Category Archives: Horse News

MiniSnark: Cdn STB foals being euth’d?!

Sorry, this was JUST sent to me and I’m at work.  Will be looking into it!!!!!  If you see/hear anything on this, please let me know ASAP.

Wiffle bats: Not just for school gym class anymore

Well, I was FINALLY going to comment about that video that has been making the rounds recently.  The one where trainer Cyndi Plasch is trying to load her horse after a show and beats it with a wiffle bat?  People come over, presumably trying to help, and flap their arms at the horse to encourage it to load.  All the while, someone is videotaping this inordinate amount of stupidity.

I know you’re all going to expect me to go after the person beating the horse the wiffle bat – and believe you me, she deserves it, but I do so hate to be predictable and honestly feel that given the virality of the video, maybe my comments aren’t required.  However, what I am concerned about is the person standing around taking the video.  The one that recognized something bad was happening, that something needed to be done about it, and proceeded to passively condone the abusers actions by allowing the behavior to continue without even trying to stop it.

Why did NO ONE step in and take the wiffle bat from her!?  Oh wait, people did step in… and waived their arms around like it was greenhorn cattle drive!

There are certainly times when it is better to video and not risk your own health and safety – I get that, more so than most.  However, in a crowded area, in broad daylight, the risk was greatly reduced.  What could your justification be for NOT stepping in?  I’m sorry, but I just can’t imagine a scenario where they couldn’t have at least gone over there and said “hey, stop that” in a stern tone.  I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea to get up in someone else’s grill, but I just cannot comprehend a situation wherein you can idly stand by.  -that’s most likely a statement on me and my understanding of human nature because I can tell you right now that I have next to none (understanding that is, I have some human nature).

For an update on this story and a few more details, check out this article. BTW this article contains the videographers defense as to why she chose to videotape rather than help the horse.  To sum up: it was for the greater good.

Guest Post: ESP: Equines, Suckers & Psychics at the Midwest Horse Fair

I do believe animals and people can, through intuition and body language, communicate with each other in significant ways.

I do believe that animals are reasonably intelligent, and feel complex emotions like sadness, jealousy and happiness.

I don’t believe that animals are just furry versions of human beings,with the associated mental capacity that entails.

I don’t believe that a horse can psychically tell you “I have an abscess in my hoof.”

I don’t believe that you can change a horse’s behavior by just talking to it.

…but that’s what Asia Voight wants you to believe.

Asia Voight is an “animal communicator” who claims to be able to psychically talk with animals (and rocks and trees and ghosts) through feelings, words and pictures. I attended her seminar “7 Steps to Communicating With Your Horse” during the Midwest Horse Fair. It was her tenth year appearing at the fair, and it seems as though everyone in the audience loved her. Why wouldn’t they? She tells people they can easily achieve their ultimate dreams.

Asia told us we could become “horse whisperers,” on par with top trainers, in minutes. She said we could all learn to fix our horses’ behavioral problems, including bucking, biting, rearing, kicking, jigging and bolting, in an hour or two. Asia even said what we wanted most to hear: that if we simply learned how, we could hear our horses say, “I love you.”

How, you ask? Why, simply by tuning into the “morphic field” that everything gives off. This allows a transference of energy between beings that can result in true communication. To prove this, Asia put up a group of pictures on her Power Point display, including a radio dial, a tuning fork diagram, a television set with “rabbit ear” antennae, and a diagram of a sound wave. “This isn’t just some woo-woo stuff,” she said, “it’s all been scientifically proven!”

Asia then told a story about how one of her horses had come up lame, and when the vet came out, said vet couldn’t find the problem. He recommended that Asia trailer her horse into a vet clinic and get some more extensive tests done.Asia, of course, thought this was just silly: “I’ll just talk to my horse and find out what the matter is!” So she did (I’m not sure why she didn’t do this in the first place), and the horse clearly told her, “I have an abscess.” (Gosh, I wish my horse was smart enough to understand complex concepts like “abscess,” and “get in the damn trailer so we can go home now.”) The horse went on to describe exactly where it was by psychically projecting pressure onto the appropriate part of Asia’s hand.Sure enough, the vet checked more thoroughly and found the abscess, making further tests unnecessary. “I’ve saved thousands of dollars in vet bills,” Asia claims, “and you can too!”

It’s every horse-lover’s dream: a quick-fix for all training problems, fewer vet bills, and the ability to really talk to your fuzzy buddy, just like in all the Disney movies.

Uh huh. Riiiiiight.

I am not calling Asia Voight a scam artist, or a fake. Doing so would open me up to defamation lawsuits. Besides, I can’t say she doesn’t talk to animals. Hey, I’m a believer in weird stuff. Not necessarily her weird shit, but whatever.

No, what I’m doing is calling Asia a jerk, an asshole, a bitch. Regardless of whether she has psychic powers or not, she’s encouraging people to take dangerous shortcuts. She tells people that they can magically learn in minutes what professionals take years to understand. She doesn’t say don’t take your horse to the trainer or vet, but strongly implies that it’s usually unnecessary– those people are only there to help you out with the technical details if you want, after you’ve figured out the source of your problems yourself with psychic voodoo. Asia also anthropomorphizes animals to a dangerous degree. Most rational people know that horses get grabby about food and treats because they’re designed by nature to snatch as many calories as possible for survival, and that this trait can be exaggerated when horses are spoiled, i.e. allowed to chew on your coat pockets and knock feed buckets out of your hands. However, at last weekend’s seminar, Asia explained to one lady that her horse was constantly mugging her for food because of “emotional issues,” like maybe a lack of one-on-one attention. This woman didn’t need to do any actual work, like improve the horse’s possibly dangerous ground manners– no, all she needed to do was find out exactly what “emotional issue” it was via psychic communication, then reassure the horse. And remember, Asia tells people that all behavioral problems can be solved this way! Bucking, biting, kicking– all you need is to chat with your horse,then fix their emotional problems! Because we all know, don’t we, that horses can be reasoned with, just like people!

Of course, not everyone can communicate with animals as well as Asia Voight can. Which is why, throughout her entire hour-long seminar, Asia Voight tries to sell you her services. If you’re having trouble connecting with the “morphic field” around your animal, you can pay here a mere $150 for a half-hour phone call, during which she will psychically connect with your critter via a photograph (actual contact with the animal is apparently unnecessary). You can also buy her books, make personal guidance appointments, take her classes, participate in group phone calls, download mp3s, go on dolphin bonding trips, etc.  etc. etc. During the seminar, after she had passed out signup sheets for some of her services, she said, and I swear this is an exact quote: “If you act NOW, I’ll give you this FREE eco-friendly tote bag, a gorgeous bottle of essential oil, AND a free group phone session!!”

What’s truly amazing is how good Asia Voight is at what she does.  Thousands of rational, intelligent people pay for her services every year. In fact, at the seminar I attended, she was introduced by the University of Wisconsin Madison Dean of Admissions. The Dean has a lot of Siamese cats, and explained that Asia had talked to them, and in doing so, gotten the Dean to open up about a whole bunch of personal problems (which the cats apparently knew about). This is where Asia is a genius. If you just say you’re talking to animals, a la Doctor Doolittle, people will call you nuts. Asia Voight is successful because she asks the right questions, gets people to open up, validates their feelings, and then tells them how special their relationships are with their animals. It’s not really about the actual talking-to-animals thing at all; it’s about selling the empathy, the emotion, the idea that humans and animals can connect intimately in way they’ve only dreamed about. People want to buy that so badly.

In fact, people want to buy that idea so badly that nearly everyone I spoke to about Asia Voight defended her. Well, not Asia precisely; what they were defending was the ideal in their heads. I guarantee you, among the first dozen commenters here will be several that are angry because I’m somehow demeaning their connections with their animals, or demeaning their animals’ abilities.  No. Wrong. I said it at the beginning, and I’ll say it again; I have no trouble believing that animals are emotional, reasonably intelligent beings that we can have some significant communication with. I don’t even care if you want to talk to your pet Mr. Fluffybutt like a person, throw him birthday parties and over-analyze why he pooped over there instead of his usual place.

What I object to is people like Asia Voight, who take advantage of our emotional needs in order to sell us high-priced psychic visions that may even endanger those who listen to them.  I call bullshit, dangerous bullshit, on the idea that psychic conversation, not hard work, training, and vet visits, is the best basis for fixing things. I object to the idea that animals are humans in fur suits, and find it frightening that some people really do believe Mr. Fluffybutt is biting you because of daddy issues.

Asia has an answer for doubters like me. She says that if non-believers don’t want to have the kind of intimate relationship psychic connections can provide, then that’s fine– but we should leave her followers alone to harmlessly commune with God’s creatures. I wish that was all that’s involved. Lord knows this is America, where we all have the right to throw our money at whatever we damn well please. But what happens when Mr. Fluffybutt never does get properly trained, because his owner is convinced more talk therapy is the solution? Will someone get hurt? Will he bite a vet, or a bystander? Will he be surrendered to a rescue because the day comes when no one can deal with him? Will he ever be happy, having few or no boundaries, rules or leaders in his life? Will he ever be taught to do a job that will make him feel like he has a purpose in life?


Guest post by the North Horse!

“No malicious intent”, my ass

Let’s say your an 86 year old man who has a horse and doesn’t know much about it.  One day, your horse gets loose and, feeling frisky, heads over to a neighbors farm for some flirty-flirty with the stud-folk.  You need to get her safely home, what to do you do?

Do you

a)  Call a hauling service and incur the costs, but get your mare safely home.

b) Throw on some sort of headgear (halter, bridle, what-have-you) and walk her home, even if she is in an agitated state and you’re 86 and not exactly spritely.

c) Loop a nylon rope arond the horse’s neck and tie that rope to your pickup truck and pull/drag her home.

Well, which is it?

Dingdingding!  If you picked ‘c’, you’re correct!

For full details on this most recent horrific horse event, please check out this interview from Eyewitness News 3.

This wonderful specimen of a horse owner wants us to believe there was “no malicious intent” when he tied his horse to his pickup truck and drove off.  Apparently he couldn’t handle walking her and had no other way of getting her home to her breakfast and her apples.

Question: What kind of a person shows up to retrieve a rogue horse WITHOUT a halter?!

Now, here’s where my major issue with this story is:  If the owner really, truly, harbored no ill-will towards this poor mare, then why didn’t he stop when he saw the horse was pulling against the rope?  He must have known she was choking herself?  She was obviously resistant to the idea of running behind a truck and he should have stopped and come up with a better idea before continuing to the point where she actually felland was dragged.

But hey, alls well that ends well because after experiencing being dragged, the mare decided she didn’t like it and was able to be walked the rest of the way home.


Is anyone else wondering what would have happened to that mare if those people hadn’t come along and stepped in?  Would he have continued to drag her? Would he have let her get up and then tried driving off again?

You know what I find the most disturbing about this story?  That is, aside from the blatant disregard for the horse’s safety and well-being, as well as the owners apparent inability to handle the horse, oh and his obvious lack of horse knowledge and experience?  Is how he comes across as defensive rather than apologetic in that interview.  Where’ s the remorse?  The regret? My gawd, I lose sleep when I think my horse doesn’t have enough blankets on!

Unfortunately, the math of this man’s story looks something like 1 + 1 = 23.  By my calculations, I just can’t get there!


By the way, if you’re so inclined, an online petition has been started to, shall we say, encourage the prosecution of this alleged horse abuser.

From FHOTD: When is it ok for the authorities to NOT do their jobs?

When an approximately 1 year old filly gets buried alive, or so it seems.

It has been reported that by March 30, 2012 this filly had been starved so badly that she was no longer able to stand.  It was at that point the owners decided to dig a large hole near the fallen filly, drag her into it using their truck, and proceeded to bury her alive.

Pretty unbelievable, right?  Except there are pictures and even video footage of filly and her future grave, and when it gets too dark to see, the neighbors videoing this atrocity narrate the event.

The following is an excerpt from a rescue’s website, reporting on a conversation with a girl living on the property.  The report has since been taken off the website, more on that later.

“There were two horses there, one bay emaciated mare, one chestnut gelding that was also horribly thin. A girl came out of the house and Valdia confronted her. She claimed that they just moved there two days before. This was obviously a lie, since she went on to divulge information about the horses and their “racing careers”. The gelding was apparently a Standardbred and the mare apparently a Thoroughbred, although it was  impossible to tell the breed under the matted muddy dull coats and jutting bones underneath. The girl mentioned a lip tattoo common in Thoroughbred racehorses and motioned to the bay mare. When Valdia asked her why they hadn’t fed the horses, she shrugged and said “We don’t like horses.” As she was questioned, she slipped and said that “Someone got drunk and hurt him” motioning to the gelding. She promptly realized that she shouldn’t have said that and wouldn’t say another word.”

Apparently people had been calling the animal control office for three weeks prior to this taking place.  And even after receiving reports of the dead filly, they still didn’t come out until April 1st – after another horse died.  This time it was the dam of the filly.  A woman from a local rescue had brought out hay for the two still living, but starving, horses and rather than heed her instructions, the owners threw the entire bale out to them.  The mare died several hours later, presumably from colic as a result of overfeeding after suffering from starvation. (This was, of course, not the first bale the woman brought out for these horses.  The first one mysteriously disappeared and was definitely not fed to the horses…)

So now there are two dead horses: one starved and buried alive, one starved and dead, presumably from colic.  What does the Animal Control office do?  They go and demand that the rescue remove any and all information (including photos and videos) relating to this situation from their website.  Why, you may ask?  Well, they’re trying to say that this information could impede the investigation – but it’s already out there.  Damage done.  Move on and let’s nail these horse-abusing bastards!  The time for the AC to try to limit free speech was likely sometime around when they were first contacted about these “people” (and here I’m using the term very loosely).

Moving on.  So the AC is investigating – that’s awesome! Their first stop on that investigation?  The horse rescue that brought hay to the starving horses. That’s right, they went there and insisted upon reviewing their nonprofit paperwork and then took copies.  Does anyone know what that’s about? Neither the rescues, nor I, can make sense of it.

What do you do if your local Animal Control doesn’t seem to care?  You contact the local Sheriff’s office.  Except, apparently they’re not answering their phones…  One lucky person who got through reported that they were told felony charges are “pending”.  Which I find particularly interesting seeing as, according to an email I received from the DA, my email was the first he had heard of the issue.  I had been under the impression that criminal charges were prosecuted by the District Attorney.  Quick! Someone tell them there’s a breakdown in their communication system!

WHAT’S GOING ON HERE PEOPLE?! There’s a dead filly, possibly that was buried alive.  There is photographic evidence of two starving horses, one of which is already dead.  Is that not enough to act upon?  Can’t that get you onto the property and into a position where the body of the filly could be exhumed, then a necropsy performed to see if her lungs were full of dirt?  I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV but that seems fairly logical to me.  Or is there no room for logic in the legal system?

I understand it’s still pretty early in the process of investigation but the clock’s ticking!  That filly was buried March 30th, that’s almost two weeks ago.  If anything is going to happen, it needs to happen fast.   Unfortunately it sounds like the Animal Control office has already dropped the ball.  Why didn’t they investigate three weeks prior to April 1st when they were originally made aware of these people?

Why are the neighbors so afraid of them that they hide across the street filming and are so scared they’re hesitating to file a report with the DA?  Could it perhaps have something to do with this excerpt from the original account reported by the rescue?

“The neighbors were interviewed and told us more and more horror stories about the people – apparently these horses had been the victims of beatings and God knows what else, for entertainment they would abuse and hurt them on top of starving them. The owners had been shooting at people, scaring the horses, had been running the horses into barbed wire fences on purpose when they were drunk, had tied the horses heads back with bits to their chests and left them like that for entire days.”

There is something wrong here, above and beyond the preventable deaths of those two horses.  Grab your pitch forks and light your torches folks because we’ve got monsters among us!

If you’re so inclined, and a number of people have indicated that they are, the following is the contact information of the people who would love to hear from you.

Siskiyou County Animal Control
525 Foothill Drive. Yreka,CA. 96097

Yreka Sheriff Department
305 Butte Street. Yreka,CA. 96097
No email listed.
J Kirk Andrus (District Atty)
311 Fourth Street
Room 204
Yreka, CA 96097

For more information, check out this thread on Horse Grooming Supplies or the rescue’s facebook page.

Slaughter house in Oregon – a way for rescues to get rid of those pesky older and/or ill horses

According to this article, (Devil) Dave Duquette has facilitated the purchase of 252 acres in Hermiston, OR by a California company.  The purpose of this chunk of land? To kill horses, of course.  Yup, they’re fixin’ to erect a new slaughter house.  But wait!  They’re also going to donate a portion of that land to be used by United Horsemen (of which Devil Dave is the President) for their “rescue and rejuvenation” program.  This article on paraphrases Dave while succinctly describing the underlying purpose of the program, “horses deemed too old, too ill, too dangerous, or otherwise unsuitable for rehoming would be processed”.

“The Rescue and Rejuvenate Program is intended to prevent overburdened rescues from having to care for and feed horses that cannot be retrained or used for any purpose,” Duquette said. “This program allows them to use their funds to help horses that are viable and can be helped and placed in new homes.” (also from the article on

So these people actually, truly, believe that rescues are going to dump their aging horses with a “rescue and rejuvenation” program that flat out states they’ll kill ’em.  Where did they get an idea like that?! In what universe would a rescue send an animal they’ve taken in to slaughter?  That is, a rescue who doesn’t share United Horseman’s perverted outlook on the disposable nature of our equine companions.  Unfortunately we all know that there are some less than ah-mah-zing rescues out there…

From Alex Brown Racing, a feedlot is described as “an aggregation point for horses that are destined for slaughter.  Similar to a kill pen in that regard.  A feedlot can be USDA approved or a private feedlot, which might be owned by a kill buyer.  USDA approved feedlots are regulated by the USDA and should adhere to a certain level of standards.  Slaughter houses typically own their own feedlots.”

Hmm, so you’re saying that a feedlot is a place, typically owned by a slaughter house, where you keep horses prior to slaughter.  Oh gosh, where have I heard that before? Hold on, don’t tell me.  It’s on the tip of my tongue.  I could have sworn I was just talking to someone about it.


Dr. Temple Grandin, proponent and designer of innovative slaughter techniques designed to reduce the stress of the animals prior to death, was reported in this article to be on board for designing the proposed slaughter house in Mountain Grove, MO – plans for which have since been squashed.  I’m wondering if she’ll replace that now empty slot in her day planner and step up to design the proposed Oregon plant?  What I find curious, is that most of her research and work appears to be with cattle, pigs, bison and antelope – the above linked to article flat out states that “she has not yet worked on any designs for horse slaughter plants in the United States, but believes they’re a logical alternative”.  On her webpage entitled Research Articles on Horses, Dr. Grandin includes a link to her paper on “Design of loading facilities and holding pens” – which mentions specific requirements for cows, pigs and sheep, but not horses.  Huh. [Side note: if your googling skills are better than mine, and you know of some information where Dr. Grandin has successfully designed a slaughter house for horses please forward me the link, I’d be very interested to read about it.]

Let’s put aside the issue of pro or anti slaughter for just a second and assume they go through with this plant, have Dr. Grandin design it specifically to reduce the stress and potential bodily injury to horses specifically.  Yay! Sounds great! If we can’t get rid of slaughter it might as well be 1000% humane, right?  They’re just missing one key factor: humans.  In an industry where the margins are already pretty slim, you’re going to ask people to spend more money developing and maintaining safe slaughter practices specifically for one species?  And they’re really naive enough to think this will happen?!  NO!  The people in the slaughter houses will find new and undoubtedly unhappy ways to cut corners, likely to the ever increasing detriment of the individual horses being processed.

Dream big, boys and girls, but dream realistic.  That’s the only way to turn fantasy into reality.

Igloos, whale blubber and maple syrup

Did I miss any stereotypical Canadianisms? I apologize if I did, please feel free to include them in the comments.

Yes my friends, it’s time to head north and explore the Canadian SPCA.

I’m going to attempt to sum up the story so everyone’s up to speed and then WHAM we’re going to talk about why the SPCA feels it’s ok to ignore horse killers who hide behind supposed ignorance.

  • Wonderful horse-lover comes across picture of neglected, starving filly (Zora) that turns out to be the half sister to one her horses
  • Said wonderful person attempts to purchase the filly – at first the owner says no but eventually a price is agreed upon and arrangements made for Zora to be picked up.
  • Owner tells wonderful person that she’s feeding the filly as much hay as she’ll eat and grain twice daily (I’m not even going to try to mask it with a cough: I call bullshit!)
  • Wonderful person picks up poor little Zora (literally, as the filly trips while trying to load into the trailer and doesn’t have the energy to pick herself up)
  • Zora wasn’t strong enough to stay on her feet for the trailer ride home (1.5 hours) so they once again had to pick her up upon arrival
  • Get her in a stall, give her hay and fresh water – Zora lays down after 30 minutes because she can’t stand anymore
  • Poor little baby doesn’t even last the night. (ok, I’m already crying and I’ve read this before).

Deep breath.  And continue.

Since when are people not held accountable for their actions?  Even when someone doesn’t mean to do something! – the charge of involuntary manslaughter was created for a reason!  But according to the Canadian SPCA, it’s a-ok in their books for someone to starve and neglect a foal (a foal! A freaking FOAL) to the point of death.

The person who took in Zora contacted the SPCA to ensure that poor Zora`s death didn’t go unnoticed.  If nothing else, maybe it could serve to keep that wretch from ever doing this to another horse.  So a necropsy was performed, the findings of which supported that the filly had been starved over a period of time (nonexistent fat stores, below normal levels of skeletal muscles) and then the SPCA investigated.  Two months later, the case was closed and nothing was done.

The wise people of the SPCA concluded that it wasn’t worth their time since they couldn’t conclusively prove that Zora had been neglected on purpose, as opposed to her neglect being the result of the previous owner’s lack of education.  You’ll notice that the SPCA isn’t arguing the fact that Zora had been neglected – just whether or not is was on purpose.

How lax are the laws “protecting” animals (including livestock) that people can hide behind ignorance and avoid any consequences by saying “oops, I didn’t know”.  And how sad is it that they can apparently convince the SPCA that they didn’t realize practically being able to hang hangers off Zora’s pelvic bones, thinly covered with baby fur that should have shed out months ago, was a bad thing.

Well, as it turns out, it may not entirely be the SPCA’s fault.  After a brief googling session, I found this summary that outlines and compares the “Farm Animal Welfare Law in Canada”.  Apparently, if you want to abuse animals, New Brunswick is the place to go! The only place animal protection officers (APO’s) seem to have any authority to intervene is when a “pet establishment” (ex. a dog kennel) is involved.  Furthermore, New Brunswick is one of 4 provinces that does not have a “standard of care that includes provisions for Duty of Care requirements for the keeping of farmed animals”.  So, if I’m reading that right, anything goes?  That’s what you’re telling me?  Farm animals aren’t worth protecting?  Unfortunately, and despicably, that’s probably not the first time any of us have heard that.

I don’t care how inexperienced with horses you are, ribs = bad.  At some point, way before starving to death was even a possibility, anyone with an iota of common sense would have figured something wasn’t right and sought help.  Low on cash? Ask a neighbor.  Visit the internet.   There are ways to get free advice as to why your cute little baby horse is too weak to stand on its own.  The fact of the matter is that the former owner didn’t care for the animal in her possession and caused its subsequent death.

If you’re not going to feed ’em, why have horses, eh?  (Sorry, I missed a stereotype)

From Fugly: Unlucky horses on Luck

By now, most people have heard about the three horses that died while filming the HBO series “Luck”.  The first two were euthanized after breaking their legs during staged races and the third was apparently being walked back to the stables when it reared up and fell back.

The American Humane Association (AHA) has been involved from the beginning.  After the death of the second horse, they worked with HBO to implement more strident regulations – including having an additional vet on site and radiographing the legs of each horse being used in production.  (Not quite sure what that additional vet was for – I imagine that at that point they just stood around, death syringe in hand, waiting for the next horse to catastrophically injure itself).

The horses being used were between the ages of 5 and 8; not exactly spring chickens in the world of racing, but not ancient either.  PETA’s vice president and “equine specialist” Kathy Guillermo, has been quoted objecting to the age of the horses being used in the “races”.  Apparently she’s not familiar with the AHA horse specific guidelines that state “no horse under the age of 4 shall participate in horse-racing scenes”  (section 8-68 e).  I’m not sure why the age of the horses is a point of contention – there are races for older horses.  Snarkly’s (aka JG) own OTTB was raced until he was 9!  Points like this make me wonder at Kathy’s “equine specialist” title.  It’s like saying the celebrities from Friday’s post are “equine specialists” because they supported an equine-specific issue.  THAT DOESN’T MAKE YOU A SPECIALIST!  By the way, here’s Kathy’s bio on PETA’s website – you’ll notice there’s no mention of horses in it.

What they should be focusing on, as opposed to trying to list as many possible issues as they can conjure up in their tiny PETA brains, is the health, particularly soundness, of the horses being used.  The necropsies noted the first horse (a 5 year old gelding) as having a lot of damage to his suspensory (couldn’t have felt good to gallop around on that) and having banamine, bute, “Solu-delta-cortef (Prednisolone)” and “Torbugesic (Butorphanol)” in his system.  According to a recent article by, bute and banamine together is a no-no as it can cause renal toxicity.

There are some people who will question as to when the horse was given this cocktail of drugs – and rightfully so.  It could very well have been in response to his newly shattered leg, before they determined the best course of action was a humane euthanasia.  Except, PETA’s lawyer, in a letter to the president of the Pasadena SPCA (cc’d to the Assistant District Attorney), states the drugs were given prior to the injury occurring.  Now, PETA may not be the best source of information, but one would hope that their lawyer is held to the same ethical standards as all others and therefore wouldn’t outright lie – at least not in a printed format that could come back to haunt her.

Unfortunately, what’s done is done.  Moving forward we have to ask who’s responsible for the deaths of these horses, just how avoidable were they, and how do we prevent them from happening in the future?

According to section 8-79 of the AHA’s guidelines, they “may inspect the animals and check appropriate documentation, including health certificates and Coggins tests.”  Part b. goes on to state that the “animals must be adequately trained, conditioned and prepped”.  So were these horses inspected?  And what are the AHA’s guidelines for inspections for horses that will be used for racing?  Do they have different levels of qualifications for different purposes?  Ie. a horse to be used for racing should exhibit a certain level of fitness and soundness before being “hired” for a production, while cowboy/western production will have completely different physical demands.  How are they going about testing for soundness? (I wonder what would have happened if they had required radiographs from the beginning on Luck?  What would the legs of those two horses looked like?)

Or are the directors and producers of the show to blame?  Did they know and (perhaps more importantly) understand the physical limitations of their equine actors?  Did they proceed knowing full well they were endangering the horses? All the while with dollar signs dancing before their eyes?

We see examples of it across the world.  Horse abuse, particularly in the name of human profit, is a growing commodity.  People seem to be dreaming up new ways to exploit and profit from them every day (and yes, I do include PETA-ites in that as well).  But how do we stop it? Do we keep fighting the good fight, as we’ve been doing? Or is there a better way?  Because it seems to be an uphill battle and I’m worried we’re losing ground.

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