Thursday, February 12, 2009

Yeah, but what's wrong with her customers???

Here at FHOTD, we often see cases here where starving horses are blatantly put on the farm's web site. Even more often, I hear about beautiful web sites hiding bad conditions. In those cases, I tell the person to get pictures of how things truly are. After all, I need some evidence more than your word that things have gone horribly wrong at the facility.

In this case, a determined reader researched and researched until she found pictures showing what was really going on behind the pretty web site at this New Zealand facility. These scrawny horses are shown at "camp" on a cross-country riding vacation sort of thing. They are both underweight and the bay is certainly too much so to be ridden, but here they are - out on a four day trek, carting riders around and putting money into the pocket of the proprietor. Too bad she is not spending it on feed!

(You know, if I came there to ride and found this, I'd snap pictures and go straight to the SPCA. Why hasn't someone else?)

Of course, this lady also thinks it's just fine to "break in" the yearlings. Even for those of you who do ride your 2's, wouldn't one look at this tiny creature tell you it wasn't ready to hold weight? If it looks like a baby, LET IT BE A BABY. Good grief, I think that rider is about one third of its weight! No wonder its ears are back.

The proprietor brags on her main page that the horses are "safe" and "quiet." Well, yes, they typically are when they are this thin. Not much energy left to buck or run off, which may be the plan here. It would certainly not be the first time I have seen starvation used as a training substitute!

The one thing Sarah seems to be good at (clearly it's not feeding) is collecting money. Her newsletter notes that cans of soda are $1.00 and that you'll be charged $15 if you cancel a lesson. Uh, do you think you could throw some of that cash into hay purchases? I am amazed she is showing her horses. Hey, New Zealanders, does she show up at shows with horses who look like this, or does she feed the show horses and just starve the lesson/trek horses?

How does this continue? Well, by people continuing to patronize her - it sure sounds like business is booming - and, I am sure, accepting excuses for how the horses look. Oh, that one is thin because he's a cribber. You can't keep weight on an old horse. The one over there has bad teeth. When you accept the excuses and say nothing, you allow this to continue. I've already put up a guide to choosing a reputable trail/trekking facility even if you don't have horse knowledge, but I'm guessing most of the people at this barn have enough horse knowledge that they know things aren't right. Or they have already fallen into the trap of putting money into her pocket in an attempt to help the horses.

Remember, the horse can't call for help. You may be the only chance he has. And sometimes all that's needed is for the authorities to put a little pressure on someone and the care improves. Most (sane, non-hoarder type) people do not want to be driven out of the business or have their horses seized, and I've seen people who are good riders/competitors simply have huge holes in their horse care knowledge that lead to these situations. No, the person who gets reported won't love you if they find out it was you, but ten years down the road they may be a much better horseperson because of it.

It's up to you...I can talk about this stuff all day but ultimately we need whoever is local to have the guts to report. Do you have what it takes to do the courageous thing for the horses, or will fear of discovery or of being yelled at (oh noooooooes) keep you silent?

P.S. Yes, I know some horse abusers/neglecters are batshit crazy and I do understand trying to find someone else to intervene if you are their next door neighbor and they have guns.