Thursday, November 8, 2007

Repost: The FHOTD FAQ

I haven't posted this since August and I know we have a lot of new people here who may have missed it, so here you go again. Slightly edited to add a few more questions.

Just because the same comments keep popping up in the comments and in my e-mail...

Fugly Horse of the Day!

Q. What is the point of this blog?
A. To amuse, to entertain, to educate. Overall, to discourage irresponsible horse breeding, but I do address other topics, typically by popular request. I am always surprised at how many people breed horses using less planning and forethought than they put into planning their kid’s birthday party. They will breed a horse because they like its color or they think it is a nice friendly horse and there’s nothing deeper than that going on. Then they are surprised when the foal doesn’t sell. The complaining starts about the expense of keeping all of the horses. The ads get more and more desperate. Next thing you know, here they come to the horse auction and there go three yearlings on Mr. Kill Buyer’s trailer. But you know, this is so hard for them. They didn’t want to sell the horses this way, they just had no choice. Bullshit. Everything right down the line has been a choice - they’ve just made bad ones and it’s the horses who suffer.
Q. Can I e-mail you?
A. Sure. It’s and I’m usually way behind reading it because I’m getting so much mail so don’t hold your breath on a response.
Q. Can I send you my horse to critique?
A. You can but again, I’m behind and honestly, they are piling up. I would not count on a response on that. There are tons of people equally or more qualified than I am to critique your horse. Take them to a show, go in halter/in hand, and ask the judge for feedback. Or post on the message board.
Q. Are you opposed to horse breeding?
A. Not at all. I fully support the breeding of horses with good conformation, good dispositions and athletic ability by breeders who are knowledgeable horsepeople well-versed in bloodlines, genetic defects, and the proper care of mare and foal including nutrition. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people breeding horses who do not meet these simple standards.\
Q. Are you opposed to racing/rodeo/gaited horses/etc.?
A. No. I am opposed to individuals within EVERY discipline who are cruel, stupid, negligent, abusive, lose their tempers with horses, and who pump out horses without a thought of their eventual futures once they are "done" with them. I am not opposed to any specific horse discipline or industry. I do hold the belief that all 2 year old riding classes and races should be eliminated.
Q. Are you an animal rights or an animal welfare person?
A. Honestly? I'm probably a mix of the two. I'm a vegetarian. I oppose animal testing 100% even if it saves human lives. I think we should test things on convicted murderers and child molesters instead - they are biologically human and they have done something to deserve being tortured. A bunny has not. However, I am also a realist - Idon't think I can make the whole world vegetarian, so I am a fan of more humane farming such as the slaughter methods proposed by Temple Grandin. I don't think riding is abusive per se, but I think some people's riding is abusive. (I.E. Sonny the horse video). No, I don't think I'm perfect or have every detail worked out in my mind - I don't think anybody does. I still have leather shoes. I love my Prada loafers and I figure the critter originally inside them was doomed to be a hamburger whether or not I bought them used on e-bay years after his death. This may make me a big hypocrite in your opinion, I accept that. I could never go to the "pure" animal rights view that horses should be left alone in nature becase I couldn't stand the thought of horses not having their feet trimmed or being cold or being eaten by a mountain lion, and let's be honest, if horses could talk, I'm pretty sure my horses wouldn't choose that kind of "freedom" and neither would most horses. My horses have a pretty cushy deal and so do most horses. I spotlight a lot of the worst of the worst on this blog, but my guess is at least 95% of my readers are taking pretty good care of their horses. The food shows up daily, the feet get done, the carrots appear. Horse ownership does not suck for horses in general. It is just like parents. Most kids have good, if imperfect, parents. A small portion of kids have godawful child abuser/molester parents and a small portion of horses have godawful starving/neglectful/abusive owners.
Q. Why are you so mean?
A. Being snarky is funny to many people and has made many comedians rich. If you think I’m mean, turn on a Sarah Silverman special sometime. (I love her, by the way) I’m not making money here, but the snark does keep people’s attention more than a boring daily lecture on conformation. If it upsets you to read, you might note that you are not in any way required to visit the blog. Look next to your head – no gun.
Q. Why do you make fun of fugly geldings if the point is to criticize breeding?
A. I make fun of fugly geldings because someone bred them. I give kudos to the person who recognized they should be gelded and carried that out.
Q. I think it’s wrong that you take pictures of people’s horses.
A. I think it’s wrong that those horses exist.
Q. What should people do with fugly horses? Do you want them sent to slaughter or something?
A. Of course not. I am 100% anti-slaughter and I’ve worked with many victims of abuse and neglect, both small and large animals. Fugly horses deserve a good life and proper care every bit as much as quality horses. They simply should not, under any circumstances, reproduce.
Q. If we only bred really good horses, people who don’t have a lot of money would never be able to afford horses.
A. Biggest load of bull crap I’ve ever heard. Even the best breeders have enough culls to keep every Pony Club and 4-H and trail rider in horses forever. Look at Secretariat. Great racehorse, gorgeous, indisputably breeding quality, but he sired a whole lot of mediocre horses. Nice minds, at least the ones I’ve met, but a lot of Secretariat grandget and great-grandget are nothing special. You can breed wonderful horses to wonderful horses and still produce a fair share of mediocre horses that will have to be sold for substantially less money. Not to mention all of the fabulous horses that suffer an injury and need to retire to a lighter use home. There will never be an actual shortage of affordable horses.
Q. You're a snob! I love my unregistered TWH-Arab-Appy mix!
A. And I'm glad he met you! But overall, in the great, grand scheme of things, he had a lot better chance of winding up as a steak than a 16.2 hh AQHA son of Sky Blue Walker, or a pure Polish Arabian mare who can win halter at the breed shows, or a big Hanoverian who can jump the moon. Higher value horses usually, NOT ALWAYS, but USUALLY, are safer from the worst fates - the backyard idiot home (featured yesterday!) or the slaughterhouse - than low value horses. That is why I am opposed to the deliberate breeding of low value horses.
Q. You’re wrong about just the fugly horses going to slaughter. We rescued Blah Blah Racehorse who won 8 zillion dollars on the track from New Holland!
A. There is an exception to every rule. Yes, some excellent horses take a wrong turn in life. But every time I go to an auction that has killer buyers at it, I see that the vast majority of horses going to his trailer are really horrid looking young stock (3 and under, typically barely halter broke, often without papers) or horses 15+ years old who are totally broken down and crippled, often as a result of having conformation that predisposed them to conditions like navicular disease. People like to talk about the rare “celebrity” rescue horses because it results in more attention from the public and more donations for the rescue. I’m not begrudging the rescues this – it’s a good fundraising tactic. Still, it doesn’t mean that your typical horse heading off to become a steak is a stakes winner. Most of them are sad little horses who have had sad little lives full of poor care, irresponsible ownership, and in some cases, serious physical deformities.
Q. I’d like to see a picture of you! You’re probably fugly!
A. And I’ll put that up just as soon as I start criticizing how human beings look (P.S. Not counting fashion sense. If you put a picture of yourself on the web with a mullet and one of those straw hats that you won at the county fair with feathers in it and call yourself a real cowboy, it is OPEN SEASON.) If you want to criticize horses I’ve owned or own, I already did that – July 4, 2007 and August 31, 2007. Much of what I own is fugly. Nothing I own is pregnant.
Q. You just don’t like my breed!
A. I try to balance pictures of horses I don’t like with horses I do like of the same breed. And just because I don’t personally care for a breed doesn’t mean I don’t know what a good one looks like. If it’s a breed I truly do not know anything about – I don’t critique it unless it’s got some really obvious flaw that would be a problem in anything that whinnies.
Q. Who the hell are you that you think you can judge everybody?
A. I’m just another citizen of the Land of the Free, where we are all free to judge anybody we like. You can start your own blog and criticize me, if you’d like. Blogger is free to use and simple to set up! And yeah, I know I suck about formatting posts...I just haven't had time to figure out why the HTML on this thing is so wacky.
Q. You’re not very Christian!
A. You’re right.
Q. You’re just some amateur with a bad attitude!
A. In this context, I’m just another horseperson with an opinion. If you disagree, feel free to comment. I am not blocking anybody from commenting, nor do I delete comments (unless of course you post the same thing 1700 times and are just ridiculous).
Q. I figured out who you are!
A. Yes, that's old news. A mini horse person figured it out in August. Unfortunately, there was no cash prize for doing so. So sorry.
Q. It’s not fair to criticize so-and-so for sending their horse to auction. Not everybody is rich like I am sure YOU are, they had no choice!
A. I’m not rich but I do have enough money management skills to ensure that I don’t have to send horses to auction, because, shazam, fall came and what do you know, hay costs money! Sure, hay has gone up. Gasoline has gone up too, do you use that as an excuse not to go to work?
Q. How would you feel if a horse didn’t get sold as a result of your blog!
A. Ha ha, first of all I’m not so egotistical as to think the whole equestrian world reads my blog and takes it as gospel – but I’m flattered you think I have that kind of power. Second of all, if someone walks away from a horse featured here and instead rewards a breeder who has done their homework and bred a higher quality horse? I’m thrilled.
Q. How dare you say that about my horse? I’m going to sue you!
A. Whatever floats your boat. You may wish to speak to an attorney about whether or not you have a case. Two key concepts – “Fair use” and the fact that you have the right to respond to your heart's content in the same public forum. As I said, I do not censor comments. Come on over and call me every name in the book and defend the honor of your Andafriesanwalker if it makes you happy.

Q. You're making money selling Fugly Horse Swag! That's not right!

A. No, CafePress is making money selling Fugly Horse Swag. I marked everything up a dollar or less and so far have made a total of seventeen dollars. I am hoping to buy some dewormer for one of my rescues when I get up to $25 and they have to send me a check. If it makes you feel better, I will scan the receipt when I do so.
Q. If you're anti-slaughter, what do you propose we do with all of these unwanted horses?
A. Euthanize them. I'm ok with chemical euthanasia or a well placed bullet to the head. Perhaps the reality of that will encourage people to think twice about breeding, much as the reality of the dogs and cats dying in shelters HAS caused more and more people to spay/neuter their pet quality dogs and cats.
Q. I don't like your friends!
A. Well, I might have a thing or two to say about yours. It's the nature of the horse business. Every one of you who has done this for a while has your share of enemies...the green rider who bought a green horse from you and tried to train it themselves and got hurt, the person who declined the opportunity to vet check and is now screaming you sold them a lame horse, the kid you kicked out of lessons because she was losing her temper with your horses or her parents were totally unreasonable, or the pissed off mare owner you turned down because you actually have standards for what your stallion breeds. Someone just sent me a link to a lawsuit where someone bought a horse online, didn't try it out and now is suing because it's not quiet. (And what is the legal standard for quiet? That should be interesting!) For example, I will not be surprised if one day Angry 4-H Father finds this blog. Many years ago, I sold Angry 4-H Father a Thoroughbred gelding for his kid. The horse was very well behaved at the time. I told him in no uncertain terms to give the horse free choice hay and no grain. Of course, A4HF ignored me and grained the horse to the gills the second it was in his possession - whereupon it started bucking at horse shows. I am sure that to this day, Angry 4-H Father remembers me as a Sleazy Awful Dishonest Horse Dealer...and no doubt one day he will show up here and share that opinion with the world. Ah well. I've chosen to stand in the kitchen and I know that probably everybody who has had a disagreement with me in the horse world will pop up here eventually and light a fire. That's okay.
Finally, to the lady who asserted that I was to blame for the entire world becoming more looks-ist or something, you are working too hard on your thesis. Step away from the computer. Go get a beer. You’ll feel better.