The giveaway horse.
What a scary proposition that’s become, to give away a horse for free.
Supposedly, it makes a horse’s life even more on the edge, even more dangerous, that much closer to the kill pen. I wonder if that’s true or if it just one of those opinions that have become prevalent thanks to some very vehement blogging from a very opinionated (and successful) blogger.
I once had a lovely chestnut broodmare named Cindy – she was a Standardbred, very well-bred, and I bred her to a nice eventing stallion hoping for a cross-bred with a big trot and rock-solid bone. The owner of the breeding farm arranged for her to be given to me – some kind of unwritten breeding lease. When I quit the job – I wasn’t paid for six weeks, it was sort of necessary to find something else! – I left the mare at the breeding farm. She appeared in the pasture I was renting a few days later! I supposed that meant she was mine.
Unfortunately, I was leaving the area (with a very bad taste in my mouth) and had already sold my other horses. Without papers on this Standardbred mare, who turned out to be in season again, I wasn’t really sure what to do. The owner of the leased pasture asked if I was interested in giving her to her daughter-in-law. So I did. They bred her to a Thoroughbred stallion of their own, and I went my merry way.
Giving horses away, without papers, no clear change of ownership – it happens every day. Do they all end up at auction with no value on them? I doubt it. I don’t think paying a thousand dollars or ten thousand dollars for a horse stops people from sending horses to auction to get a couple of hundred dollars. I think people simply believe they ought to get some money for a horse they paid for. I think that selling a horse instead of giving it away might make it more likely that the horse will end up at auction, instead of simply being given away again.
Attaching a value to a horse may make it more vulnerable, instead of less so, I think.
It is on my mind as I arrange for Ontherightwicket to be sold, and for the yearlings to go to sales prep at the beginning of summer, and of course as I field e-mails for Final Call. It is on my mind because of Bon Appeal, my lovely chestnut mare, who as a ten year old maiden mare is not exactly a hot commodity in Florida’s market. Florida is at broodmare-saturation point. And its cup runneth over with Valid Appeal mares!
Do I offer to give her away? I’m a bit curious, friends, what your experience or opinions on the free horse might be. . .