Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Speaking Out About Horse Abuse

Going back to what I said in my initial post, I really appreciate all horses, not just Arabian Horses. Good horses to me are an important part of life and I know they’re just as important to many other people. Horses feed the soul of those of us who love them – there is no doubt in my mind about that. With all the stress of today’s world, heaven only knows how much we need horses.

So while my blog addresses Arabian horses in particular, the message is really the same for all horses. No horse, not a shire , a paint, a quarter horse, an Arabian, a mini, or anything in between, should be used and abused, bullied and intimidated.

Horses that are being treated in such a manner are unfortunately all too common in today’s society. You would think that with so many years since Black Beauty by Anna Sewell was first published that the treatment of horses would have improved dramatically from the conditions exposed in the book. However, that is not the case, clearly there is a strong move towards natural horsemanship around the world but that evolution in the way humans respond to equines is slow in developing.

Yes, there are some horsemen out there that truly grasp an understanding of the horse and how to communicate with it and train it in such a way as to instill great confidence and trust in the horse. Some of those are very public for the equine community to see; others do their teaching one on one affecting the transformation one student at a time, one step at a time. the progression of the change can only advance as the rest of us learn. Most of us are either rank amateurs or worse yet, we’ve not even started on the journey of finding a better way to deal with our horses.

But what is important here is not that we have a long, long way to go, as much as we are moving in the right direction. Twenty years ago, the magazines had advertisements for John Lyons, Richard Shrake and Pat Parelli and a few others I’ve probably forgotten. Today, there’s a much longer list of those selling themselves as clinicians and trying to make the world a better place for the horse. Their students are teaching their students and so it goes. There are sites on the internet devoted to natural horsemanship like What Is Natural Horsemanship and Natural Horsemanship on Wikipedia For more sites Google "Natural Horsemanship" on the end of this page. There are programs on the television devoted to better ways to train your horse with Clinton Anderson and others.

I know many of us are still a long way from being able to confront that abusive rider at a trail ride or a show or the handler trying to beat a horse into a trailer, or the boarder three stalls down from us in the public boarding barn. My guess is that day will come as we become more confident in our knowledge of how to deal with horses since we, humans, tend to want to keep our mouths shut unless we’re absolutely positive that we aren’t going to make a fool out of ourselves. We'll need to be more educated before we're brave enough to fight this battle one on one.

What's important is that we're on that road... the process of us making a daily effort to make ourselves better horsemen/horsewomen will get us to a safe and happy life for all horses. See this article Horse Racing, Sport or Animal Curelty, Granted the person writing this article thinks that anyone holding a whip must be abusing a horse and needs to be educated also so there is some balance. The use a whip doesn't need to be banned but the mis-use of it sure does. But the very fact the question has been posted tells us we are heading away from the days of Black Beauty and towards the days horses are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

The key to all of this is education.As long as all of this information is available; there are clinicians willing to teach, horse owners, fanciers and lovers willing to learn, and blogs and other discussion like this where abuse continues to be exposed, with enlightened horse owners seeking it out, learning it and practicing what they preach, the world will daily become a better place for all horses, not just my beloved Arabian horses.


  1. Last fall we bought a horse who has been severly beated in the head. It is so hard to be the next owner of a spooked horse. You can tell that he really wants to try to trust you but your human and in his mind humans hurt him. We are not sure if it was the past owner or someone before them. We've had horses for the past 20 years so we are fairly used to most situations and just have learned to know that you need to take your time around Randy, no sudden movements, no petting him on the head. Slowly but surely he's learning to trust again but I know it will always be in the back of his mind and that's so sad to me. You have a great blog, keep up the good posts!

  2. My horse, MHR Ive Arrived, a 1985 Gray Arabian Gelding, had the hardest life I can imagine. He was purchased from the breeder, with the intent of making him a foundation sire at a new farm. The new farm went bankrupt after he sired one filly, Kaligraphic Smile. He was sold to people who gelded him becasue he is VERY hot, and when he was still too strong for them, they sold him to an abusive owner.
    He was beaten and starved daily for over 7 years (he had some food, but not enough to thrive.) These people showed him heavily, and my theory is they beat him every time he didn't get first place, because he is terrified when I show him his ribbons and trophies we win together. A former owner told me she wasn't planning on buying a horse, but saw him get beaten up and said she was taking him right then.
    At his new owner's house, he undid the latch on his pasture gate, and got into a neighbor's shed, where he got his left hind leg caught in a manure spreader. Lucky it wasn't on, and he got out with only arthritis (controlled by daily joint supplement) and some nasty looking scars.
    He was then sold to a girl who had him for 4 years, and the whole time NEVER had his teeth floated. She made him colic once by not cooling him out before letting him eat and drink. Then, she made him colic AGAIN when at teh county fair, she decided to feed him a hot dog. There was a team of 5 vets working on him, and they said they were honestly surprised he made it. When I found out, I was SO mad. I mean, sure, I'm a vegetarian by choice; horses are vegetarian by nature. Meat won't KILL me; it WILL kill horses.
    So this is the person I bought him from. It took 6 months to get him back up to a healthy weight, and 9 months to get him to trust people. You have to go slow, but now he comes right up to me when I go to the barn. We lunge him everytime before we ride, and we can't use whips or spurs or else her runs and bucks. He's my best friend, and I'd NEVER sell him for anything. It took him 20 years to find his forever home, but he did it, and as a 22 year old, the vet says he's as healthy as a 3 year old. All he needed was a lot of loving :)

  3. shellz9 and mhr ive arrived, your horses are lucky to have you. Taking on a horse that has been abused is a huge undertaking. Many times horses like this end up at slaughter. It really is sad what people can do to horses. On the other hand, it's really heartwarming to know that there are people out there willing to rescue such horses. Good work!

  4. I wish all this type of information had been available to me when we bought our first young horse. My father purchased a two year old Paint mare when I was a teenager. When it came time to send her for training we took her to the local woman who had had success with Appaloosas. It turned out this womans training style was just bullying and intimidation. After two weeks our mare had had enough of this woman and began to rear up when she went to get her from her stall. The woman told us that we would need to find someone to throw our mare if we ever hoped to ride her. After piecing together everything that had happened my Dad said he was glad our mare had stood up for herself and didn't put up with the rough treatment. After much more careful searching we found a trainer that our mare liked and we loved. This taught me to be very leery about supposed "professionals." You have to really check people out and see what their training styles are.

  5. Rocky Mountain Yankee, your mare is lucky to have had you. Many new owners would have gone along with the trainer no matter what their gut told them. I'm glad you learned this lesson without much damage to your mare. That is very cool and you are to be commended.