Last week, we picked apart the favorite PSA excuse for slaughter; setting base prices for horses. Most of you saw it as a load of crap, but most of you are also sane and can see that meat prices have nothing to do with the value of a healthy, sound and well-trained animal. Of course we got the information from the petulant pony, Naughty Tobiano. She’s currently doing a whole series on good reasons to slaughter horses and kindly supplied us with 24 vices that would be good reasons to send your horse to slaughter. I thought we would take a look at them since they seem somewhat related to these mythical `bad horses’ the PSA people keep ending up owning.
#1 – Cribbing
Cribbing is a super annoying habit some horses come up with. It can lead to various management/health problems like colic and dedicated cribbers often wear their front teeth down to nothing. Any of the sales I go to will list if the horse is a cribber or not in the catalogue as it’s not usually curable. It is, however, manageable. There are various straps and collars that you can use to minimize or even wipe out the behavior all together. Cribbing is also something that seems to be lifelong for most horses. I have yet to see a horse take up cribbing as a mature horse. I guess the bottom line with cribbers is that if you really can’t stand the behavior, don’t buy a horse that cribs. There are plenty of other people willing to put up with this particular `vice’.
#2 – Wood Chewing
Not the same thing as cribbing. Most horses get into wood chewing out of boredom. Sometimes they do it because they are missing something in their diet. It’s fixable. You can turn your horse out, you can give them something else to do (various stall toys) and you can paint wood surfaces and make that not so inviting for them. I’ve had a lot of young horses that were stabled or kept in paddocks think it was a good idea to embrace their inner beaver. Most will eventually grow out of it once they lose their baby teeth. I have rarely seen a pastured horse with adequate roughage provided and company take up wood chewing. I took a spin around in the golf cart to look at our paddocks/pastures tonight and the only one that has chewed boards is the small paddock we use to isolate a horse that may be injured. Other than that, not a single chewed board on the property. Imagine that!
#3 – Teeth Grinding
Huh? Our painted pony thinks that a horse that grinds its teeth should be slaughtered? I’m confused. I’ve had the odd horse grind its teeth when I’m riding. It’s never really bothered me and I’ve never given it much thought. If a horse seems particularily uncomfortable with a bit in its mouth there are countless options to fix that too.
#4 – Weaving
Coming from a racetrack background, I’ve had my fair share of weavers. You can’t really fix them as long as they’re stabled. It also isn’t `contagious’. I had one horse that weaved all day long and none of our other horses that we had at the time ever did. Our `weaver’ wasn’t stressed out as he did that from the very first day he ever was in a stall and we owned him from the time he was a baby. It was just his `thing’. Do you know what we did about it? We put a rubber mat under him so he didn’t wear a hole in the ground and we kept standing bandages on him so he didn’t accidentally bump his legs. We also hung a radio outside his stall door and he would always weave in time to the music. If he had to be annoying, at least we could make him cute about it. I also owned this horse after he retired and for the rest of his life. Guess what? Once he was `let down’ from racing and lived in a nice big paddock with his buddies, he didn’t weave anymore. The odd time if he got left in his paddock alone, you might catch him standing in a corner weaving, but those occasions got fewer and further between the older he got. I guess my point is that he wasn’t hurting anybody or anything. He was also a really cool horse to own and ride. Hardly a reason to execute the poor guy because he was into self soothing.
#5 – Head Shaking
Head shaking is something that is a bit more controversial. Some think it’s strictly behavioral and others think there is a neurological reason for it. I lean towards behavioral in most cases. I haven’t ever had a personal horse that was a dedicated head shaker. I’ve had horses that had nose flies and done it the odd time, but never a dedicated head shaker. I’ve also had racehorses that would sling their head when they got keyed up. It hurts to get a head-butt from a horse. I’ve always attributed head shaking to being a human caused problem. Maybe that’s why PSAs have head shakers that need to be slaughtered and most of the rest of us never have?
#6 Extreme Ear-shyness
Really? This is a good reason to slaughter a horse? Ear shyness is %100 man-made and/or fixable. If they have mites or plaque in their ears, treat them. If you have an ear shy horse ,WORK with it and get it over it. My 17.2h horse came to me very ear shy. His former owner had twisted and twitched his ears to try to get him to bring his head down to work on. As a result, he didn’t want anybody touching them. I couldn’t really blame him. However, with a lot of patience and kindness, he will now drop his head to my knees so I can bridle him and I can use my electric clippers on his ears. He just had to learn that I wasn’t going to twist them and hurt him.
#7 – Stall Walking
Yet another `vice’ that is man-made. Stall walkers are bored. They also aren’t really doing anything other than making a huge mess of their stall and more work for the person that cleans it. If you are too lazy to deal with that, don’t keep your horse in a stall. If you don’t have any other choice but to stable your horse, get off your ass and make sure he’s properly exercised and stimulated or maybe he’s not the right horse for YOU.
#8 – Wall Kicking
Why is your horse kicking the wall? Maybe he needs a new neighbor? Maybe he’s bored. I’ve had horses get excited and kick the wall. I’ve had a few that raised hell at feed time. It’s annoying and expensive to have them kick their shoes off, so you find ways to work WITH the behavior or you don’t keep them in a stall. Pretty simple.
#9 – Hard to Load
Really? NT thinks this `vice’ could be a deal breaker. How about working with the horse and teaching him to load properly? A few months ago when we had to evacuate over 50 horses in a very short time frame, not all of them were experienced with trailers. Guess what? We got ever single one loaded and out in under 2 hours. If you aren’t an abusive moron, you can make a hard to load horse, not hard to load. Amazing how that works.
#10- Hard to Catch
Given how we have seen some of the PSAs treat their animals and considering what NT thinks `slaughter worthy’ is it any wonder that they have horses that are hard to catch? I don’t have a single horse that is hard to catch. I have some formerly hard to catch horses, but as of right now, they all come when they are called and I rarely go out to catch them with anything other than a carrot in my pocket and I don’t always even have that. A little work in a roundpen will usually convince a horse to be a bit easier to catch.
#11 – Will Not Stand Tied
Why won’t your horse stand tied? I’ve had exactly one horse in my life, racehorses included, that would not stand tied up. She was a puller. Some trauma in her past made her panic when she was tied up. Violently so. However, she would ground tie and stand all day long, even at horse shows, with her line on the ground. You could literally park her somewhere and she would stay there as long as you didn’t tie her up. I suppose, if I had been older I could have worked with her on the tying thing. There are lots of ways to do that, it just didn’t seem important to me as a kid.
#12 – Bucking Under Saddle
Again, there about a thousand reasons horses do this. Maybe they are getting pinched, maybe they don’t want your abusive ass on their backs. How about looking for a reason other than `bad horse’ as to why they’re doing it? I guess this would be tough if you are a PSA because the answer may be that YOU are the problem and we all know that PSAs don’t like that answer very much. Far easier to slaughter them.
#13 – Rearing Under Saddle
Yet another man-made `vice’ that is worth a death sentence. Why is your horse rearing? I’ve seen the bits many of them use and I’ve seen pictures and videos of their ham-fisted efforts to ride. Figure out the problem and fix it. I guess that isn’t easy to do when you are the problem…
#14 – `Girthiness’ or Tack Shy
Huh? Do these asstards not believe in actually TRAINING their animals? Why is it `tack shy’? I have never had a trained horse that was tack shy. Never. As for the `girthy’ business. Deal with it. Take your time, stretch it out, walk it around and then tighten up. That’s what I love about riding English. I tighten my girth once I’m on my horse. I guess the PSA horses just get hauled out of the field and get the tack slammed on their backs, cinches done up to cut them in half immediately and they should be good to go with it. Seriously, WTF?
#15 – Cold-backed
First off, how about seeing if your horse has a sore back? Check the fit of your tack. How about lunging the horse and warming it up before you heave your abusive ass on it? I guess it’s far easier to just slaughter them…
#16 – Pasture Bully
How about moving the horse to a new pasture? Don’t have one? Then sell or give the horse to somebody that does. Any herd of horses will always have a boss. Either let them work it out or find them compatible herd mates.
#17 ,18,19 – Biting, Kicking, Striking
I lumped these three together. All `behaviors’ and all fixable or man-made. Sometimes both. I’ve handled a LOT of horses. I can’t even count how many. I’ve handled everything from new borns to 4/5yr olds that have never even been halter broke. I’ve had horses do some pretty shitty things when you’re starting out with them. They’ve also all gotten over it. Not every horse is going to end up being a kid safe horse, but you can teach good manners if you’re smart enough to do so without getting yourself killed in the process. Here’s a little video from a PSA. THIS is why there are bad horses and this is why not everybody should be working with green horses when they have no clue what they’re doing. Watch the video linked below and tell me if this little blow-up is actually the horse’s fault at all…
#20 – Bolting/running away
Sounds like a training/rider problem more than a reason to slaughter. Perhaps the PSAs should stick to horses that eat quarters rather than the real kind?
#21 – Bad in Traffic
Really? How about not riding in traffic? If you can’t desensitize your horse to traffic (if that’s even a big deal to you) then buy one that already is.
#22 – Constant jigging or crab-stepping
Yet another man-made vice. Back to the arena with your bad self if this is an issue. Maybe take some riding lessons while you’re at it. Why is your horse doing this? Lots of times it’s because you’re gagging it half to death with your ham-fists. Take that horse to the arena and do some long and low work and teach him to relax. It’s not that hard.
#23 – Chronic Mane and Tail Rubbers
OMG. If your horse is rubbing the mane and tail of itself, how about taking the time to figure out why rather than selling it to a kill buyer? Maybe you could start off by worming the poor thing. If that doesn’t fix it, maybe it has a skin condition. Do you know that Listerine applied to the tail and mane will often stop the itching and clear up minor skin conditions? A novel idea would be to have a vet come and see why the horse is doing it. Most mane rubbers do it by reaching through the fence to get food. You could try feeding your horse! Lots of mares will `fence push’ and rub their tails out when they’re in season. Deal with it. I’ve yet to see a healthy horse that was on pasture do either of these things.
#24 – Extreme `Mareishness’
This is perhaps the easiest of all to fix. Don’t buy a mare if you don’t want to deal with the hormonal issues. Not every mare is all that hormonal. Ones that are really bad can be put on Regumate or other therapies to minimize this. You can have a marble placed in their uterus to stop a lot of it. I guess you can’t be a good PSA backyard breeder without mares though….
As you can see, there isn’t a single `vice’ on the list that should mean a horse needs to be slaughtered. In fact, they are all basically man-made and fixable or at least manageable. Apparently, PSAs expect each and every horse to be 100% perfect all of the time despite the abuse and generally shitty horsemanship they are subjected to. Well, horses are thinking, breathing animals and they even have feelings. If you want a recreational vehicle that doesn’t require training or maintenance, I suggest you buy an ATV or a dirt bike. The other thing PSAs want is to buy their horses for under $1000 and then turn around and sell them for several thousand dollars after they have messed them up. It doesn’t work like that. If you want a bomb-proof, healthy, sound horse that is actually trained to do something you’re still going to have to a decent price for it. Slaughter or no slaughter isn’t going to change that. The only thing slaughter is going to do is give you a dumping spot for all the horses you mess up and I don’t think that’s the answer. I think the answer is that any person that thinks any reason on this list is worth slaughtering an animal over gets out of horses all together. You’re not a horseman and we don’t want you in OUR industry.