FIND THE TIGER WITHIN US says William Micklem

What do you do when a horse sport different from your own uses cruel methods? Be grateful that your own sport is humane and clean and turn a blind eye or do something about it?

Of course what constitutes cruelty is often debatable. In my opinion the isolation of horses in single cells with minimum activity is cruelty, and I am not alone in having concerns about the mental abuse of horses in bad dressage, while others think racing over fences is cruel. The current primary area of focus in the FEI cruelty arena is the use of performance enhancing or pain killing drugs, and the greatest interest in the public arena are the dangers to both horses and riders when going cross country in eventing.

I happen to believe that the stable management and riding skills of those in eventing contribute directly and positively to the health and well being of thousands of horses and indirectly to thousands of others as these riders and trainers coach and influence new generations of event and pleasure riders….turning ignorance into knowledge and responsibility. In fact I believe it is difficult to find a sport which makes a bigger contribution to horse welfare than horse trials.

I also believe that there is a difference between cruelty caused by ignorance and cruelty caused by deliberate violence…the conscious and obvious use of pain to elicit a desired response. The use of electric shock prods or nerve lines for example. Thankfully such instruments of torture are rarely used within the world’s horse population, however, whatever the sport, if such methods are used they are damaging every equestrian sport by association.

Therefore I was shocked to read of certain USA States banning the use of electric prods in the rodeo industry. If it is necessary to ban the use of electric prods then I assume there is evidence of them being used. Then I watched film footage on U Tube of rodeo horses apparently refusing to buck unless a prod was used. Look it up yourselves on U Tube under Born To Buck……..and I have a question? If these horses are ‘born to buck’ why are bucking straps needed?

If we see or hear of the use of cruelty we need to voice our feelings and ensure the relevant competition organisation and/or National and International bodies police the situation and make it clear that such behaviour is totally unacceptable. To do this we need to find the tiger within us and be brave. But make no mistake we need to do this in the best interests of ALL equestrian sports. Onwards! William

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Comment by Dressage For The Rest Of Us on June 19, 2010 at 11:14pm
There are horse cruelties in all equestrian disciplines unfortunately. Plus, I would add the electric prods have been banned from PRCA (the main rodeo body) for years and years now.

What I am doing now against cruelty is trying to write about it and share ideas of education that can help riders overcome obstacles without resorting to cruel methods. I am asking everyone to open their eyes to every practice they do and consider each thing freshly and reevaluate if what they are doing is both effective and humane.

That's the best I can do for now, and it began with my own reevaluation.
Comment by Geoffrey Pannell on June 18, 2010 at 5:32pm
I agree William, all we can do as horsemen and women is influence those around us with good practices and then they will influence those around them and hopefully it will snow ball. Not be afraid to speek out when we see cruelty and abuse. Cheers Geoffrey
Comment by William Micklem on June 18, 2010 at 8:17am
It could be a win win situation.....we will all benefit if our house is in order regarding humane treatment of horses because we will without doubt increase our audience, and therefore probably increase the number of participants, and we will have happier horses. Sounds like a no brainer to me. William
Comment by Jackie Cochran on June 18, 2010 at 7:19am
Over the decades that I have been interested in horses I have noticed cruelty. The worse part of the cruelty is that the people doing it, paying for it to be done, or preaching its necessity NEVER see anything wrong with it (its just an animal after all.)
Unfortunately whenever some people see cruelty helping them win show classes or making their horse look "good" under them, the cruelty becomes part of the culture, and it is nearly impossible to stop it (TWH in America are still sored.) There just seem to be some people who do not feel right with the world unless they are torturing an animal or causing it to be tortured, but in their minds they are just practicing good horsemanship as they were taught it.
The answer? How about enforcing the rules of competition and the laws of the land and stop excusing these people's behavior as a cultural practice?

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