Small horse and pony markets under pressure

With far fewer horses at the first traditional horse and ponies market in Bimmel, Gelderland, the horse market appears to be under pressure, as it turned out Monday during the market. Regulations in particular make it difficult for smaller markets to get excited, especially now that imports and exports do not have a 48-hour quarantine. Big markets don’t expect any problems.

“In five years there will be no more horse markets,” Jo de Haar sighs. It is remarkable that it is not from the collection of animal campaigns, but from the horse market in Pemmel. And while he praised the good weather, he saw a sharp drop in the supply of animals, from 550 to 600 horses and ponies in 2019 to 250 this year.

According to De Haar, the decline is due to the fact that in the past people bought a horse or a horse to sell in this market. This has been greatly reduced due to the aura time. He also believes that stricter regulations deter buyers and sellers.

This relates in particular to the identification and registration of animals. Horses are first extensively checked for chip number, passport and signature before being put on the market. When leaving the market, this must be done again, as the horse is tied to the new owner.

Traders have to fill out a huge variety of forms, they don’t wait for it

Yap Melima, master of the market in Züdlerder Market

This in itself is positive, but it takes time and traders have to fill out a huge variety of forms. They are not waiting for that. De Haar believes that commerce is increasingly taking place online.

Since 2019, strict requirements are applied to the import and export of horses. After entering the Netherlands, animals must be quarantined for 48 hours, and the same for export. This can be done with the seller. Not every trader is happy with this.

Target Controls

Last year, the Dutch Consumer Product and Food Safety Authority (NVWA) conducted targeted checks on the Zuidlaardermarkt. Three horses that were to be illegally exported were intercepted here, and an attempt was made to bring the animal illegally to Holland with one horse. By the way, this is a limited number, in connection with the total supply and removal of hundreds of animals.

Market master Jaap Melema of Züdlerdermarkt does not want to judge violations. ‘The rules are known. If you do not comply with this, you risk being fined. As livestock joint markets in Elst, Zuidlaren and Hedel, we sent a letter to the national and international press at the time to inform buyers and sellers.

Mellema doesn’t see the future of these three big markets, which can rely on a steady supply of about 1,100 horsepower each year, as his Bemmel colleague. “The markets are very interesting for foreign buyers, as they can choose from a large number of animals collected in a short period of time.”

In the past, trucks loaded with horses were sometimes transported directly from the market to a slaughterhouse abroad. Rinus Bakker, president of the Central Association of Horse Dealers, stressed that in recent years no horses for slaughter have been sold through the market. “Quality is a little better all around. This also makes horses very expensive.

Packer finds that many foreign merchants slaughtering horses have their own channels. “Someone collects them until the truck is full. That person takes care of the mandatory quarantine before leaving.

There is almost a trade in horse slaughter

Bakker notes that there is rarely a trade in slaughter horses in the Netherlands. In the old days in a farmer’s house, a lame horse would go to the butcher. Then the animal raised more. Now some people hardly have the money to cover veterinary costs, but would rather put four hooves to sleep and cremate than add value to the animal.

Another disincentive to the markets is that business groups have set their sights on this. They report abuse after nearly every market, as often insufficient water and fodder are their horses. And while the horses had left at Bimmel a quarter before twelve in order to avoid the heat, there had been criticism in advance of holding onto the market because of the temperature forecast.

horse without chip

It was criticized afterwards. For example, it was possible to bring a horse without a slide. When the noble animal was not allowed into the site because of this, it ended up off the site in a foreign trailer. The NVWA working group on chip shortages addressed. A spokesperson for the working group was unable to determine what action had been taken.

According to the working group, there was no control during the market over the combination of the chip and the accompanying passport. Furthermore, an animal organization criticized the twisting of the tail for provoking animals, the beating of horses with sticks and the presence of docked tail horses.

Packer argues that this negative interest from business groups can also have a negative impact on the horse market. The market was seen as an asset to the village. This is now less due to this criticism. And when as an organization you really see a small future for the horse market, it becomes difficult.

Focus on animal welfare

In this regard, Packer has more confidence in Hedel, Elst and Zuidlaren. “These markets are at the helm of animal welfare and have consultations with parties such as Dierenbescherming, Eyes on Animals, the Equine Sector Council and NVWA to ensure a welfare-friendly market.”

Melima can confirm this: “The shortening of the market time has emerged, for example, from those consultations. As a result of these discussions, better water and feed facilities have been arranged. There is also a good health check by veterinarians, additional guidance and supervision of the loading and unloading of animals. This is also how we make our horse markets as strong as a horse.

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