Friday, May 30, 2008

Happy Anniversary, everybody!

Yes, the Fugly Blog is officially one year old today. You can read the very first post here.

Check out this
tribute video one of my readers created. Jeez, seeing so much at once like that even makes me sad and I'm pretty jaded when it comes to this stuff.

So, we've gotten a lot of attention here. Some people hate us, some people love us. For the newbies, no, I don't think we should slaughter fugly horses (I get that accusation all the time). Most of what I own is fugly either due to age or having been that way all along - but I don't breed them. Every horse deserves proper care. I do think certain horses deserve it even more (i.e. horses who have had race or performance careers for the entertainment of humans - they deserve that retirement every bit as much as Bob who put in 50 years at the plant.) I think that you shouldn't breed if you can't afford to breed really above-average stock, test for genetic defects (and avoid them when you know about them!), and provide proper care to all of your horses. Yes, broodmares need hoof care too, not just the "ridding horses." I think that you shouldn't rescue if you have made no provision for training the horses once they are in your care. I think that if you can afford to live in Lake Oswego, you can afford retirement board on the horse who got f'ed up in your ownership. I think that people who breed HYPP positive horses are greedy asshats. In my ideal world, we would not ride horses until their three year old year. In my ideal world, there would be huge cash incentives for having a fantastic ten year old pleasure horse. And so on...

The horse industry, as it stands, has encouraged all of the problems we see today and slaughter has been a convenient solution for them. While slaughter hasn't ended, the expense of hauling horses to slaughter has made the prices drop - and the greedy asshats are screaming bloody murder and trying to convince you that ending slaughter is a bad idea and horses are just going to starve. You know what? Some are. I wish I could fix that, but I'd also like to stop child abuse and murder. Um, good luck. Some people are going to suck no matter what we do.

Change is always hard. If you're into history, go back and read the dire predictions of what would happen if we ended slavery, or gave women the right to vote. Man, the WORLD was gonna end! And it would be the worst for the former slaves and the women! The fact is that those changes needed to happen and so does this one. The low end of the market needs to react to the change by reducing production until the supply fails to exceed the demand. This isn't all that complicated. Just stop breeding low end horses. This means you.

"But my foals always sell," I can hear some of you arguing. Let me guess - that has more to do with the fact that you actually handle your foals and train them appropriately and they are nice, people-loving foals that just about sell themselves. If you can do that, kudos to you. Why not, instead of breeding, go down to the auction and rescue some that are already here. Put that training on them and give them a chance at life. If ten percent of you would do that, we'd have the problem pretty much solved. If you love having babies around and have lots of foaling experience, please offer to take in a pregnant mare from a rescue. Rescues could really use you!

What else can you do? Just keep thinking about supply and demand here. We need more good owners, less horses in niches that don't sell well. If you can't help the horses upgrade themselves and become more marketable, help create good owners. Volunteer your time in 4-H or Pony Club. Have a barn? Put on some free clinics to teach people about how to feed an old horse and how to ensure they don't lose weight over the winter. (I definitely want to do that myself this fall - friends and I are talking about it). If you're a trainer, why not have a drawing for one free lesson a month? Put a pot in the tack shop that Mom or Dad can drop their business card into. Maybe you can get a kid who is trying to teach themselves and making a wreck out of themselves and the horse back on the right path. Or help some poor overmounted adult beginner who can't figure out why the stuff in the videos isn't working for her. Something as simple as that may save a horse's life.

If you do breed, follow up. Your registry can tell you who owns your horses, in most cases. Make those phone calls, send those e-mails. See if the horses you produced are doing okay. Take them back if they're not. You created them - you are ultimately responsible for them. Don't like that? Open a factory and make inanimate objects instead.

What if you're a kid? Hey, read Joe's blogs - creative kids everywhere are making a difference. They are collecting money to send to good rescues. They are educating people about horse slaughter and rescue and responsible breeding in chat rooms. They are telling their peers that it's wrong when they have unspayed dogs and cats popping out babies that have a poor chance for a decent future. Remember, peer pressure can be used in healthy and constructive ways - use it. When you have a chance to make a choice about one of your animals, make the right choice. Sitting out the show season, or catch riding sale horses because yours is lame - instead of ditching yours - sends a message to your peers. (Not to mention, all that catch riding makes YOU a better rider and then you can gloat the next year when you are kicking butt at the shows!)

All right, I really am taking a couple of days off, so try not to have hysterics. :-) If you haven't been here from the beginning, go back and read the old blogs. I've given you a starting point. To all of you who read, thanks and I can't tell you how much I enjoy your comments. I am sorry I can't keep up on e-mails - I just can't. Not enough hours in the day. I do work two jobs and have eight horses at home to take care of. Colin is good - plowing happily through knee high grass with his girlfriend, Joy. NC Catnip's two little rescues from this blog are doing great - check out their blog. Scarlet, the emaciated auction rescue, is no longer emaciated and turning back into the absolutely beautiful mare she is - check out her blog.

Remember the horses I posted about from the Mason County hoarder situation in January? I couldn't post the pics I took at the time - now I can. On the left is what Isabella looked like the day I met her - and here she is today, on the right. Big kudos to her foster moms Ginger and Alyssa for bringing her back to health in just five months. Isabella is available for adoption in the Seattle area through SAFE. I do need to get an update on the other Mason County horses and I will work on that for a future blog!