For my part, I plan on thinking with my head after my head consults my heart. If Mia needed a $10K operation which only had a 50% chance of success, it would be a tough call for me. But if she went mildly lame and couldn't be ridden again but wasn't in pain, I'd get a long lead rope and we'd continue going out for walks together. And when her time comes, I'd shoot her with my own 357 before I'd ship her to Mexico for a few hundred dollars.
But the sad truth is that a lot of folks who own horses don't seem to like them much. Yet you cannot blame the breeders. I wasn't a rider in 2000, but I gather the market was pretty good then. A horse bred in a good market, a "wanted horse" with no trouble finding a buyer, is now only 12.
In fact, Mia was bred in 2000 & born in 2001. Sweepstake nominated purebred Arabian mare out of Gazarr:
"According to his owner, Gazarr has sired 9 National Champions, with grand-get that have been winning & several that are National Champions, then the great grand-get such as Esquire as a US TT winner along with many other great-grand-get doing as well!
Gazarr's daughter Revelrie (out of the Cross-U-Bar bred mare NA Nusiata & Esquire's grand-dam) not only was a Two time Scottsdale Top Ten Mare (1983 & 1986) She also was Region 1 Top 5 mare, a Halter Champion Mare & Jr. Champion filly. Revelrie's full brother, Revelation+ was a Canadian National finalist in 1983, a US National Finalist 1982, received his Legion of Honor, Region 1 Top 5 Stallion 1982, Region 4 Top 5 Stallion 1979, Pacific Slope Top 5 Stallion 1979 & 1982, English Pleasure Champion, Blue Western Pleasure with 19 Halter Championships.
Most likely Gazarr's most noted son, Zarr Hassan +/ (out of Belleza), was 1982 Canadian National Champion Stallion, 1982 US National Reserve Champion Stallion, US Top Ten Stallion 1980, 1982, 1983, Canadian Top 10 Stallion 1981 & 1982, Received his Legion of Supreme Honor, Region 1 Champion Stallion 1982, Region 2 Top 5 Stallion 1980, Pacific Slope Top 5 1980, and also had 17 Halter Championships."
I have no personal idea if that is good breeding, but it indicates she wasn't the backyard project of someone who wasn't paying attention to which horses were boys and which were girls...
Yet her current market value is nil. When I started walking her in the desert last November, it was obvious she didn't know to lift her feet over a small rock. She would snort and blow at a 6" gully. With help from a good trainer and a lot of work, she's getting better. We recently made some of our first solo trips into the desert, even if they were only 1/2 mile. Today we galloped about 1/3 of a mile up a trail. OK, I had been thinking a canter...we still have some times like that. But it only took about 100 yards to stop her, and afterward she trotted or walked as asked. So we went back to the beginning and tried again. OK, another gallop. She's still a work in progress...
So she's a spooky mare just beginning to learn to go alone on a trail. She despises kids and needs a confident rider - which I am not, although I try to fake it sometimes. But I couldn't market her as good for kids, or "husbands" (tho I be one), or beginners, or trail riding or cattle or...see the point? She is darn near worthless on today's market.
Not her fault, and not the fault of those who bred her. I'd bet in 2001, someone was hoping good things for her. It happens. She was given to a charity 4 years ago as a tax write-off, and I bought her on a whim. Had no idea what I was doing. Four years and a back injury later, we're finally getting to a point where I feel optimistic about our future. Four years, some pain and more work and training bills than I ever guessed later, and we're still just starting to do short solo rides.
She has been worth it to me, but the trainer who worked with her said a LOT of clients would have auctioned her off long ago. But that wasn't the breeder's fault. The breeding took place in 2000, and the breeder had no idea that 12 years later Mia would be a horse with no market value.
THAT is the challenge that drives the slaughterhouses. And with the price of hay and winter coming on and the economy, I'm afraid there are going to be a lot of horses who are better riding horses than Mia, but who will end up in dire straights.