2000 And Beyond

Let's not get into the technical argument of whether this is the end of the millennium or if we have one more year. Fact is, the calendar now reads 2000. I've lived to see man walk on the moon and AI allowed in the Quarter Horse industry. In my early days as a reporter, I remember watching bare-handed intestinal surgery on the floor of a converted garage (the mare survived). Now, it takes 15 minutes to get appropriately gowned up just to watch colic surgery! I've seen the advent of ultrasound in the breeding industry make twins almost a thing of the past, and mating mares a science rather than an art.

Since our cover story discusses in depth the advances and history-making contributions of the past 100 years, this column will talk about what still needs to be accomplished. What are our goals, and how do we accomplish them? How will our equine world change in the next 10 years, 20 years, 100 years? As creative as I am, it would take some strong magic to make up that list. But, let's dust off the crystal ball and see how it goes. Get your time capsules ready!

Horse Ownership 2000-2100

The next three generations will be boon years for the equine and its owner. There will be more horses, and more people involved with those horses, than in any time since the invention of the combustion engine. Advances in health care and management will be made in giant strides as emphasis is placed on funding research and disseminating information. Horses will become celebrities and companions, and will fulfill the needs of many people for recreation and jobs. They will give handicapped adults and children therapy and allow an aging population access to areas that would not be available otherwise.

Genetics will become the basis of treatments and cures for everything from worms to the flu. Horses will be bred to be stronger, sounder, faster, and healthier (and even their feet will improve!). Genetic testing will allow horses to be selected based on predetermined ability for certain activities, and to breed out problems that have plagued horses for centuries.

Non-invasive alternative therapies will become the norm as the science behind the practice is unraveled. Some things will be proven as bunk, and others will be hailed as being of tremendous benefit. Equine competitions of all sorts will become part of America's household, with English and Western events televised constantly along with horseracing, and rankings within the various competitions published in every daily newspaper.

With the horse's popularity reaching a zenith, all types of opportunities arise for businesses who cater to horse owners, would-be horse owners, and people who just want to ride. Disney World will have dude ranch/equestrian experiences at every park as a major theme, and towns across America will embrace horse farms as a way to protect the environment, conserve the land, and keep a piece of our history alive and well.

Near the end of this golden age, horse people will become complacent, and with that complacency will come the end of their era. Non-horse people will start mandating who has horses, how they are used, and what can and can't be done to, for, and with them.

For better or worse, the ownership of horses in the next century will become regulated much like the ownership of dogs and cats is today, yet horses will become a more exotic creature as the century wanes. There will be a multitude of rules mandating their health care, housing, and use. Many kids by 2100 will never have seen a horse outside a zoo, and certainly will never have had the opportunity to ride on one! (Those detestable "pony rides" and "public riding stables" that are so cruel will be outlawed by folks who "know better" about those things.) The number of horses will drop dramatically in the last quarter of the century.

By the end of the century, horse farms will be limited to designated, secluded areas of land, but those areas will be very park-like and comfortable for riding or competitions. Horses will have been banned from state and national parks since they are "exotic" animals to those places and could disrupt the natural flora and fauna.

There will be many new competitions, with extremely high purses, at the start of the century, but that, too, will diminish as the public becomes disenchanted at the perceived inhumanity of man to horse. The Olympics will ban equestrian events as unsuitable (cruelty to animals), even while acknowledging that equestrian events are the only sports in which men and women compete equally.

Grazing will be replaced by daily feeding of hydroponic grass that is grown specifically to meet the nutritional needs of the breed of horse and its workload. By the end of the century, land will have become too valuable for horses to be out walking around on it just to eat. Treadmills will be used daily for exercise. Electronic monitoring devices implanted under the horse's skin will monitor health parameters continuously, and alert caretakers of the slightest changes. This is because most human contact for caretaking will have been mechanized.

Due to the distancing of humans from horses, and the nutritional content of the meat, by the end of the next century, horse will become a delicacy in the United States. Slaughter plants and feed lots will breed horses just for that market, and more people will have eaten horseburger than will have ever petted or ridden a live horse.

While the first sounds glorious, the last seems grotesque. But it can happen unless we start at the first of the century to protect our rights as horse owners, and the health and welfare of our horses.

The near future is bright; let's keep it that way!

About the Author

Kimberly S. Brown

Kimberly S. Brown was the Publisher/Editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care from June 2008 to March 2010, and she served in various positions at Blood-Horse Publications since 1980.

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