Are horses losing their value?
In the year 1934, the US army was accused of slaughtering US Military mounts(horses) because there was no longer any value for horses in a mechanized military force. To be more precise, the accusations surrounding the army were made around 1995, when the movie “In Pursuit of Honor”, staring Don Johnson and Gabrielle Anwar, arrived, claiming the military events of 1934 to be accurate. In review, however, the story was little more than a novel and no proof the events depicted in the movie were ever discovered. In other words, Hollywood made a story about horses losing their value and a few great men challenging the status quo to honor the horse. The real question of a horse’s value, however, remains and has become even more integral in our current world.
Industry and agriculture have all slowly moved toward machines in the last century. However, in the 1970’s through to about the early 2000’s horses played a big part of a unique industry called the entertainment industry. Their value changed on a public scale from ranching and farming to recreation. Then, from about 1985-2010 a huge boom in the information age changed the general public’s perception of horses and specifically, what is considered, the ethical treatment and training of horses. Slowly, but surely horse owners around the world have become more interested in the well-being of their equine counterparts.
Here is the real interesting part: From about 2010 to our current time, horses have slowly started leaving the entertainment scene and fading into the background. Not completely of course. Just ever so slowly, horses are losing their value into today’s world. This change is noticeable, only to a few people in the horse industry known as “master horseman.” These are people who’ve devoted their lives to learning everything there is to know about horses. From bloodlines to training methods. From care taking to facility management. From Western, English, and Traditional riding styles to ground training of all types including, liberty, driving, and tricks. From working with the most difficult of abuse cases to most expensive sales transactions. These men and women have seen everything and done most everything for themselves with their own horses. Many of these men and woman have their own unique specific skill sets but they all have one thing in common. They all believe that the horse’s dignity must be preserved.
We have a special responsibility to our equine partners. Not just for what they’ve given us but for what we, as a people have taken from them. We’ve placed them in small spaces compared to the great outdoors, mother nature provided. We’ve mindlessly split mothers from their foals. We’ve bred horses needlessly and watched horses suffer in stock yards and neglected homes.
The fact that horses are fading into the background and slowly losing their value is discouraging news, because the problem of mistreated horses becomes amplified. As people’s interest for horse’s fades, so do their care-taking responsibilities.
You must realize, of course, that all these observations are generalizations and not true for everyone in the industry. Many wonderful people put their energy into ensuring this world is a safe and beautiful place for horses and horse lovers. This good news is that these same wonderful people (perhaps, you included) are starting to share their passions with the world around them using the horse as a vehicle of change and growth. But this time, it’s not about industrial growth, it’s about emotional healing, and the development of leadership qualities.
Anyone willing to risk thinking of a horse as more than just a piece of property will begin to see how horses have feelings. Horses have dreams. Horses have memories. If horses could speak, they would. They can learn. They can solve puzzles. Most animal behavior scientist believe horses have the brain of a four-year-old human child. I agree. Some horses are more reactive, just like some children. Their ability to focus, think, solve problems, and manage their own emotions is just about the same level as a pre-school child.
As more and more people discover how easy as 4-wheeler is to ride compared to a horse, less people are learning about what it takes to be a steward of emotion and relationship. I agree, horses aren’t the safest thing to be on or near. You’re looking at 1200lbs compared to the average 200lb human. When you fall, you fall hard. You can get hurt. But if you’re willing to look at your life as an opportunity for growth, passion, energy, relationships and more, you will feel something only a devoted horse person feels. There is a connection, a special bond between riders and horses, that can only be understood if your see the horse as more than a four-legged ATV.
I want the value of the horse to remain in our society. In fact, I want the value of a horse to increase in our world. Let me be clear! I don’t want more people breeding horses. Breeding too many is the leading cause of horse neglect and abuse. There is no outlet for too many horses. They have become disposable items. Even cows get eaten when they are no longer useful. Horse get cast out, abused, starved, then finally die a lonely, slow death. Again, I’m generalizing, but I hope my point is clear. Horses deserve better from us. After all, they gave us industry. They gave us transportation. They gave us farming. They gave us entertainment. No I ask the question… What can we give them?
I say, let’s give them the life they deserve. Let’s keep their bodies in motion through positive exercise and pleasant relationships. Let’s use them again for riding and play, but this time, let’s take a closer look at our relationship with them. How do we ensure their integrity is maintained? How do we ensure they say sound, healthy, and happy? How do we ensure they know their true value in our world? And that’s where I come back to us. How do we become the leaders they deserve?
If you’ve read through this article this far, I thank you. You are a devoted horse person. Devote yourself further to becoming the best person you can for the equine world around us. Pick up my new book created to help people strike up meaningful relationships with their horses in today’s world. The book is called “Leadership and Horses” buy it today by clicking this link:
Special note: A portion proceeds from every single book purchased, goes to support Horses for Orphans. Which is a powerful leadership program created by some very passionate people for some desperate children in underprivileged worlds. Look it up here: www.horsesfororphans.com