"Now I say that with cruelty and oppression it is everybody's business to interfere when they see it."

~Anna Sewell

Friday, October 23, 2009

How important are bloodlines?

It always amuses me when people brag about their horse's pedigree, especially when the horse is less than impressive. It's even more hilarious when people say, "He goes back to the Bedouin Turk!" or, "He's a great-great-great grandson of Man O' War!"

Ha. Victor is from the Man O' War line, and that's not something I'm particularly proud of. Man O' War was a nasty son of a gun and horses from his line have a tendency to be quirky and high-strung (Vic's living proof!). Granted, knowing a horse's pedigree is nice and it's even nicer when it's a good pedigree. I like to know that my horses have good health and soundness in their family.

On the other hand, it won't turn me off when I'm looking at a horse that has a not-so-famous pedigree or no papers at all. Bloodlines mean next to nothing to me, unless he has an ancestor like Impressive. I care about the animal I'm seeing in front of me. I couldn't care less if he's sired by Doc O' Lena if he has nothing to show for it.

I was at an auction a while back and this snooty girl rides in on a skewbald gelding. The horse is cute, but not gorgeous. She's all cocky and starts spouting off about the horse's incredible pedigree and apparently famous roping stallions that he's descended from (I don't know much about stock breed pedigrees, so I don't remember exactly what she said). But ummm... the only reason I would care about bloodlines is if the horse actually inherited the traits that made its ancestors famous. Or if I was going to do breed circuits. Which I don't and I don't plan to, so I rest my case.

The primary things that I care about are level of training, conformation, and temperament. I know some people who don't care as much about temperament, but to me it's just as important as good conformation. If our personalities clash, it sucks the fun right out of it and it's not even worth it.

One more thing I look for is a "perfect face". It's not as important and I try not to be too picky, but I'm a sucker for horses with perfect necks and faces. I can't get past jug-heads, knife-necks, or ewe-necks. I like curvy, muscular, well-shaped necks that tie in nicely to the shoulders and head. I especially like faces with sharp, chiseled features and gentle eyes. That's just my personal preference. Some people like the softer, cuter look. And some people don't care either way. ;D

I'm not sure how we got on the subject of faces... hehe.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Stop abusing your horse and use a bitless bridle!

Re: A bit is not horse abuse

That video is extremely biased and one-sided. Not to mention utterly uneducated. This is just one of the many anti-bit videos that I've come across. Reasonably knowledgeable horse people see right through it, but beginners probably soak in every word. I can see how it would make a newbie think that anyone who uses bits is a horrible animal abuser.

Here are my two cents. With the exception of things like gags, bike chains, twisted wire leverage bits, etc., the bit itself has nothing to do with abuse. There are some monstrosities out there that are designed to cause pain and those ones should all be melted down and prohibited. However, generally speaking, bits don't hurt horses. People hurt horses. Allow me to illustrate.

On the left, we have a horse in a double bridle. He's slightly ahead of the vertical, as he should be, and he appears relaxed and comfortable. Eyes bright and calm, ears pricked and alert. I don't see anything in his body language that would suggest that he's in pain. I also like the slack on the curb rein. This is the way the equipment should be used.

Now on the right, we have a Rollkur picture, otherwise known as "how NOT to use a bit and bridle".

Are we seeing the difference? Both have essentially the same equipment, but the look on this horse's face is heartbreaking. His mouth is open, despite the crank noseband, his tongue is lolling, his eyes are rolled back. Look at the taught reins and the angle of the leverage bit. This horse's head is in a vice grip, and it must be miserable.

The one factor that determines whether or not a bit is cruel is the rider. Instead of blaming a piece of metal, we need to look to the real source of cruelty: the hands on the other end of the reins. Even something as simple as a halter can turn into a torture device in the hands of a thoughtless rider. The same could be said for any piece of equipment, including hackamores and bitless bridles. It's not what you put in the horses mouth, it's the skill and knowledge of the person using the equipment.

Choose your weapon Pt. 1

I like this guy. He explains bits very well and I think he does a good job of getting his point across.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Is this even healthy?

I was watching Truth Be Told: I'm Obsessed With My Pet the other night, and I was appalled. It's one thing to love your pet, but it's quite another to treat that pet like a human child. Animals are not humans, and they should never be treated like humans. Now, before the sensitive people (and I am one of those sensitive people as well!) flame me, I want to clarify something.

Animals should not be treated like humans because it just doesn't work for them. However, pets should be valued like any other member of the family. That doesn't mean you put sneakers and a sundress on your Yorkie and walk her around in a baby stroller. That's a little creepy.

The lady that had the Italian Greyhound ticked me off for several reasons. She seemed completely convinced that the dog was a little human and enjoyed being treated like a child. She spent thousands of dollars on designer dog outfits because she put the dog in beauty pageants all the time. She kept a record of every time she fed her, groomed her, and even every time the dog peed or pooped. Who does that? And who the hell spends 300 bucks on a doggie outfit? The only "clothes" I would buy for a dog would be a jacket/sweater if he or she needed one. It's just like blanketing a horse in the winter. Dogs are dogs. They don't need shoes or T-shirts. I hardly believe that they like wearing clothes. It's a huge waste of money, besides that.

And then there was the lady with 11 cats. At first I thought, well, that's not that strange. I would have 11 cats too, if I could afford it. But then she had a birthday party for one of the cats. Is it any wonder why she only had one guest? The lady was nuts, and not just crazy-cat-lady nuts. She was fostering that cat named James Bond, who ran away and she was looking for him for like a month. She kept setting a trap up every day for weeks on end, trying to catch a cat that wasn't even hers. If the cat didn't come back after about 2 weeks, I would assume he either found a home or doesn't want to be caught. The cat could have been in the next city for all she knew. I just found it really strange that she was convinced that it couldn't possibly be raccoons or stray cats eating the food in the trap. She just knew it was James Bond. *facepalm*

Finally, there was the lady with the monkey. She dressed the monkey up in little T-shirts and pants every day and took him everywhere she went. She claimed he was a service animal, but I personally don't buy it. You'd think she was caring for a baby, the way she treated him. Her entire life was the monkey. She claims he would never show any aggression to anyone, and that proves how much of a naive fool she is. Monkeys are wild animals. There is no such thing as a "tame" wild animal. Remember the lady with the chimpanzee that attacked her friend? I'm sure the lady never would have thought the chimp would attack anyone. She treated him like a human, and I'm sure she trusted him 100%. And look what happened.

When you bring a wild animal into your house and expect it to act like a domesticated house pet, you're asking for trouble. You can never entirely trust an animal like that. They don't belong in houses. I think that lady will get a rude awakening if and when her monkey turns on someone. It can happen at any time with little to no warning. It's like the people who buy illegal exotics (i.e., tiger and lion cubs) and think they're going to make great pets. Then said tiger cubs grow up and become unmanageable and they end up being taken away by the SPCA and either put in zoos/sanctuaries or euthanized. Wild animals are not pets. Period.