For the Love of Horses

May 15, 2021 Off By Mark Paul
Shows the cruelty inflicted in the name of "sport"

Abject cruelty inflicted in the name of “sport”. How proud the rider must be!!

When oh when is the penny going to drop?  A bit is not needed, ever!  They are archaic torture devices that will one day be in a museum displayed as a device that humans thought gave them control!  What is needed is patience and trust.

Example:  I had a horse for around 14 years. Holly – a 16.3h Shire/TB Mare.  She was 3 or 4, we weren’t sure, when we got her and very fed up and angry.  She had no real owner and was taken care of at a livery.  She shoved all the other horses around, drove them away from their food and put the fear of God into them and the livery staff!

Consequently, the livery owners separated her, sort of isolated her. She spent a lot of time in a stall in which she was also fed.  When I found her she was very unhappy and very pissed off.

I got her home and put her into a huge field with the other 2 horses we had at the time.  True to form she kept them at arm’s length and dominated the food.   We had to put piles of hay way way apart so all three of them could eat.

In the beginning, if I took her into an open field she would bolt.  She would run flat out.  She was incredibly fast.  Very unhealthy run.  Angry emotion!  Not good for her at all.  I stayed on but there was no way I could stop here.  She had a bit in her mouth but as a brake it was useless.  I pulled as hard I could, with all my weight and it made no difference, didn’t even slow her down.  She did stop!  When she came to a wall or fence.  But just before she stopped, she would zig zag left and right randomly, sharp turns.  I can’t remember the number of times I fell off at this point.

After a few months I stopped using a bit.  Switched to a rope hackamore.   Started some horsemanship training, my wife helped a lot with that.  She had a way with horses.   I started to build a relationship with Holly, jumps, obstacles, circles weaves on the ground and in the saddle.  Took our time, made it fun and always ended on a good note.

To cut a long story short, we never looked back. We had years of riding.  She was an alpha mare and always took the lead.  We often went out into the hills and the forests on our own.   I loved her with all my heart and she paid me back in kind.  We never used a bit ever again.  She still loved to run but it got better over time.  She slowed down a tad actually.  But I knew she could go faster and sometimes nudged her into that 5th gear.  It was thrilling.

Anyway, the point is that if competition is in such a hurry as to use torturous aids, then we shouldn’t be competing.  All horse competition is for human glory and the horse is very much a tool for that purpose.  This is selfish and cruel.  Everything about the way we treat horses is contrary to their natural behaviour.  They are nomadic and we fence them in.  They are herd animals and we separate them. We put them in small boxes for hours day after day, week after week, year in year out, often, just because we haven’t got enough outside space or because we don’t want to have to clean them after they’ve rolled!

Often, after doing virtually nothing for a whole week, we halter them, force them into a moving box, take the to a noisy crowded show and expect them to behave and perform to perfection. Then, when it’s over we force them back into the box, take them home and transfer them to their bigger box!   This has become “acceptable” because we have done it for so long!

Like so many traditions today that are blindly followed just for their own sake, it is time for change.  Competition should never have become professional (driven by money), period.  Especially where animals are concerned because sport suggests that participation has been agreed by both parties.  This is not the case with horses or any animals.   The BHS glibly state one of their aims as “To promote and facilitate the prevention of cruelty, neglect or harm to horses”, but isn’t this exactly what we are doing, but because we all do it, perhaps it doesn’t count?