Oh My God Craigslist! or How Not to Be a Backyard Breeder
Oh Craiglist, why you gotta do me like that? I'm just hunting around looking for a possible project horse and what do you give me instead? Trainwrecks. Poor, pathetic miniature horse trainwrecks!
The goal of any horse breeder should be to produce quality horses that will meet the needs of some potential buyer. The goal of a breeder shouldn't be to just breed willy-nilly without concern for quality or without concern for whether there are buyers. A breeding business is doomed to fail if you can't find buyer who would be willing to actually trade cold, hard cash for your sale stock. You would hope this simple business goal, to breed horses that someone will want to buy, would be common sense. Sadly taking a look over any random city's Craiglist Farm & Garden classifieds will quickly prove what many of us already know to be true; common sense ain't that common.
Why in the world anyone would breed any animal with poor conformation that hasn't proven its worth in some discipline and yet still expect to sell the results is a mystery to me.
Take for example these miniature horses I found listed for sale on my local Craiglist. Each one looks like it was put together by committee. Weak backends, wobbly legs, ewe necks, giant out of proportion heads, and roach backs are just some of the conformation flaws found in this herd. Of course, each and every male for sale is intact despite not one of them having anything to recommend them for reproducing. I almost feel bad pointing this out because, while I don't know the seller, my guess is that she or he probably loves his horses. But love is no excuse for bad breeding. Love is no excuse for providing sub-par care.
The poster's lack of knowledge about equine care is easily gleaned from each of their posts. It's like playing the easiest eye spy game of all times. She or he refers to their herdsire as a "Buck" a term typically used for Goats or Deer. Each post mentions that minis are prefect horses for beginners because they are gentle and don't require any experience to enjoy. While minis are small (duh) that doesn't mean they don't have the same husbandry requirements as their fullsize brethren. They still need farrier care. They still need a managed diet. You need to know the basics of horse ownership to own any horse, even a mini.
The seller is selling off their youngstock to "reduce numbers". As they are offering "multi-horse purchase discounts" and many of the horses look thin I can only guess that they are becoming overwhelmed by how many horses they have. The property that I can see peaking out from behind the minis seems dirty and full of manure. The fencing looks in poor condition. Call me crazy but I don't think chain length fence is an acceptable horse fencing. Horses are so incredibly accident prone why give them a fencing option that they can get their legs stuck in? It's just asking for trouble.
Priced at $400-$600 this seller is smoking crack. There's no way in hell you could pay me $600 to take these minis. If I had the means and the time I might be convinced to rescue them and provide them with good (and sterilized) living.
Why does this happen? Why does anybody think breeding such low quality specimens is a good idea? I can only assume they don't think they just act.
Animal Husbandry is like any business. You're trying to sell a widget to a willing and eager customer at (hopefully) a profit.
All animal breeding should be the result of careful consideration done only by those who have the financial means to manage the costs incurred by the breeding operation. The breeding stock should only be comprised by individuals who have proved their merits either in the showring and/or by the correctness of their conformation. The numbers produced by the breeding operation should only be large enough to meet the estimated need in the marketplace for the type of horse you're producing. With few exceptions, if your horse or the resulting offspring are not eligible for registration by a reputable breed registry they do not need to reproduce! (The Cremello Half-Friesaloosa Registry of New Zealand is not a reputable registry in case you were wondering.)
Of course the people who might nod in agreement to this article are the people who aren't going to indiscriminately breed trainwreck to trainwreck, put zero training into the babies and wonder why the foals don't sell. Those who need to cease and desist in their breeding endeavors are too obtuse to be reached.
I don't know what the solution is. All I can say is it makes me sad to see these poor animals even exist. It makes me sad to see them underweight in manure filled pastures. It makes me sad to know that if you buy them to give them good homes it only encourages the bad breeders to continue their operations. It just makes me sad.
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