WHO WILL PROTECT THE HORSE?
There are many voices speaking out for endangered animals. There are many passionate advocates for circus animals. There is global outrage and support for hunted animals.
Where is the compassion and shock for the domesticated horse? No one speaks for the generous and noble horse, and when someone tries, few, if any, listen.
There is no other animal that has done as much for the advancement and development of humans and civilization as the horse, yet few seem to recognize this. Tragically, even fewer understand the need to give him a voice, to speak up for him.
The sheer existence of the horse is tightly woven in to the fabric of our civilization. There is no other animal that we historically and currently engage with in the way that we engage with horses. Perhaps this familiarity has normalized abuse from humans, and has deemed the struggles of the domesticated equine not exotic enough to garner the attention it deserves. The horse is not endangered, and the perception is that he does not face some immediate threat, but his struggle is a daily one, and the abuses that he faces are shrouded by a lack of public knowledge, and worst of all, these abuses have become acceptable.
The agencies and organizations that were crafted to protect the welfare of the domesticated horse instead, protect the riders, owners, trainers and the sport industries that benefit financially from the labor and suffering of the horse. These entities speak of horse welfare, but their actions do not support their stated mission, and they continue to perpetuate the abuse, and support the abusers. These entities dominate the mainstream equine world and set the tone for how we view our relationship with the horse. These agencies do nothing to promote compassion and humanity, and the average owner or rider is not taught to respect the horse and protect his welfare. This is the tragic reality of mainstream horsemanship today.
There are over 20 million domesticated horses who daily suffer abuses that the equestrian world deems to be perfectly acceptable. Ironically, the non-equestrian spectator shudders at these abuses when faced with the realities of whipping, spurring, the use of chains and straps, and cords that limit and restrict natural movement. And then there is the almost universally accepted bit. This ubiquitous and archaic object has been scientifically proven to be unnecessary, interfering with breathing, swallowing, causing pain, discomfort, and damage to lips, gums, teeth, nerves, and tongue, even generating other health and physical issues throughout the body of the horse. In our fast paced, goal oriented societies, patient training methods have given way to painful training methods, with the use of gadgetry and tools that have no place in a modern and humane world. The dire plight of our equine partners goes unrecognized, and instead of heeding his wisdom and devotion, we silence him with abusive devices and practises.
Novice riders are taught to punish the horse before they can even properly ride the horse. They are taught to use whips, spurs and bits. They are encouraged to use chains, straps, and gadgets that are painful, uncomfortable, and unnecessary. they are taught to control, rather than to communicate, as they participate and enjoy the hundreds of different sporting activities that engage horses.
Racing, rodeo, World Games, Pan Am Games, the Olympics, the Special Olympics, national, regional, and local competitions in jumping, dressage, western, English, saddle seat, breed competitions, trail riding, endurance racing. So many choose oblivion as they enjoy dude ranches, pony rides, carriage rides, horse camps, equestrian vacations, therapeutic horse programs for rehabilitation for drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, veterans, mental and emotional disorders. to this day, horses still are employed to help protect us, in law enforcement, search and rescue, the military. The ways that horses participate and generously contribute to our lives are so numerous they cannot be catalogued here. The motion picture industry alone has exploited the domesticated horse for decades, making billions of dollars from utilizing horses in television, movies, and commercials.
EVERYONE has been affected by some measure from the influence of the horse, whether we watch him on our favorite television show, place a bet at the races, or simply because we live in this world, a world that was developed in close association with the assistance and generosity of the horse.
Throughout history, the horse has been our loyal ally. He has served us every step of the way in the building of our civilization, living and dying by our side, fighting our wars, plowing our fields, delivering our goods, our mail, our medicine, helping us build, and grow, and spread. And yet, very few speak up for them. Our society seems unwilling or unable to understand or appreciate the enormous debt we have to these beautiful and noble creatures.
Modern science has proven that the horse is an intelligent, sentient and sensitive being. While we have exploited their strength and intelligence, horses have proven extended friendship and loyalty for centuries. Horses have been successfully tamed and trained to serve humans not because they lack intelligence, but because they represent the best elements of us, their human partners. The horse is a social and cooperative creature. The horse knows how to be a friend, and that a good relationship can bring safety, security and comfort. Sadly, humans have not adopted this deep equine wisdom. Has the human been a good friend in return? The answer will always be no as long as we turn a blind eye to the accepted abuses that go on daily all over the globe.
We must no longer be complicit in our silence. We must no longer allow civility and comfort to stand in the way of what we know instinctualy to be right. We have evolved and now we are called to challenge the establishment. This process will not always be easy or comfortable but for our community, there is no other option. Our greatest tools are awareness, communication and education.
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Communication, Collaboration, Compassion