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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.

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Training, torture – synonymous, right?

I’m sure many of you have already seen this photo floating around facebook, but do you know the story behind it?

This photo comes from a Hackney Stud in South Africa where their grasp of the concept of training has clearly been confused with that of torture.

Apparently the genius’s that thought this one up feel this “method” will help build those attractive neck muscles that we all love so much – you know, the ones that are typically the byproduct of proper training and self-carriage.

These people were investigated by the Highveld Horse Care Unit (HHCU) where the inspectors found out from employees that the horses stand tied up like this for two hours at a time, repeated throughout the day.  Unfortunately the article posted on HHCU’s website was pretty scint on details so we have no idea if anything is going to happen to this Stud, or if the horses are going to be saved or what have you.  There are a number of discussions taking place on different forums about this, however, so if you want to hear what others have to say, check out Horse Grooming Supplies Forum and/or Horse Forum.  Or, if you feel so inclined, there’s an online petition to the South African government to stop this assholery.

Even body builders will tell you that you don’t hold a pose for two hours!  Come on people!  Anyone who’s ever been to a gym or done a workout in their lifetime knows that you do reps, not just grab and hold.  The repetition is what contributes to building muscle.  The kind of muscle that torturous methods such as this build are bracing and of no practical use.  This is done for aesthetics, pure and simple.  These horses are going to break down at a younger age than those with proper training and muscling.  It’s a sad statement on the way the horse industry is, worldwide, that it’s more important to have a “pretty pony” than a working horse that will last you a long time.  Do these people, the buyers of these abused horses, not consider the fact that they’ll get more bang for their buck from a horse that will perform for 10 years, as opposed to 2.  And make no mistake, this is abuse.

This also raises another issue, are horses so indispensable that people will buy them, use them for 2 years and then throw them away?  Oh wait, we already know the answer to that one, don’t we?  The racing and futurities industries are prime examples.  You know, they say that different cultures have different values and it can be hard to understand their points of view, traditions, way of thinking, etc.  And yet, apparently the devaluing of animal life is ubiquitous.  Hooray, we all have something in common.  Wanna hug it out?

For anyone daring to question the harshness of these abominable “methods”, just taking a look at the photo.  You can practically see the veins pulsating from the horse’s shoulder.  For anyone who’s ever watched an episode of House, Grey’s Anatomy, Doogie Houser – even Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman knew that this was indicative of an elevated heart rate.  Since we know the horse didn’t just run a freaking marathon, I think we can safely conclude that the horse’s heart rate is elevated due to pain – possibly from the unforgiving twine forcing so much pressure on the poor horse’s jaw it looks like it might snap off at any second.  Can you imagine how much damage that can, and likely is, doing to the horse’s musculoskeletal structure?  For anyone who’s ever had a chiropractor (or any medical professional along those lines) out for their horse, you know that one of the first things they check is the temporomandibular joint.  If there’s something out of alignment in this joint, it can cause pain issues exacerbated by flexion at the poll – hmmm and how exactly were these Hackney’s supposed to be traveling?  Could it be: flexed at the poll?! How willing (able) do you think they’ll be to trot out in the proper headset, featuring those neck muscles those jackasses tortured them to get?

Anyone else recall one of the issues surrounding rollkur?  The fact that the extreme overbent position compromised the horse’s ability to inhale sufficient air? (Check out Sustainable Dressage’s article for more info on why/how this affects the horse’s ability to, umm, breathe.)

Look familiar?

Once again, horse abuse proves to be completely senseless.  Good job humanity, you really know how to make a girl proud to be a part of the species.  Bra-fucking-vo.

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