Hot horse world topics from my point of view! As a previous manager of a commercial boarding and training barn, and a current equine appraising and publishing professional – I have lots of experience in many facets of the horse world and I want to share them with you here!
These posts may contain affiliate links which means that I may receive compensation from purchases made through links. I will only recommend products that I truly believe in!
10 Horse Careers Outside Training and Barn Managing
May 19, 2023
In the last several months my business has gone through a complete rebranding – something that I do feel fortunate to have been able to do. For six years I managed a very busy boarding, lesson and training barn; at its biggest I had 40+ horses on property and offered lessons, training, events, and horse hauling. This business treated me and my family so well, but with some life changes as well as decisions made by my former landlord, my husband and I decided that it was time to leave our beloved farm at the end of our lease.
Fortunately, prior to deciding to end our time at the farm, I had already been taking the certificate course to become an equine appraiser. I quickly learned that equine appraising is a huge passion of mine, and I was able to easily transition from farm owner to full time equine appraiser, which really isn’t a common job here in the horse world.
If you are a passionate equestrian and want to explore some unique careers outside the obvious, check out these 10 careers and a little bit about how to pursue them.
- Of course, I need to start with equine appraising. An equine appraiser is a professional that can provide an accurate estimate of value (of a horse) based on supporting facts, and their knowledge of the equine industry. Someone may need to hire an equine appraiser for tax or donation purposes, for insurance, or legal or litigation purposes. This is something that you need to be certified in, and if you’re interested in learning more about appraising, you can find all the info you could need at equineappraiser.com.
- If you have in interest in equine wellness, becoming an equine dentist might be something for you. Equine dentists or equine dental technicians travel from farm to farm to float horses’ teeth, which means that they file sharp points in the horse’s mouth to enable them to continue to chew effectively. Dentists can also diagnose and treat a variety of dental maladies in the horse. The credentials vary from state to state for what you need to do to become an equine dentist, so be sure to do your research for what is accurate for your area.
- Equine Veterinarians are currently in high demand! If lots of schooling doesn’t intimidate you and you will thrive in a fast-paced busy career in equine health, consider becoming a veterinarian. Many vets work in equine only practices, but the sky is the limit if you are interested in large animal or even a mixed practice of large and small animals. If maybe becoming a vet isn’t your cup of tea but still have a passion for equine health, becoming a vet tech or a vet assistant are also options.
- If you have horses, you know what an important job a farrier is. Farriers are equine wellness professionals that care for horses’ hooves through trimming and shoeing. There are farrier schools across the country that teach the logistics of farrier work, and many farriers choose to also complete apprenticeships. Recently barefoot trimmers have also become more popular; similar to farriers they care for horse’s hooves, but they do not offer shoeing services.
- Magna Wave/ BEMER/ Massage are all types of therapies, mostly for equine athletes. These types of technicians are trained in their field, often through some sort of certificate program, and travel from farm to farm to offer their therapies. Frequently people do these types of jobs on the side, and their therapy services are for extra income, but it can be made into a full time gig.
- All the major feed companies employ equine nutritionists to help customers create the healthiest diets for their horses. Nutritionists generally have a degree in animal science or a related equine degree and spend their time analyzing feeds and forage to create custom diets. Nutritionists spend a lot of time educating horse owners on proper equine nutrition and often times help people understand hay analyses and guaranteed analysis for the grains that they are feeding.
- Equine marketing is an extremely broad name for many jobs across the equine industry. There is social media marketing, corporate marketing for the big companies like Ariat or Smartpak, and even affiliate marketing options in the industry. Marketing is a booming industry, so if you are computer proficient, have a marketing degree, and have a passion for the horse world, all the different marketing jobs are worth researching.
- For those that have an eye for the arts, maybe equine photography is the job for you. Professional equine photographers are hired at horse shows and clinics, for sale material, for marketing content, and for the everyday horse person that wants to capture beautiful pictures with their horse. The sky is the limit when it comes to photography and the more creative you are, the more opportunities will come your way.
- If you are highly organized and are happy to work with a lot of moving parts, maybe becoming an equine event planner is the job for you. Events can include things like horse shows, fund raising events, parties, or banquets. Equine event planners can work independently or work for large companies like Equine Affaire, but either way they need to be able to pay attention to detail and execute extremely detailed plans.
- Finally, I think that becoming a show groom is one of the coolest and most under rated horse jobs out there. At the highest levels show grooms get to travel the world with no expenses and get to rub elbows with the most elite human and equine athletes in the world. Generally, most groom jobs do not require any degree or schooling, however horse experience is a must. Being a show groom is demanding, but it sure does seem rewarding and certainly worth special consideration if you are researching what equine career might work for you.
This short list really only scratches the surface—there are so many jobs in the equine industry whether you are interested in a hands-on job like an equine dentist, or a support sector job like a photographer.
I always want people to remember that there are careers available even if you don’t have a degree, and there might even be jobs you’ve never realized that your degree could help qualify you for. Once you figure out what you’re passionate about, the rest is simple—I am a big advocate for making money by doing what you love.
Thanks for being here!
Buying Sight Unseen: Should You, or Shouldn’t You?
May 15, 2023
In the last couple years, with the horse market being so hot, more and more people have resulted to buying horses sight unseen. Although the market is shifting again now, for the last couple years there just simply hasn’t been enough horses to go around. As soon as a horse was hitting the market, it was sold, and for higher consistent prices than I have ever seen. If you were in the market and were serious about buying you had to decide fast, because if you didn’t the horse would likely be sold to the next person in line.
Should the average horse person be buying a horse sight unseen? If you’re considering buying a horse without seeing it in person or test riding at all, you should ask yourself these three questions:
- Can I trust the seller?
- Do I have help?
- Can I afford this horse if it is not what I expected?
Can you trust the seller? Now, I don’t mean this in the literal sense. Of course, you don’t have to know the seller personally, but everyone has a reputation to uphold, and it is your job as the buyer to do your homework. If the seller is a professional or a business, are they willing to connect you with past happy customers? Is the seller happy to answer your questions and do they seem fair and honest? Use your gut instincts; if you get the feeling that something is off about the situation than it probably is.
A seller should be happy to offer a prospective buyer all the pictures, videos, records and documents for any given horse. If the seller ever seems secretive, that is a RED FLAG and should turn a buyer away immediately. The only thing worse than buying a horse that isn’t what you expected is paying for a horse that you never receive.
Do your due diligence, and vet any seller, whether they are a well-known international trainer, or someone selling their backyard pet. You will thank yourself in the long run.
Do you have help? ASK A TRAINER. Even if you are skilled, advanced rider, a good trainer will pick up on the most subtle lameness or might even have questions about why a riding video was edited the way that it was. You may be loving the horse’s sale video, but it will be your trainer that notices that the video never showed the horse untacked, or it excluded all trot/ canter transitions. Your trainer will have valuable insight and will likely provide you with a list of questions you should ask that the sellers pictures or videos don’t answer.
Secondly, ASK A VET. A very simple health or lameness exam can save your butt a hundred times over. If you don’t want to spend the money on a PPE, just think about all the money you’ll be wasting if you get that horse home and it’s not as broke, sound, or sane as you expected it to be.
You can also think of it this way, having professional insight will help you negotiate better. Say the horse in question was just the slightest bit off after flexing the front right—this isn’t enough to deter you from buying the horse, but it does give you reason make a lower offer.
There is no shame in using your resources. Professionals exist for you to utilize them – their insight is imperative when buying a horse sight unseen. You can never do too much homework in this instance.
Can you afford this horse if it is not what you expected? Be honest with yourself here—if the horse walks off the trailer and isn’t what you expected, will you be able to handle the situation in a way that is fair to the horse? If you are able to provide the horse with whatever it needs, and either turn it into the horse you were looking for or send it on its way to a new home, all without causing irreparable damage to your bottom line, then yes, this is a risk that you are able to take.
If you receive a horse that isn’t what you expected and because of this, the horse suffers in some way mentally or physically, then no, you are not prepared to buy a horse sight unseen.
I will never forget the experience I had when training under Leslie Desmond as a teen—a very wealthy man, who knew next to nothing about horses, had just bought a farm and wanted to bring some horses to his property, to just have them as pets. This man imported a three-year-old Friesian stallion from Europe and realized quickly that this was not a safe horse to have on his hobby farm with his very limited skill set.
I will never forget Leslie telling that man, right to his face, that he had no business owning that horse. It was true, everyone at the clinic knew it, but it was shocking to hear her say it out loud. Anyway, I digress, but this is a situation that green horse people can get themselves into when purchasing horses on the internet sight unseen without the help from a professional.
I’ve thought about that man and that horse many times since that winter (2010 I believe), and while I am glad that he had the money to get that horse in a good training program, I always wonder what happened to the two of them as a pair that really never should have been.
Luckily, most of us don’t have the budget to fly in an unruly young stallion from Europe, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get yourself in a sticky situation when buying a horse sight unseen. Be smart, do your research, and seek guidance, and you should be just fine.
Thanks for being here!
Sunday’s Tragedy #rideforhannah
May 3, 2023
This past Sunday, April 30th, during competition in Venice, Florida, a talented young rider was killed in a tragic accident. 15-year-old Hannah Serfass was riding a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding when they suffered a rotational fall after the sixth jump of the competition. First aid by venue personnel and others began immediately after the fall until first responders arrived on the scene. Shortly after being rushed to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Serfass was pronounced dead.
USEF is not taking this tragedy lightly and issued a statement saying that they are reviewing the fall thoroughly “to learn what we can do to minimize risk and increase safety in equestrian sport.”
It goes without saying that Hannah’s death is a terrible tragedy, and that pain from her loss is felt across the equine industry. While we all know the risks when we climb up on a horse, and that any loss is tragic, it is heartbreaking to see the life of a such a young equestrian cut short. I offer my deepest sympathies to all of those that knew, loved and trained with Serfass—your loss is immeasurable.
In order to honor the love and passion that Hannah had for the sport, a friend of Serfass started the hashtag #rideforhannah, and is encouraging people to share a post or a picture. Write and read these posts with the reminder that “Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Be kind, be grateful, and cherish every moment. Today and everyday let’s #rideforhannah”.
As a lifelong equestrian I cannot help but look back and be thankful that even the worst of my riding accidents have only ever resulted in a few stitches. What we do as horse riders really is dangerous, and I think that sometimes that is easy to forget. Hannah is being remembered as a talented rising star, and I truly am so sorry that her accident had the result that it did.
Stay safe, and honor Hannah Serfass.
How to Horse Shop Effectively
April 24, 2023
As a horse professional that has helped many many people find a new horse to add to their family (and have bought a horse or two myself), I’ve learned all of the ins and outs to buying efficiently and effectively. It’s a pretty well-known fact that if someone tells me what they are looking for in terms of a horse, I can scour my sources and have a list of candidates within the hour.
For the average equestrian, horse shopping can be a total headache, especially in the recent market, but it doesn’t need to be. If you know your budget, know what you want, and shop on appropriate sites and in appropriate places you will have a great chance of finding what you’re looking for in a reasonable amount of time.
- Know Your Budget
When you are beginning your horse shopping journey you should have a realistic budget in mind. You should have a number in your head that is your ideal budget and maybe a second number that is slightly more that you’d be willing to spend on something that is the horse of your dreams. Remember to consider any other expenses you’ll incur from horse shopping—will you be paying a trainer to try the horse? Will you have a vet perform a pre-purchase exam? Who will ship the horse and how far? Decide beforehand if these variables will effect what you are able to spend on the actual horse or if they are a separate budget entirely.
Before you inquire about any horses you should know if you are willing to put any deposits down, and if so, how much? Know if you’re willing to do a lease-to-own situation of sorts, or if you will need a payment plan. There is nothing more aggravating for both a seller and a buyer to have spent hours exchanging info and asking and answering questions, just for the buyer to realize that they aren’t willing to put a deposit or agree to a paid two-week trial. Save yourself the headache and know what you’re willing and capable of doing before you even set eyes on a potential horse.
2. Know What You Want
Now, I say this loosely because knowing what you do want is sometimes knowing just as much of what you don’t want. At a minimum you should have a loose idea about things like type, breed, training level, and age. What I find makes for effective horse shopping is to have two lists; one for the qualities that are absolute necessities, and another that are negotiable or are “wish list” type things. For example, if you are in the market for some new blood in your breeding program some necessities could be a certain bloodline and proper confirmation in a broodmare. In this situation, the negotiables could likely be color, coat pattern, or even where the horse is located. If you’re very direct with yourself and sellers about what you must have in a horse and what you can be flexible on, it’ll be much easier for you to create a list of horses that might work for you.
While it is best to have a good idea of what you’re looking for, it is ok if you’re willing to be flexible as well. If you’re looking for a project horse and really any breed or size will do, that’s ok too—knowing this from the start will allow you to shop across multiple different platforms and should give you a broad selection of horses to peruse.
3. Shop On Appropriate Sites
As I am sure many of you know, there are SO MANY websites and pages for horse trading, but they were not all created equal. If you are shopping for a quiet trail horse that won’t break the bank you likely won’t find it on Big Eq and reversely, if you’re on the hunt for a well-bred hunter prospect it certainly won’t be listed in the “Horses under $2000” page on Facebook. Maybe you already know what sites work for you, but if not spend a little time researching what sites are the most relevant.
Here is a brief cheat sheet:
Hunters/ Jumpers/ Eq Horses
Upper Level Dressage/ Jumpers
Trail and Pleasure Horses
Western Show Horses
4. Shop in Appropriate Places
Whether it be online or in person know ahead of time if you are willing to look at auction horses or if you’re only interested in private treaty. Don’t waste your time looking through auction previews if you know that you’ll never bid—instead if you’d like the convenience of viewing a lot of horses in one place, maybe a large sale barn is the place for you.
There truly are so many options when it comes to platforms, websites, sale barns, auctions—and at every training level, pedigree and price point that you can think of. The best way to be successful when shopping for a new horse is to be prepared and have a realistic and honest idea of what you’re on the market for. So get out there and find your new friend!
Thanks for being here.
2raw2ride: The Current Controversy
April 14, 2023
The current controversy surrounding 2raw2ride’s cross country trip is so deep it seems it may be the one thing that all equestrians can agree on; and we all know that that is no easy feat! It seems the overwhelming consensus is that this ride shouldn’t be happening, and I would have to agree.
For those of you that aren’t familiar, a man named Cyril Bertheau has planned a cross-country ride from Austin, Texas to Seattle, Washington. He started this ride on April 9th and is riding a 13-year-old Tennessee Walking Horse gelding named Shiok that he bought just about a month before his adventure began. Bertheau’s goal is to do this ride in 100 days, which would mean traveling around 25 miles a day on horseback and he’s documenting this whole journey on TikTok and Instagram.
While in general this shouldn’t be a controversial topic, it has become one because Bertheau is a relatively uneducated horseman, and he is ignoring the masses of comments and suggestions from lifelong horsemen and professionals alike regarding the welfare of his horse. It is being widely reported that this trip is being done for clout without taking proper consideration for the health and wellness of his horse.
First things first, his horse Shiok is not properly conditioned for a feat like this. Shiok was purchased about a month ago, and while he has said he’s spent the last month training for this ride, every equestrian could tell you that it takes more than a month to condition a horse for a rail class at a horse show, let alone to be fit enough to trek across the country. On TikTok and Instagram Bertheau shares pictures and video of Shiok, where he is lacking muscle mass, does not have a full and healthy top line, and is on the thinner side. This is not a horse that is physically prepared to travel thousands of miles.
The masses of equestrians have also taken note of Bertheau’s comments that include things like “he will buy hay and feed, when he can”, and he will “fatten his horse up tomorrow”. A journey like this should include careful planning and consideration regarding the horse’s diet. This horse will absolutely need top of the line nutrition, and it doesn’t seem like Bertheau has organized that for him. By saying he will “fatten his horse up tomorrow”, Bertheau is implying that he is going to feed his horse loads of grain, thinking that the horse will gain weight in one day. I don’t need to tell other equestrians how flawed this thinking is—seasoned horse people know that if this is his plan, he will cause his horse to colic or give him a terrible bout of laminitis or both.
Just in the first couple days of his trip, Bertheau shared that he already had his horse take off on him. Now there are concerns that he will lose his horse again and put him in danger of getting hit by a car or into some other sticky situation. There are a lot of red flags concerning the welfare of this horse, and Bertheau hasn’t addressed any of them.
In general, responsible equestrians are also upset because the media is sharing his story in a positive light. This is where the horse world is coming together—there are so many equestrians in this country that are doing amazing things AND considering their horses welfare in the process, yet this is the guy that is getting attention in the national media. I personally think that this is the case because most people that are working in the mainstream media do not have horse experience, so consequently don’t know any better, and since Bertheau is looking for the attention in the media, they are happy to give it.
Personally, do not think that Bertheau is going to accomplish this feat—he isn’t ready, and his horse isn’t ready. For his horse’s sake, I hope that he retires from this journey before he does any irreversible damage to the horse.
Thanks for being here.
Somewhere In the Middle
April 11, 2023
When it comes to horses I do not believe in absolutes. There is so much gray area in what is considered good care and good training and the truth in the matter is that there are so many methods that are great or correct. Personally, I am wary of owners or trainers that will only support one theory or one method—every single horse is unique so why shouldn’t care and training approaches be unique too?
With respect to everyday management and care I generally support that in a perfect world, most horses should live outside with constant forage that compliments their metabolism. I think that horses are happier to be outside and I know that horses are healthier with the ability to move around and constantly eat small forage meals. I think that most horses are over grained and over supplemented, and that if people would manage horses more like I am suggesting, then more horses would live longer healthier lives. While I think horses belong outside, I don’t think they deserve to fend for themselves. As horse owners we should be providing shelter, water, forage and a safe environment at the bare minimum.
Now, I will happily admit that while this is my ideal situation for a horse, I know that it isn’t practical or even feasible for some horses to live like this. I do not think that stalls are bad. I recognize that there are metro areas where there just physically isn’t enough space, and that there are horses with health issues who need to be confined or have an extremely specific diet. I don’t think it would be fair or appropriate to suggest that horses shouldn’t live in situations where they spend time in a stall; I know that sometimes it is necessary, and that a lot of times, the safest place for a horse is in their stall.
What I cannot get behind or support are facilities that keep horses stalled 24/7, turn them out one at a time for maybe an hour, and give them two meals a day. In my opinion this is an extreme, and I don’t think it is how horses deserve to live. This type of management is a recipe for disaster for colic, ulcers, and behavioral issues. Are there horses that are happy in situations like this? Maybe—but like I said, any extreme is not ideal.
My opinion on extremes follows through to most training theories. I think so many of them, maybe even the majority are great and acceptable, but it’s the extremes that start to cross the line as unacceptable. For example, training “extremes” include training that is extremely heavy handed, training methods that allow horses to lack boundaries, training theories that use questionable training tools, or methods that promote over exertion for the horse. The best thing that we can do for horses is to teach them to respect humans while still being allowed to express their personalities. Horses thrive when they have fair and clear leadership, and that is what all of the best training methods instill no matter the discipline.
I know that I am speaking broadly but think about your horse and ask yourself if you are forcing them to live with absolutes. And if so, what do you think you should change for the better? Be open minded and remember that your horse is a unique individual, and what is best for your friend’s horse might not what be is best for yours.
Thanks for being here.
Managing Senior Horses and End of Life Care
April 7, 2023
Since getting out of the commercial boarding business I have significantly reduced the number of horses that I personally own and it just recently dawned on me that suddenly my horses have gotten old. I know that it didn’t happen suddenly, but it feels like my once young and athletic horses have turned into seniors with special needs and their own unique health issues. My personal horses have gotten old, and my few remaining boarders are getting up their too—five of the eight horses in my care are either seniors or have special needs. While caring for many seniors at one time is nothing new to me, this might be the first time that most of the horses in my care are certified senior citizens.
Seniors are a unique group of horses because pretty much every decision made about their every day care considers the end-of-life plans for that specific horse—especially when horses are as old as some of the ones that I am caring for are. I have a Thoroughbred in my care that is in his late thirties, three other geldings in their mid to late twenties, and one Miniature gelding in his late teens that has severe special needs. I feel fortunate that I can keep these horses healthy and happy late into their lives especially because two of them have physical handicaps and a third has a generative disease.
One thing that makes senior horses unique is that their nutrition has to adapt over time to compensate for how their bodies are changing: specifically, their teeth. As I’m sure many of you know, even horses who have had regular and proper dental care, tend to start losing their teeth one by one as they get into old age. Once horses start losing their molars, they aren’t able to efficiently chew forage or grains. Since chewing is an essential step in digestion that enables the physical break down food in order absorb nutrients in digestion, once an animal can’t chew effectively, it makes it difficult for them to take in and absorb enough calories. Horses are big animals that need a lot of calories and once they can’t get enough calories in, they start to drop weight very quickly. Being that the majority of a horses calories come from forage, or hay, horses really struggle when hay isn’t something they can eat any more.
My favorite way to handle a situation where a horse doesn’t have enough teeth to chew effectively is to get them on a good complete feed—which for a horse means that the grain has more than 15% crude fiber. My personal favorite product on the market is Sentinel Senior which is a complete feed that is extremely nutrient dense and is essentially a puffed grain product. It is basically a grain Cheeto and is easy for these senior horses to ingest and digest. Getting an old horse that is lacking in teeth on this grain is also great because it helps reduce the chance of choke. If a horse can’t chew hay well, and consequently chokes on it while trying to eat it, you can inherit a whole new set of issues. Blue Seal’s Sentinel Senior is a game changer, and I have had a lot of success with keeping my old guys on it.
A major part of digestion is hydration, and older horses have slower gut motility that can make them more susceptible to impaction colic. Dehydration can add to the potential of impaction colic even further, so proper hydration is even more imperative to our senior friends. Fresh water should be available 24/7 – no ifs, ands or buts about it.
When managing senior horses, just like older people, they are generally frailer and more unstable. It is important that they are turned out with other horses that are gentle with them and that they are kept in stalls and paddocks with safe and secure walls, fencing and footing. Tripping and falling, getting cast, or getting kicked all have the potential to be deadly for our senior friends. I personally am a believer in the saying “a body in motion, stays in motion”. While I know that Newton had other things on his mind, this saying in a sense applies to all of us animals. Those of us that stay fit and use our bodies, are likely going to stay more fit and use our bodies longer into old age, and the same goes for horses. So, let your horse be a horse and allow them to be outside and get plenty of exercise wandering around their pasture.
Lastly, when managing horses in general but especially senior horses it is important that there are plans in place for when the inevitable arrives, and it is time for a horse to cross the rainbow bridge. As a horse owner or farm manager you should be willing and able to make the call for humane euthanasia before there is a catastrophic event. In my opinion, people that let their horses get incredibly sickly and frail are doing their horse an extreme disservice; it’s important to avoid disaster, especially for such large animals. There should be plans in place for burial or cremation as well as plans regarding how your farm dynamic will change once that horse does pass. Will you need to fill that stall immediately? Will any horses be upset about the loss of a friend? What will end of life services cost? These are all things that can and should be planned for.
Part of being a responsible horse owner is making hard and sad decisions about end of life, but how lucky are we to have these horses that make even the heartbreak worth it?
Thanks for being here.
What You Need to Know about the AHC Economic Impact Study
April 3, 2023
Today is the launch of the American Horse Council’s 2023 Economic Impact Study. If you’re unfamiliar with this study, it is a national study of the US equine industry. This study helps determine where resources are (and are not) allocated within the industry and helps create awareness of and an interest in the equine industry. The AHC Economic Impact Study helps to identify how the horse industry contributes to our local, state and national economy, and helps state and federal agencies allocate resources across the industry appropriately. This study was last completed in 2017 but as well all know, major economic changes have occurred in the last several years; this study will also help identify how the economy of the US equine industry is faring in the post pandemic world.
The AHC Economic Impact Study is the most comprehensive national study as it includes really all demographics of equestrians and horses. This study does not concentrate on marketing information or product usage but rather horse populations, volunteers and employees in the industry, land usage, demographics of horses and owners, and more. Other similar studies either only include working horses (USDA) or pets (AVMA) where this one encompasses all horses regardless of their purpose.
It is important that horse owners participate in this survey because the Economic Impact Study is used by policy makers to help decide where their time and resources are sent. Policy makers need to understand the number of horses in each state so they can make informed decisions on building and maintaining trails, and the agriculture and equine facilities in their areas. This study is used to help politicians understand their constituents influence and the us equestrians make up many of these constituents. The EIS helps policy makers, real estate developers, businesses and city planners understand how much land and resources to allocate for equine activities and serves as essential data for other agricultural studies.
If you are a horse owner, I STRONGLY encourage you to participate. The heath of the equine industry is heavily reliant on proper representation and appropriate resource allocation and this study is the number one way to make sure that that happens.
The survey is separated into horse owners and non-horse owners that are still involved in the equine industry. The survey was easy to understand and took me about 15 minutes to complete.
If you are a horse owner please find your survey here: Horse Owner Survey
If you are not a horse owner but contribute to the equine industry please find your survey here: Horse Industry Supplier Survey
Thank you all in advance for participating!
Thanks for being here.
What is Up Next for the Horse Market?
April 2, 2023
If you’ve had anything to do with horses in the last couple years, you know that the horse market has been absolutely bonkers. In 2020 it was easy to find a quiet project horse for a few hundred dollars; now there is next to nothing available for less than a couple thousand dollars. And those $2k horses are 19-year-old, grade trail horses that are only sound eighty percent of the time. Depending on breed and discipline, well trained and well-bred horses and selling consistently in the five figures.
As a certified equine appraiser, I have found this incredible upswing in the horse market really interesting mostly because it is completely industry wide. During COVID the equine industry saw a major boom; during the shutdown people had more free time on their hands, everyone felt more inclined to do things that they enjoyed (especially more outdoor activities), people had a little extra money from stimulus payments, and above all else, the pandemic was a time when the rich just got richer. The equine industry saw a major boom in general– more kids and adults were taking riding lessons, more people were leasing horses and of course more people were buying horses. Lesson farms and trainers had to buy and lease more horses to meet their demand, contributing more so to the supply and demand issue.
Like any market, the horse market is completely reliant on supply and demand. Starting in 2021 there were more people shopping for horses than there were horses available. Horses were being bought sight unseen, bought off video, and purchased for more than similar horses ever had before. Frankly, I am still utterly shocked that people were buying Thoroughbreds right off the track with no let down and no post track training for five, six, and seven thousand dollars and sometimes more. The perceived value that these buyers brought to the market caused the actual market values to increase. In 2022 it was absolute chaos for horse shoppers; affordable horses for people that didn’t have an unlimited budget were extremely difficult to find, especially here in the Northeast. The horse market was doing so well that places like schools and therapy programs who rely on horses by donation were struggling because horses were bringing such high price tags that sellers weren’t even considering donation as a means to rehome. The horse market was booming so much that tax write offs weren’t enough incentive to encourage donations.
Just in the last few months we are finally starting to see prices come back down, and if I had to predict, I’d say prices for pleasure riding horses will continue to fall over the next year or so. The horse world has very much so become a luxury to many Americans so we will see a reverse relationship between the horse market and the general economy. With inflation hitting us middle class people hard, we’re already seeing an influx of horses hitting the market. Initially sellers were listing horses for what they purchased them for, but the harsh reality is that a lot of people are going to take a loss on these horses. Truthfully, the average amateur owner will not own a horse that appreciates in value, especially in a market that is in rapid decline (sorry to those of you whose feelings that might hurt).
Now, don’t get your hopes up too much; I think that if ever, it will take a long, long time for the horse market to return to where it was in 2018 for example. Gone may be the days where you can buy a papered broodmare for $1k or a sane, sound trail horse for $2k. The market might honestly never come back down for those well-bred, proven horses that are elite in their given disciplines. The horses that are marketed to the wealthy buyers, and the riders with numerous wealthy sponsors are going to remain at astronomical prices, possibly indefinitely.
I’m truly interested to see what happens to the market in time—but my two cents are that we will see prices and values continue to fall through the end of the year, and possibly beyond.
Thanks for being here!
Your Horse Should be Outside
March 28, 2023
For my first real blog post I wanted to start with something that I am really passionate about, and that is horses getting enough turnout, and ideally even living outside full time. Now, before I get on my soap box, I know that not every single horse on earth can handle living out 24/7 – I myself am caring for a few horses that are stalled at night. Don’t come at me because you have a 35 year old horse with no teeth, low bodyfat, and a hatred of rain; I get it, I do too. On this topic I am speaking generally. Are there outliers? Of course, there are. But in general, most horses are happier and healthier when they live outside, and these are the horses that I want to talk about.
Before we really get into it, I want you to think about the evolution of the horse and human relationship. Prior to domestication horses were completely nomadic, nocturnal animals that were constantly on the move, and living in small herds called bands. A horse’s entire body is designed to constantly digest small amounts of fiber while being alert and agile enough to identify and escape predators.
Since horses were domesticated some six-thousand years ago, their digestive anatomy has evolved very little. While yes, many different breeds have developed all with their unique breed standards – these characteristics are primarily cosmetic. What is the same for every horse on earth is that they are non-ruminants, or hind-gut fermenters. This type of digestive tract is designed to eat small meals frequently; and that goes for all breeds, shapes, sizes, and ages.
At this point you might be asking yourself, “what does this even have to do with turnout?”. Great question! An important aspect of digestion for horses is walking. Walking around helps a horse’s gut motility and just minimal walking from foraging helps a horse avoid things like impactions and gas bubbles building up in their gut. Now I’m sure you’re catching my drift—at this point we have established that a horse’s anatomy is designed to one, eat many small meals through the day, and two, almost always keep moving.
Although I am sure there was no ill intention in the creation of the practice, I assume you can already see why locking a horse up in a 12X12 stall and feeding them three square meals a day is not ideal. Even just stalling a horse overnight is too much—the healthiest horses are not forced to be sedentary. The absolute best way to avoid major health issues in horses is to provide them constant access to good quality forage (this is relative for the horse at hand but that’s an article for another day) and to let them move and be horses. I could go on and on about a horse’s teeth, hooves, circulatory system, etc. and how they all point to the fact that horses are healthier with constant turnout, but above all the equine digestive system is not designed to be locked up in a small space.
If you are reading this and decide you are convinced your horse needs more time outside, great! I’m sure you are right! However, please remember to make any changes to your horse’s life subtly as stress is one heck of a beast to our equine friends, but again, that’s a blog for another day.
Thanks for being here!
Why a Blog?
March 25, 2023
Welcome to this sites new Blog Page! I recently decided to start a blog – I like to write, and I want to have some informal discussions about some of the topics I know a lot about. I have professional experience in both the hands-on and support sectors of the equine industry and I feel there is a lot to discuss in both aspects of the horse world.
I am going to share with you a lot of what worked well for me, and maybe some things that did not work so well as the owner and manager of a 40 plus horse boarding facility. Currently I am only boarding 5 horses in addition to caring for my own, but I have a lot of knowledge about caring for horses with a lot of unique different needs. I’ve done a little bit of everything ranging from broodmare care and foaling, disease treatment and management, and equine rehabilitation, to name a few. I am really passionate about caring for horses the way that their bodies were intended. The more turnout the better—I’m sure I’ll lecture on this more than once.
Besides the actual care of the horses, I also have a lot to contribute towards discussions of business management and customer service in the boarding business. I feel that the equine industry is unique in the way that often, customers proclaim themselves as experts, even though they are paying an actual expert for a service. While yes, many horse owners are amazing and well educated, there are SO MANY who really need the advice they’re given from equine care professionals. I got to the point over the years that I would rather loose a customer than people please to the point where the care the horse was receiving wasn’t to a standard that I found appropriate or healthy. I think there is a real “kill them with kindness” epidemic in the horse world, and I found it better to loose a customer than contribute to a horses insulin resistance issues or lameness issues.
Now that I am primarily working in the support sector as an appraiser and publisher, I have a lot of insight to add on equine current events, hot products and current trends. I love to report on and publish medical, management and training articles but I don’t tend to offer my own opinion, and this blog will allow me the outlet to do that. One of my first few blogs will focus on how insane the horse market has been – a really fun topic for me given my appraiser training.
Lastly, this blog is going to become a place for product reviews and gift guides. I want to share some of my favorite things and help promote some of the businesses that I love, and I also want to create a column of “I tried it so you don’t have to”. I’ve seen similar blogs/ videos outside the horse industry and I’d like to bring it to this space because put plainly, who wants to buy something (something expensive no less) when no one you know has bought or tried it. Products in the future might range from tack, apparel or farm and stable supplies and equipment. I’ll be the guinea pig and report back honestly on what I love and what might not be worth the price.
Thanks for being here!