A hairy horse market complicates equestrian programs
A booming horse market is contributing to a deficit in the ideal number of animals available at Jester Park Equestrian Center in Granger.
Why it matters: The outdoor recreation center also hosts equine-assisted therapy programs for people with special needs, including veterans and children.
What's happening: Inflation and a rise in horse sales and race purses is pressuring the industry, per trade industry magazine Blood-Horse.
- Some horse shows have seen average sale prices jump more than 80% since 2018, Farm Progress reports.
- That's making it harder for Jester Park to find reasonably priced animals that meet its program needs, Jessica Lown, a spokesperson for Polk County Conservation, tells Axios.
Zoom in: Summer drought caused a hay shortage and increased feeding costs.
🐴 State of naaay: Jester currently has 24 horses, down four from its ideal capacity.
- No programming has been eliminated but the park could add more trail ride sessions if it had more animals, Lown said.
- Johnston resident Diana Deibler tells Axios she discovered all of Jester's guided trail rides last year were booked months in advance. She snagged a spot for a student she tutors this year as soon as the schedule opened.
What's next: The search for the right Jester Park horses continues.
- Animal donations would be considered if they can pass "guest-safe" evaluations to meet program needs, Lown says.
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