Thursday, June 12, 2008

It's not your culture, you're just evil!

All right, this blog is quite a bit overdue but it came into the forefront of my mind this week. A friend of mine who has a rescue called SOS Equines in eastern Washington state found out about 20 yearling, grade, probably fugly (haven't seen pics yet) horses in dire need. The story is bad from start to finish. I don't know who the irresponsible asshat was who bred them, but they wound up being used at a vet school for some study (great) and then the vet school dumped them to a kill buyer (awesome) and the best offer for them wasn't slaughter but something even worse (yes, that's possible) - some dude who wanted them for horse tripping.

Yeah. I love rescue, it makes me love human beings sooooo much! And you people wonder why I write posts like last night's...

For those of you unfamiliar with horse tripping, let me fill you in. Here's a basic outline from the In Defense of Animals web site:

(1) With the use of electric prods, Mexican cowboys or “charros” force the animals into full gallop and then lasso their hind legs or forelegs, causing the animals to come crashing down to the ground.

(2) Witnesses have noted that charros continue to trip animals until they’re lame.

(3) Thousands of American horses are severely injured at Mexican-style rodeos each year. “Charros keep tripping horses until they're lame, or until the season's up and the go to the slaughter," says Cathleen Doyle, president of the California Equine Council, which promotes responsible horsemanship. “Horses break legs, necks and teeth. They fracture their shoulders, and batter their knees and hocks. You can see deep gashes on their faces, shoulders, hips, legs and heels. The ropes often burn their flesh down to the bone.” Mike Ross, animal service director for Contra Costa County states, “It's unpredictable. There's an inherent risk of seriously injuring the horse's legs. When that happens, you may end up destroying the animal.”

(4) Doyle, who has observed about ten charreada rodeos, kept tabs on 78 horses one charro group rented. “At the end of the five-to-six-month season, only two horses remained intact. All the rest had gone to slaughter.” She adds that some charros buy their own horses, and trip them until they're lame. Injured horses rarely receive veterinary care.

Most charreada is private, “backyard” sport: 300 or fewer people watching six or seven horses dodge the rope. About 1,500 people typically attend the larger charreadas. Charros prefer small, lightweight horses like Arabs because they are easier to bring down. "

New York Times article about horse tripping (for those folks who will say that because the previous information came from IDOA, it must just be cray-zee animal rights propaganda and SURELY those things don't REALLY happen here in America!)

A few years ago, a Thoroughbred showed up at one of the Los Angeles animal shelters. For those unfamiliar with the L.A. shelters, there is really no place to put a horse. This poor guy was out back in a small stock enclosure, eating crap hay, wondering WTF was going to happen to him next. He had a couple of sheep for company until they were "adopted" by someone even the AC officer admitted she suspected was going to eat them. Refer back to: I love people, they're great.

Anyway, I sprung Mr. Thoroughbred from the East Valley shelter for the princely sum of $40 and he went to a rescuer near Palm Springs. Here are some unretouched pictures of his legs. You tell ME what did this. I certainly have my theories!

A Mexican advocate of horse tripping, Gabriel Velasquez of Nevada was quoted as saying "It is a cultural thing, something that came down from our ancestors and many, many years in this sport."

Mr. Velasquez, allow me to remind you that YOU LIVE IN AMERICA NOW. By choice! No one dragged you here with a gun to your head. That means you live in OUR culture, and OUR culture finds your so-called sport to be cruel, atrocious and totally unacceptable. Don't like it? LEAVE.

I am sick to death of the "but it's our cultuuuuure" excuse. Just like the Omak Suicide Race, this kind of "sport" has no place in America in 2008. It is horrifying to think that horses who grew up trusting humans end their lives in this way, after months or years of panic and pain. If you want to adopt a yearling, go talk to SOS Equines. If you want to campaign to end horse tripping and make it illegal in EVERY state (it's only illegal in a handful of states now), call your legislators. Arizona has this legislation pending, make those calls and make sure it passes! Catherine Doyle has also written up a great fact sheet on how to get horse tripping banned in your state.

I swear, I just cannot believe sometimes the things that continue to go in our supposedly civilized country. Hey, I am not against the Mexican culture - but let's focus on the GOOD traditions, like the awesome food, instead of trying to pretend that animal abuse that would be otherwise legally actionable is somehow protected by the "culture" defense. That's just lame, and trust me, most of your OWN people think you're an asshat, too!