Rising fuel prices are a double-edged sword for draft horse breeders. Why?
Stockmen in particular need to sharpen their pencils. Otherwise, they will find it difficult to survive. Traditional means of feeding cattle herds or flocks of sheep have involved little capital expenditure. Little fossil fuel is required. Such practices are environmentally-friendly. Employing teams of well-schooled draft horses in many livestock operations makes economic sense. The higher fuel prices go, the greater the savings.
This will affect draft horse enthusiasts across the continent. I think the price paid for matched draft horse teams, which are well-broke to work, will increase. I trust several livestock operations, will look again, to the five draft horse breeds, as a means of cutting operating costs. There is no question in my mind, highly-mechanized livestock operations face serious economic problems. The cost of grain, hay, even straw, is on the rise.
Could draft horsemen who breed, develop and/or school working teams benefit from rising fuel prices? I think so.
The exciting market for pedigreed Belgians, Clydesdales, Percherons and Shires has been fueled by horse shows and horse pulls. Draft horse enthusiasts, in growing numbers, enjoy these competitions. Many new friendships have been forged, treasured memories have been experienced. Showing draft horses, on halter or in harness, involves family members, as does the sport of pulling horses. The competition each organized pull or show offers is an adrenalin rush draft horse enthusiasts talk about for years.
Could the rising price of fuel keep competitors home? I hope not.
Competition is an engine that powers the draft horse industry. Pulling horses that surpass the opposition; hitch horses, whose head-sets, motion and style eclipses the competition; and halter horses, who lift blue or red ribbons; fuel a fast trade. This trade is butter on our industry’s bread.
Ensure heavy horse competitions continue to attract entries in number. Should such competitions cease to operate, the market for draft horses will falter. I encourage you to remain committed to what you love. Attend the draft events you have the time and money for. Have faith. Don’t let rising fuel prices force you to lose contact with your friends, your horses and your breed organization, for they are part of your lifestyle. Would you want it any other way?
We have little to fear if horsemen remain positive. The only clouds on the horizon are those we make.
As least this is how I see it.