Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Would you abandon your child at the babysitter's, too?

Posted to the comments of my last entry and definite food for thought:

"If you had a horse in training with Ferdinand (Fernando) Santana in the Branson/Trinidad Colorado area contact the Trinidad Brand Inspector immediately (Dennis Williams 719-680-2426). They are looking for the owners of over 30 head of horses seized from Mr. Santana in July due to neglect. UNCLAIMED HORSES WILL BE SENT TO AUCTION!

Most of the horses are severly underweight due to lack of food & water. Almost of these are client horses and Mr. Santana is refusing to reveal who the owners are. Mr. Santana is also being evasive about returning phone calls to owners.

I don't know if they are doing any adoptions/rescues. They are looking for the owners. This is all I really know. I found out because my friend's horse is there and I'm helping get the mare back. Questions can be directed to the Las Animas County Sheriff's Office in Trinidad, CO. (Sorry, don't have the number... you can probably Google it).I just wanted to get the word out so other people don't have their horses sold out from under them because no-one knows who they belong to."

News article

From KSPK: The Las Animas County Sheriff’s Department rescued about 30 malnourished horses on Sunday from a celebrated local horse trainer near Branson. The sheriff’s department was investigating a complaint filed by a woman who had boarded her horse with Ferdinand Santana when they found the horses near the railroad on a property off of Colorado 389 and an unmarked Branson road. Many of the horses were staked to the ground with no access to food, shelter or clean water. The woman reportedly made the complaint to authorities after her veterinarian confirmed her suspicions that her horse had been abused and starved during the 11 months it was left in the care of Santana. The horses are temporarily being housed at the Las Animas County Fairgrounds. Santana has not been arrested as of yet, but he is expected to be charged with animal cruelty today.

Oh, look, I found his web site! Yep, another Natural Horsemanship Wacko. Hey, asshat, it's natural for them to get to eat and drink daily!

OK, this is a good topic to address:

Would you hand your child over to a babysitter and assume it was safe to come back in ELEVEN MONTHS as long as you paid your bill? No? Then why do so many people hand their horse over to a trainer not knowing anything more about them than the contents of their web site, or worse yet, ad on Craigslist or in the paper? Or a boarding facility, or some other kind of caretaker?

We hear these stories time and time again. Horses come back from training skinny. Horses come back from training hurt or traumatized. Horses don't come back at all - some shady trainer sold them and left town! Yet, despite the stories, this stuff keeps happening.

I have a friend who recently sent her big Appy gelding out for a tune-up. She visited the trainer and talked to him at length about what she wanted. He advertised himself as someone who used John Lyons' methods - a believer in gentle training techniques and working with the horse. He was working out of a lovely, safe facility. So, she put her horse in training with him.

Two weeks later, she stopped by unannounced - and found her horse being ridden in a twisted snaffle with a running martingale. His head was in the air (not where she wanted it) and he was completely freaked out.

My friend picked up her horse the next day. He had been trained all right - now he didn't just need a tune up, he needed to be taught not to rear. He is currently being fixed, at substantial expense, by someone we both know we can trust - Jon Ensign.

Can you begin to imagine the damage that would have been done to this horse if my friend hadn't discovered what was going on behind her back?

I am sorry, I know you trainers may object to this, but at least ONE unannounced visit is a must and I wouldn't leave my horse with a trainer that had a problem with owners stopping by during normal business hours. At the same time, I want to say that owners shouldn't abuse the privilege and be pests, nor should they have a heart attack when the trainer smacks ol' Butthead for trying to barge over her. You are paying for training, and many of you are paying for training because you have allowed ol' Butthead to barge over you 56 times and clearly reasoning with him didn't work. There's a balance, but I do think visits are mandatory and popping in at least once without notice is a good idea. Not to mention visiting the facility before you leave your horse there and seeing how all of the horses look and act.

The best kind of training involves a lesson a week for you on your horse. You will be able to see if your horse is better or worse, losing weight, has had any injuries, or seems upset or stressed. Not to mention, you will learn how to maintain the training once the horse comes home.

I mean, I can post horror stories all day...c'mon people, just don't abandon your horses like this!

Trainer starves horse to death - "part of training method"

Trainer works horse to death in front of witnesses in California (and of course they just gave the asshat probation!)

I mean, go read Netposse. There are tons of examples of horses stolen by their trainers! (Admittedly, Netposse has no way of proving what is true and some of these may have been legitimately taken for back board/fees...but at least some are legitimate)

Trainer disappeared with horse while on show circuit

Horse sent for lay-up at farm disappeared

C'mon people. Do a little follow up. Don't just walk away for 11 months. Your horse is your responsibility. You need to check up on it, no matter where it is!