Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I just want to tie them to a post so that we know where they are!

*sigh* Here we go again - another animal abuser who simply moved to a new state to continue her bad behavior!

80 animals dead on Harney County ranch

The Associated Press

BURNS - Authorities discovered the remains of 60 horses and 20 cattle at a ranch co-owned by a Harney County woman who was recently arrested on charges of animal neglect.

Sheriff's deputies arrested 42-year-old Roxanna Still after getting a complaint about two horses dying on the ranch.

Deputies also saw about 75 malnourished animals and returned to the ranch Friday to remove them. While there, they discovered three pits filled with remains.

Harney County Sheriff Dave Glerup told The Oregonian newspaper the district attorney will decide whether the pits were created intentionally, which could turn the misdemeanor charges into felonies.

Glerup said Still was convicted on charges of animal cruelty in Texas in 2006.

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of ranch co-owner Richard Baldwin.

From another article:

Still was arrested on five counts of first-degree animal neglect and four counts of second-degree animal neglect, misdemeanors that carry fines. She was jailed for two days and released Friday.

FHOTD back in: So yeah, here we go again. She's a repeat offender who merely relocated and kept offending. We know that sex offenders do this. That is why we have a national database of them. Pet-Abuse.com has tried very hard to do the same with animal abusers, but not everybody reads it. And animal abusers don't have to register their location, so they simply move to a new state and begin all over again.

Check out Pet-Abuse's chart on state cruelty laws. How does your state stack up? If someone offends in your state, are they going to get a punishment that might actually stop them - or a wrist slap?

We can scream about these cases all day, but if you don't take the time to write to your Congresspeople and state representatives and ask for harsher penalties and nationwide tracking of offenders, this is just going to keep on happening. I bet Roxanna's neighbors had no idea what kind of a person she was - and that's sad.

As with other types of offenders, those of us who are law-abiding deserve the chance to protect ourselves (and our animals!) from those who are not. I am tired of the criminal having all of the rights, and I'm sure many of you agree with me!

Monday, March 30, 2009

The 2009 Genesis Awards

I just got back from the HSUS's Genesis Awards. This is the awards show the HSUS puts on every year to honor those who have tackled pro-animal issues in television, film, and newspapers/magazines. (They haven't yet started a blog category...hey guys, yoo hoo? LOL.) I have worked on a number of awards shows but this is my favorite because it's all animal people. You get to find out which celebrities are vegan/vegetarian, which spend their spare time rescuing animals and which think people who club baby seals ought to be clubbed (You go, Hal Sparks - I liked you on Queer as Folk and I like you even more now!). Did you all know that when Nigel Barker isn't doing America's Next Top Model, he spent his own money and time going to Canada to do a documentary on the baby seal slaughter?

(Side note:
oh my God is he hot in real life.)

Some of the other celebrities who took time out from their schedules to show up and present awards at the event included Gabrielle Anwar, Jarrod Cooper, James Cromwell, Kaley Cuoco, Emily Deschanel, Corey and Susie Feldman (he's hilarious by the way...I have a whole different opinion of him after meeting him. The press has given that guy a bad rap.), Jorja Fox, Ginnifer Goodwin, Matt Grant, Marg Helgenberger, Carrie Ann Inaba, Claudia Jordan, Dominic Scott Kay, Wendie Malick, Joe Mantegna, Esai Morales, Maggie Q, Jillian Reynolds, Reid Scott, Debra Skelton, Hal Sparks, Ben Stein, Susanna Thompson, Kirsten Vangsness, Michael Vartan and Persia White. Katie Cleary from America's Next Top Model was the trophy presenter and she is terrific. One of the dogs who played Marley in Marley & Me attended and all I can say is, I don't think he was acting in the film, LOL. He was what I like to call a Labradork - very friendly but very, very bouncy. :-)

And these people really love animals - they're not phony. Let's just say we had another name backstage for Michael Vick and I bet you can all guess what it was! Sports Illustrated took home a Genesis Award for their article on Michael's dog-fighting bust. Good for them. They didn't whitewash things a bit.

It is always fun to see who wins. The Simpsons won for an episode in which Bart raises a 4-H calf to win and had no idea he was going to be sold for slaughter at the end, so Bart and Lisa have to rescue him from the feedlot. I believe the RealSports episode on "Hidden Horses," tracing what happens to many racehorses after the track, also won. I met some guys who won for their documentary on carriage horses in NYC - apparently, they are living in tie stalls? WTF. What amazed me is that the guys didn't know anything about horses getting into this project - but after completing it, they had a better idea of what a horse needs to be happy than many people I've met who have had horses for years. I told them about the yahoo who is driving the horses cross-country who got hit and lost 2 horses - apparently said yahoo is trying to get back on the road. Maybe that can be his next documentary. I just don't think horses and motorized traffic mix. I wouldn't ride a bike in NYC due to the way people drive, so how can anybody think a horse is safe? You can catch Blinders on the Documentary Channel on DISH network, Monday, April 20 10 p.m. ET or Saturday, April 25 6 p.m. ET.

I was really pleased because it seemed like there were a lot more nominees that covered horse issues this year than in other years - maybe it's just that media coverage of these issues is increasing? Either way, it was good to see!

I did have to maintain my self-control and professionalism, so sadly I could not walk up to Madeleine Pickens and ask her just who is going to trim 120,000 mustang feet. Ah well. Another time. ;-) Madeleine has done a lot of things that I do agree with, so anytime she wants to contact me and give me an interview to answer these questions, she's most welcome to do so. As I've said before, I simply don't see how it is possible to provide proper care to that many horses no matter how much money you have, given that they are completely unhandled and are all going to be huge projects that most people aren't qualified to take on, no matter how much you pay them.

I know there are people who read this who don't like the HSUS because they don't hands-on rescue animals in the way most of us do, but that's not their purpose. What they do very well is advocacy - an event like this does a lot to educate people who may not have ever been around a horse about what a horse's basic needs are. It encourages those people to donate their money and get involved, particularly with legislation that makes life better for animals. It encourages people to start thinking about what is and is not an appropriate way to treat animals. Slaughter did not get banned in the U.S. without the help of large advocacy groups like HSUS that can fundraise and attack things at the legislative level, and double-decker transport and transport out of the country for slaughter won't get banned without their help.

For those of you who think HSUS is somehow secretly fronting for people who think all animal ownership should be banned, all I can say is that not everything is a conspiracy. There are some radical members of HSUS, but there are some radical members of anything. Look at our political parties. Most of the people I know at HSUS are animal owners who simply feel that we have a responsibility to treat them well. I used my "treating the horse like a good employee" analogy several times in conversation Saturday night, and nobody threw their champagne at me. I talked to a lot of people about the need for affordable, humane euthanasia of horses as a slaughter alternative and again - nobody freaked. And this is something the HSUS is actively working on.

Remember, this is all politics - a lot of the "OMG fear the radicals! They're going to steal your horses!" innuendo is produced by the pro-slaughter side as a divide-and-conquer tactic. Don't fall for it.

Lots of pics from the event on Oh No They Didn't.

Finally, for anyone in Santa Rosa, California who doesn't have to work this morning:

People v. Galvez pre-trial hearing.

At this pre-trial hearing, the judge will consider the prosecutor's case and decide whether the case can go to trial. Mr. Galvez is charged with Animal Cruelty. He was allegedly involved with the severely emaciated and dehydrated horse who was tied on Todd Road in 102 degree heat without food or water. The horse was later euthanized. They would like to have people who believe Galvez (who has hired a private attorney and is trying to escape prosecution) must be prosecuted attend the hearing. It is at 10 AM this morning at Sonoma County Superior Court, Courtroom 3, 600 Administration Drive, Santa Rosa.
Katie Margason-Moore of the Sonoma County CHANGE Program at 707-544-7584 or watermarkfarm1@yahoo.com with questions. (Yes, this is the woman who saved Argus!)

Friday, March 27, 2009

To show or not to show...

In case you haven't already seen this one:

Just not a good day at the horse show!

I don't know if anyone got any advance warning in that case that the original horse who bolted was in a mood that day, but I shared this with a trainer friend who shows in driving classes and she said that if she sees a driving horse looking not-so-in-control in the warm-up ring, she won't show her horse. She won't do it even if the owner insists. She simply won't risk the horse or her own safety if it looks like there could be a wreck.

(Amazingly, no horses or humans suffered serious injuries in the video above. They were very lucky. The announcer was giving GREAT advice but unfortunately some of the people in the ring were in the wrong places and actually forced the panicking horses off the rail and into the other horses and people.)

So that brings up another good topic. At what point do you decide that an event - any event - is not worth participating in due to the risk of another horse who doesn't seem to be under control? Have you pulled your horse out as a result? This could be a show or it could be a trail ride or other more casual event. When do you draw the line (if ever) and say, hey, I'm just
not going to ride my horse with that horse? Or do you just ride defensively, keep your eyes open and hope for the best?

What do you do when a rider loses control? I was always taught to jump off and hold my horse if, for example, someone gets dumped or bolted with in a flat class. I still think that sounds like the safest option. What does Pony Club teach? What do you teach your students? Do you talk about the "game plan" if this happens before your child or lesson student goes to his or her first show?

If you manage shows or ring steward or judge, have you excused a horse for being out of control? I have and of course got snarled at (but you know, when your stallion is rolling on the ground in a halter class and you can't make him get up, I believe that's an indicator that you can't stop him from doing anything else, like, say, breeding a mare in the warm-up pen. Just a theory!)

So tell your stories - how do you strike the balance between safety and the realization that horses are unpredictable under the best of circumstances, and green horses do have to get out there and "just do it" at a certain point?

Today's Friday Featured Rescue is a mare that made me do a double-take and say "Wow!" This is Billy Bar Bonanza and she's at PERN rescue in Greenwood, California. She has been started under saddle and is ready to continue with her training. This mare has her papers so she can go all the way for you at a very reasonable adoption fee of $500. You can contact Gloria to meet her.

Totally OT but if anybody in the Los Angeles area is looking for a sweet, older lap kitty, one has been purring on my lap the whole time I've been writing this. He needs a lap of his own! E-mail Leslie if you might have a quiet, loving home for him (he'd be SO great for a lonely retiree - he outlived his last one which is how he wound up in rescue.)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

There is a sucker born every minute!

And most of them own fertile mares. *sigh*

This cracks me up...some time back, a blog reader invented a faux ad for her faux stallion, a Kolored Fugly that anybody should have had enough sense to realize wasn't real, even if he hadn't been named Con's Fugally Mixaster.

But no! Not only did people not realize she was being sarcastic, they wanted to breed to him and e-mailed her inquiries!

She now has a blog dedicated to those responses.



I'm just happy he's pretend, but I suspect that these people will find a live one with balls and live out their dream of creating the next $50 auction yearling. I just want to sit these people down and show them a film of scared babies at the auctions and slaughter, the same way they showed us those disgusting, bloody car accident films in high school to scare the crap out of us (if you're my age - I am sure they don't do that anymore, now some parent would sue for traumatizing their child!).

If I see ONE MORE FREE old horse I am going to scream. If you can't afford to feed them, please put them to sleep. Mr. Horse Dealer will be knocking on your door soon with a great story about how his wife just wants a pet (well, maybe not for the buckskin, there's not enough meat there to bother!). Putting "no meat buyers!" in your ad does not create any kind of legal condition. It's like putting "no freaks" in your personal ad!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The AIG of animal rescue!

You may remember my story on the Dancing Star Sanctuary, which was euthanizing animals allegedly for economic reasons while its principals still pulled down healthy six-figure salaries. You know, I have no problem with euthanizing for economic reasons when you're actually broke and the animals can't be placed. Euthanizing animals while you sit on your ass collecting a quarter million dollars a year? NOT OKAY!

Of course, they say the deaths were justified but former employees tell a different story:

"Jason Hamaker, a ranch maintenance supervisor, said his bosses started talking last fall about cutting back on medications and feed for some of the older animals. The sicker the animals became, the more justified their deaths by lethal injection would appear, he said. "They said they wanted a total of 50 gone within a couple of months, and then another 30 after that," he said. In the last four weeks, according to Hamaker, 23 animals have been put down."

I can see this happening. This guy worked for them for 5 years but they fired him for speaking out. Sounds like an employment attorney's dream!

Fortunately, others agree with me and have reported these $cammers to the Attorney General!

"In 2006, Michael Tobias and Jane Gray Morrison
(pictured at left), a husband-and-wife team who have collaborated on numerous films and books, received $275,000 and $235,000, as president and vice president. Chief Finance Officer Don Cannon drew $219,450.

"Those salaries are just way out of line," said Kim Sturla, founder and director of Animal Place, a sanctuary for farm animals in Vacaville, Calif. "It's shameful -- it just reflects badly on all of us animal nonprofits." Sturla said those three salaries exceed her sanctuary's entire annual operating budget."

Tobias, Morrison and Cannon aren't talking. Instead, they hired a high-priced PR Firm to do their talking for them! OMG! And the non-profit is paying for that, too? Hey, Mr. High Priced PR Guy, come over here and tell us in the comments how you think your client's salaries are justified. I dare you!

Animal rescue is not supposed to make you rich. I could see a salary of $50-60K being reasonable for executive director of a sanctuary. It is California and you do have to live. But at the end of the day, you're not doing brain surgery. Heck, they weren't even doing the grunt work - they had $9 an hour, reportedly mistreated employees to do that. They don't even live there. Asshats.

I think Tobias, Morrison and Cannon should be replaced as sanctuary officers and fined for the difference between their salaries and comparable salaries for nonprofit officers in California. Then that money should go directly to the care of the animals, including paying those poor sanctuary workers more then $9 an hour!
Let's hope the California AG's office doesn't drop this. You can reach them at:

Remember to keep it polite, reasonable, logical and clean!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The dumbest training advice you've ever received?

The other day, one of the readers of this blog came to work walking funny, and the story behind it was totally G-rated -- one of her horses had given her legs a good workout. Horsey had not wanted to do a clean canter depart and had been crowhopping in resistance and generally making her work for it.

Co-worker offered up the following sage advice: "The next time he does that, have your husband put a rope around his neck and tie him to another horse. He won't do that again!"

The mind boggles at exactly how tying him to another horse would create a bucking-free canter depart, but the advice is no surprise. Everywhere, we are surrounded by horsepeople who are more than happy to tell us how we ought to train our horses - whether or not we've asked.

I had a barn visitor opine a few months ago that if I put a bit with a curb chain on the VLC, I could get his head up. Well, yeah, and the day I show up and he has morphed into a Saddlebred or some other breed that is supposed to have its head up, I will worry about that!

But ultimately, the bit of training advice I hate the MOST is the belief that you can cure all kinds of attitude with a horse by "laying him down." I'm not talking about for necessary medical care on an unhandled horse or teaching it as a trick which is totally different. I'm talking about doing it to "show him who's boss." It is continuously and constantly MISused by individuals like our infamous friend Buckingbo.

Personal opinion? If you have to
physically disable a horse to train him, you're a pretty lame trainer. If you can't establish dominance, trust and respect with the horse upright and free to choose how he is going to react, you need to learn to read horses better. I can't imagine risking a horse's legs to tie one up and lay him on the ground, and I've heard it suggested to beginner after beginner by moron wannabe cowboys. (The real cowboys will tell you that it's an absolute last resort for an extremely rank horse, pretty much right before you give up and shoot him, and I can understand where that might be reasonable) The beginners were experiencing problems as simple as hard to lead, pushy on the ground, and hard to catch, but the solution offered up was "lay him down so that he learns submission." Let me tell you, if someone did that to me, I'd be WAY harder to catch!

Bottom line, I see people in the English world retrain 17 hand spoiled warmbloods without ever once having to throw them on the ground to do it, and this tells me there's no reason on earth you should have to stand on a 14.3 Quarter Horse to establish yourself as his boss. I think it's seen as some kind of shortcut to dominance. I see it as a shortcut to a vet call and mental issues about ropes.

So what do you think? What is the silliest thing you've been advised to do with your horse to cure a training problem? Or, have you had what sounds like a silly thing work?

Trainers none of us will be using:



Monday, March 23, 2009

Bad parents...just as prevalent as fugly horses!

Yes, every single day, there's stuff like this in my in-box. This is a two year old Appaloosa colt, and when I first clicked on the link, I thought "what's wrong? That's actually a pretty nice little guy for $600."

And then I scrolled down to see the additional pictures and found this.

I do understand that there's kind of this existing chasm between the English world, where kids learn to ride decked out in helmets with rubber-banded safety stirrups in an arena, and the Western/ranching world, where kids who don't yet know their ABCs are out there "mutton busting." But even the little mutton busters are wearing helmets and sometimes chest protectors these days! Common sense really has come to be more important than "looking cool" for most parents.

But not in Internet sale ads, where priority one is "showing how unbelievably quiet our two year old stud colt is" and "safety of the children" is way down the list. Nope, we can't show how quiet our two year old is by some sensible method like uploading a video showing that he stands tied, can be hosed off, loads in the trailer, picks up his feet, longes or long lines, etc. We have to use our children as props. Let's think about the reason this picture was used. "Our colt is SO QUIET that he DIDN'T jump to his feet, dump the kids off and run over them." So we were willing to risk that, apparently? (Well, at least he didn't do that while they were snapping the picture!)

I won't out my friend who did this, ha ha, but recently an adult friend of mine with a stunningly high IQ and plenty of higher education got the idea to sit on her mare like this while she was lying down in the pasture. ;-) She had apparently done this numerous times, just being silly and the mare had continue to lie there and ignore her. Well, on this particularly occasion her luck ran out. The mare lurched to her feet and headed for the barn at Mach 10. My friend bailed, landing in the sloppy mud near the gate. No one was hurt, except possibly the upholstery of my friend's car since she had to drive home from the barn looking and smelling like the Swamp Thing. Her kids were where kids belong, standing at the fence laughing at their mother.

Moral of the story: If you're an adult and you want to do something dumb that you darn well know may result in an unplanned mud bath, hey, go for it. Have someone video, you may be able to sell it! But as a parent, it's never acceptable to put your kids in harm's way and certainly not just to create marketing materials for your $600 colt. Do you guys not read the news? If Natasha Richardson could bump her head hard enough falling off her skis to die, I am quite sure one little hoof can cause that much damage. There are better ways to prove to the world that your two year old is quiet.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

And now for some untraining tips!

A Parelli thread on COTH made me think about a bigger issue...do you love how your horse was trained before he/she came to you? Or is there something your horse was trained to do that you just wish you could erase from his little horsey brain? Have you succeeded?

My peeve is always turning in to face me on the longe line. I
hate that. I want horses to stop on the circle, facing in the direction they were going. Anything that has had any kind of NH training spins to face you on the halt, and half of them try to come into the circle and crawl into your lap. I think you can fix this with long lines but it's just a hard thing to un-do once the horse thinks it is the right way to do things.

Another really hard thing to fix is when the horse has learned to travel behind the vertical. Once they learn that - particularly if they learn to do it as resistance while their body goes wherever it wants - it is a real challenge to change that behavior.

So what did your horse do when you got him that you've been busy trying to un-do? I'm not talking about spoiled habits from lack of training. I'm talking about things some other rider specifically taught him to do that you don't like at all!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

But I can't leave him, I'm pregnant!

Read it before it gets deleted. Here we have Katie from Tennessee and I am guessing that is her Horse Abuser Boyfriend with her. I must give the denizens of HorseCity some credit - they are NOT letting her slide with her multitude of excuses about how hard her boyfriend works and how she's pregnant and blah blah...

I do think it's difficult to find a man whose standard of horse care is compatible with yours. This is, of course, the extreme example but I know a lot of women who don't quite trust their husband with the horses. Of course, I've also seen the reverse, where the husband is much better about ensuring the horses are cared for than the wife. As with child-rearing, I guess it works if one person is conscientious and always there to pick up any dropped balls. I was with a guy for years whose horse care was definitely sub-standard before I got involved. They weren't starving but hoof care and deworming and things like that were definitely not up to par. They were living in tie stalls which I quickly put a stop to. We bickered a lot at first since, you know, this is how his family had done things since the dawn of time (as I've said before, you can do something for thirty years and still suck at it) and then he realized it was easier to just let me do what I wanted with the horses. (It's like horse training - make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard, ha ha!). But this girl isn't even living with the father of her future child. She abandoned her mare with a guy that (you can't tell me she didn't know this) is careless about care, and she didn't check on her. Who does that?

I hope the mare makes it. And I hope this girl has at least learned the lesson that if she is going to stay in this relationship, animal care is HER job. And I wouldn't trust Mr. Notices Nothing with the baby, either. He'll be the dude who forgets the baby is in the back of the car!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Welcome to the HASScienda!

Running a well-organized 501(c)(3) rescue is hard. Not only do you need to have the horse handling skills to rehab horses and increase their training, but you also need to have the business skills to organize fundraising events and create a stream of income that reliably covers expenses. Part of that income stream is composed of adoption fees when animals find a home.

Unfortunately, we have people out there swerving their responsibility to train and adopt out by claiming they are a "sanctuary." You see, their poor traumatized animals could not possibly be well cared for by anybody but them! They have to keep them and you have to give them money so that they can. I recently heard about a classic example of Sanctuary Syndrome when the following e-mail made its way into my in-box:

"Hacienda de los Milagros is out of food for the 200 burros and horses. They did not eat for over a day..Please consider a donation to help feed these animals."

That statement doesn't make me think "send a donation." That statement makes me think, call animal control and get the animals confiscated from the place that has no food for them! (Admittedly, animal control is going to be as excited about taking in 200 burros and horses as I would be about a new part-time job cleaning frat houses...) Look at the
list of animals. Yeesh. (And why are so many "born here?" Please tell me these were pregnant animals you adopted and you aren't allowing them to breed. I am scared given the numbers of intact jacks. Why is anything intact?) HDLM claims their operating costs are $33,000 a month.

OK, everybody. Who the hell saddles themselves with something that
costs $33,000 a month and produces zero reliable income? What kills me is that the guy running this is a former business consultant with a law degree. Buddy, did you not ever shake out the numbers here before the day when, shazam, you couldn't buy hay and the animals went without food??? I know folks working at the gas station who have better long-term planning than that.

They are not adopting out so they receive no adoption fees:

"We do not adopt or sell. Most of our resident burros have been removed from the wild against their wishes (FHOTD in: What, did they tell you that while you were counseling them for their separation anxiety from their fellow wild burros?), and we do not believe they should be moved yet again. They are the ultimate herd/family animal. Some of the burros and most of the horses have physical conditions which would limit their use for riding, etc. And, most important of all, we believe that adopting/placing perpetuates the feeling that non-human animals are property. They are not."

OK, if you don't believe they are property - an opinion I share in theory although I recognize it's not how it works legally - then don't you see yourselves as guardians? If you DO see yourselves as guardians, isn't it your responsibility to adopt them out if you cannot care for them? Ding, ding, when they are going without food, it's time. If Suzy Smith is paying to feed Buster Burro, why should he live with you and not with Suzy? Wouldn't you agree that it is in the best interests of Mr. Burro to be with Suzy, who can buy his hay? If he's not property, why does he have to live with you?

They have had some fundraisers and have done some mailings, but again, this is an operating budget that resembles that of a rock group on tour, except that you don't earn royalties on burros. It's a mind-boggling amount of money. And it's a good example of a bigger issue. If you're keeping it forever, why should anybody other than you pay for it? Doesn't that make it your animal and not a rescue? I guess I just don't buy/understand the whole "sanctuary" concept. I have ex-rescues out there that are perfectly happy in new homes. They didn't need to stay with me to stay safe and loved and well cared for. A news article tells me that Mr. Zaugg is an attorney - surely he can draft a solid contract to ensure that he can repo an animal if a placement does not work out.

I recently saw another e-mail from a different rescuer who'd been foreclosed out of her home. She explained her financial troubles by stating that "not saving horses from slaughter was not an option." Uh, priorities? When you are about to be homeless, try saving yourself and your family and let someone else save horses from slaughter. Believe me, you are not the only person on earth who can do it. You can return to doing it when you are back on your financial feet. In the meantime, you can volunteer for another rescue and help horses that way, without being financially responsible for them yourself.

So, back to the Hacienda. One of my readers sent them an e-mail suggesting they please change their adoption policies because the animals being upset a day or so is not as bad as going hungry for who knows how long.
Sounds logical, right?

Mr. Zaugg's reply:

"thanks for your input, and I really wish you could be here to see their condition and how they live. I don't know what someone sent to you, and if you would share it with me, I can see if it is accurate or not. We've been doing this for going on 19 years, and twice in the last 2 years, the ONLY times, we've had a hiccup."


And it's not the first time. From last March: "The 131 burros and 39 horses at Hacienda de los Milagros Sanctuary in Chino Valley, Arizona did not eat last night. Due to a temporary funding crisis, there is no food."

I'm too tired to count that list, but if this already happened once and he now has EVEN MORE animals than the LAST time he was in trouble, then I think that says it all.

No, I'm not going to forget a Friday Featured Rescue! I got an alert this morning about a Thoroughbred gelding at Lone Star Park that needs a home ASAP. They don't have a pic but here is the description:

"Fearless Anthony is an 8-year-old @16.1H dark bay thoroughbred gelding. Anthony is a favorite at his race barn. His trainer says he has a happy, friendly personality -- Anthony always finds a way to enjoy the day. Loves people! Anthony is also tall, dark and very handsome. He fractured a sesamoid about 90 days ago (has been in stall rest). The trainer is checking with her vet, but thinks Anthony may be ready for some turnout time in a small round pen. With some more healing time, his prognosis is good to be a riding horse (pleasure/trail/flat work). Anthony has the kind of personality and heart that is hard to forget. His trainer is anxious to find him a home that will love him like she does. Anthony would be free to a good home only. (Photo unavailable)

Fearless Anthony is located at Lone Star Park (in Grand Prairie, near Dallas). Please contact Jennifer at 972-814-6384 if you can give Anthony a good home."

FHOTD in: 8 years old and was still running - this guy has done his time. He deserves that great home to put him on track for his second career!

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Happy Friday!

Yeah, I'm too busy to blog this morning. So just hold your horses and think about how happy you are that it's FRIDAY!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Craigslist stallion extravaganza!

Ah yes, still plenty of folks like our friend last night who have their heads in the sand about overbreeding and the economy...here's a sampling of Craigslist stallions for your, um, consideration!

Beauty - always in the eye of the beholder. (pictured at left)

But I really need money for college, so breed to my stallion. Maybe in college, they will teach her how to spell her horse's breed!

And we've been riding him since the day he turned two! Hony-sized spotted stallion, "out of" two horses (Studley Has Two Mommies?)

Sattle Broke Stud. Damned if I can tell what it is. Mustang, maybe?

WTF - are you writing a personal ad? Amorous rendezvous? Is he gonna buy the mare flowers first? I think this is a cute horse but why are we whoring him out for $100? Do you think THAT will lead to improving your breed?

Bucksin Stallion - comes complete with herd of small children. No mention of HERDA status and primary accomplishment seems to be siring color out of a breeding stock mare once.

Very well-manured Spotted Draft Stud

Here you go. Buy your own stud for just $500! (pictured at left)

Do you suppose if they sell some breedings, they will be able to afford to feed him better?

The back view shot is not your friend.

Bloodlines date back nearly 200 years! (And whose do not?)

Well, he's dog broke and homozygous - what more do you want?

And amid that, plenty of decent stallions with "reduced stud fees due to the economy." The economy shouldn't make you reduce your stud fees - it should make you either hold steady in the hopes that only those who are financially stable will breed their mare, or (even better) announce that your stallion is taking a year off or his book will be limited due to the economy. That's an ad I'd like to see!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Observe the train wreck in progress!

I feel a migraine coming on. In case it gets deleted:

Post #1: "My mare (shown at left) is in the pasture with her father. I don't know much about breeding, but would it affect the colt? Or does he know hes related, which i highly doubt. If it does affect the colt how? They are both extremly quiet."

Second Post (after numerous people point out everything that is wrong with the original post) "Ok thanks for all the rude post to all who posted rudly. I asked a simple question. First of all i only own one horse and the rest are my boyfriends gradfathers. You wouldnt even know his horse wasn't gelded. You can sit there and tug on his tail in the pasture and he just stands there he is the quietest stud i have ever seen. No word of a lie when he does get on a mare the owner can tell him to get down and he will. Might be hard to believe but its true. And second I'm not looking to breed my mare by him she is just in the pasture with him. I don't see why everyone is throwing this big fit like it is against the law and it is the "wrong" thing to do. I'm not looking to breed her and if she was bred i wouldn't be keeping the foal. I just wanted to know what were the pro's and con's and what would be the turn out results of my mare and foal"

Well, xxdukesxx, this is why everybody's throwing a fit "like it is against the law." Let me spell this out for you.

1. OF COURSE a stallion will breed his own daughter. HORSES ARE ANIMALS! They'll even mate with mares they're not married to. Shocking, I know.

2. EVERY backyard breeder's stallion (the one in question shown at left) is "the quietest stallion ever!" You think yours is special but he's not. It's actually much more common for a stallion to be well behaved than a rank POS. In all of these years, I believe I have encountered 5 or 6 "bad" stallions and most of those were not getting enough turn out or had been mishandled or abused.

3. PLENTY of quiet horses go to slaughter EVERY DAMN DAY! We have a serious horse overpopulation problem and here you are, letting another horse happen - a horse no one wants, not even YOU.

4. "And second I'm not looking to breed my mare by him she is just in the pasture with him." AND YOU THINK IT WON'T OCCUR TO HIM ON HIS OWN? (And you have a boyfriend? Uh-oh...)

5. "I'm not looking to breed her and if she was bred i wouldn't be keeping the foal." EVEN BETTER! So you admit you're going to dump the inevitable inbred piece-of-crap foal on someone else.

6. A little research of her other posts reveals that Gramps' stallion is not a Paint but MIGHT be a Pinto (translation: He's spotted and we don't know anything else about him) and that her mare is a grade two year old filly!
Hey, maybe "xxdukesxx" is a minor (you can never tell - plenty of 25 year olds spell just as poorly as she does and the pictures are inconclusive) but what's wrong with the "gradfather?" You know, Gramps, by your age, you ought to have mastered how reproduction works. SHAME ON YOU for allowing this situation to happen!

Multiply this post by thousands and now you know why we the supply of low end horses so far exceeds the demand for these horses, and the poor horses, who never asked to be born, are the ones who suffer. *sigh* I still say that putting a $50 licensing fee on every foal born would really help. Let the local municipalities make some money on it - they'll be eager to enforce it when it means cash (look at how they run around fining people for silly things like building a shed in the backyard without a permit - don't tell me it wouldn't be enforced. When money's involved, government gets the job done!). This wouldn't hurt the breeder with a $2500 foal but it might make the producers of accidental $50 foals like the one being created here think twice about investing in some cross-fencing!

I don't think wallet therapy for BYB's was what the IRS had in mind!

Here's a new one. Now we have a non-profit therapeutic riding center that is not only breeding horses, but wants sponsors to support those horses until they are riding age! As I often say, I do not make this stuff up.

"We are CannonRidge, a non-profit, 501c3 org, providing therapeutic riding. We are currently looking for adoptive parents that will nurture and love foals, through three year old horses. Adoption fees range from $100.00 a month, as an adoption monthy fee, or $1000.00 and up to adopt them permanently. The horses are Stonewall and Knabstruppers. They have draft in them, so very versitile and stocky enough for all sizes. Others avail. Inquire for pictures and adoption fees."

From her web site: "
Max is used to increase our funding for the center, by breeding our mares. When the mares give birth, we imprint the foals and then most are adopted. The money then goes back to the center to pay for the many expenses of running a center." Well, I'm guessing adoptions are down and now you want someone else to feed all of these foals you have thoughtlessly produced!

I have to admit, Linda, this is a new twist - a rather artful blending of backyard breeding of "Sport Horses of Color" (aka fugly spotted grade things) and misusing the 501(c)(3) for your own ends. Tell me, when you applied for that, did you note that you'd be conducting a breeding program and expecting to use donations to fund that breeding program? Just guessing that wouldn't have gotten through approvals...

She even seems to be stumping for food for her stallion! Check out his page - at the bottom she notes "$50 pays for one month of feed" and provides a paypal link. You have GOT to be kidding, lady. Of course she thinks he's breeding quality, even though his show record seems to consist of placing dead last in two introductory dressage classes. And those foals you are supporting if you are dumb enough to sign on to sponsor? She's selling them for $2500 and up. But hey, they're imprinted and Parelli trained! *headdesk*

How do these people continue to get away with their crap? I can never get over it...

Regarding the toddler-kicked-in-face incident - this is why I scream every time I see a toddler running loose in the weanling pasture on someone's web site. This stuff happens! Toddlers are, unfortunately, located right at the perfect height to get kicked in the face. And they're prone to acting their age and doing things like running up to "hug" the horse's leg or grabbing the tail. Please keep them out of the line of fire!

On a related note, it's bad enough when they do this at the pony rides, but at least at the pony rides, the pony is typically in a very small area and restrained. This child is seat-belted to an annoyed looking pony in an area plenty large enough for said pony to really get up some steam. Helmetless, of course. What always gets me is how many parents think that certain horses/ponies are just "good" and wouldn't do something bad to a child. Yes, certain horses/ponies are more tolerant, and certain horses/ponies are naturally lazy and less likely to do something sudden, but when it all shakes out - it is a prey animal and if something scares it, it will behave like one.

I'm not opposed to a competent teenager riding a stallion, but this 12 year old just isn't ready. She's not that solid and I'm way too distracted worrying about her riding a 4 year old, 16.3 stallion in an open area to look at the horse. Again, just more silly theatrics to sell a cute but unaccomplished horse. By the way, should the stud fee really be $2000 on something you can buy for $2500? And why are we zooming in on the kid's face in the video? It's a sale video for the horse, right? Try to remember what you are marketing here.

Regarding the narrowly-rescued Jazzercise, aka Nic, aka Miles, he's a star! Check out his story in the news.

Regarding yesterday's post - I got an e-mail that North Dakota is already trying to encourage showing of their OTTBs with an incentive program and cash prizes. Great idea, ND!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Horse Racing - Heading for the finish line?

Before I begin, I want to note that I'm far from an expert about the world of horse racing. My involvement with racehorses has been after the track - letting them down, fixing what's broken and retraining them for their second careers. So if you are an "insider," I am particularly interested in hearing your take on all of this.

Joe at TB Friends was talking about how the racing industry is clearly tanking today. Well, it'd be hard to argue with that. A lot of tracks have closed or are rumored to be closing. The racing industry got a lot of bad publicity with the high profile Barbaro and Eight Belles breakdowns, and I think that has contributed to poor turnout at races - although even more important is the fact that the economy flat-out sucks and fewer people have money to risk betting on a horse race.

Given that these conditions exist, and are unlikely to change anytime soon, what is the future of Thoroughbreds and racing?
Prices are down at the Thoroughbred auctions, though you will still see prices far higher than the average private horse sale. But what are these prices supported by? I've always thought it was a crazy industry, where you can buy a $500,000 yearling and two years later he's proven he can't win a race and you wind up selling him for $500 if you're lucky. Then there's race training, which to my understanding is incredibly expensive. I hear people whine all the time about how it just doesn't make sense for them to put $2000 of regular training into a horse to get it broke to sell when it won't even sell for that much. Well, isn't racing the same way? I don't know what the average cost of training is right now, but I remember years ago being told it was about $80 a day. Holy crap. That's a lot of money to gamble on a horse who - odds are - is never going to make your money back.

I assume - again, I'm no expert here - that all the losses are written off and that in the end, this is a lovely tax break for wealthy individuals who need to lose money somewhere and that's how the system survives. I am curious what the "break even point" is - how much does a horse have to win to break even on what you've paid buying and training him? (And yes, obviously it also depends on how long it takes to make that money)

But I also - just because I'm the suspicious sort - have to wonder if there isn't an element of fraud involved in some of these high-dollar sales. Some of you remember the Arabian horse market of the early-mid 1980s, when horses sold for a million bucks but, well, there were ten other horses and a beach condo in Maui discreetly thrown in on the deal. When that crashed, it crashed hard and a lot of people lost a lot of money - not to mention the horses who fell upon equally hard times. Does that go on in today's Thoroughbred world? Given how completely unpredictable racing performance is, how IS it that yearlings sell for six figures?

So let's assume Joe has a point and racing is tanking. I love Thoroughbreds. They're ultimately my favorite breed. They are unique in that they are a "major" breed that lacks one thing that ALL of the other major breeds have...a breed-specific show system. This has annoyed me for years. Sure, lots of Thoroughbreds compete in hunter/jumper and dressage competitions where breed is irrelevant but in recent years they have fallen out of fashion. Warmbloods are what's trendy now, and I read diatribes from competitors who claim no one will take them seriously on an OTTB. (Sure, some are just whiners whose horse isn't that great, but I also think there's something to their complaints)

I do think Thoroughbreds need their own show circuit. Let's start out with the fact that Thoroughbreds need halter classes! They really do. We pretty much ALL agree we're seeing a lot of track breakdowns related to crappy conformation - so in my never-humble-opinion, we need halter classes that reward excellent conformation. We need a Thoroughbred breed ideal that includes good bone and straight legs and a decent hip.

I'd also like to see performance classes where the Thoroughbreds go up against other Thoroughbreds - and only other Thoroughbreds. Just as Quarter Horses, Appies, or any other major breed you can name have the option of going up against just their own kind.
The breed show circuits create value which protects the horse. They provide a way to make a horse more valuable and appealing to buyers. They create a way for owners to show off their horses, win prizes and sometimes even win money. They offer fun youth programs which help get young riders hooked on showing that breed - the customers of tomorrow. If racing is tanking - and it may well be - we need to create an alternative purpose to breed Thoroughbreds - and to breed good Thoroughbreds. Now would be a very good time to try to start a serious Thoroughbred breed show association.

So what do you think? Do you think horse racing is on its way out, or do you think it will rebound? Do you think you know what it would take for it to rebound? Do you think we need to create an alternative competitive circuit for Thoroughbreds or do you think it's fine that they continue to compete mostly at AHSA all-breed events? What do you think is the best course of action to ensure that a hundred years from now, people are still breeding quality Thoroughbreds for riders to enjoy?

Pictured is a blast from the past - an older Thoroughbred named By George I'm Late. I don't know how he did on the track but a couple of my lesson kids bought him a long time ago and they just loved him to death. He was one of the lucky ones.

Monday, March 16, 2009

And this is why people are scared to donate horses

So I've gotten a million e-mails about how Virginia Polytechnic is auctioning off some poor 18 year old Arabian gelding on GovDeals.com. He's up to $190 right now so hopefully he'll be out of the price range of Mr. Kill Buyer by the time the auction closes in 8 hours, but I don't blame people for being annoyed.

The horse's name is EZ Season Ticket and they are selling him as sound. Apparently they have been using him for some kind of nutritional research and now they are done with him.

I've worked at a post-secondary school and have some idea about how they run. There is a procedure for everything, clearly written down in manuals and reviewed with the lawyers. Is it really that hard to come up with a procedure like a rescue uses to find a home for a horse, complete with screening and a site visit? It's not tough to find this information online - I've made sure of that. As have others. Why do we continually see these horses dumped via means that make it impossible to check if the home is appropriate?

Apparently someone named Sheri Devouassoux competed him. I found a way to contact her in about 30 seconds, but I see from COTH that someone is already doing that - but hey, the auction ends in 8 hours. I'd like to see the other owners contacted and certainly the breeder if they are still around.

(Really, is anybody here going to be annoyed if you get a phone call asking you if you'd like to help a former horse? I'd be delighted, because even if I wasn't in a position to help, that phone call would give me the opportunity to get involved and try to find someone who could.)

If you know enough about horses to do research on them, shouldn't you be equally responsible for knowing enough about them to find them a good home when the research is over? Isn't that part of responsible science? If you want to look like you're a moral step above those lovely cosmetics companies that spray crap into animals' eyes and kill them when they're done with them (google "Draize tests" at your own risk), you'd better sit down and write up a more enlightened policy for rehoming your research animals.

P.S. Just remember - read your contract. NEVER assume that any school, program, etc. is taking your horse "forever." It is up to YOU to read the contract and write in a provision that the horse must be returned to you if no longer needed - and then YOU need to follow up regularly and ensure your horse is still there and doing well, because if people reliably read and referred to the contracts they sign, there would not be so many lawsuits!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Razzies of Riding!

OK, I've meant to do this blog post for a long time!

How often do you see horseback riding on television or in the movies that just makes you cringe and even change the channel? It happens to me all the time, and it sticks in my head so strongly that I still remember the offenders years later.

Rachel Ward in "The Thorn Birds." For god's sake, take some lessons or get a stand-in. That poor horse's kidneys. Richard Chamberlain, OTOH, seemed to know what he was doing. He must have horses or at least ride IRL.

Those god-awful maxi pad commercials with the model galloping down the beach
slamming repeatedly on the horse's back. I remember an interview with Mary Crosby (Kristin on "Dallas") where she referenced these commercials and shared her horror at what the poor horses had to go through. I always liked her after that!

Remember the "Young Guns" TV Series? I couldn't even watch the opening credits. Ack! Those poor horses! Bounce, bounce, high hands, elbows everywhere, yank, crank. Horrid!

Lately, we've seen some stellar examples on reality TV. Anybody watching the Real Housewives of NYC? The Countess's kid is a good rider but that Kelly girl? She gets left behind, nails the poor horse in the mouth and then is surprised and disgruntled when it stops and she flies effortlessly over its shoulder. I don't know who her trainer is (we only saw a back view) but you need to take her stirrups away and work on her base of support or she's going to get hurt a lot worse than she is already whining about. I can't find the Hampton Classic video where she goes ass-over-teakettle, but I found another video of her showing off her loose, swinging lower leg. Kelly whines in the episode about how "the horse threw me." OK, seriously, who here says that? We all say we fell off. We know where the blame belongs! Course I'm guessing Kelly is quite the blame-thrower, given that she got arrested this week for beating up her boyfriend. God only knows what she does to that poor horse behind the barn! Gotta say, there was a lot better riding on the RHW of Orange County - there's one little squirt on that show who is just a lovely little rider.

Reality TV also brought us the famous "Paris Hilton falls off a Horse" video. I love this, mostly because on the show, Paris was bragging about how she "rides all the time" and not listening to the guy who owns the horse. And then she screams like a fool when the horse starts bucking. She got exactly what she deserved here. As the owner said "He's a good horse but how would you feel if someone was bouncing on your back?" Exactly. That's why there are riding lessons.

Then there's Katie Price/aka "Jordan." I know there's a huge temptation to laugh hysterically at a huge-boobed glamour model taking up dressage, but from what I can see, Katie's riding doesn't suck. She clearly is working hard and taking it seriously. Do I think she'll make the 2012 Olympics? No, but I think I'd rather be her horse than Kelly Bensimon's. Assuming she didn't dress me up in her line of horsewear.

The thing I can never understand is why, when there's a role that involves riding, they don't simply hire someone who already rides. Hollywood is full of people who are very competent equestrians. Gisele Bundchen rides jumpers. Christie Brinkley has cutting horses. Stefanie Powers plays polo. I hear that, despite the inevitable Star Trek jokes, William Shatner is actually a very good rider. So is Wendie Malick (who gets brownie points from me for being an anti-slaughter activist.) Same thing with Bo Derek - good rider and involved in anti-slaughter. Robert Duvall, William Devane, Tommy Lee Jones and Kelsey Grammar are all accomplished riders. Millions of people ride horses - when you put someone on film sucking at it, someone is going to notice!

So tell me - what television shows and movies have just made you cringe in terms of the riding (or general horse handling)?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Winter's almost over! Dust off those horses - and yourself!

I don't know about where you are, but here in Seattle we're actually seeing some sunshine and dry ground. From a rescue perspective, the grass is starting to grow and the # of "dumps" should decrease as horses become cheap to keep again...let's all breathe a collective sigh of relief!

So it's time to get out there and do something with those shaggy horses, and it's also a good time to do something to help out horse rescues. Sometimes you can do both at once! Here are some examples of what's going on in different areas - feel free to post more to the comments.

I got an e-mail about a rescue in British Columbia that's putting on what sounds like a really fun event for rescued horses! Greener Pastures is having a Standardbred Games Day on April 26th in Langley. At 6 classes for $35, it's a fun day that won't break the bank and it supports Standardbred Rescue so if you're in B.C., think about heading out for some fun with your horse!

Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue, another favorite of mine, is having a spring clean-up day on March 21st in Mount Airy, MD. So if you're local, go get some exercise - you know you need it before bathing suit season! - and help a deserving rescue.

For you Seattle area folks, Save a Forgotten Equine is having an art show and silent auction on April 5th in Tacoma.

Texans, check out LOPE's Benefit Horse Show on May 9th in Seguin. It's another budget-friendly competition with classes at just $5 each! Remember, most breed associations have an open show awards program in which you can earn points and compete for year end awards. LOPE got a great turnout last year, so I'm seeing a lot of potential points to be earned! What could be better than showing and supporting a worthy rescue?

Er, never mind - I think I found even better. Wine tasting and supporting a worthy rescue! You can join Days End Horse Rescue on April 9th in Clarksville, MD for an evening of dinner, drinks, and both a live and silent auction. For those of you who, like me, occasionally like to scrape off the layer of barn filth and get dressed up in something cute and look like a girl again, this event sounds like a golden opportunity!

More casual or looking for some exercise? OK, join Mid Atlantic Horse Rescue on May 17th in Chesapeake City, MD for their 5K run/walk and fun dog walk with doggie games.

Moving down to the Southwest, Equine Voices is having a tack sale and silent auction TOMORROW, March 14, in Tucson, AZ. Equine Voices has been in the news this week for their rescue of Solo Vino, a horse who was brutally beaten in the head (scroll down on their main page to see the story). Solo Vino is in the vet hospital awaiting surgery and so far, so good.

NorCal Equine Rescue in Oroville, CA continues to do regular euthanasia and gelding clinics and they can always use your help, whether that is a donation or a pair of hands ready to work. Check out their blog for the stories. It is sad to see the old Cushings mare who clearly had no chance, but how much more horrible would it be to think of her on a slaughter truck? Meanwhile, the cute little Arabian mare was saved thanks to the euth clinic and is available for a new home! Kudos to NorCal for providing a much-needed option for desperate horse owners other than the auction - and kudos to the owners for making the right choice.

For those of you in Colorado, Front Range Equine Rescue is holding an Equine Education Day on May 16 at Latigo Trails Heritage Centre (13710 Halleluliah Trail, Elbert/Black Forest), 9 to 5. They will have vendor booths, guest speakers, demonstrations, used tack sale, food, door prizes and hay give-away. Admission is free so check it out!

Friday Featured Rescue - Mini version! Yes, today's FFR is a little guy, rescued by Jamie Cheslock of Oregon along with many, many of his little friends from a breeder-gone-bad situation.

"Rudy came from a site that had over 30 miniature horses along with several cows, pigs and chickens. All of the animals were emaciated, covered in lice and full of worms. We spent several months working with the owner and the local law enforcement to get the conditions improved but ended up taking 27 of the horses to my rescue and adopting them out. Rudy is one of the last miniatures that hasn’t yet been adopted. He is a very sweet little guy but a little shy. Rudy is a stallion and will need to be castrated; his adoption fee of $200.00 goes directly towards the cost of his surgery which will be done here before he goes to his new home. He has some mild dwarfism characteristics and locking stifles but none of these affects his health or ability to function like a normal little horse. He is looking for someone to take him home and love him for the rest of his life."

Rudy is a little bit west of Portland, Oregon and would love to find a home. E-mail Jamie if you would like to meet Rudy!