But it seems apparent to me that in some ways, humans have no evolved much since the days when we hunted horses down purely as a source of meat. Certainly the paintings on the walls of caves support this conclusion.
We still-in some places-consume their flesh, although most in the USA consider this practice to be abhorrent. Some cases of outright brutality-beatings, stabbings, shootings (guns and bows), dragging with ropes/chains, and various other tortures are described in news articles on the internet-and we now know that individuals who do this sort of thing will go on to bring that hell on humans sooner rather than later.
But what about the lesser evils we inflict? Can we address those?
- Horses are open range animals-they live in herds and depend on being able to see and able to move to get away from danger. But what do we do? We do the very opposite-we lock them up in solitary in small boxes for our own worry-free existence-not theirs. It’s no wonder they acquire ulcers and bad habits such as cribbing, weaving, wall kicking, bolting their feed, and such. They are our prisoners.
- We cut their body hair off-and then put blankets on them. I understand why you would-and have done so myself for medical reasons. But ordinarily, no, I would not. The body hair does a fine job of protecting the horse from the elements and needs little else unless the weather is really poor. I will help them in foul weather, but on the whole-they do fine au natural.
- Shoes-ah, you knew I’d get to this one. This is a hard topic. To be sure, the ‘modern’ horse has been bred mostly for what is above the coronet band-and that’s a crying shame. After my first horse-whom I treasured, I vowed to look at the hooves first. The Sports Model Jackass had LOUSY feet. They were big, dinner plate size, and they chipped. Moreover, they had flattened due to repeated foundering. He was a mess. He had to be shod-no way around it. Problem was-couldn’t keep steel on him. The wall would crumble. Fortunately that was when the plastic shoes came out-and the blacksmith grumbled but he put them on the horse-and they worked.
Since that time, I have carefully acquired a herd that is totally barefoot-and needs no shoeing at all-with the possible exception of boots on occasion. They all have thick heavy hooves and go sound over most surfaces.
My suggestion to horse owners? Use the old desert way of looking at potential horses. Start at the ground. They’d sit in a tent and roll up one side of the tend about four inches. Horses would be led up-and those that looked good would be brought back for additional passes as the tent wall rose slowly to pastern, then knee/hock, then full leg, then shoulder, belly, hip,, then topline, and finally-head and neck. That way-you don’t get caught in the ‘but he’s just so beautiful’ or ‘she has such a sweet face’ nonsense.
- Nosebands-why do you use one? Why are you pulling that thing so tight? Think about it. If you say “my horse is opening his mouth to evade the bit”, go grab a dressage whip and give yourself a beat down. I’m serious. The question is NOT How do you keep your horse from opening his mouth, but why aren’t you doing something about the pain you are causing in his mouth that causes him to open his mouth? What kind of owner are you that you are ignoring the pain you are causing?? Okay, that’s a harsh question, but since I see an awful lot of it, and 11/10 times it involves a rider hauling back on the reins, feet braced in the stirrups, horse’s mouth foamed, eyes white rimmed, and the rider’s jaw set-well, damn it, somebody needs to say something. Take the time to learn to ride properly, loosen that noseband, and, if you have to, throw those bits away. You do not need metal to control a horse.
- Learn to feed properly. Ditch the molasses. You heard me-it is not good for horses. Do you eat candy at every meal? So why are you feeding the equivalent to your horse? Likewise, corn is not horse food. GRASS is horse food. Roughage is horse food. Learn what makes good horse food.
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