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  • Writer's pictureBridgette Lens

Ethics and Horse Breeding – The Boutique Vs Backyard Breeder

Winsome Meadows is a Boutique Breeder, but what is that, you ask? I would be happy to explain!

It seems as though there is a common misconception between “boutique” style breeders, and “backyard” breeders.

Let us start off by defining each of these, perhaps a graphic may help.

Boutique Breeder: A small-scale operation that prioritizes quality over quantity, as well as the well-being of their horses. These breeders are willing to invest in their operation and want only the very best for their horses. Careful research, selection and pairing of sires and dams to improve upon each horse’s positive and negative traits.

Backyard Breeder: A breeder that will breed anything and everything that is capable of being bred for a quick dollar. Breeding horses with no vision or goal for the foals in mind. Lacks the knowledge or care to carefully select sires for their individual dams based on each horse’s positive and negative traits.

For the record, he could be the most gorgeous horse, but unless he is proven (competition, bloodlines, conformation) he should not be bred. This goes equally for mares as well, because….

…Have you ONLY ever seen kids that look like their dads?

No, of course not, human offspring can look like either parent or a combination of both, because each parent contributes to half the genetics in their offspring! Same goes for horses (well, any living thing, really). Therefore, we need to only breed the very best examples for our chosen breed or discipline, for both mares and stallions.

I am sure by now you are starting to see that there is a big difference here, regardless of breed and discipline, between Boutique Breeders and Backyard Breeders.

Do you know a backyard breeder? If they are in it for the love of horses and foals (who doesn’t love a foal!), perhaps you can help direct them to putting more thought into their breeding program and becoming a true Boutique Breeder, otherwise perhaps explain to them the harsh realities of how they are contributing to overpopulation and thus horses being taken to slaughter.

But wait! There’s even more benefit from buying from a Boutique Breeder! Well-handled and trained foals!

Boutique Breeders almost always ensure their foals are handled appropriately from birth, instilling trust and manners in the foals ensures that they have a great start to a successful, useful life. At Winsome Meadows we believe this is of utmost importance once the foal is on the ground. We ensure our foals are comfortable with being groomed, tied, cross tied, bathed, clipped and trailered, yet they are never allowed to be pushy or ill-mannered. After all, if something goes wrong with the foal, their dam, or even the farm (evacuation), we need to have the ability to handle and move the foal quickly. Unfortunately, big farms often do not have time to pay too much attention to their individual horses and foals. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, some big farms do pay attention to ensuring each individual horse or foal are handled and trained from birth.

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