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Archive for the ‘Right Horse Initiative’ Category

As promised, I am finally getting a chance to deal with some other things that have been kicking around on the back burner for a while.  If you’re here for HiCaliber fuckery, this isn’t the post for you.  If you’re here for drama, this probably won’t be the post for you either.  You see, once upon a time, this blog was about no one thing and certainly not even a little bit about HiCaliber.  What it was about was a lot about slaughter and other issues in equine welfare that I felt like posting about at any given time.  Those were the good old days and aside from the odd troll here and there, things were relatively peaceful and slower paced back then.  I do realize that you can’t put a genie back in the bottle, but after almost 2 years of pretty much all HiCaliber, all the time and all the drama and histrionics that entails, it’s time to focus elsewhere for now.  Believe it or not there is a great big horse community beyond Southern California and not every horse in trouble is easily found at an auction or with a `notorious’ flipper.  Sometimes the threat comes from within and sometimes they walk among us.  So, with that in mind, let’s talk about an issue that is troubling to many advocates right now.  Let’s talk about The Right Horse Initiative.

 

rhi

I wanna say it was about a year or so ago that I first heard of The Right Horse Initiative.  Even from the get go, I looked at it with a very jaundiced eye.  You know the old saying about if something sounds too good to be true?  It would seem to apply here.

The Right Horse Initiative has the primary goal of increasing the number of horses adopted annually nationwide and a secondary goal of providing more resources in communities to horse owners….will focus on training transition horses for placement in equine-assisted therapy, beginner horsemanship programs or other placement opportunities. The goal of this project is to create an infrastructure in which transition horses receive the care and training required for them to prime candidates for non-traditional adoption or placement opportunities in therapy and/or beginner riding programs.

Sounds pretty awesome, right?  Increasing adoptions and community resources is something we should all be able to get on board with.  Well, get ready for red flag #1 of many.  RHI is piloting a program that sees rescues which they now refer to as `adoption groups’, bringing their `horses in transition’ to regional training hubs.  They claim they will make these horses `better trained and more desirable’ which will allow them to be cycled through quicker.  The exact verbiage they use is “this increases movement in all the adoption centers and decreases their length of stay while increasing their ability to take on additional horses in transition.”  Movement. Interesting phrasing.  It’s almost like they are talking about product rather than sentient beings.  Still, if this was the only issue, it would be down to semantics.  Sadly, it’s not the only issue.

 

For those readers that have been with me since BHC (Before HiCaliber), you might remember the shit show that was United Horsemen under Sue Wallis and Dave Duquette.  Their main mission was to make horse meat happen in America under the guise of giving a shit about the welfare of animals.  One of the ways they tried to ram this down the throats of the horse community was the Equine Rescue & Rejuvenation Program.  I talked about it all the way back in 2012 on this post. Basically, what they were telling people they wanted to do was have a central hub where people surrendered horses.  There, they would be assessed for health, soundness and trainability and then horses they deemed suitable would enter their program.  The rest would go straight to a proposed slaughter plant on the very same property.  Make no mistake, the mission for Dave and Suey was to get slaughter up and running and the whole rescue facet of this program was basically the bread of the shit sandwich they were serving.

“To rehabilitate horses from an unwanted and at-risk status to a healthy and functional status. We will identify horses with potential, teach them skills, and then offer them to the public. Horses that can be trained, or re-trained for new purposes, will be sold. Horses that demonstrate suitability for purposes such as non-profit therapeutic riding or youth programs will be made available to those groups at little or no cost.”

Am I the only one not finding the  United Horsemen’s failed ERRP and RHI mission statements eerily similar?  To be fair, RHI is not openly advocating for slaughter.  What they are offering is `end of life services’ and on the surface that’s not a bad thing.  I am not now, nor have I ever been anti necessary euthanasia.  I think the problem with proposed programs like this is that people get euth happy and, RHI seems to place their emphasis on a horse’s ability to be ridden. Most rescues don’t have a huge issue placing good riding horses.  That hasn’t classically been the problem area in rescue. From the rescues I have spoken to and dealt with, it’s the pasture puffs and senior horses that are harder to place and I don’t really see RHI addressing this beyond euthanasia.

 

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Another red flag, I have with RHI is the money getting thrown around.  They are funded by Watershed Animal Fund which is a division of the Arnall Family Foundation.  There seems to be no shortage of cash and they have some rather generous grants available for adoption innovations.  For 2019, there are two 25k grants and another for up to 50k.  I don’t know about you, but that kinda money tends to buy some loyalty.  Who wouldn’t put the RHI logo on their social media if it meant that kind of cash?  This is where it gets a bit gray and scary for me.  On the surface, it’s completely awesome for a rescue to get a grant of that size, but at what ultimate cost?  As far as I can tell, if you get the grant, they kinda own you for at least the next 18 months.

handshake

A quick glance at RHI’s listed partners is a major cause for concern.  A few of the orgs listed such as NRHA, Equus Film Festival have direct ties to Protect The Harvest which, as most of you know, is one of the major lobby groups working on bringing back slaughter.  PTH is also where Duquette landed after Suey fell off her perch.  Like RHI, they also like to throw a lot of money around.  Equine Sciences at Colorado State is another partner and they lean to the pro slaughter side of things as well.  Of the five vets listed on RHI’s advisory council, at least three of them are said to be pro-slaughter, Dr. Tom Lenz being notoriously so.  Noticing a pattern here?

 

 

 

In the interest of full disclosure, RHI categorically denies any ties to Protect the Harvest.  That could be true, but as we have come to find out, PTH’s tentacles reach far and wide and their logo shows up at all sorts of industry events that you wouldn’t expect them to *cough*EquusFilmFesitval*cough*  What I find most interesting about this little threat message is that they do not take a firm anti slaughter stance.  They don’t really take any stance at all, but rather indicate that they’ll get in bed with anybody to push their agenda.  That’s how I’m reading the highlighted portion anyhow.  BTW, this wasn’t sent to me and it’s been posted in many places so let’s not be suing another innocent person in the next attempt to unmask me.  That’s getting kinda old.

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This is just scraping the surface of my concerns with RHI.  There already is a group of advocates that have laid out many of the issues on social media.  You can check them out on this Facebook page.   They go into far more detail than I have here and will happily answer any questions people may have.  I realize that all of this might seem like much ado about nothing or, at the very least, not much, but if I have learned one thing in the past couple of years it is to ask questions if things don’t feel quite right.  The response to those questions usually tell you if it’s worth a closer look.  I am deeply concerned that The Right Horse Initiative is buying support and, at best, not addressing the issues that will go a long way to improving the conditions for all horses.  By not taking an anti-slaughter stance and partnering with pro slaughter orgs and individuals, I worry about what is to come should they gain a strong foothold in the rescue community.  There as many ways to `rescue’ as there are rescues, but a common thread should be that the horse comes first and the focus should never be on quantity over quality.  Packaging it all up with feel good terms like `horses in transition’ is just lip service.  If you want to improve conditions for all horses then get behind the legislation that will CHANGE things for them once and for all.  Lean on your lawmakers to enforce existing laws and lobby for ones that have more teeth.  We need to focus on the cause rather than putting bandaids on symptoms and, as true advocates, we should always be working our way out of a `job’.  What I see with RHI is a lot of people making rescue a business and that may just be the road to ruin.

 

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