I know, I was just ranting on the topic of buying US-bred horses a couple weeks ago, but a few people requested that I post a comment I made on facebook over here as well, to make it more easily shareable. Since it’s a topic I’m pretty passionate about, I won’t hesitate to use whatever little platform I have to shout about it from the rooftops one more time. I’m desperate to have these conversations, and when they actually happen I get excited.
Pre-story: last week Eventing Nation posted about who bought what at the Monart sale in Ireland, not long after the email blast about the Goresbridge auction that spurred my post a couple weeks ago. I typically don’t comment on articles on facebook, but I have to admit that on this day I was feeling weary and I couldn’t help but comment: “I wish we got as excited about people buying horses from American breeders as we do about imports.“. I thought it would be an unpopular statement but I was surprised (and excited, honestly) by how many people whole-heartedly agreed. And not just breeders, but riders too.
The comment led to some follow-up discussion, including a long, more detailed comment from me in response to others, which is what someone asked that I share here:
Yes, it’s harder to find horses here. America is a big country. But imagine if the American equestrian media would spotlight the breeding programs and young horse producers in this country on a regular basis, how much would that help people find them? This is the second thing from EN in less than two weeks about sales overseas. Why not a regular series about who is producing horses HERE? Why not talk about horse sales HERE (many have happened in the past, and for the most part have not even been mentioned by the media)?
And yes, horses can be more expensive here, often because it’s so much more expensive to raise them and produce them that they have to cost more or someone along the way is losing their shirt in a big way. But also because why SHOULDN’T a really nice domestically-produced young horse cost as much as the Cooley or Fernhill that people are ever-so-willing to fork over $$$ for? And why not have frank discussions (which could lead to possible solutions) about why it’s so much more expensive to produce horses here, rather than just shrug, point people to Europe, and turn them loose with their wallets?
I would love to see us stop glamourizing the idea of importing, and instead realize that really we have a disconnect in this country with buying domestic and supporting our own breeders and young horse producers. There are a lot of factors contributing to the problem and you never see anyone but breeders talking about it, usually because they can’t sell even their nicest foals for any kind of profit. But these are the things that make fewer people able/willing to breed and raise nice young eventers here, since it often means either higher prices or selling for less than what you’ve spent to produce the horse. Which leads to fewer people doing it. Which leads to fewer quality horses. Which leads to people going overseas and picking from whatever they’ve got left.
It’s in our best interest to figure out how we can do a better job of supporting our own and making our system work for us. Articles about “who bought what from Europe, ooo fancy” are fun to read and all I guess, but when are we going to balance that with a spotlight on what people are producing and can be purchased right here in the US? We’re not doing ourselves any favors.
I’m happy to report that there are some things in the works as a result of this. EN was receptive to the idea of articles spotlighting American breeders, which is a starting point. We have to help ourselves a little bit here. If you know of an eventing breeding program or someone who specializes in producing young horses here in the US that would make a good spotlight, let me know. If people don’t know about them, they can’t buy horses from them.
I also hope that we can be more mindful of how we, all of us (myself included), speak and write about imports. The US equestrian industry, at least within eventing, h/j, and dressage, has some sort of default mentality where we think that anything imported must automatically be better, fancier, and worth more… that’s just not true. Surely we can get behind our own horses a little more than that, and be proud of what we have available here now as well as what breeders are working so hard to produce. The quality of US-bred horses has gotten better and better, and IMO it’s important to recognize that.
And breeders – we have to support the programs that are being put in place, if we want them to work. FEH, YEH, the Young Horse Series… they will help the cause, but only if we participate.
There’s also another program in the works for 2019 that is pretty exciting – The US Event Horse Futurity. Specific details are still being ironed out, but if you have a young event horse or know someone who does, OR if you know of an up and coming rider that specializes in bringing up babies, please go like the Futurity’s facebook page! This will be a really cool program for both breeders and riders alike.
What else do you think we can do to help promote US breeders and US-bred horses? To help connect the right riders with these horses? To help change the mentality that imports are better? I’m all ears!