This is jump-for-joy good news in the horse industry. This week, the Kentucky Horse Council launched a program that offers financial incentives for owners to geld horses capable of reproduction but that are not appropriate for breeding. The program pays the owners' veterinarians up to $100 per horse and $250 per household for gelding services.
The Kentucky Horse Council is a nonprofit organization that represents the horse industry in that state and provides public education to promote industry growth. This could be a case of first impression for an industry council to promote gelding rather than breeding. It is in any case a symbolic act of great import, as horse industry promotion groups most often offer breeding incentives, rather than gelding incentives.
I recently spoke with a thoroughbred breeder who said he was "stuck" with more than 10 foals he'd bred this spring because there was an incentive offered in his state of more than $1,000 per foal that was later rescinded. Many of the poor souls (yes, souls) he unnecessarily brought into this world will end up going for slaughter. The type of incentive this breeder responded to is much, much more common than the one offered by the Kentucky Horse Council.
Kentucky is, of course, also a state famous for thoroughbred and walking horse breeding. The Kentucky program should be lauded and expanded nationwide. The U.S. ships well over 100,000 horses for slaughter to Canada and Mexico each year. If fewer horses were bred here, fewer would end up unwanted and consigned to a horrible death.
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By Bonnie Erbe