Tuesday, March 20, 2012

8 - Stacy Westfall and Horse Slaughter

I don't like to go on rants about things.  Really, I don't.  But, occasionally I do it anyways, apparently.  I love Stacy Westfall, and currently posted my first rant, on her blog.  My toddler was sleeping, and my older two boys were playing quietly.  The timing was right, I guess.  I hope she doesn't mind, I dream of riding with her (lesson, clinic, etc.), and of course I dream of riding LIKE her.  So, I hope my post wasn't annoying.
She wrote, "This may seem like an odd question but I am trying to gather information.  I try to visit a sale like this at least twice a year.  No, it is not enjoyable, but it does keep me grounded and aware in a very real way.  If you do check 'Yes' please leave a comment about where the sale is held.  I have gone to Sugarcreek in Ohio.  I would be interested in other known locations."

She asked people a very simple question, "Have you been to a horse slaughter sale?"  She also wanted to know where (please leave a comment on her blog).

Here is her blog, in case you want to contribute to her fact finding:

Here is my rant:

I use to volunteer as “Stable Crew” at a YMCA camp when I was younger. The Stable Director took the ‘crew’ to Sugarcreek. I was a teenager (I am now 35), but the memory is quite vivid. It was my first exposure to the reality of the horse industry…that horses are simply a commodity, and disposed of in the most profitable way possible, if not of value otherwise. To a horse crazy teenager, it was quite a shock.
But, I think I benefited from this early exposure by learning the importance of training a horse right, breeding responsibly, and the need to plan, financially, for your horse’s retirement.
The stable crew I was a part of 20 years ago, has collectively purchased each and every horse that was part of our herd when we worked there as teenagers, and have retired them, to prevent them from going to slaughter. They toted thousands of campers, Indian Princesses, and even mentally and physically disabled, on trail rides and around the ring. They deserved a happy home when they were no longer able to serve.
Thanks for this post. Although I have sent numerous checks to my friend (a stable crew from our teenage years) who boards the retired horses (just a couple horses and a donkey still alive), I haven’t in a while. I am writing a check today and sending it her way. Everyone needs to realize that horses need a retirement plan, just like they do.
Additionally, I have a fairly nice QH mare myself, (papered, good breeding, 16 hands, and a looker). I have been tempted to breed her to a nice stud, with the hopes of getting a competitive show prospect of my own. But, I vowed never to breed an average horse, because the likelihood of getting another average horse is too high (even if I breed to a proven stud). Although she looks good ‘on paper’, and is pretty, my mother always said, “Pretty is as pretty does”. So, hopefully I will get some points on this mare during the next couple show seasons, and then I can justify breeding her.
I think everyone needs to visit a ‘slaughter sale’. I’m not against horse slaughter entirely, only because I think it is a better option than the neglect that an unwanted horse often suffers without this option. But, you can obviously see that I am passionately against irresponsible breeding, not investing in your horse’s training, and the discarding of horses that have served their people their entire lives. Maybe if we made more of a fuss over these things, slaughter wouldn’t be such a necessary evil.
Stacy, not sure if you were hoping for more than a simple response from the question you posed, but, what a great question to ask people! You got me going ;-) Hope you don’t mind! I hope more horse owners will visit a slaughter house and take a first hand look at their horse’s potential ‘retirement’, if they don’t invest in their horse’s breeding, training, and golden years.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

7 - Two steps forward, one step back

Today was GORGEOUS out.  I turned out my horses in the small paddock so they could munch on the grass, whereas the rest of the pasture was eaten down to nothing.  They ate until they were tired, and, by midday they were standing and napping in the paddock, so I put them back in the barn/pasture so they could rest in the barn, out of the wind.  Although it was 68 degrees today, it was windy.  As I was opening the paddock gate to let her go back to the pasture, Dottie slipped and FELL.  Thud.  Poor girl.  Klutz.  She seemed insulted, but fine.

I finished moving her to the pasture, and she stood by the fence, looking for some attention, or, perhaps she was just wondering if I was going to grain her again.  I noticed some dark, dried blood on her back foot.  Geesh.  Not again.  She did not look swollen, so I figured it was either not too bad, or, recent enough that it hadn't had time to swell.  Since I had two kids in tow, and nothing was life threatening, I let her be, and decided I could tend to it later, without the kids.

My kids had a playdate that afternoon, and my middle son pointed out her wound to his playmates and their mothers.  The horses were hanging out in in the pasture near out back yard, and Dottie was resting her hurt leg.  I tried to duck under the fence and take a look while a friend watched my 2 year old, but, it was sensitive enough that she wouldn't let me get a good look.  She was a real baby about it, which made me worry that it might be worse than I thought.

Luckily, my husband was home by 5, and after we shoveled down some dinner (rushed because when you have a 2, 4, and 6 year old, you don't have time for leisurely dinners), I headed out to the barn so I could hose her and take a look at her leg before dark.

Disappointingly, the blood was quite dried and caked on, and there was heat.  At least it was warm enough out that I could cold hose her.  I hosed for about 20 minutes and the blood mostly came off.  The cut didn't look too bad, but the heat worried me.  Sigh.  Bute.  Furazone.  Grain, and Extra Hay.  Goodnight.

Wait and see, I guess.

This is the second cut in the last two months, and she hasn't had anything like this in the several years I've owned her.  Yes, as green as she is, it's been several years.  OK...four years.  And, she was 3 (I think?) when I got her.  Pregnancies and babies tend to eat away quickly at quality riding time.  But, 3 beautiful, rambunctious boys is all I can handle, so, no more babies.  Anyway, I doubt she minds all the rest and relaxation.  And, you can't say she was started too young!

I had planned on lunging her today.  The ground was finally dry enough that I wouldn't destroy my paddock/arena.  I don't like riding in the wind, and she needed the exercise as much as she needed the training.  But, I guess it just wasn't in the cards.

Now, I need to figure out how she is getting hurt.  There is a new pony next door.  Is she kicking at the fence?

I might even have to consider keeping her in her stall a little more often, if I can't figure it out.  I hate to do that, because at least they are getting exercise when she is wandering around the pasture.  Whenever I look out my window, they always seem to be moving around.  In fact, my vet thought she looked 'in shape' last summer, when I hadn't ridden her in months.  There is something to be said about the health of a pastured horse compared to a stalled horse.  I feel lucky that I have the luxury of letting them run in and out of the barn.

I need to walk the fence.  Of course there is a 70% chance of rain tomorrow.  Fun.  Maybe that will have to wait until Saturday.

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