Don’t Know Where This is Going, But Not Staying Here

You know what I love about this story? Somebody saw what he was doing and let him on the trailer.

 

by Sarah V Schweig as published on The Dodo “He was intent that this was his ride out of there.” An old horse was at a “kill lot” in Texas when he realized he would simply have to save his own life. So when he spotted a group of people who were there to rescue […]

via Feel Good Sunday: Old Horse At ‘Kill Lot’ Decides To Rescue Himself — Straight from the Horse’s Heart

If You Own Donkeys or Mules-They’re Not Safe

Source: The Donkey Sanctuary Right now, millions of donkeys from Asia, Africa and South America are at risk of being stolen and slaughtered for their skins – the gelatin in the hide being a key ingredient in the prized traditional Chinese medicine called ejiao (e-gee-yow). A new report by The Donkey Sanctuary reveals the shocking […]

via Under the Skin – Donkeys at Risk — Straight from the Horse’s Heart

Stolen Horse International can, if notified promptly, help with the search for stolen animals. The problem is that most people assume that law enforcement will do an exhaustive search. It’s not that they don’t try-they do. The problem is that they have so much to do and so little to do it with. The owner is basically left with a piece of paper saying ‘yes, your animal was probably stolen’ and that’s about as much-realistically-as you are going to get.

The result? The owner is left in the dark and the animal-well, who knows? It might be pulled out by a private buyer (we can all hope!), a rescue group might fight for it (again-that’s a hope), or it will go to slaughter (which none of us want, but is a reality). This whole thing is not good.

Oh, you can try to do this on your own-and lots of people do. I don’t recommend it for several reasons.

  1. No one person is going to have the incredible contacts and reach in social media that this band of volunteers has amassed over the nearly 20 years they’ve been working. That’s just a fact.
  2. No one individual has thousands of horse related email addresses already lined up and ready to go.
  3. They know who to contact and where.
  4. Using the tools that they will give you puts you ahead of the game. All you have to do is follow their lead. That’s great when you are frustrated, angry, and spinning your wheels.

The fees are affordable. If you can afford to keep a horse, you cannot afford not to use this service. It’s that simple. Be smart when the chips are down and your best friend is missing.

 

Celebration For Real

For those of us who have been appalled for years at the chains, rattles, oils, wraps, pads, nails, ball bearings, intentional creation of laminitis and thrush, nuts, bolts, springs, and nails placed into the sensitive soles of these horses to the point that they lie in misery in their stalls and cannot even lean down to graze, this week’s news from the USDA is cause for much celebration. However-we still have work to do. The criminals who do this have vowed to fight the regulation. We will have to stay vigilant to make sure that the work we’ve done is not undone.

We also will have to make certain of other things. Namely:

  • Making sure that the training program for the inspectors is set up.
  • Probably more importantly, making sure that the program is funded. This is where we have an Achilles’ heel. We can get all this done, but if the program is not funded, it will be for nothing. These people know this and they will gun for the money flow. Watch for it.
  • Enforcement needs to have a lot of ‘bite‘. No more slaps on the hand, wink, wink, and business as usual.
  • Protection for whistleblowers. These people have had threats, physical harm, vandalism, and other problems.

And then we need to move on to other abuses going on in the horse world-and, like the ‘Big Lick’ people, those involved do not see that they are abusing the horses. It’s time to shine the light.

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The Curse of Perfectionism

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First of all, a reminder-these are my opinions and they are based on 50+ years of working with all kinds of horses. However, if you disagree, feel free to keep on going. I know not everybody is going to agree with me. In fact, I’ve spent most of my life out of  step with the rest of the world so it is nothing new to me. But do not attempt to change my viewpoints by charging in and ‘correcting’ me. It simply will not work. I’ll ignore you.

This photo is on top because I see a lot-no, make that TONS-of horses wearing snaffles and flash nose bands. I did it, too, for awhile with a young horse until he made it quite plain that the arrangement pissed him off to no end. (Always pay attention to what your horse is telling you, folks. My riding instructor kept telling me to do this or that, but I listened to HIM. He was shaking his head, pulling on the reins, opening his mouth, not listening, dropping his shoulder, etc. The problem lay in the bridle-it hurt.) So I set about learning about bits, nosebands, hands, and why they are used. It isn’t pretty the majority of the time.

Nose bands were originally nothing more than a way to tie your horse without using the reins in the military/driving days. They had a ring underneath and were always fairly heavy leather worn loosely enough that the horse could chew his ration in a nose bag. Some person somewhere along the line got the ‘brilliant’ idea that they could force a horse’s mouth closed by putting a few more holes in the thing. Why did they want to?

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This is why-if you put something into a mouth and it can be steel, plastic, rubber, leather-you can find ways to create pain. Now I’m NOT saying that you shouldn’t use bits-but you should understand that ALL bits are capable of creating ENORMOUS pain. There is no such thing as a ‘mild’ bit. All that varies is the knowledge and skill of the hands that use it. A thick snaffle in the hands of a fool can be the instrument of extreme torture to a horse. By the same token, there are some people who can get horses to perform world class dressage bridleless. I’ve ridden a finished spade bit horse that could be handled with a feather’s touch on the reins and the nose band was for decoration only.

People want the end-without the work involved to get there. 

Now I’m a perfectionist myself-and I  can get as frustrated as the next person about my horses’ performance as anyone else. So don’t even start down that road with me. You do have the time to work with that horse-you just don’t want to take it. You’d rather take the shortcut of hurting your horse-causing pain-and justifying it to yourself as ‘but everybody else does it’, ‘my trainer recommended it’, ‘my horse wasn’t listening to me’, blah, blah, blah. Go ahead-add any you wish-I’ve heard them all-and they are all EXCUSES FOR POOR HORSEMANSHIP. That’s unacceptable.

The third photo is another type of nose band being marketed. Notice that it is supposedly more ‘humane’ because it avoids the jaw bones covered only with skin. Well, isn’t that nice, folks? But now we have a strap higher on the jaw to help hold the jaw closed and better bracing across the nose bridge. The horse loses even more. (Actually, you do, too.
The thing is pricey.)noseband

 

 

 

 

I didn’t put any Western, endurance, or other disciplines in this-mostly for space reasons. They are just as much at fault as the English branch. If there is a way a human can inflict pain and suffering on a horse, by golly, they’ll find it and do it.

Am I one of those nuts who thinks horses shouldn’t be ridden? Oh, heck, no. I do think that a great many of the gizmos (chambons, draw reins, martingales, gambons, tie downs, etc.) should be recognized for what they are and thrown in the land fills. If you think you need something like that-get a motorcycle or ATV and leave the horse alone. As one person puts it “If you keep getting the wrong answer, then you aren’t asking the right question.”  See the last photo for an example of that-the rider isn’t getting the ‘frame’ that was desired so rollkur was resorted to to achieve it. The wrong question was being asked so the wrong answer was given. The horse is paying the price for the humans’ quest for perfection.

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For the record–

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this is in response to the fact that I seem to be getting an inordinate number of single male requests to ‘friend’ me on Facebook. Listen up, guys-I’m MARRIED-to a great man. And from what I can tell from your pages-your jokes, posts, photos, and what have you-well, let’s just say I’m less than impressed. Got what I wanted and not looking to change.

Y’all have a nice day-but do it somewhere else.

Most People Think That They Are Seeing The Whole Picture-They Aren’t

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This is a print by an artist named Bev Dolittle that I happen to admire greatly. Her talent is amazing. I own several of her limited edition prints although this is not one of them. I can’t afford it. But it is the one that drew me to her-because there is so much more to be seen in her work.

People do this with horses-they look at what the Natural Horsemanship clinicians and practioners are doing and think “well, shoot, I can wiggle a rope and wave a stick around”-and they might even get initial results. The problem lies in the fact that there is so much MORE to it that merely that. It lies in timing, watching the horse’s reactions, knowing the horse’s personality, knowing your own personality, knowing whether both of you are right that second in time, bringing the correct ask, looking for the correct response, giving the correct reward at the precise right instant. All of this happens in the blink of an eye. It takes practice, skill, and determination to do. You do not just attend one event and come away an expert on the techniques-although, Lord Knows, many have tried and gone on to bad mouth natural horsemanship.

Back to Dolittle’s work-you see trees, snow, and a red fox, right? Look more closely. There are also two braves riding appaloosas through the trees. Ah! Now you can’t un-see them. Life is like that. It’s like stopping and getting to know just a little something about a beggar on a street-once you do, you’ll see all of them as real people with real stories and real problems. Nothing is ever the same again. 

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