Sunday, October 25, 2020

Where have all the Morgans gone?

 Where have all the Morgans gone?
Also known as a discussion on breeders subsidizing their products.

I see this discussion come up quite frequently on social media as well as in-person for people looking for specific horses.

One common breed I see discussed quite often is the Morgan. There aren't many Morgan breeders left in the United States and there are not many foals registered each year. Many of the Morgan breeders left are breeding foals for the Saddleseat type market or are Amish type breeders looking for a flashy road horse.

This has lead to many people that frequently post on groups lamenting on the loss of the historical old style Morgan.

My personal opinion is that many of the historical type Morgans were overfed and underworked and that a fit, sport type Morgan could be almost all "historical" bloodlines, let still look different.

But also in addition to that what I have found is that people looking for a sport or classical type Morgan rarely want to pay what it costs to put a foal on the ground. Ten years ago, I bred for my first and only foal and my costs were more than five thousand dollars at the time, not including the cost of the mare and so forth. Some of my costs could be reduced if I had done more of my own veterinary type work, skipped ultrasounds, and so forth, but let's admit that to breed horses with a level of personalized care without just throwing a mare and a stallion together in a pasture, there are certain fixed costs.

I have yet to find someone that wants to pay the costs for someone to produce that foal, let alone a little bit extra to keep a breeder going in years of unexpected expenses.

Thus, why would a historical type Morgan breeder keep producing foals at a loss?

I have also encountered a number of breeders that can produce foals relatively inexpensively (perhaps using aforementioned pasture breeding), but there is still lack of capital to put these foals undersaddle, show them, or to market them to build a market. These horses still don't reach their target market who want that well broke, historical type Morgan.

I don't blame breeders that create Morgans for the saddleseat or show market that actually sell. It makes financial sense. They can continue to reinvest in their animals and take care of the stock they have.

I personally wish more people would understand the costs that go into producing a young horse and that to find a well broke XYZ breed at $1,000 meant that someone(s) have taken a substantial loss.

Please feel free to replace Morgan with any particular breed of your choice. This is just a common one I've seen recently.

What are you thoughts on this? Should there always be the expectation for breeders to do this for the love of the breed and take a loss? Should historical breed type preservation be a bigger priority and how should it be accomplished?

Thursday, October 22, 2020


Donni has been improving day by day. I have been somewhat impressed with my skills to administer her daily intravenous antibiotics. While I had previously utilized my skills to draw blood, it's been years since I've done it with any regularity.

Donni has been less than enthusiastic about being a pincushion after her stint two months ago with Potomac Horse Fever. Fortunately, my barn owner was able to help and we were able to get Donni to cooperate. The intramuscular injection was met with much more protest with her rearing up and at one point trying to sit on me, so we ended up using a chain on her with a towel over her ears in the arena to get that done.

Chili had her right hock injected in all of this as well. Since her left hock showed clean on the bone scan and the CT scan, the vet decided that we only needed to address the problem. At about the two week mark, Chili looked markedly more comfortable.

Too bad I'm headed into a miserable Midwest winter ahead, but I am looking forward to trying to get into a regular lesson schedule once my finances have recovered a bit.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Series of Unfortunate Events

 Sometimes life just seems like a series of unfortunate event, which could also be used to describe 2020 in a nutshell.

There seems to be so much to update on, but at least let's update the most significant change in my life.

Meet the original semi-feral equine. This gal has been featured on this blog since it's inception. She's also been so very unlucky. In my thirteen years of owning her, she's fractured a splint bone, lacerated an artery in her hind leg, survived a hind colon displacement, had aspiration pneumonia from a choke, a couple of tendon injuries from kicks from other horses, and most recently, had Potomac Horse Fever two months ago.

Well, one can guess where I'm going. Donni choked on Tuesday. I don't mess wait and see with chokes because of her previous pneumonia history. She has a number of melanomas on the underside of her neck and I've often wondered if it has created a stricture in her esophagus. Since her pneumonia choke, her grain has been wet down, however, that didn't stop a choke episode last year. The vet that attended that choke said it's the most difficult choke she's ever cleared and took about 15 gallons of water to clear.

The good news is the choke on Tuesday only took about 7.5 gallons of water to clear. The vet and I decided to preemptively put her on oral antibiotics due to her previous choke history and the amount of discomfort and respiratory distress she was in during this choke.

Unfortunately, the oral antibiotics weren't sufficient. She started running a fairly high fever while I was at work on Thursday. I called the vet clinic and asked them to come back out and evaluate her. While ultrasounding her, the vet did notice several abscesses in the upper part of her lungs. Despite our effort, she developed pneumonia.

So our current routine is banamine twice a day, depending on if the is running a temperature and how uncomfortable she is, IV antibiotics once a day, and a longer acting injectable intramuscular antibiotic every four days.

Crossing fingers we will see an improvement. Today she ran a fever in the morning without banamine on board, but she is back to picking and eating at her (very wet) equine senior, chatting up a storm asking for more food, and being bright eyed and perky while being turned out. All very good signs, but this horse is so incredibly stoic, it's always been kind of hard to gauge where she is at with these things.

Her condition is cautiously optimistic and I am trying to give her the benefit of the doubt, despite my pocketbook being so very tapped out since her Potomac Horse Fever adventure two months ago.

Sunday, October 4, 2020



So the last few weeks have been some ups and downs. Just dropping my horse off at the veterinary school was a rough experience. It was cold and raining and the process was to pull into the parking lot, they clip a lead rope on your horse, and off the student goes.

Chili is a bit of a sensitive soul so the idea of not being able to check in on her was a bit nerve-wracking.

I wasn't incredibly impressed with the communication from the facility. I didn't hear anything until day two after I had called several times for an update. Day one, they were just injecting her with drugs and the imaging was to be performed the morning of day two. Evening of day two, I called on the way home from work. Still nothing.

The attending veterinarian finally called back around seven and they stated that during the bone scan there was something on the right hock, but they couldn't tell if it was a fracture or traumatic arthritis. They asked for permission to perform a CT scan and I asked if I could call back in the morning after I had talked to the insurance company, as insurance had approved the bone scan and I wanted to know if they would approve the standing CT as well.

Fortunately insurance did approve the CT scan and the end result was no fracture and there appeared to be a spot of (probable) traumatic arthritis on one of the right hock bones. It's hard to say if it is solely a result of the accident in April or something else, but on the plus side, everything else imaged squeaky clean.

At the end of day three, one again in the cold rain, I picked up my horse from the vet school. While I think they did an adequate jobs, there was definitely some more issues with communication that I was not pleased about overall. I was also not happy about the big shaved spot on her neck that I wasn't informed was going to happen, along with at least six different venipuncture spots.

Chili seemed pleased to be home and quite a bit more lame after having not been hand walked or even out of a stall, except for imaging for three days while away. Poor thing! She's definitely not used to being confined and certainly not alone without buddies in sight for that long. She loaded and uploaded like a champ and I walked her around for a while after we got home.

What I found somewhat sweet was that I was currying and scratching her neck after putting her back in her stall at home and she kept nuzzling and nickering to me. She's not an extraordinarily affectionate horse, so maybe she really was telling me not to drop her off alone again. ;)

The suggestion from the imaging at the vet school was to inject the right hock joint, so I saved that for my primary veterinarian. Here's to hoping that this really is the final answer and light at the end of this mysterious lameness tunnel.