Equestrian centers and riding clubs can no longer find horses for their stables.

In the Dordogne, as elsewhere, there are fewer and fewer horse breeders, and many riding centers are struggling to find horses at affordable prices.

After car deliveries, will shortages threaten the equestrian world? In any case, in the Dordogne, where there are many equestrian centers, this trend seems to be confirmed. In recent years it has become increasingly difficult to find reasonably priced horses, whether in the surrounding area, in the rest of France, or even elsewhere in Europe. These four-legged animals can still be found, but prices are skyrocketing.

In 2018, there was an average of one donkey, pony or horse for every 57 French people. 140,000 owners care for approximately 1.2 million horses, but this figure is regularly decreases over several years. If the herd of horses is still young, the number of horses over 20 years old increases. These horses are mainly intended for recreation (68%), then for racing or breeding (25%), with a small part intended for pleasure or intended for agricultural work. As for the meat sector, it tends to disappear both in terms of consumption and production (80% of the horsemeat consumed in France is imported).

In general, the French herd is decreasing. On the ground, the market is still between professionals, but equestrian centers looking for adult animals trained and “ready to use” for the general public and at reasonable prices are getting tighter. The market is shrinking, shortages are looming, supply is increasing, making the situation difficult for equestrian clubs.

At the moment it is really very difficult to find ponies at reasonable prices for clubs! Everyone is looking, everyone is looking for club horses, everyone is looking for club ponies, people are looking everywhere!

Solen Deroc, Pony-Club of Bergerac

François Brachet, breeder, importer and horse dealer in Saint-Mame-de-Pereyrolles confirms this. The price of his Argentine saddle horses, which he sold for 3,000 euros, doubled or even tripled in just a few years. A general trend in Europe and especially noticeable in France.

For France, the explanation is due to two accompanying factors: the gradual disappearance of breeders and the closure of national stud farms. This French specificity, one of the oldest French institutions, was finally sacrificed in 2014. It was created by Colbert in 1665 to improve and maintain the quality of horse breeding in France, and to no longer depend on buying horses from a stranger.

The PMU-subsidized institution has made it possible to keep horses of high quality and to make the coat of their stallions available for reproduction by French breeders. Like other public institutions, in the early 1980s the national stud farms began to bear the brunt of private interest lobbying and the collapse of the public service. Mergers, charter changes and budget cuts finally led to their eventual disappearance 8 years ago, which is part of the current deficit.

Another recent devastation, according to François Brachet, is the increasingly stringent French rules for keeping and breeding horses. Regulatory restrictions on chipping and identifying horses now make the process more rigorous and costly. If this is not a problem for large standardized farms, individuals or occasional small breeders practicing this activity in parallel with their profession are not encouraged.

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