Have you noticed this when you’re looking at “horse for sale” ads? You see a nice mare advertised. You like her bloodlines; she’s either trained in the discipline(s) you want, or has the talent and potential. “Hrm,” you say to yourself, “she looks like a horse worth considering.”
And then you read a little further on: “Has been exposed to our stallion”, “sells in foal to X”, “will be bred to…” AGH! Why do people do this?! She’s a horse, not a vending machine! Maybe someone actually wants to USE that horse for riding or driving, rather than a foal machine! Many prospective buyers will be boarding the animal and do not have the time, space, money or expertise required to care for a pregnant mare, deal with foaling and raising the baby, and so on (and maybe they’re not that thrilled about the stallion either, but now they’re stuck with his foal).
Note to those marketing horses: You’re not doing yourself, let alone the mare, any favours. If someone wants her for breeding, they may ask to have her bred before taking her home, or they may have another stud in mind for her. Stop thinking that a “buy one, get one free” deal is going to attract more buyers if she’s been on the market for a while. How many people are going to pass that mare up because they don’t want to deal with a foal? The following year, if she’s not sold, the ad or website notice will probably run again–and say the same thing.
By the same token, it’s appalling to see so many mares who are put straight into a broodmare band without being broken to ride or drive. How does the breeder know if she even has the performance ability they seek (assuming that’s what they want and aren’t just trying to cash in on a popular bloodline, breed or colour) if nothing has ever been tried with her? I know that many responsible people do breed their mares young, and then train them later; that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m referring to those mares which are never backed or hitched, and only used to breed. Then, down the road, circumstances may change; the breeder may decide to go with a different bloodline or discipline, or is getting out of breeding. Now you have a mature mare who has done nothing and knows nothing, and is going to be very difficult to sell, except perhaps to another breeder. Unless she has produced some outstanding and well-known foals, her future looks a little bleak, wouldn’t you say? Her chances of ending up in a neglectful home, or even an auction or killpen, are a lot higher than those of a similar mare who can be marketed (unbred, mind you!) as a good jumper, barrel racer, kids’ horse, what have you. Her “free with purchase” foal also stands a good chance of winding up the same way.
It’s not like me to rant, and I’m sorry if I offended anyone, but there are so many horses which wind up going to auctions and likely end up being eaten, and right now it seems that a lot of people are having trouble selling horses due to economic factors, drought, high cost of hay and feed, and so on. A little forethought wouldn’t go amiss here.