All the Pretty Little Ponies

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Neglected or Free - A Rescue Horse Debate

What is a rescue horse? Lately, I have been posing this question to myself and others. One of the replies I received bothered me, so I thought I would explore the topic a little more on here.

We all have different thresholds of tolerability regarding animal treatment. Some people tend to believe that a horse should only be rescued if they are getting abused and malnutrition. Yet, others seem to believe that a horse needs to be rescued if it is getting simply under-utilized.

Should we be defining what purposes people can have for owning horses? The comment that concerned me indicated this person’s belief that if a horse is well-fed, but neglected attention, the horse should be taken from them. In a way, I feel sorry for the horses, and in a way I feel they are lucky. I think we take for granted that they are beings in their own right, and perhaps being well-fed and having safety provided to them is almost nicer than the standard alternative of feeding, grooming, and working.

To me, these owners were merely offering their horses freedom in a safe environment. Granted, they are not wild, so they are not totally free in every sense of the word, but as free as security lets them be. Is this really neglect or rather acknowledgment of a different species? Horses are herd animals, and since these couple of horses had other horses to interact with, they were not alone, either. Plus, they were in a pasture, not pens.

What am I missing? Generally, there are two sides to every argument. So, am I missing something that should be rather obvious?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Arabian Dreams

As the wind blew threw her tangles, there was no doubt that she had her nerves fine-tuned for even the slightest of sounds. One quick wisp of mane courageously blew against her cheek, catching her eye barely a moment before she snapped her teeth at it in defense. Just as quickly, her thick Arabian tail flew up prominently, like a flag waving her declaration of spirit.

With her head artistically raised, nostrils flared, her features refined--poignant even, there was no question that the spirit within was barely being contained by her majestically contoured figure. Legs straight as a drawing, back almost as level as a carpenter’s tool, her neck poised and arched high, appearing nothing short of regal next to her beautifully dished-in face. As her eye gazed back at me, I almost had to lean forward against the nearly tangible energy.

Immediately, I knew today I was not the teacher, but the student. Now, I need only wait for my lesson plan to be laid in front of me. The only question not left to be answered was what the final lesson would be: patience.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Just some random thoughts.

Recently, one of my friends in Wyoming emailed me, because one of her friends (who happens to live close to me) is feeling a lot of financial pressure, and she's afraid she won't be able to keep her horses. However, apparently, she doesn't want to sell them, because she just can't stand the thought of never being with them again. Of course, I totally and completely understand where she is coming from, so, I offered to take them from her as a kind of "temporary rescue" basis. Then, if she is able to get back on her financial feet, she can have them back.

The fact that the economy is low right now does not mean it will still be so in two more years. So, instead of losing our minds and acting out of fear, we need to get a grip and start planning for the future. I mean, there are so many ways to creatively make due until the economy perks back up.

For instance, if someone has only a couple of horses on a large ground of pasture, lease a large part of the pasture to a cattle rancher. With the economy down, the cost of feed and bales seems a little more hefty, and having more area to free-range cows means the farmer doesn't have to sell cattle to keep them all fed. So, keep the quid pro quo (this for that) necessity in mind, and lease the other part of your pasture for a lower cost than normal. Not only will you help someone else out, you can also ask for just enough to ensure you're able to keep your horses. You know what I mean?

Granted, this isn't a feasible fix for everybody, but there are so many options people have before they have to get drastic. See a horse on the side of the road that seems starved in the pasture, well, you can't trespass and feed the poor thing, but nothing is stopping you from driving up to the farm house, knocking on the door, and saying something like, "Hey, I actually have too many bales right now. Is there any chance you'd want some? I could just throw them in for your horses for free. You'd be doing me a favor, because I just don't have the room for them." This offers help to the horse without accusing the owner of neglect or asking if they could use a hand-out.

If everyone would just pull together for once, or just a lot of people would pull together, I think we could get out of this economic low with less damage.

I don't know. Maybe I'm just all sorts of messed up. Who knows.

Buy a Horse with Caution

In a marvelous article on, regarding purchasing a horse, one rule states, "Be on time – not early for a showing."

While I concur with the reasoning behind this statement, in regards to its being a simple courtesy to the seller, I also want add an additional tip. Granted, the cases will hopefully be few and far in between where this is applicable, but it is still worth considering.

What I am referring to is the amount of time you give the buyer as a "heads-up" that you will be there to see the horse. Unfortunately, there are horse sellers out there that take that "heads-up" and use it to their advantage (your disadvantage) to pre-work the horse, or worse yet, drug the vices out of it.

As a rule of thumb, I have always been told that you should find out what day the seller is available, but never commit to a specific time of the day when you will show up. You may want to ask them what part of the day best works for them (morning, afternoon, or evening), but that's it. Then, let them know that you will call before you are too close. If they bulk at this, and request at least an hour of notice, then you should really begin to get slightly suspicious. Remember, in order to accurately gauge your prospective horse, you really need to see it "as is," not just as they WANT you to see it.

Now, I understand that this will sound discourteous to many people reading it. However, while there is a place for manners, and I agree they belong here, as well, you must also remember that you are dealing with someone desiring, or needing, to SELL something. While we would all like to believe everyone in the horse community is honest and sincere, the truth is slightly depressing.

So, if you still want to set up a specific time (or if you have no choice in the matter), I highly suggest requesting that the horse be caught only once you have arrived. There should be no signs of the owner previously working with the horse. Furthermore, as you do a one-over feel of the horse, be sure to be on the look-out for any tell-tale signs (usually slight bumps) that the horse has been given drugs to temporarily ease out their vices.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Breezing Through Winter

White, crisp snow, warm breath, and thick sweaters; the cold smell of winter is becoming more and more potent every day. For horse enthusiasts, this means extra time bundling ourselves, and sometimes our horses, up to brace for the short days and long nights. Most horse owners are no stranger to reaching into a frozen water bucket to painfully pull out slabs of ice, and standing out in a cold wind chill to fix a broken fence. So, as winter continues to blow its way back into our lives, now is the time to start double-checking all our winter horse care supplies.

First, before you go grabbing your gloves and coat, sit yourself down with a calculator and start checking your budget. One of the most important factors to consider is how you are going to pay to feed your horse throughout the winter. Are you prepared for a blizzard that prevents a quick trip to town for extra grain? Have you already purchased the estimated number of bales it will take to feed your horses throughout a stark winter? Control the random element now to prevent a disaster later.

Once you have sufficiently guaranteed that your horse will not starve under any circumstances, now you can take the time to ensure their safety, as well. Check each pasture your horses might be in this winter for broken fences, loose posts, or any garbage out in the field that may pose a risk. Many objects that are not a threat during the summer, when they are readily visible, may become extremely hazardous if they are covered up by snow. Also, after checking for pasture dangers, remember to check for any sharp objects that have developed over the summer in your horses’ shelter.

Finally, once satisfied that your horse will make it through winter fed and uninjured, you can take yourself back inside and hunt for your favorite gloves and coat. Keeping a horse during winter might be a colder experience, but it does not have to be an overly difficult one. Shorter days mean less sunlight to work with our horses, so the only problem that should arise is how to get out of work and out to the barn earlier. With the proper preparation, financially as well as physically, getting out on the trail can still be a breeze—maybe a slightly chilly breeze, but a breeze nonetheless.