Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Upset. No, wait, MAD. Pt. 2

Also, to counteract all the "well, as long as they're regulated" arguments:

You want the slaughter of any animal to be truly humane? Then be prepared to pay way up.Good regulation costs money, and humane practices cost money. When you have a quota of dead animals to meet, it's hard to do it slowly, painlessly, AND cheaply! When all of America wants a freaking cheeseburger for $1, then SURPRISE! The livelihood of those cattle are not going to be taken into very much consideration. Same goes for horses, or any other meat-intended animal. It's hard to regulate something when people aren't willing to go the extra mile for it.

Anyone who has ever hunted knows that making a clean kill takes lots of time and effort, and then there's gutting the animal and making it edible that takes even more time. You also develop a respect for the animal when you actually have to chase it down and really play the role of predator. Imagine doing it that way for every animal slaughtered. Meat would be very expensive and hard to come by, like it had always been since before factory farming. Not like we're supposed to be eating as much as we do nowadays, but that's another biological discussion for another day, and blog really.

Factory farming and slaughter plants make it very easy: you put the animal in a chute, and you try to get a clean shot with a bolt gun (which rarely works on a horse because their brain is much further back in their head than a cow. It'll probably knock them unconscious or stun them,, but kill them? haha Oh, you dreamer, you!). The animal is practically handed to you on a silver platter. There is very little respect and work involved. To make it as humane and time-consuming as skillfully hunting a deer would make the whole process much longer and much more expensive, but the quality would probably very good. I'm sure the same could probably be said when America was a largely agricultural society and most families had to raise and slaughter their own meat. You knew where it came from, you recognized the costs going into it, it was done a bit more carefully because you were going to eat it, and overall a bit more respect was involved. And, yes, I know the desperate ate horsemeat too, especially in bad droughts, bad economic times, or if the horse had outlived its purpose. A bullet is much more effective and humane than an iffy bolt gun (and if you want to get down to it, it's cheaper than a euthanasia shot for all those who complain that they can't afford to put their horse down, and much more humane than slaughter or neglect.)

When you remove yourself from the raising of your own food, you develop less respect for how it's made. You want it to come fast and you want to buy it cheap. You don't realize that asking those things greatly decreases the quality of not only the final products, but also of the labor and animals and other materials going into it.

And on a final note: there's a reason the E.U. banned American horsemeat. Raise your hand if you give your horse vaccinations. How about a horse-sized amount of vaccines that could probably kill a human, because horses are larger animals with different metabolism? Now, keep your hand raised if you have given your horse phenylbutazone or another powerful NSAID? How about daily for maintenance? How about if, once again, you give the horse-sized amount that would, once again, kill a human? Oh, and what about a de-wormer? Ivermectin is quite poisonous last I checked, and so are all the other de-wormers. There's a reason they say "do not use in animals intended for human consumption" on the tube or package! Oh, and all those supplements!

Now, let's put those all together and see how many horse-patties have unsafe amounts of those in them! Many of those meds can stay in a horse's system for months, especially your long-term meds like vaccines and de-wormer. And it only takes a few months for a horse to slip through the cracks. Many thoroughbreds deemed unusable for track life can go from stable to slaughter in less than a week, perhaps still chuck-full of all those fabulous things injected into and fed to them. Because any ole' horse can go to slaughter in America, there is no regulations for how they are raised and what goes into them because, ONCE AGAIN, I have YET to meet a horse who was specifically raised for slaughter! So even if there is a selection process of sorts (which would up the price) then I doubt you would find very many horses to slaughter (thus defeating the purpose of slaughtering them for profit in the first place) because I have yet to see a horse in America that was intentionally raised for human consumption!

Still want the pony platter now? Yeah, I hope you choke.

Still want those regulations? I hope you have the money and the patience for a horse to be humanely processed and give somebody the okay to raise a pasture full of Prancers for slaughter so you can have what goes into them regulated :)

EDIT: Snowhawk is right, there are farms in Europe that specifically raise horses for slaughter. I do believe that if you put those here in America, every blessed animal rights group or activist person in the country and beyond would have a fit. Plus, if such farms were to be established, they would most definitely compete with (and probably win out over) all the random horses from the kill auctions. And if people are setting up American slaughterhouses to deal with unwanted horses, then that would defeat that purpose entirely. So it all boils back down to the fact you just can't regulate these things!

Second rant over.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Upset. No, wait, MAD. Pt. 1

So, apparently the ban on horse slaughter has been lifted in the U.S. I shall now proceed to counter the argument of "well, I'd rather they'd be slaughtered than starved to death or abused":

First of all, bolt guns are what are used in American slaughter houses, and not just on horses. The concept was originally used on cattle, and people supposed it works on horses. It doesn't always. You know why? Because horses are not cattle. Maybe some long time ago in the form of a common ancestor, but definitely not now. THEN they slit their throats, sometimes the bolt gun not being effective in the first place! Sounds like a blast, right?

So, let my solution rant begin:

I would much rather there be some more free or discounted euthanasia clinics, gelding clinics, and just overall more responsible breeding practices and horse ownership. If it ain't bred in the first place, then it ain't going to be slaughtered!

After working with rescues and helping to care for some horses that were pulled from the closed slaughterhouses in TX, and knowing what goes on in there, I would never want to see a horse - especially since I have YET to see a horse bred purposefully for consumption, unlike every other livestock animal - go through that.

Plus slaughterhouses pollute horribly and do a fabulous job of contaminating the surrounding land, just like any other factory farm or processing plant. They don't create a lot of sustainable jobs if any, and I have yet to see a town who was gung-ho about a blood-and-fecal-runoff-spewing factory put up in their farmland. Just not an environmentally or economically viable solution and an easy way out, in my opinion.

I have rehabbed horses who have been starved to the point of a 1 or 2 on the body weight scale, and it SUCKS to fix or to give a graceful way to go but it is done because it's what's morally right, and I know that a bolt to the head usually only temporarily stuns a horse and some horses are still alive and conscious when they are bled out from my Ag classes. Very few of the horses I saw coming out of the slaughterhouse pens when they closed were old or crippled. Poorly bred or never had the time or money taken to be properly trained perhaps or gelded, usually. When you get a young horse: SURPRISE! You gotta train it or pay somebody else to! And if it's a colt who is not breeding quality or who you do not have to resources or know-how to market correctly to nice mares: SURPRISE! Call the gelding bus! When it comes to horses, especially when you are potentially bringing a new one into the world, it pays to be honest. Honest about the quality of the horse, and honest about your own resources and abilities.

Between starving or having a throat slit: I frankly don't like either solution. I like euthanasia and gelding. I would be all for funding euthanasia and gelding clinics like the ones that are doing well in northern CA, and for inexperienced or ignorant owners to realize that horses are a luxury item like a Jag or Vette or any pet really and are expensive not only to purchase (sometimes) but mostly to MAINTAIN, as much as you may love them. It's not fair to the animal if you can't put out the resources to care for them. There are other ways. I'm not against horses dying when there is no other choice, I'm against slaughter in general. And don't get me started on kill-buyers. A seedy, deceitful lot, all of them. I have been to enough kill auctions to know.

So glad I got out of horse rescue because it was very hard to see horses go through such abuse and neglect and get caught up in human politics, but when I see stuff like this, it makes me want to jump right back in and try and fix things again (I don't, because I don't have the RESOURCES! I'd hate to be responsible!)

I hate ranting. But I cannot help but rant on slaughter in general.

Just thought I would put in my two cents and pour out my heart. When it comes to animal welfare, boy do I pour it all out.

Monday, November 28, 2011

They told her to go to rehab...

... and she's gonna gooooo, go, go!

Yes, Greta got cleared for the start of a rehab program! I thought I had told her that dank stanks and that crack is whack, but she just wouldn't listen.

Kidding. My pony is not a druggie. At least not that I know of....

Our real rehab program, at least for these next four weeks, is going to consist of thirty minutes of walking. Everywhere. I'm so excited.

The vet remarked on how patient I had been and how I actually followed orders and did nothing with Greta but four week stall rest and then 8 week paddock rest. No riding, no longeing, nothing. And I have no problem with this. I have no schedule to upkeep, and even if I did it wouldn't really be a big deal because that schedule would be thrown out the window anyway. No horse, no schedule! Where I got a little shocked was when the vet told me that she has very few clients that actually do this. They usually have already "taken them for a light walk under saddle" or "longed them lightly". And sometimes that ends up blowing up right back in their faces. I feel like teacher's pet right now!

Greta did very well on all her flex tests, had a super-extra pep in her step and was just shy of dragging the poor tech when they trotted her out. I did not realize how long it had been since I had seen Greta's nice, floaty, engaged trot. And when I say long, I mean several months before I even called out a vet to check out her legs and end up spotting the injury in the first place! She is not 100%, but hopefully with these long low-intensity session her suspensory should start on the road to re-strengthening.

So, wish her luck! She was a very good girl, playing up the feminine charm as always. Definitely a Greta Golightly day.

AND, have you heard the news? Robert Whitaker has set a new record for a bareback puissance jump atop Waterstone II. Just a 7 foot/2.12m solid wall, no big deal. And darn good equitation for a bareback puissance jump the whole way too!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ringing in the Season with "The Small One"

So, I was going through all the LPs and 45s my family pulled down and that I have the task of trying to sell at the super-cool-hippie-pipe-and-record-shop place down the road from my dorm tower (it's huge, and appropriate in a college town!) I went through them all first to see if there were any I wanted (for decoration, as I don't have a turn-table, although I knew at least one song on every album GO ME! I ended up with Will Smith's Parents Just Don't Understand for grins and giggles and Disney's The Jungle Book soundtrack and a Louie Louie record among a few others that will be framed in the flat I will get someday...) AND I stumbled across the soundtrack to the Disney Christmas short from 1978, The Small One.

If you have never seen this, look it up on YouTube and you'll be able to watch the whole 30 minutes of it. It brings a tear or ten to my eye every time, as it's such a sweet story and a wonderful way to ring in the season, even if by accident this time. Whether you're religious or not, you have to admit it's a darn sweet story. I really wish they would show this on TV again. I'd take it over Charlie Brown and Elf any day! I do remember the recent version done by Pixar/Disney of The Little Match Girl was played on TV last year... DEPRESSING! Nothing says Christmas like little kids freezing to death in beautiful animation!

So my holiday movie list: The Small One and A Christmas Story. And then I am complete. Don't worry, I won't shoot my eye out ;)

Bringing back memories, Disney donkey style!

P.S. Greta has her follow-up vet exam Monday morning. Hopefully these three months of lay-up have done her well. She certainly seems to have an extra pep in her step and really wants something to do again. And I have learned my lesson to always give your horse an extended break every now and then. Oh, Greta, it's kind of like Katniss and Peeta in The Hunger Games: "will I ever stop owing you?"

But yes: The Small One. Watch it. Now.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pocket Rocket!

Got this picture from the Judge My Ride facebook page. This is The Situation in the baby jumpers, an 11.2 pony and the darn cutest little pocket rocket I have ever seen!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Question for the Readers: Micklem Bridles

If you really feel like it, that 10 minute promo up there explains a lot of the uses of this bridle. But keep in mind that it is just that, a promotional video ;)

They've been around for quite some time, and they were always just some gimmicky-looking bridle I would see when flipping through the pages of magazines. But a friend was raving to me the other day about how wonderful these Micklem bridles are, and how she can use them as a bitless bridle at home, and a bitted bridles for jumping and at shows. Her horse was also a headshaker due to facial nerve pain, and has not done so since being ridden in this bridle. (Greta's headshaking is caused by seasonal allergies, poor thing. But that is only a theory based upon the circumstanes which is arose around, as head shaking is pretty hard to diagnose unless it's photosensitive headshaking or that caused by pain. Greta's neither of those, but that was only one opinion. Hmm... anyway.............)

After looking into them further out of curiosity, they don't seem like a bad idea. A noble effort, if nothing else. They are, if nothing else, steps to solving the problem of pressure on the bars of the tongue, the molars and cheeks, and the opening of the facial nerves and major blood vessels in the face. My only thing is the strap that seems to keep the mouth shut. I've never been a fan of simply strapping a horse's mouth shut, but that doesn't seem to be the purpose of this mechanism. It seems to function more like a traditional noseband and a way to avoid putting pressure on the molars. Even in the fitting video, the demonstrator Tom MacGuinness (founder of Horseware Ireland) specified that it is not meant to be tightened. Interesting.

So now, my question to you, my lovely readers (I am seriously proud of you guys for making this blog so much fun to run, by the way!) what are your thoughts and opinions on the Micklem bridle? Has anyone ever used it? Yay or "neigh"?

I'm not interested in getting one unless they are as wonderful as people make them out to be. But really, the last thing I want, need or can afford right now is a another, and potentially gimmicky, bridle haha!

Quote of the Day: Eric Lamaze

“Well, I think that when you have a horse and anyone who has ridden a horse at our level knows that what these horses do for us is incredible… they become part of our family, you know, they really change our life. It’s a sport that we chose because we love it, but it’s also a sport that we chose because we love the animal…. It’s not like breaking a hockey stick or breaking a tennis racket, for us we become very close with this animal and have great respect for they do for us. We’re in the limelight with our horses, but a horse like Hickstead for sure changed my career…. For me he meant everything… It’s not easy to find a horse of the caliber of Hickstead.”
-Eric Lamaze

Monday, November 7, 2011

RIP Hickstead

Saturday this was only an "unconfirmed report". Sunday I was lost in my own little world and spending quality time with Greta. And today, after a busy morning and classes, I sit down to see that the unthinkable is indeed true and that the great stallion Hickstead passed from a sudden heart attack tragically immediately after a stellar round in Verona. He had not even left the ring.

Do not, I repeat, do not watch the video of the actual death if you want to preserve some innocence. It was terrible. So many shots of people crying, and then a extremely dazed and shocked look on Eric Lamaze's face. Hickstead meant a lot to so many people, and to see that happen after one of his usual breathtaking rounds seemed cruel.

What really warmed my heart though was that the rest of the competition was stopped... at the request of the riders. The horse world is chuck full of snobs and self-centered people, but you have to admit that it's the horse itself that brings us all together, for whatever personal reasons.

"Hickstead really was a horse in a million and my heart goes out to Eric and everyone connected with this wonderful horse. This is a terrible loss, but Hickstead truly will never be forgotten. We were very lucky to have known him." Princess Haya bint Al Hussein

"Every horseman knows the proverb: For every rider there's one horse, and for every horse there's one rider - and they were that sort of partnership. Hickstead wasn't simply his partner in sport, he was his partner in his life's hopes & ambitions." Akaash Maharaj

"We are shocked. This horse was in the past few years the measure of all things." Marco Kutscher

Rest in Peace, Hickstead.

EDIT: I was stupid to buy into the heart attack theory as horses very rarely have heart attacks. It was ruled as an aortic rupture, I believe. Regardless, these kinds of things just aren't supposed to happen to beloved champions, or any horse.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Baby Daddy Shopping ;)

This is what I do every now and then just for grins and giggles, me being the cool kid that I am and all.

So, if I ever were to breed Greta, which wouldn't happen for a good long time if ever, for financial reasons and whether or not it would really be a good idea and such, I had always imagined it to be to another warmblood. Until I found this guy. Well, really I saw one of his babies and heard the sire was a Clydesdale and thought, "DADDY WAS A WHAT?!" Because all of his babies look like big-boned warmbloods. He produces some lovely babies. They're all athletic, big boned, tidy jumpers, and on the more mild side as far as temperament goes, although I am all for a go-getter personality personally. I love the way these guys look. They just appear to be so sturdy and classy!

His name is Spring Water Black Powder Joe, and he is a registered Clydesdale and registered as a approved stallion for the American Warmblood Society. He is by Strong Line Smokin Joe and out of Spring Water Catherine by Donegal King. He won his breeders/owners, Fisher Ranch Warmbloods, the AWS Breeder of the Year Award in 2008 for the lovely foals he produced, mostly out of TB and TB/NSH mares. Examples:

SW Bella Donna, out of a TB mare Derby Bell by Light Of The Stars. Love the build of this gal!

SW Big Rock, also out of a TB mare. He and his owner Rebecca Meyers took the championship at the Evergreen Classic "AA" show in all of the pre-adult hunters and pre-adult equitation classes. Lovely dude, right?

SW Majestic. You can check out his class hunter rounds on YT.

SW Thor, out of TB mare Majarose. I love this guy!

Anyway, these guys look like they would be fabulous all-around horses: eventers, foxhunters, hunters, dressage. Those are the prime examples of his get that I have found, but all of them are quality kiddos.

Currently, Spring Water Joe is in Indonesia right now being bred to TB, TB crosses, and WB mares to improve the breeds on the SE Asian circuit.

I understand there are so many risks with breeding. Even if all goes well in the pregnancy, you're stuck with what you get. I would love, love, love a filly. I don't think I can ever go back to geldings at this point. Stallions, yes, so long as I take the time to school them in proper manners. But mares seem to have the brains haha! If the baby ends up a bit wonky or not quite suitable for the purpose you wanted them for, you're stuck with them. Not to mention the 4-5 year waiting period before serious training can begin, which I would rather have a trusted professional do or at least shadow and assist me. If an accident happens and he/she is deemed unrideable or not able to do the big things you wanted... once again, too bad! I could never give him/her up unless I absolutely had to for unforeseen circumstances.

All in all, it's probably a big ploy to still have a piece of my Greta even when she is gone, which hopefully won't be until a very long time from now. And frankly, I think even looking at her subjectively, she is not a poorly-built girl! She is a bit thin below the knees and has less angle than what would be desired in her hind legs, but she has her fair share of redeemable qualities, and an excellent pleasing personality and level-headed-but-protective intelligence that she could hopefully pass on or teach to her foal.

But I don't think I could ever forgive myself if the pregnancy took a turn for the worse, or if the foal ended up being far less than desirable. It may just be a risk I am too paranoid to take.

But I can dream, right? It would be quite an adventure and probably would have a lovely result!

Any dream stallions y'all like?