Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Blessed/Cursed are the Broodmares

Blessed are the broodmares until they can no longer produce.

I was sitting across from a known breeder the other day. We were talking horses and they happened to say they had a horse that would be the death of them for trying to keep weight on the mare. "Oh she's older". So I had to ask because "old" in my books are WAY different than others.

Yeah, the mare is only 16-17 years old. But that's old for a broodmare. I hate when people think they should breed older mares (late teens/early 20s).  So this mare is a hard keeper and the breeder can't keep weight on her. Luckily she's not bred this year but they are "giving" her to someone else so that they can breed her next month and get one final foal (or in their terms "colt") out of the mare.

So what's going to happen to this mare? If she's already a hard keeper, you're going to ask her to try and produce one final baby. Her body is already showing the wear and tear from how many previous babies. How is she going to cope with being pregnant again if she can't maintain weight? It could very well kill her but I don't think they care. And are they going to give her the supplements and additional feed she needs to maintain a healthy body for herself and her foal? I fear for this horse.

The worse question is, what will happen to her after the baby is born? Except, I know the answer. This same breeder (the current owner of this horse) is known for dumping broodmares at the SD Horse Sale. What's worse is that they'll own these horses for years and then have the nerve to say "I hope they went to a good home." Yet, they dump these mares in the loose horse auction.They don't even try selling these mares through the catalog sale. I doubt they even included the papers. Instead of a good home, they signed the death certificate.

I cannot fathom doing that to any living being. I've walked away from long-term relationships with family and friends. But never have I walked away after signing a death warrant. Even with the Sanctuary horses, where those that cannot maintain good quality of health, I don't walk away when the decision has been made. Until their last breath and even after I stand by their side.

But I fear for this mare as I do for other broodmares. Being a mother to two children and seeing the effects of pregnancy on my own body, it's amazing that mares can have so many babies. And yet, once they are no longer able to have babies, they are dumped as quickly as possible so that they aren't a mouth to feed. They are only wanted for as long as they can produce babies and not a minute longer (Rabbit and Lace are physical proof of that mentality).

I keep trying to come up with a way to provide spots for these very deserving broodmares but the  money isn't there and I can't think of any programs to create to possibly create a safety net for these horses. We were able to save one broodmare this past winter (Lace) but there are so many more out there. I know there has to be a way but I can't think of anything. How can I help? How can I protect these deserving mommas? How, how, how?

So that book "Blessed are the Broodmares" should maybe be retitled "Cursed are the Broodmares"

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