About a week ago, a new acquaintance told me the following story which she has never forgotten. She and her husband were at an auction of older horses, looking to buy. One horse didn’t get any bids and when the auction ended, the couple walked to the horse’s stall to observe it more closely. That’s when they noticed the telltale marks on its hooves and legs and the lack of vitality in the poor animal. It looked worn out. Someone who was well acquainted with the owner told the couple confidentially that the horse had not been out of its stall in 15 years,except for shows, and the owner intended to euthanize it if he couldn’t sell it. And that’s just what happened the next week. To his credit, the husband met the owner at a horse event and raked him over, telling him what he thought of him for doing that to a horse.
The reasons why this abuse is still happening are politicians who don’t want to offend the horse industry and sp won’t act, and the federal government, that doesn’t give the inspectors enough money to cover all the gaited horse competitions so that the abusers can be caught. The Horse Protection Act is thus not enforced to the fullest extent.
The worst people of course are the owners and trainers obsessed with making money and winning prizes and the dubious prestige that goes with the prizes when horses have been sored, and so will do anything necessary to torture their horses in order to win. Even when the offenders are caught, the punishments are not nearly harsh enough. What would be appropriate would be with one infraction, the sorers would never be allowed to participate in another event, and they would have their horses taken away. They would never be able to own horses again either. And I would legislate huge financial penalties and even jail time. I would also work hard to change the tax codes of a particular state to classify the horse in more ways than just farm animals.
What can we all do about this? At least let your representatives in Congress know how you feel about it, stressing that some states’ names are blackened in the public’s view because of the filthy reputations of sorers who live there, and urging the politicos to use their power in Washington to get rid of soring. Go to http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml to find your reps and contact them. And because sorers profit from the silence of people who care but do nothing, find some way to work on horses’ behalf actively besides donating money. If you have web sites or blogs, write about the problem, and get it out in the light where people will learn about it. Become a member of an active horse protection group. Read good web sites where there are opportunities for you to do something substantial. In my next blog entry, I’ll tell you about an excellent group that needs your help.