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Running Down a Dream
Bob Carson takes new owners from sales ring to turnout
written by Bob Carson

Chapter 23 – Where Do They Go?
“Go Your Own Way”
by Fleetwood Mac, 1979

Photo Source: Amazon.com

Fellow Adventurers,

Most of you have asked, “What happens to all these horses?  What will happen to Fantail Hanover and Mariko Hanover?
For some owners these are troubling questions.  They were, and remain, a concern for me.  Should you enter this sport on the ownership side, you quickly realize that the horses are not pets.  It is natural to feel a sense of ownership and responsibility, but it’s not like Joe can move a thousand pound horse into his condominium.  It’s very expensive to board a horse and unless you “move” your horses, you will quickly accumulate an entire herd.

Since most of you have never visited these horses in person, your attachment has not grown as strong as if you were with the horses every day. Still…

To answer your questions about the future for Mariko and Fantail, at this point we do not know.    Our last seven horses each had a different destination after they left our ownership.

As I wrote earlier, Jim and I sort of specialize in well-bred female horses.  This has made it a little easier to sell our horses as potential mothers (broodmares).  Three of our last four horses followed this route; one sold at the Harrisburg sale as a broodmare (at a very good price) and we are watching as her babies move toward the sales ring.  We sold another broodmare via the internet to a farm in Sweden and another broodmare was a private sale.

One was sold as an Amish buggy horse.
One was sold as a riding horse. 
One was sold at auction.
Another is about to go online as a racehorse/broodmare (she can do either at this point).

A positive feature of Standardbred horses is that they are very versatile.  They have been handled by humans all of their lives and can be retrained for a wide variety of non-racing equine pursuits.

So you see, seven horses, seven different stories.  For the most part, the hard truth is that your ownership will just be a part of the lives of these horses; you cannot control the remaining part.

Which leads me to a hard question two of you asked point blank?  “Do they slaughter horses for meat?”

It is possible.  Anytime you see a horse auction where horses are selling for a few hundred dollars, this is not promising for that horse.  There are some “horse retirement” organizations to save horses at the end of the line, but not enough.  It’s troubling.  For some, horse slaughter is repulsive, for others it is simply the fate of livestock.  Some folks view horses a pets; some folks view them as commodities, form little attachment, and move their horses around like checkers on a checkerboard.

Like the financial picture, like your realistic chances of getting a racing champion, like the possibility of cheating – the future of your horse is another reality that you must consider when entering the world of harness racing.

Thinking about jumping into horse ownership?

E-mail owners@ustrotting.com and we will get you more information to get started in the racing game. Click here to share this story with a friend.

Editor's Note: The views contained in this column are that of the author alone, and do not necessarily represent the opinions or views of the United States Trotting Association.

Bob Carson
Hoof Beats Magazine About the Author
Bob Carson's award-winning freelance writing has appeared in more than two dozen national publications. He is a steady contributor to Trot Magazine, The United States Trotting Association and Timeline Magazine. After more than 200 magazine articles and stories, his first novel, The Voyage of Mess (humor) was released in 2009. In 2005 he produced the documentary film, Touching Home (Minor League Baseball). In 2006 he received the Hervey Award for Journalistic Excellence and Best of Ohio Fiction awards. He has published Minor Trips (Minor League Baseball) since 1991. Bob Carson has owned harness horses for more than a decade, including a stint as a weekend trainer. He lives in Strongsville, Ohio, with his wife, Sue, and daughter, Katie.
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