This is a nice photo - click for larger image
Horses have been a part of my life all of my life. I decided I had the tumidity to breed and raise the beasts almost two decades ago, but they have always been in my world. The smell of them is ingrained in my pores. Not everyone likes this, but I can't smell it, so it's all good.
Some people are born to do something. I was born for horses. An unfortunate thing, being so connected to something of no practical value. I found I liked breeding and raising them, even though I have some battle scars and some badly creaking joints to show for it. I was also, overall, good at it. But the economy tanked and the horse market went with it. My little business came to a screeching halt.
This isn't about that, although it is relevant. Times have changed. There are fewer and fewer people like me around. Kids whose parents didn't seem to think there was anything wrong with a kid getting on a horse, unsupervised, and doing god only knew what. My parents didn't treat me like precious cargo, I was a kid. I'd mend. Now it's all supervised and under someones control and direction. I understand the concern, I really do. But in the meantime, these kids don't learn to be brave. I'm not sure they really learn to ride. I mean ride. These same parents will buy the child a car and send it out on its own to navigate the unpredictable on the highways and byways. Or send them off down ski slopes, or buy them motorcycles or snowmobiles. I'm an anachronism. I think a horse is safer.
So I wonder where will the next generation of trainers and breeders come from? You can't be timid and see horses as a threat and work with them. I don't understand the fear combined with the desire to have a horse. I just wonder about this sometimes. But that part of it is not my dilemma.
Which leads me to my dilemma. I breed horses you have to ride. They are good horses. They are smart, athletic, willing and quick. They are not people carriers, they are equal partners in the venture. People who really ride love them. But people who really ride are becoming an endangered species. I don't like breeding horses enough to breed horses I don't appreciate and the horses I appreciate are not highly valued anymore by the instant gratification mentality of the 21st century. Which leads to an understanding that I can't expect to sell what the general buyer in the market doesn't want. This has been a change.
There is something else. For as long as I can remember, people of average means have been breeding quality horses and been able to take proper care of herds. Minnesota has a lot of rural space and usually an abundance of hay. Some of the most famous names in Arabian horses have come out of Minnesota, from small breeding farms. This is bound to change. For many reasons. Hay that I used to buy based on the ag market price is now based on what boarding barns will pay for it. Grain prices don't seem to be following the commodities market. Bedding costs are through the roof, based largely on a lack of waste wood because of the downturn in new housing. Its been my experience once something goes up, it rarely comes down in. So I assume bedding will stay high regardless.
And then there is veterinarians. Farm vets are going the way of the dinosaur. It's hard work, requiring dedication few people possess. Equine vets exist, but this is a different breed from the horse vets of the past. My beloved vet retired three years ago and it has been a nightmare for me. Horses are pets, owned by people who baby-talk to them, buy blankets, sheets and color coordinated frou-frou. They love their pet and will spend great sums of money. It's sort of like having a very large dog. This is not in itself a problem for me, except that this is the prevailing owner and this has caused a shift in horses no longer being considered livestock. Vets have adjusted to this. Large animal is now going the way of small pet. Equine vets have learned how to charge lots of money. When a farm treated colic costs me $500, I know the world has changed. I realize I cannot manage the costs associated with maintaining a breeding farm when everything around me escalates in cost at such a rapid speed. I had someone point out to me recently that although the classic horse vet has disappeared, the advances in knowledge and treatment available make up for it. Depends on your perspective. Medical science has advanced. Equipment is available to diagnose and treat many things not possible 20 - 30 years ago, if you go to the clinic. What happens on the farm is by and large the same. The diagnostic and surgical procedures are really phenomenal, but they come at a large cost. And if only a few can afford it, it's not of much help, it just makes you feel bad that you can't. But oil is still oil, a gastric tube is a gastric tube. Wounds get treated, sometimes mysteries get solved. Same as always. Only the cost has changed.
Things change and that means some people get left behind. It really is unpleasant when it's you. Not nearly as much so when it isn't. This time it's me. I'm getting too old for this anyway, but still..........I guess I had some rambling thoughts on an early Sunday morning. I know this is of no relevance to most people, but my woes creep into my fingers sometimes and they just get themselves typed out.