So How Can We Fix The Problem?

February 14, 2010

As I’ve stated before, there is no simple solution to a problem this big. But if we ARE going to fix it, it’s essential that we do two things: 1) Educate the public about responsible ownership and breeding, and 2) Take responsibility for the horses we produce.

Education

People need to understand the consequences of overbreeding horses, just as they are beginning to understand the consequences of overbreeding dogs and cats. Horses live a long time (often 30+ years) and require a lot of expensive care. (It costs $2,000 per year or more to maintain a horse.) A pretty color and a sweet personality are NOT enough to guarantee a good life for a horse. Careful, quality breeding and training are essential to ensure that today’s cute foals will be valuable and useful decades down the road.

Responsibility

Those contributing most to the problem should help solve it. I don’t support legislation to control or ban breeding, but I DO support measures that would help provide for the animals produced. Example ideas include:

  • Earmark a portion of winnings to be donated to horse rescue/retirement/euthanasia.

Approximately $1,165,000,000 in Thoroughbred racing purses were paid in the United States in 2008. If 1% of that was donated to help retired or injured racehorses, $11,650,000 would be raised. That amount could support about 5825 horses for an entire year. (Alternately, it could pay for the humane euthanization of 29,125 elderly or injured horses.)

  • Increase registration fees for breed registries, and put the extra money into a fund for rescue, retirement or euthanasia of horses of that breed.

If the American Quarter Horse Association increased their foal registration fee from $25 to $50, they could collect about $3,750,000 every year to help needy Quarter Horses. That amount could support about 1875 horses for an entire year.

  • Increase ticket prices for horse-related events and donate the extra money to horse rescues.

If the Houston Rodeo added $3 to the price of its tickets, they could collect about $3,600,000 to help needy horses every year. That amount could support about 1800 horses for an entire year.

  • Increase entry fees for horse races, shows, etc. and create a horse rescue fund.

Adding $10 to the entry fee for American Paint Horse Association breed shows in 2008 have raised $4,000,000 for the rescue and retirement of paint horses. That amount could support about 2000 horses for an entire year.

  • Add a small fee to the price of products that require horses to produce, or require donations on the part of those industries.

If Wyeth had added just $1 to every monthly Premarin prescription filled in 2000 (when Premarin use was at its peak), they could have raised $600,000,000 to help save the horses their industry produced. That amount could support about 300,000 horses for an entire year.

  • Encourage awareness and donations.

If every person who watched Big Brown win the Derby on TV in 2008 donated just $5 to horse rescue, over $71,000,000 would have been raised. That amount could support 35,500 horses for an entire year.