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What does 2012 have in store for the horse industry?

If you ask California's leaders, the answers ring positive

From the Horsetrader eArena - January 5th, 2012 - eArena

Jim Vangelos
Non Pro competitor
NRCHA Board Member

There will be more stability in the horse industry in 2012. Horse prices appear to be improving, especially if the larger auctions in the performance horse industry are indicators. This should allow breeders to be more energetic when it comes to breeding more aggressively, thus making more stock available for the future — especially with upper-end horses. In turn, trainers will see more horses in their programs and more riders in training. I think the participation level at most shows will be up in most disciplines, especially working cow horse, cutting, reining, ranch sorting, barrel racing, etc. Since this is an election year, the government will do everything in its power to get people out and spend money – with tax cuts, etc. – and since the horse industry is fueled by discretionary income, this should all help add up to a better more stable year. The key for all of us is to keep on doing what we love…and get out and ride and compete! The end result will be a positive year for the equine industry.

Suzi Vlietstra, President
Hobby Horse Clothing

I hope that people will be less fearful about the economy and will begin to enjoy their horses more for the joy they bring us than as vehicles to carry our egos around in circles. I believe that we will continue to see the rise of non-traditional horse activities like Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and the continued reorganization/deterioration of national multi-day breed shows in favor of smaller shows at the local and regional level. Any sport, modality, or product which appeals to aging baby-boomer equestrians (their safety, comfort, or maximization of leisure time with their horses) will continue to gain in popularity. Breeding will continue to decline but with the pool of young horses reduced, prices for better young stock may stabilize and begin to rise. The value of a solid 11 year-old gelding will also rise as people realize that raising horses from seeds is expensive, frustrating, and time-consuming. Educational opportunities (horse fairs, clinicians, books and magazines, cable TV shows) involving horses will continue to increase as older and wiser riders seek to feed their horse interest in ways above and beyond simply riding. Objective competitive events related to trail and recreational riding will continue to gain fans; subjectively-judged events like pleasure classes will not draw many new entrants. Individual disciplines like dressage and reining will hold their own; futurity events will remain important, but new attention to senior horses will help spread financial incentives in show and breeding to a wider group of classes. Little girls of all ages will still love horses, and horses will still love carrots.

Dar Hanson, General Manager
Ward River Ranch

I am on the NRCHA Sale Committee, and in 2011 we saw an increase in the average in all four of the NRCHA-produced sales. Since then, we continue to see an improvement in the overall horse market with the highest demand for futurity and show horses. Last year at Ward River Ranch was the first year since 2007 that we saw an increase in the number of mares bred over the previous year. I am very optimistic that we will continue to see steady growth in the horse industry this year.

Mike Berg, Trainer
Berg Performance Horses

On a local level, there are new people with fresh ideas involved with the California Reining Horse Association that I think will result in better horse shows for all levels. Keep an eye on the CRHA. There are some NRCHA events that have moved to Queen Creek, Ari., giving SoCal cow-chasers a new venue to show at. On a national level, there are new rules and policies implemented in the NRHA that I think will level the playing field at all shows and help spread the wealth a little better.

Nothing happens overnight, but I think things are looking good.

Jim Sculatti, Manager
Broken Horn Saddlery

In 2011, our business was up 5 percent over 2010, and it was nice to see an increase. Our clothing, boots and hats are up, and we expect that trend to continue. Western show saddles and tack sales are disappointing and continue trending down, while traditional western saddles and tack are showing a nice little increase. Our feed sales have risen dramatically, probably the result of very competitive pricing. English clothing and boots continue to do well. English saddles sales are buoyed by consistent consignment-saddle sales growth, a nice growth area in western saddles as well. Our medicines, supplements, dewormers, fly products, etc. remain in a growth pattern, which suggests more horsemen are concerned about the well-being of their horses and are doing something about it. We have nearly completed an extensive remodel enabling us to provide our customers with more choices and a better shopping experience. We are optimistic 2012 will continue the slow turnaround we experienced last year. We would, of course, like to see bigger growth, but realistically I think it will be more of the same.

Kate Hyde, Owner
Fairlea Ranch

There are signs the economy is getting better — small signs, but good just the same. Our inquiries about horses for sale have dramatically increased over the last 45 to 60 days. The actual sales have not increased, but there is interest out there. The buyers are real buyers; they are just very deliberate in their buying. They repeatedly return to look at a horse, have specific lists of horses they are interested in, and do not rush into any decisions. Just the fact that our calls and emails have spiked is a good sign things could be improving.

Margaret Rich, Owner
Green Acres Ranch

People are getting back to basics, and they are realizing what’s important to them. The horse provides a lot of enjoyment, and people who realize that are now capitalizing on it. Our lesson business is booming. The trail rides that we’ve been advertising and taking out are booked full. Also, the parents of children who have sat and watched and watched and watched the lessons and are now getting involved, too. It’s a troubled time for everybody, and the horses relieve some of that for people. The horses have unconditional love for people and don’t have any expectations — people are realizing this and are capitalizing on it, too. If anything, the horse business is discretionary income, and for people to be choosing the horses to spend what’s left of their discretionary income is pretty darn good. They get more bang for their buck.

Robert Kellerhouse, General Manager
Galway Downs Equestrian Center

2012 is all about the Olympics…obviously, a big year for everyone who follows eventing, dressage, and show jumping with the London Olympic Games hosting the equestrians at Greenwich Park starting the end of July. The British have very strong teams in all three equestrian disciplines and will be a serious challenger for gold, so the U.S. will have its work cut out to try and break the homefield advantage and get on the podium. Go USA!

At Galway, we are continuing to improve our facilities to serve the areas equestrian competitors and race trainers. New in 2012 are four new 2-acre turnouts and paddocks available to our permanent training clients, a new 200 ft. x 300 ft. multi-use lighted competition arena, a new specialized cutting arena with customized footing, improvements to RV hook-ups, restoration of our trade fair area, and many more additions as well as future plans to open a permanent Galway restaurant. Stay tuned!

Dale Harvey, President
West Palms Events

I think 2012 should see an upswing in the horse business. The second half of 2011 seemed to be a little stronger and should be a good indication of next year.

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