Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Equine Literacy - A great way to change the future!

One cool thing about helping with a big job like Three Strikes is that you meet a lot of other rescuers from all over the country and you hear their ideas and what they are doing to help horses in their part of the U.S. I heard one of the best ideas ever from a Kentucky-based rescuer, and I want to share it and encourage everybody reading to participate!

Her rescue went out to local schools to see if they had horse books in the libraries. Most either did not or the copies they had were literally being held together with a staple gun. "Those are our most popular books," many librarians told her. So she and her rescue sat down and read children's horse books, made a list of those that contained accurate information about care, and did some fundraising to supply copies to each school in their area.

What a GREAT idea. Absolutely awesome!

How often do we tear out our hair reading posts on forums that make it obvious the person has never read a basic horse care book? The person has tied a horse to something that breaks. The person has left a nylon halter on in the pasture - and now the horse is dead. The person has tied the horse by the reins. The person has fed their horse grass clippings. Simple stuff - basic stuff - stuff we learned not to do by reading books when we were eight. Can we produce more knowledgeable horsepeople just by buying some books? I am betting we can!

So this is a two-part job. First of all, will you go out to your local schools and libraries and see how they are doing on horse books? I am going to do that today. Second of all, which horse books would you recommend? I'm going to put some here that I can think of and like, and you can all add to the list in the comments.

All of Cherry Hill's books are great - loaded with common sense horse information. This one is just for kids.

I've recommended Erin's book before. It's suitable for teens and gets high marks from me because it teaches ethics along with horse care. That's a rare find.

The Jean Slaughter Doty books are all super but I love this one because it specifically deals with beginner mistakes and the outcome of them! The pony survives, the kid learns, and so do the parents. It also teaches that the most expensive pony does NOT necessarily win and that a hardworking young rider can prevail even with a less than pricey mount. All good lessons!

How do I love thee, Pony Club? There are a million ways! For those kids who can't join, the next best thing is the manual. Pony Club is a persnickety horse owner's dream - the manual has all the right information with a strong emphasis on safety and responsibility, and it explains it in a simple and easy to read style with plenty of illustrations. If a kid doesn't have access to an instructor, this book is the next best thing.

So how about the rest of you? Which books do you love for kids? Why? Let's come up with the best list we possibly can and then I'll put a permanent page together with the books noted. This is something you can do to help horses that is under $10 in many cases and just imagine the amount of equine suffering that could be saved if kids get the right information!

I also want to take a moment today to thank our sponsors...we have a new one, Angel Acres, a great rescue in Pennsylvania that has a new "feed fairies" fundraiser that is an inexpensive way to help horses.
So often I see people apologize for not having a lot of money to give - well, that's silly. A small contribution makes a big difference and is always welcomed by ANY rescue! SOS Equines has many to choose from, both horses who need to be rescued from slaughter now and horses who have been at the rescue and have had time to be ridden and evaluated. They are in the Tri-Cities area of Washington and gets a lot of solid old rope horses that are the babysitter kind you can trust with your kids, as well as Thoroughbreds and others. Hoofprints has fun horsey gifts including a wide selection of farrier-centric fun stuff, ideal if you want to say thank you to a great farrier or apologize for your horse's naughty day! Emerald City Fence is a great choice if you are in the Seattle area and looking to upgrade your horse fencing. This is a horsewoman-owned company and you'll get exactly what you're looking for in terms of price and quality.

NorCal Equine Rescue continues to do great work by helping low-income horse owners afford gelding and euthanasia - to me, one of the kindest things you can do is keep those old coot horses off the truck to Mexico, and for that, I applaud them. You know, I had a conversation with an old rancher this week and he was just amazed that we actually are starting to have some resources for euthanasia. He actually said that he didn't have a problem with slaughter ending if there was another way for people to deal with unwanted horses. Now that's progress, when you can get someone to admit slaughter isn't the ONLY way!