Burns tried to offset that by initiating the 3-strike law that would have required BLM to euthanize or send to slaughter mustangs that failed to be adopted at three events, but about then the squeaky wheel activists pushed for the national anti-slaughter legislation....with the help of celebs like Willie Nelson and Bo Derek, clueless lawmakers effectively put the nails in the coffin of the horse industry by passing the bill.

     I personally have 19 head at present — no donated feed, etc., even though I actually took in 4 'freebies' last year — the term 'rescue' makes me grind my teeth, frankly. I try to be optimistic, but unless the plants reopen........well, who knows?


u I want first of all to thank the responsible and compassionate horse owners and breeders. Those who put their horses' welfare before profit, even though more difficult economic times.

     The unfortunate truth is that the horse slaughter industry and horsemeat prices having been the baseline for the value of a horse is what has created irresponsible breeding and ownership all along. The slaughter industry actually has created more abuse and neglect, as has been credibly documented.

     The recent toss-out of the Illinois bill which attempted to repeal the horse slaughter ban in that state will hopefully set a precedent for other states to follow suit. Horse slaughter facilities have destroyed the environment in their communities, brought no new jobs or profits, paid no taxes, and these facts have been well documented. I urge everyone to oppose any legislation in Montana to legalize slaughter facilities. The people of Montana will pay a heavy price, and so will the horses.

     Unwanted and neglected horses will hopefully become fewer in number as those of you who are models of ethical, responsible and compassionate horsemanship lead the way as examples for others to follow. Many of you have also opened your barns and pastures and provided care to neglected and abandoned horses, without fanfare, out of your own pockets, and that says a lot about you.


     Want to read more great comments? Or would you like to post your own? Visit RMR’s Horsepeople’s Forum — there’s a link on our home page at

Other topics include: Should horses have “guardians” instead of “owners”?

Your favorite equine sport or activity.

The Heydon horse abuse case.


Copyright 2010 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor;


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