We here in Warsaw, IN certainly dodged a bullet with the ice storms that have plagued so much of the country. We only had one day when it was really slippery, and we never lost power at all. However, we weren't quite so lucky with this last winter storm. It was snow instead of ice - thank goodness! - but little ole Warsaw saw some of the heaviest snowfall of the entire region - some 14 inches, and that's not counting the fact that there was a lot of blowing and drifting...
Even though it wasn't bitter cold, the wind continued to howl the next day, and even Indy seemed a bit intimidated by it all. Later in the day however, I saw him venture out to the gate even though he didn't go outside the paddock. They both seemed content do stay up by the barn and munch hay.
I knew Indy couldn't contain his curiosity for long though. Sure enough, today he was venturing all the way to the cross fence - and there was Ami right behind him. Some of the drifts were knee deep even for him, and he seemed to take pleasure in galloping through them. The more practical Ami just walked.
Actually, the most difficult part was just getting to the barn the first morning. The drifts were impossible to walk through, even for Mike. He couldn't even dent them with a shovel. Finally, he had to pick his way, clearing a path around the drifts. It wasn't the most direct route to the barn, but under the circumstances we weren't complaining!
The barn cats however were complaining. There was a snow drift blocking their regular "kitty entrance" in the front door of the barn. There they were - all 28 of them - sitting right behind the door when we opened it! What a cat-tastrophe!
Even when the kitties got out of the barn, the drifts were too deep for them to maneuver - they just sank! It didn't take them long to discover our path though, and they've been frolicking up and down, to and from the barn ever since.
By now of course, Indy and Ami have their weaving trails all over the pasture. Viewed from upstairs it looks like a bunch of drunks have been wandering around out there. Horses are constitutionally incapable of walking in a straight line. It must be a prey animal thing. They have been enjoying themselves, and that's the important thing. Indy - who was born in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan - says this is the first decent winter he's seen since he moved here to the southland.
I'd been planning to start introducing them back into the full pasture soon, and today seemed like the perfect time to start. It's been cold and cloudy for days, and they can't get nearly as much grass under a few inches of snow as they could otherwise.
After we had cleaned the stalls and given them their breakfast Mike went out and opened the gate. Since this gate hadn't been opened since we started keeping them in last spring, it took him a few moments to unfasten it through the snow and ice. Meanwhile, Mr. Indy had lost interest and besides, his hay was calling him. Then Mike got the gate to swing free.
Indy knows to follow my finger when I want to direct his attention. When I pointed he looked back over his shoulder. His ears popped forward, his eyes widened and off he went in a high stepping trot. Ami, who had stayed over nearby had already shot out into the pasture. Whoopee!
And whoopee it was. Almost every time I looked out the kitchen window, there was Indy, galloping up and down, round and round. The whole pasture was covered with their swirling trails in the snow. What utter joy it is to watch them romp and play - just acting like healthy, happy horses.
When they came up for their dinner, we closed the gate for the night. I let them stay out for most of the day, and will do the same tomorrow. If all is well after about a week, they will be completely free for the winter.
They'll have to come back to the paddock in the spring, but for now just watch 'em go!
A stray wandered onto our property in the wee hours of Saturday morning. But who hasn't had a stray dog or cat wander onto their yard once in a while? This stray however was a horse - a very small horse.
When we examined him in the daylight, I was sure he was young, but not knowing whether he was a horse or pony made it harder to estimate his age, and I don't claim to be an expert in baby teeth. He was bigger than a mini, but not by a lot. He was a very pretty bay with four white stockings, and he was very friendly. I was worried we might have trouble catching him, but he came right up to us, obviously glad to see us.
At first, we just put him into the field, since Indy and Ami were in the paddocks. They all seemed quite chummy, but I still didn't want to turn a totally strange horse into the paddocks with them - for all kinds of reasons. He ran around a bit at first, but very soon came back close to his new found buds, and they all grazed along together with only a few pesky strands of ElectroBraid separating them.
Later however, I got worried about the amount of grass he was getting. He was already quite chubby, and I know all too well what too much grass can do to certain horses. By now, I had decided he must be some kind of pony, and they are notorious for foundering on grass.
We put Indy and Ami in the large paddock, and brought the little guy into the small one and gave him some hay.
My hubbie, Mike, was trying to put hay in the feeder, but the little guy just couldn't wait. As you can see the little fellow - he's a gelding - was so cute!
We had called the sheriff's department and all our horsy friends, hoping they would know something. No one had reported a missing horse, and none of our friends knew anything off hand, but they all said they would try to find out something. That's one of the many things I love about being a member of the "horse community." Everyone sticks together like glue, and we will do just about anything to help one another and our horses.
Naturally, it was a weekend, and we were afraid the Kid's owner might be out of town or something. We thought surely he hadn't wandered far from home, but it's very rural out here, and he could have wandered accross the fields without being seen from the roads.
I figured he was probably an "only" horse, because horses with pasture buddies almost never wander away from them. He seemed to have formed a bond with Indy and Ami, and he appeared to be perfectly happy just staying here. Unfortunately.
Don't get me wrong - I would have loved to keep the little cutie. But he belonged so someone else, someone who might be as frantic as I would be if it were Indy or Ami that were missing. Besides that, we don't have good shelter for more than two horses, and, global warming or no global warming, it gets cold and nasty here in the winter. Not to mention hot and buggy in the summer. And, last but far from least, I would not able to care for three horses the way I feel they should be cared for - the grooming, the personal attention, and for this baby, the training. Heck, I'm still training Indy under saddle, and that's about all I can manage these days.
Speaking of Indy and Ami... I was so proud of the way they handled this situation! They both befriended the Kid and neither one ever showed a trace of aggression or jealousy. They were a bit excited of course, but not nuts, and even that settled down quickly after the Kid moved into the small paddock.
Indy is only 15.0 hands, but next to this kid he looks like a giant.
Ami is only 13.2 hands, but even she looks big beside the baby.
On Sunday afternoon, Mike decided to take a drive around the "block" - out here that's about an eight mile trip - to see if there were any "lost horse" signs up. I'll bet he hadn't been gone five minutes when the phone rang. It was a guy who asked me if I were "Suzy." When I said I was, he mentioned the name of a mutual friend of ours who thought we might have his pony. He said, "Does he have four white stockings?" and I said, "He sure does!"
He and his brother were there in minutes with a trailer - in fact, they beat Mike back by a few minutes. They had been out of town, and had returned to find the pony missing. They were certainly glad to see him alive and well!
So, that's the saga of our little weekend guest. Since he doesn't live far away, I will probably have the opportunity to see him again. I hope so anyway. As for Indy and Ami, things quickly returned to normal - as you can see.
Oh yeah, Baby is three years old.
Horses must be protected from slaughter - welfare group | Horsetalk - International horse news
facing worse fates in Mexico and Canada since US slaughter ended are a
"red herring" argument.
The Animal Welfare Institute says that now horse slaughter has
effectively ended in the United States, "the pro-horse slaughter camp
is claiming it was right about the need to keep slaughter an option in
the US." The AWI is actively working to pass the American Horse
Slaughter Prevention Act into law.
"They say that our horses are facing a far worse fate in Mexico and
Canada than they were when they could be slaughtered in America. This
is yet another 'red-herring' argument advanced by the pro-horse
slaughter side to distract humane Americans from the ultimate goal of
protecting all American horses from slaughter via passage of the
American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (S. 311/HR. 503). This
legislation will end the slaughter of American horses here and their
export for slaughter abroad," a spokesman said.
If you care about horses in the slightest degree, please
Transportation to Hungary (Picture: ILPH)
• Horses must be protected from slaughter - welfare group
• Court's killer blow ends US horse slaughter
• Premarin: Hormone therapy hurts women and horses
• 'Brazen coup' by horse slaughter company
• Live aid event for horses
• Dog fighting allegations highlight dog and horse abuse
• Cavel allowed to continue slaughtering horses
• Horse slaughter injunction denied in district court
• Judge upholds ban on horse slaughter
• Illinois slaughter plant shut down again
• ILPH highlights slaughter transport laws
• Humane Society praises sentate over slaughter ban
• 10-day reprieve for Illinois horse slaughter plant
• Rescue operation buys 32 horses from Cavel
• Illinois horse slaughter allowed to resume during legal challenge
• End of the line for Texas horse slaughter
• Kaimanawa wild horses - latest
• Illinois horse slaughter trade at an end
• The relationship between horse slaughter and reported cases of abuse and neglect - a study
• Texas horse slaughterhouses remain closed
• More strength for unwanted horse group
• Illinois Senate votes to end slaughter
• Gordon Ramsay's horse meat show condemned
• Racecourse denies involvement in Ramsay's horse meat show
• Gordon Ramsay in the manure over horse meat
• Top race winning owners want horse slaughter ban
• Horse slaughter debate on rollercoaster ride
• Kaimanawa wild horses face slaughter
• Horse charity slates Gordon Ramsay's show
• Chef Ramsay looks at horse meat
• Miracle foal is named
• Horse slaughter gets go-ahead to resume
• Life after so much death: a miracle foal
• Wild horses win again in US House of Representatives
• Horse slaughter bill advances in US Senate
• Illinois takes lead against horse slaughter
• Another victory for anti horse-slaughter lobbyists
• Horses in need get second chance at new centre
• Packs of horses attack defenseless trees in Kentucky
• Horse slaughter line at a standstill
• New voice for unwanted horses
• US horse slaughter industry on the ropes
• Horse slaughter story 'wildly inacccurate'
• Public outcry at "horse waste" from slaughter plant
• Horse slaughterhouse under fire for environmental issues
• Queensland wild horse muster in limbo
• Humane society dismisses horse dumping claims
• US vet group joins horse slaughter debate
• Pro horse-slaughter bill condemned
• Bill to stop wild horse slaughter voted on
• Texas rules against horse slaughter houses
• Illinois bill could end horse slaughter
• Horse slaughter plant continues killing
• House leaders fight ban on horse slaughter
• Two of three US horse slaughter plants face closure
• Unwanted horses get new advocates
• Kentucky takes steps to ban horse slaughter
Today, The Humane Society of the United States hailed a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upholding the State of Illinois' decision to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption.
Illinois is home to the last remaining horse slaughter plant in the country, and the ruling effectively ends all slaughter of horses for food in the United States.
"Today's court decision marks the end of the line for the foreign-owned horse slaughter industry in the United States," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "Now it's up to Congress to finish the job and protect American horses from being exported to foreign abattoirs in Canada and Mexico for human consumption overseas."
In a unanimous ruling, the Court rejected each and every one of Cavel's legal claims and reiterated that "States have a legitimate interest in prolonging the lives of animals" and promoting the "humane treatment of our fellow
Governor Rod Blagojevich signed the law, which took effect immediately, on May 24. Shortly thereafter, Cavel International, the nation's only remaining horse slaughter facility, filed suit seeking to block enforcement of the law. Earlier this year, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a similar effort by the horse slaughter industry to overturn Texas' law banning the possession of horse meat for human consumption. In July, the federal district court in Rockford, Illinois upheld the Illinois state law, for substantially the same reasons provided by the Fifth Circuit in the Texas case, and Cavel appealed that decision to the Seventh Circuit.
"This was the final chapter in our successful efforts to close down the last remaining horse slaughterhouse in the United States," said Illinois State Senator John Cullerton, another key sponsor of the law. "We have finally stopped the slaughter of these majestic creatures."
The HSUS filed briefing as a friend of the court in the case, and was represented by Schiff Hardin LLP, Belgrade & O'Donnell, P.C. and lawyers with The HSUS' animal protection litigation section. The state law was defended before the court of appeals by Illinois Solicitor Gary Feinerman, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and Assistant Attorney General Mary Welsh.
Reservation, NM - July 14, 2007
Bay Arabian stolen with another horse from pasture after being in New
Mexico only two weeks. Pasture fence cut.
(NetPosse has no info on 2nd horse)
Click here to print a flyer, for more pictures and contact info for
insurance agent who filed report:
Angela Kirby-NetPosse Admin Assist
Stolen Horse International, Inc.
Home of Idaho Alerts for Missing Horses --Join NetPosse - Never
underestimate the power of one!
Purchase microchips and farm security signs at SHI --Proceeds help
continue SHII's educational and victim support programs.
County, TN ~ Sept 1, 2007
This family's precious mare is missing and presumed stolen out of her
pasture. A horse that goes from show competitions to trail rides.
Please help bring Lacey home to the family that loves and misses her!
Poof! Gone! Lacey disappeared without a trace. When a horse is
missing someone is hurting and needs your help no matter the breed or
discipline. Keep in mind, Lacey could be anywhere by now. If she was
indeed stolen, someone will have this horse. She is a very versatile
horse that can do almost anything.
Take a moment top print a flyer and post in your local feed stores,
auctions, restaurants, convenience stores etc, or anywhere there are
Please be sure to contact the family and show your support. Your
words mean more than you can possibly know.
Click here to print flyer, more pictures and owner contact info:
Angela Kirby-NetPosse Admin Assist
Stolen Horse International, Inc.
Home of Idaho Alerts for Missing Horses --Join NetPosse - Never
underestimate the power of one!
Purchase microchips and farm security signs at SHI --Proceeds help
continue SHII's educational and victim support programs.
Slaughter USA: Fact Sheet
On This Page
* Why does this industry still exist?
* How many horses are slaughtered in the United States?
* What types of horses are slaughtered?
* Where do the horses come from?
* How are the horses slaughtered?
* If slaughtered is banned, where will all the horses go?
* If horse slaughter is banned, won't abuse and neglect increase?
One of the most baffling issues surrounding the equine world, and one that many Americans are still unaware of, is that every week in this country our young, healthy horses are slaughtered for human consumption overseas. The largest number are Quarter Horses, although Thoroughbred race horses, and even some of our wild Mustangs are routinely slaughtered. Their meat is processed, freeze packed and shipped to countries like Belgium, France, Italy and Japan, where it is considered a delicacy.
Why does this industry still exist?
Horse slaughter exists in the United States for one reason and one reason only — for the sole purpose of providing horsemeat for human consumption in foreign markets.
Although the number of horses slaughtered declined sharply for a period of years, there has been a recent resurgence in demand. Horse meat is viewed as "clean meat" and a good alternative to beef and other traditional meats because of BSE and other contamination scares. Europeans and Asians who consume horse flesh are willing to pay a high price for American horsemeat, which is described by butchers and purveyors of horsemeat as the very best on the market.
"I only buy American meat, which is red and firm. In butchering terms we call it 'well-structured', the best you can get. Out of a thousand animals, only the American ones are really worth buying. But they don't eat horsemeat in America. They raise horses for foreigners."
A Butcher in France.
Conseqently, business is thriving for the three foreign-owned slaughter plants operating in the U.S., two in Texas and the other in Illinois. If current trends continue, it is highly likely that demand is only going to increase and so is the slaughtering of our horses.
How many horses are slaughtered in the United States?
According to the USDA, more than 50,000 horses were slaughtered in 2003. With the re-opening of Cavel International in Illinois in 2004, the number rose to more than 66,000, and in 2005, nearly 95,000 of our horses were slaughtered for their meat.
This does not include the approximately 20,000 - 30,000 horses that are exported to Mexico to be slaughtered in their abattoirs, or the thousands exported to Canada.
Together, these numbers represent about 1% of the total number of horses in the U.S., and the entire industry is only .001% of the size of the U.S. meat industry.
What types of horses are being slaughtered? Aren't these old, sick horses?
According to 2001 field studies conducted by Temple Grandin et al., 70% of all horses at the slaughter plant were in good, fat, or obese condition; 72% were considered to be "sound" of limb; 84% were of average age; and 96% had no behavioral issues. Slaughter plants do not want old, sick horses for obvious reasons.
Where do the horses come from?
Horses are not raised for slaughter as they are not traditional food animals, so they must be bought. Licensed horse dealers, known as "killer buyers," act as middlemen for the slaughterhouses and frequent the auctions where horses are sold. Mass quantities of horses are bought by these dealers at unbelievably cheap prices, who then transport the horses and resell them to the slaughterhouses for profit. Many times an auction house and the dealer will not turn away an unfit animal, because as long as it can live till it gets to a slaughterhouse, they can be killed for their hides. These horses are called "skinners." Slaughterhouses typically have a tannery either on site or nearby for this reason.
A number of the horses who end up at slaughterhouses are stolen, and can disappear without a trace. However, statistics from one of the largest groups that assist owners in the recovery of their stolen horses, Stolen Horse International (netposse.org) show that approximately 60% of stolen horses are killed at slaughter plants.
How are the horses actually slaughtered?
Horses are transported, often thousand of miles, from all over the country to Texas and Illinois in double-decker trailers designed for cattle in all types of weather with no food or water. Often there is not enough clearance for the horses to hold their heads in a fully upright position.
No consideration is given to the gender or the condition of the horses as they are crammed into these trucks. Horses are often injured and some even arrive at the slaughterhouse dead. The ones who survive the ordeal of transportation are held in pens until it is their turn to be butchered. The horses stand in the killing line smelling the blood, sensing the terror ahead. They are electrocuted or speared into the "kill box" where they shake violently, falling, unable to stand from fear.
According to federal law, horses must be rendered unconscious prior to slaughter, usually by captive bolt. With their long necks and aversion to anything approaching their foreheads, many horses require multiple strikes. However, some are improperly stunned, even with repeated blows.
The USDA's March 1998 report, Special Report on Humane Slaughter Methods and AnteMortem, shows the animals can and do regain consciousness after they have been stunned. Therefore some are still conscious when shackled, hoisted by a rear leg, and cut across the throat to be bled out.
Quote from a slaughterhouse worker:
"You move so fast, you don't have time to wait till a horse bleeds out. You skin him as he bleeds. Sometimes a horse's nose is down in the blood, blowing bubbles, and he suffocates."
From the book "Slaughterhouse" by Gail Eisnitz
A major misconception is that animals being readied for slaughter are stunned with a captive bolt in order to make the process more humane. The fact is, the captive bolt stunning mechanism was designed to protect slaughterhouse workers from the flailing limbs of terrified animals and to increase the speed of the production line.
If horse slaughter is banned, where will all the horses go?
The number of horses slaughtered in 1990 was a staggering 350,000, a number that dropped to an all time low of 42,000 in 2002. Between 1992 and 1993 alone, the number of horses slaughtered dropped 79,000. These decreases did not create a glut of "unwanted horses." Society absorbed these horses, and the market remained stable, just as it will when horse slaughter is eliminated altogether.
The phrase "unwanted horses" is a myth created by horse slaughter supporters. The number of horses slaughtered each year is the one used by them to arrive at the number of so-called "unwanted horses" for the same time period. In actuality, the number of horses slaughtered each year is the number of horses the horse slaughter plants have the capacity to butcher and process.
There are many alternatives to horse slaughter. Horses can be given another chance at life through retraining and adoption programs as pleasure horses, with rescues, retirement homes, and sanctuaries. Horses can also enjoy second careers as Mounted Police horses, at riding schools and as therapy horses.
If a horse becomes old, infirm or mortally ill, then the horse should be euthanized by a qualified veterinarian. There are a wide variety of options for disposing of their bodies that range from the costly to economical. These include burial (where permitted), cremation, rendering, composting and landfills. Texas A&M, in response to this question, released a special report on composting as a viable alternative that would be both environmentally and politically beneficial, predicting that this could become a big market when horse slaughter is banned.
If horse slaughter is banned, won't abuse and neglect increase?
California banned horse slaughter in 1998. California has experienced no increase in abuse case, and even noted a decrease 3 years following the ban. During the 4 years that Cavel was closed, Illinois saw a noticeable decrease in abuse and/or neglect cases. Texas, which had the only two slaughter plants in 2003, had among the nations highest rates of cruelty and theft.
The conclusion is clear – horse slaughter does not decrease abuse and neglect but actually encourages it.
Horse Fighting: Fact Sheet
What is horse fighting?
Horses are herd animals, and in natural circumstances will not only engage in battle for leadership of their group, but also for mating purposes. In this environment, Stallions do not fight to the death, but until one of them backs down or flees. This is nature's way of ensuring that the strongest bloodlines are responsible for the procreation of their kind. Horse fighting, or horse to horse combat, is a barbaric spectator sport where these circumstances are simulated in order to make two stallions, or male horses, fight each other in a controlled environment. Events are conducted before wildly cheering crowds who are stimulated by the blood, gore, fury and intensity of the fighting.
Where does horse fighting take place?
Horse fighting has now been outlawed almost worldwide. It still thrives, however, in countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, China and South Korea. Brutal and inhumane, these spectacles can be anything from featured events in annual fiestas and thanksgiving festivals to scrappy events put together by locals for the purposes of an afternoon's gambling and entertainment, or to honor a special guest. Horse fighting takes place in city stadiums or abandoned playing fields in remote villages and provinces. In more highly populated areas they may also be conducted at a local racetrack.
Where do the horses come from?
Some horses are bred specifically for horse to horse combat. However, some are acquired by promoters for their size and sturdiness and trained for fighting.
How do they make the horses fight?
To start the competition, two Stallions are brought in. A mare in heat is then presented to them and removed. Horses who do not immediately engage in a battle for her are whipped into a fury or gunshots fired to incite them through fear.
As the Stallions rise in combat, they bite, kick and strike each other with their hooves, inflicting serious wounds and injuries until one of them either succumbs, flees or is killed. The Stallion left standing is declared the winner.
Aside from the physical pain and wounds incurred by the Stallions, the mares are also subjected to animal cruelty, as they are injected with hormones to keep them in heat for the prolonged periods.
How long do horse fights last?
In festivals, a series of pairs are brought in to fight. The winners of these bouts then fight each other, until all are eliminated but the final two. In the deciding contest, the ultimate winner is declared the champion who is decorated with a special blanket and cheered by the crowd. It is considered a great honor to own the winning horse.
In provincial horse fights, stallions compete in a series of one-off matches. Competing horses are often ill-matched which results in gruesome injuries and even death to the weaker opponent.
What happens to the horses that lose?
Depending on the owner or promoter, horses who are not mortally wounded or suffer superficial wounds may be treated for future fights. These horses, however, are considered weak and their lives spared for more sinister purposes. In their next bout, they will be pitted against a superior opponent and will most likely be maimed or killed. In doing so, promoters ensure that spectators get the blood and gore they demand and expect.
For horses who are not treated for their injuries, this means their careers as equine gladiators are over, and they are either shot or slaughtered. It has been reported by visitors that in the remote areas of Asian countries, some of the horses are butchered at horse fighting events, and a cookout held for the spectators.
Why does horse fighting still go on?
Countries staging horse fights defend it as a cultural tradition that has gone on for hundreds of years, and resist any attempts to ban it. While tradition has long been used to legitimize horse fighting, money and gambling appears to be the real reason for its continued existence.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
It's Not Just Dogs...
The recent publicity about an NFL (football) player being accused of hosting illegal dogfights has raised a lot of people's awareness of what I call "the pit bull underground". I'm not sure if the publicity will help put an end to the practice or pique people's interest in aggression as a spectator sport.
But are you aware of the "sport" of horse fighting? It works basically the same way as a dog fight. A mare is presented to two stallions and they battle each other before a cheering throng. The International Fund for Horses has a fact sheet on horse fighting that should be sufficient to shock you.
The Philippines is the country where horse fighting receives the most publicity, but apparently China and Korea allow the sport as well. Historically, Iceland and Scandinavia embraced horse fighting as an ancient tradition. On July 17, a scheduled horse fight in the Philippines was canceled to comply with the country's animal welfare laws.
Youtube.com has a growing list of horse fighting videos you can watch, if you have the stomach.
If this sounds barbaric, consider this: Four days ago, on Wednesday, August 15, 2007 the last legal cockfights in the USA were held. Louisiana and New Mexico were the last two states in the USA with legal cockfighting.
And how about camels? Turkey is one country that boasts of matches between trained wrestling camels.
Animal fighting is a worldwide activity.
(Photo links to International Fund for Animals web site.)
posted by Fran Jurga @ Sunday, August 19, 2007
With the ambient air temp over 90 degrees and the humidity around 90 as well, the heat index has been above 100. Even with fans going in the barn, I get dripping wet, and I'm not a heavy sweater. It just saps the life out of you.
Both Indy and Ami have seemed to be pretty comfortable though. They've been damp, but not dripping, and their hay feeder is in a nice shady spot in the paddock. Well, Indy was dripping one day, but that was because he was galloping up and down the paddock trying to get our attention so we'd come out. Honestly, that boy...
My new saddle will be delivered next Tuesday. Needless to say, I wouldn't have been riding anyway. I think there has been one day since our little "accident" that would have been suitable for trying a ride.
Now, what does one do with a saddle with a broken tree? I certainly wouldn't sell it to anyone. Mike says we should perform an autopsy. Well, why not?
Last Monday however, things went a little bit wrong... I had Indy all saddled, and he was standing beside me - as he always does - and I looked a way a moment to say something to Mike. In the meantime, for some reason Indy decided he needed to go to the back of Ami's stall. Ami was still tied there, so she backed up and Indy went under her tie rope.
Don't ask me how he managed this - I have no idea. It only took a second and there he was, the saddle horn hooked onto her tie rope, pulling it into a V with Ami on one side and her tie ring on the other. She pulled back, the fuse on her safety halter snapped and it was all over before Mike or I could even try to grab the quick release knot and untie her.
Ami then strolled on out of the barn, and Indy didn't seem to know anything had even happened. All's well that ends well, right? Unfortunately, this wasn't the end. As I took Indy out to start our ride, I noticed that the saddle looked a bit, um, odd. The cantle and pommel were much too high and the seat was considerably shorter and deeper than it was when I put it on him.
Yep, the tree was broken right behind the foregirth. I couldn't believe it! Just the right combination of pressure and torque, jerking the tree against the unyielding foregirth. Unbelievable.
For those non-horse people, a saddle with a damaged tree is like a car with a damaged A-frame. Totaled. Period.
Since I do love this saddle, and besides, it's the only one I tried that fit Indy, there's nothing to do but get another one... At least I won't need the pad, fenders, leather stirrups and Bates rig. One must look on the bright side - if one can find a bright side that is.
Just kidding - sorta - since Indy and Ami were not only OK, they demonstrated what Cool Characters they both are. Plus, it's been way too hot to ride the last couple of days anyway.
The heat's been on ever since. We're nothing like what's been happening in the West, but 97 is close to record heat for this time of year in northern Indiana. It was really miserable today because the humidity was up due to clouds moving in to give us a 40% shot at rain this evening - as well as Tuesday and Wednesday.
I certainly hope we do get some of the predicted rain, because it's getting to be a real drought situation around here. The pastures are the hardest hit. First cutting hay - including ours - didn't produce as many bales as normally, and many folks won't even get a second cutting if we don't get rain - and soon.
We have about enough for the winter from our first cutting, but many don't, and even grass hay may be in short supply - even here where we usually have hay coming out our ears. We certainly won't have any to sell, and neither will many others.
Still, I certainly can't complain. It could be a lot worse, and in most of the rest of the country, it is.
A US District Court Judge has denied Cavel International's attempt to declare a recently enacted Illinois law making it a crime to slaughter horses for human consumption unconstitutional.
US District Court Judge Frederick Kapala rendered the decision on Thursday against Cavel International, the last remaining horse slaughter plant in the US.
On May 25, 2007, Cavel had filed suit in federal court challenging the enforceability of Illinois' law banning horse slaughter. In early June, Judge Kapala granted Cavel a temporary restraining order, preventing the state from prosecuting the slaughterhouse under the law. He subsequently extended that protection for 10 business days but then denied any further injunctive relief to Cavel on June 25, 2007. Judge Kapala did not believe he had jurisdiction to make any further determinations on the merits of this case due to an appeal pending in the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. However, on July 3rd, the 7th Circuit ordered Judge Kapala to proceed on Cavel's request for further injunctive relief and with a final decision on the merits of the case.
Judge Kapala analyzed Cavel's arguments that the Illinois state law is preempted by the Federal Meat Inspection Act, a violation of the Commerce Clause, and a violation of the state's police power. In rendering his decision against Cavel he found that the slaughterhouse "failed to demonstrate any constitutional infirmity" in the state law.
"We are very pleased to have a federal court ruling that upholds the constitutionality of Illinois' state law banning horse slaughter," said Tracy Silverman, an attorney with the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI). "This decision is one more important victory on the road to banning horse slaughter in America once and for all."
Attorneys for Cavel International may appeal the decision to the Court of Appeals. However, the ruling means that the doors remain shut on the slaughter plant, sparing the lives of thousands of America's horses.
AWI is being represented in this matter by the nationally renowned law firm of Patton Boggs.
The Animal Welfare Institute, founded in 1951, is a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the sum total of pain and fear inflicted on animals by humans. AWI's legislative division, the Society for Animal Protective Legislation (SAPL), is leading the national campaign to end horse slaughter and advocating passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act.
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The Aussie saddle I'm using weighs about 26 lbs. That's the same weight as the saddle I used on DJ for almost 20 years. DJ was something like 2-3 inches taller than Indy, and I had no problem lifting the saddle onto his back. Now, I struggle and push and sort of slide the saddle up Indy's back instead of lifting it up as setting it straight down as I always did before. SHEESH!
My first saddle - 1978 - weighed 36 lbs! I guess I couldn't even pick that one off the ground these days. Have I gotten soft of what? Of course I am older...
We had a couple of interesting things happen on these rides - mostly concerning my efforts to find a way to make the saddle stay put without having to girth so tight. On the first of the three rides under discussion, when I dismounted to quit I decided to see if I could get back on if the girth were just one notch looser. The answer is NO. When I put my weight in the stirrup, the saddle turned a full 90 degrees.
So here we are, the saddle is now on Indy's side, and he's looking at me with a "What the heck?" look on his face. Fortunately, he decided it was just one more thing that goofy humans do, and he stood quietly while I struggled to hold the heavy saddle up with one hand - lest it slide completely under his belly - while trying to loosen the girth enough so I could boost the saddle up on his back with the other. I thought for a few minutes that I was going to have to call for help. The saddle wouldn't budge without the girth being looser, and the girth strap was almost out of my reach and didn't want to give an inch either. Finally I managed to loosen the strap and get the saddle on his back again. I also assured Indy that he was indeed a good boy!
I've often heard about people with round backed horses using the rubberized mesh non-slip shelf liners under their saddle pads to prevent slipping. It always seemed to me that wrinkling would be a problem with such thin material, but what the heck, it's cheap and I decided to give it a try.
It does make quite a difference, and since I ride an Aussie saddle with a fitted pad, I tied the thin liner to the straps at the front and back of the pad. This keeps the stuff from wrinkling much - enough, I hope. We're still in the testing stage with this stuff. I'm not sure Indy likes the feel of it next to his back as well as he likes the sheepskin. We shall see. It's up to him of course....
Last Sunday we spent the day getting our hay in. The weatherman said there was a chance of rain on Monday, and we knew we'd be sure to get a gully washer if our hay wasn't safely inside the barn. That's just the way it works.
We bale the hay on the upper 9 acres. Mike and I don't bale the hay - we have a guy who has the equipment do it. Sheeh! The investment in equipment just to do nine acres - well, let's just say it would be impractical! Not only that, square bales - which are best for horses - are a lot of work! As the hay comes out of the binder, the bales have to be stacked on the wagon. When the wagon is full, you have to off load the bales into the barn - then do it all over again until the field is finished. Those bales weigh in at about 50 lbs. Now that's work.
I used to at least be able to help stack the bales in the barn, but since I've had my hip replaced I'm absolutely forbidden to lift that much weight. Besides, this time we had so many barn kittens I had my hands full - literally - keeping them from getting squashed by a bale being tossed off the wagon. Most of the cats hid, but some little kittens are too curious for their own good.
Monday and Tuesday were extremely hot and humid, so I didn't even try to ride - by mutual consent between Indy and me. We were supposed to get some rain Monday night and Tuesday morning, and we did get a bit. Not nearly enough though. We've had very little rain this month, and things are beginning to look pretty dry. They're already saying hay is going to be tight this year. Thank goodness we have ours in!!
I rode for another 15 minutes this afternoon, as it was much cooler, and Indy and I had a fine time. He's getting more responsive by the day, and he seems perfectly relaxed and content while under saddle. He's also extremely gentle and sweet. Good boy!
We're supposed to have a 30% chance of rain tomorrow and the next day. I sure hope it comes about. We really do need it, even though I personally would like to ride... But then, that's always the case!
Even though Indy's still so green, he hadn't forgotten a thing, and we picked up right where we stopped last fall when it started raining, and raining, and raining, and raining...
We rode in the small paddock for the first time, and it worked out OK. When I get ready to ride Indy out into the larger pasture, we can just go out the new gate and we won't have to worry about Ami trying to follow us. She's not going to like it no matter how I handle it. She didn't like us riding in the paddock, and she could see us the entire time. LOL! Ami is so worried about Indy leaving her. I'm going to take it very easy and stay in sight until she learns to accept it like she did with DJ. Poor girl, she was so traumatized when we lost DJ - but then, so was I...
It was very hot yesterday, so I kept the ride to 15 minutes - for both our sakes! I hope to ride again this afternoon for about the same length of time. It may be a few degrees cooler. I hope so. Actually, the heat and sun bother me a lot more than the do Indy. But, his back is still not accustomed to wearing a saddle for long periods of time, and the very last thing I want to do is make him sore.
It was so wonderful to be riding again. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for this afternoon too.
Rescue operation buys 32 horses from Cavel
June 11, 2007
A horse rescue operation in Colorado successfully negotiated the
purchase of 32 horses left at Cavel International's slaughter plant
when Illinois Governor Rob Blagojevich signed legislation to
immediately ban horse slaughter in the state late last month.
Horses remaining at the plant when it closed were slated for shipment to either Canada or Mexico for slaughter.
The horses were bought by Front Range Equine Rescue, a 501(c)3 non-profit horse rescue.
Two of the rescued horses were humanely euthanized as their
pre-existing conditions left both horses in extreme pain and were
untreatable. One mare was severely crippled with arthritis and barely
able to walk; another gelding had laminitis so progressed the coffin
bone was rotating through the hoof. Assessments are being made on each
of the remaining horses. Unfortunately it is believed that at least two
more horses will require humane euthanasia as well.
The rescued horses were moved last week to four locations where they
will be quarantined for about three weeks. The horses will be monitored
for contagious illnesses such as strangles or upper respiratory
infections which can happen due to the stress and exposure to unhealthy
conditions during their ordeal
Unfortunately, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order that allows Cavel International in Illinois to resume slaughter operations, despite Governor Blagojevich signing the bill outlawing it last week.
The order blocks the new state law while a lawsuit that Cavel filed against Illinois is considered. The next hearing in the case is June 14, when the restraining order could either be canceled or extended.
According to the Society for Animal Protective Legislation, that organization will be filing documents in conjunction with the Animal Welfare Institute opposing Cavel's attempt to abuse the court system. Patton Boggs is the law firm working on the case
The relationship between horse slaughter and reported cases of abuse and neglect
May 25, 2007
A study by John Holland
Article © 2007
This article may not be reproduced
in any form without prior permission.
The "unwanted horse" theory is the single most frequently cited argument in support of horse slaughter in the United States. This theory contends that there are more horses produced in the United States each year than are needed for recreational, sport, and other non-slaughter purposes. The theory then contends that horse slaughter acts as a "relief valve" and that if it were not for this channel these unwanted horses would begin accumulating. The theory goes on to warn that these horses would be neglected and abused unless the government stepped in to rescue them.
As an argument in favor of horse slaughter, this theory has two distinct advantages. The first advantage is that at face value the theory seems very plausible, as the numbers of horses being slaughtered sound so large that it is hard to imagine how they might be absorbed if slaughter were ended.
The second great advantage is that the theory allows the person or organization using it to claim that by opposing a ban on horse slaughter, they are really doing what is best for the horses. This is particularly important for organizations such as the AQHA (American Quarter Horse Assoc.), AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Assoc.) and AAEP (American Assoc. of Equine Practitioners), who are expected to represent the best interests of the species, and for politicians who don't wish to lose the support of animal-friendly constituents. But is the theory supported by the evidence?
The first contraindication to the unwanted horse theory is the realization that as large as the annual horse slaughter numbers appear, they represent only about 1% of the horse population in the United States. It is rare that a population of any kind cannot absorb such a small increase or decrease in supply. This is just the first of many bits of negative evidence.
One proponent of horse slaughter, Representative Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, has gone so far as to circulate a letter¹ to his colleagues in the House of Representatives actually projecting the number of surplus horses that will accumulate in the decade following an end to slaughter, and estimating the cost to the government of warehousing these horses to be $530 million by 2016. In making this prediction, Goodlatte was using the assumption of a constant rate of production of unwanted horses. This is the easiest version of the "unwanted horse theory" to dispel.
The graph "Horses Slaughtered by Year"² is a test case for the concept that there are a relatively constant number of unwanted horses produced each year. Had we made the assumption in 1989 that the number of horses killed that year were still going to be produced in future years (the black line), we would have experienced an almost continuous drop in slaughter for the next decade and we would have found that by the end of 2003 there were over three million surplus horses unaccounted for. Clearly these horses were simply absorbed into the population.
Under the theory, the only explanation for these missing "surplus horses" would be that the horse population as a whole had been declining during this period and that the number of surplus horses was not a constant, but rather a fixed percentage of the population. The fixed percentage argument is clearly more reasonable than the fixed number hypothesis.
A search of available population data shows that there is no one set of complete numbers, but Freeman³ took all the available studies and statistics and estimated that during this period horse populations were in fact rising at a 3 to 5% rate per year. If this were taken into account in the graph above, the horizontal black line should be rising across the chart to over 500,000 horses per year by the end of 2003 (3% per year compounded), and this would result in far more than 3 million "surplus" horses for the period.
There are indeed more horses in the population, but there has been no government welfare program for these horses, no cost to the taxpayers, and no flood of homeless horses. Again, even with the most conservative assumptions the theory of a constant source of unwanted horses is completely discredited.
Faced with this evidence, the proponents of the unwanted horse theory quickly replaced the static supply model with an adaptive model which holds that the rate of slaughter adapts to the number of unwanted horses and thus it will vary from year to year. This model neglects a more straight forward explanation for the drop in slaughter numbers shown above, which is that most of the original 12 horse slaughter houses in operation in 1989 closed due to lack of demand over the course of the 1990s. The dynamic model would also seem to be conveniently untestable except for the availability of some interesting data surrounding an event that occurred in 2002.
Testing the Dynamic Model
The dynamic model assumes that the slaughter industry is for the most part adjusting its slaughter rate to absorb the unwanted horses through some inverse version of the law of supply and demand. If this were true, then a sudden and significant drop in slaughter capacity would throw the balance out because the industry could not adjust immediately to the surplus of unwanted horses. As luck would have it, just such an event occurred on Easter Sunday of 2002 when the Cavel slaughter plant in DeKalb Illinois burned to the ground.
By the time of Cavel burning, only three slaughter plants were operating in the United States and the rate of slaughter was back on the increase. The three plants had slaughtered 56,332 horses in 2001, but with Cavel off line for eight months of 2002, that number decreased to 42,312. By 2003 the two remaining plants had stepped up production to take up some of the slack.
In the graph "Horses Slaughtered or Exported for Possible Slaughter" the numbers of horses exported to Canada, Mexico, and Japan have been added to the number slaughtered in the United States. This sum is shown in yellow on the top curve of the graph. This line represents all horses possibly slaughtered from the United States. Again, by assuming that all horses exported to these three countries were slaughtered we are making the most conservative assumption. In reality current statistics show that this assumption is quite accurate and over 90% of the horses exported to these countries typically do go to slaughter.
What makes the closing and reopening of Cavel interesting is that there are solid statistics on the number of abuse and neglect cases in Illinois around this period. The other element that makes for an ideal test is that the remaining slaughter capacity was then almost 1,000 miles away in Texas. This meant that the "unwanted" horses from the Illinois area would be less attractive to killer buyers because they would have to transport them either to Texas or over the borders to Canada or Mexico. Proponents of the theory have attempted to explain what happened after Cavel burned by claiming that the surplus horses from Illinois were probably sent to these places. This is not the case as the "Horses Slaughtered or Exported for Possible Slaughter"&sup4; clearly shows.
We have clearly established that the bulk of the horses that would have been slaughtered by Cavel in the period between its burning and reopening were not sent elsewhere for slaughter. It could reasonably be argued that the rate of slaughter of Illinois horses probably dropped nearly to zero after the burning. At the very least Illinois horses were much less likely to be slaughtered than those from states in closer proximity to Texas. However, the calculations that follow are based on the extremely conservative assumption that the horses slaughtered during this period continued to be drawn from Illinois at the same proportion they had been when Cavel was operating.
It is clear that between 2000 and 2001 the rate of slaughter was on the increase, and that had Cavel not burned it appears that this line representing horses slaughtered and exported would have continued upward to the 122,000 level it reached in 2005 when Cavel was back in full operation the whole year.
Therefore, any mechanism the plants might have for adjusting to the supply of unwanted horses clearly could not operate fast enough to keep over 20,000 horses from falling through the cracks in 2002, and a similar number in 2003. The lighter shaded area therefore represents horses that should have been surplus from this event according to the unwanted horse theory.
To study the effect of this disturbance in processing capacity on the rate of abuse and neglect it is useful to plot the abuse rate against the slaughter rate.
According to the unwanted horse theory one would not expect the effect of a loss of slaughter capacity to be immediate. Instead, this effect should grow as the unwanted horses accumulated. The first thing one notices about the above graph is that this clearly is not the case. Between 2000 and 2001, both slaughter and neglect were increasing. According to the unwanted horse theory, this would indicate that horses were either not being slaughtered in sufficient numbers (unwanted horses were accumulating), or that there was some additional causation for the increasing abuse and neglect. For the year in which Cavel burned, the rate of slaughter diminished, and abuse continued to rise at the same rate it had been increasing before the fire. To some extent this can be explained by the fact that not enough additional unwanted horses had accumulated to have an effect in eight months since the plant burned.
In this case, however, we would certainly expect abuse to have increased rapidly by the end of 2003, but instead of rising abruptly, the rate of abuse actually stopped increasing and began dropping slightly. These are simply visual observations that call the unwanted horse theory into question. The real question remains as to whether we can numerically show any confirmation of the theory that abuse and neglect should increase as unwanted horses accumulate.
The Search for the Factor
If the theory that horse slaughter relieves abuse and neglect were true, then we should be able to find a factor by which these two things were related in the window of time just discussed. Furthermore this factor should be negative. For example, if we found a factor of -2, then we could predict that if we increased horse slaughter by 1%, the abuse rate should drop by 2%. Conversely, if we decreased horse slaughter by 1%, abuse and neglect should increase by 2%.
Four formulas were used to attempt to find this magic factor that would quantify the abuse and neglect relationship. The first formula related each year's percentage change in abuse to the percentage change in slaughter for the previous year. This simple rule allows that the accumulation or reduction of unwanted horses will begin to at least have some effect by the next year. When this calculation is done for each year, and the five yearly factors are averaged, the result is a positive factor of 1.04. In other words, this factor predicts that if we increase slaughter by 1% in a given year, we can on average expect a 1.04% increase in abuse the next year. This clearly contradicts the unwanted horse theory.
The second formula used related the percentage change in abuse in any given year to the percentage change in slaughter in that same year. The five yearly factors were then averaged and the result was again a positive factor, but this time of 2.73. In other words, if we reduced slaughter by 1%, we could expect abuse to go down by 2.73%. This is again in contradiction to the theory.
A third formula was applied. This formula was based on the percent change of each year with respect to the base year of 2000. This formula also yielded a positive factor of 2.54! In all three cases the attempt to derive a relationship between changes in the rate of slaughter and changes in the rate of abuse yields a result in opposition to the theory that slaughter relieves abuse.
A fourth test was applied to the numbers based on the calculation of the approximate number of accumulated unslaughtered horses each year due to the drop in processing capacity. The slope of the resulting curve was not monotonic as would be predicted by the "unwanted horse" theory. In the year before the fire and before any horses accumulated, the abuse rate increased by the same magnitude as it did when the accumulation went from zero to an estimated 20,600 at the end of the year Cavel closed. Then, when in the next year the number of unslaughtered horses doubled to 41,000, the abuse rate actually dropped. As before, no meaningful relationship could be drawn from the data.
The theory that reducing horse slaughter increases abuse and neglect is clearly not supported by the data. On its face, the data would seem to make the case that slaughter has just the opposite effect on the number of cases of abuse and neglect. There may be some truth to this because the brokers and feedlot operators who deal in slaughter horses are not known for their stewardship of the animals (to be polite). The fact is, however, that all attempts to calculate a relationship between abuse and neglect generate widely disparate values year to year which indicate that there is probably no meaningful relationship at all, or that if it exists it is insignificant compared to other factors.
The reason this is true is undoubtedly multi-fold. As previously mentioned, the number of horses being slaughtered annually represents only 1% of the horse population, so their fate has little effect on the overall situation. Neglect is probably more dependent upon larger factors such as weather (forage and hay availability), and the state of the economy.
Additionally, since the slaughter industry processes only horses that are in good flesh, and generally under twelve years of age and since blind horses and horses that cannot support their weight on all four legs are banned from transport, it would seem that the horses being removed from the population through slaughter are not the ones being abused and probably not the ones at highest risk of abuse or neglect.
Finally, a market place is not an "open loop" system by nature. That is, the supply of a commodity does not remain unrelated to its demand. If there is a demand for horses of a certain type (e.g. "loose horses"), then the market will provide them. For a commodity whose supply is fundamentally unlimited, supply would be expected to follow demand and not the other way around as the "unwanted horse" theory proposes.
In short, the theory that horse slaughter has a beneficial effect on the rate of abuse and neglect is clearly disproved by the facts. For reputable institutions to continue to depend on this theory as a justification for supporting horse slaughter is at best unjustified and irresponsible.
John Holland is an industrial consultant in the field of intelligent automation and knowledge engineering. He is the author of three books with his most recent work being "Designing Autonomous Mobile Robots; Inside the Mind of an Intelligent Machine". He also holds numerous patents in robotics, fiber optics, and radio telemetry. Mr. Holland is an advocate for horse welfare and humane treatment. In 2005 he received the annual "Heart and Soul" award from United Animal Nations for his volunteer work against horse slaughter. He lives with his wife Sheilah and their 10 horses in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. References
1 Letter from Representatives Bob Goodlatte and Charles Stenholm to Colleagues, June 18, 2004.
2 United States Department of Agriculture statistics www.fas.usda.gov/ustrade/USTExFatus.asp?QI=
3 Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service Study, David W. Freeman Oklahoma Horse Industry Trends, Historic Estimates of Horse Numbers in US and OK. http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-2087/CR-3987web.pdf
4 United States Department of Agriculture statistics www.nass.usda.gov:8080/QuickStats/PullData_US Illinois Department of Agriculture statistics
Mr. Holland is an advocate for horse welfare and humane treatment. In 2005 he received the annual "Heart and Soul" award from United Animal Nations for his volunteer work against horse slaughter. He lives with his wife Sheilah and their 10 horses in the mountains of Southwest Virginia.
I was one of those storied little girls who was born in love with horses. I always loved all animals, but horses… There was always something special – magical – about them that I could never put into words. Even now I can’t express the feeling, and I think that only others who are blessed – or cursed! – with the “horse gene” can ever fully understand. I loved horses so much in fact, that I deliberately stayed away from them because it was just too painful to see them and not be able to touch or interact with them. We lived in Dallas TX – and I never even had the opportunity to ride at all, much less anything more.
Finally, in 1977 – when I was working full time and had my own money – it occurred to me that I could at least check out the possibilities at some of the boarding stables in Dallas. And, as it turned out, I would be able – just barely – to afford to board a horse at a wonderful place – White Rock Stables - only about ten miles from my home.
Now, all I needed to do was find a horse suitable for a timid adult who was so inexperienced I didn’t even know what I didn’t know. Fortunately for me, the owner of the stable, Tex Oddson Sr., had a horse that he thought would be perfect for me. I was dreaming of getting a Morgan, but given my total lack of experience, I ended up taking Tex up on his offer – a 16 year old very well bred black Quarter Horse named Sirron. He sold him to me for $500, and it was the best money I ever spent.
Even at sixteen, Sirron was worth a lot more than $500. In fact, he was priceless. He knew everything, and he was perfectly happy to teach it all to me. He was fearless on the trail, and he was willing to tackle things he’d never been asked to do before – like dressage and jumping. He was perfect, and how I adored him!
He’s not showing great jumping form in this shot, but neither am I. Besides we were only jumping one bale of hay.
Sirron’s health had always been perfect, and he acted and looked more like an eight year old than a sixteen year old. By all rights, we should have had ten years or even more together. In fact, we only had five.
I truly thought my heart would break when I lost Sirron. The only thing that kept me going was the knowledge that I had no intention of giving up on horses. I would gladly have kept Sirron forever, but since that couldn’t be, I decided to go for that Morgan I’d always dreamed of having.
The Morgan is a small breed. There are probably more Quarter Horses in Texas than there are Morgans in the entire world. This being the case, you have a small base to choose from, and prices are rather high. Undaunted, I pursued my dream, and I found him. In just a few weeks, I found him in Ardmore, OK, just about 150 miles from home. His name was Runcheck Dear John, a beautiful flaxen dark chestnut. He was younger than I’d planned – just turned four. He had very little training – definitely not what I’d planned on. He also cost more than I’d planned on… But, the moment our eyes met, he and I both knew we were meant for each other. Hey, you can’t fight destiny.
A Competitive Trail Ride near the Brazos River in Texas.
I called him DJ, and we did everything together for 20 years. We went on trail rides, both Competitive and pleasure, and he was always perfect. He loved the trails so much he never wanted to quit. He’d walk right past the trailer and start out on another trail! Every trail rider around Texas and Oklahoma in the mid-80s knew DJ. People would come running up to my trailer when I pulled in shouting, “Hi, DJ!”
We also took semi-regular dressage lessons – weather permitting. DJ was quite good at dressage, even if he didn’t like it as well as trail riding. :o)
I boarded him at the same stable in Dallas for ten years. Then, I got married and a couple of years later – 1992 – my husband and I purchased some acreage in his native Indiana. We packed up DJ, the dogs and all our stuff and moved to our “farm” – 24 acres and it was all ours! Finally! My own land with DJ just outside the back door. Heaven!
Since horses, being herd animals, are much happier with another horse as a companion. Within a few months we found her. The neighbor who was cutting and bailing our hay for us had a champion cutting Quarter Horse stallion that had been bred to a Quarter Horse/pony mare, and he had a yearling filly for sale.
Once again, it was love at first sight. She was bay and cute as a bug – totally irresistible. She didn’t really have a name, so I named her – Petite Ami, DJ’s little friend. And a friend she was. DJ’s relationships with other horses were always problematic. I think something must have happened to him before I got him that made him mistrustful of horses he didn’t know well. He seemed to like mares though, which is why I got a mare instead of another gelding. It worked, and he and Ami shared many happy hours grazing and just hanging out together.
Ami the kid.
DJ and I took it a bit easier in the second decade of our partnership. We rode in local parades – he loved to strut his stuff – and went on day rides with the local saddle club. We spent a lot of time just tooling around our own property – which was a nice ride in itself. And, we spent a lot of time just hanging out together.
We hung out in Dallas too, but I always had to have him on a halter and lead. Here, he was free to come and go, and if he hung out with me it was because it was his choice to do so. We had been very close before, but here our relationship developed into something much more profound. I tried not to think about I would do when I lost him…
No living thing is immortal, not even my Mighty DJ. He died with his head in my arms in 2002, just a few weeks short of his 25th birthday and our 20th anniversary. He’s now resting peacefully in his beloved pasture.
Right or wrong, losing DJ brought me the most astounding pain I’ve ever suffered in my life. The emptiness was overwhelming; the knowledge that I’d never hear his nicker or sit on his broad back again was unbearable.
From my experience with Sirron, I knew the only way I could help myself was to start searching for another horse ASAP. Besides, Ami was missing her buddy. It was heartbreaking to watch her looking for him and hearing her calling for him day and night. I tried to comfort her, but she’s not the type of horse who bonds with humans that closely, and I couldn’t help her much.
From my long years with DJ, I knew I had to have another Morgan. Of course, I was then confronted with the same obstacles I encountered in 1982 – few to choose from and price. However, I did have a couple of tools I did not have in ’82 – the network of Morgan breeders and owners I’d developed over the years and the Internet.
I was having a lot of trouble sleeping, so I spent the nights surfing the Net for horses. I’m not sure how I happened to hit the link to Valley Stables in Michigan, but I did and there he was. His name was VS Golden Desperado – barn name Indy – and he was my horse. He was about the same age that DJ was when I got him. He had about the same amount of training – or lack thereof! He even cost the same. And, as it turned out, he also has a personality quite similar to DJ’s – only even more inquisitive and mischievous, if that’s possible. For the details of my early adventures with Indy, see the archives of this Journal, for it started with him.
Indy and Ami – Love at first sight! For ALL of us
What’s ahead? I have no idea. All I know is that Indy and Ami – and Sirron and DJ – have enriched my life in ways that I would never have imagined without them. Here’s to the next 30 years.
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