Wisconsin horse trainer Cyndi Plasch was caught on video tape at the Midwest Horse Fair repeatedly hitting a horse with a wiffle bat in order to force it into a trailer:
Cindy Plasch was heavily involved in gaited horses, as an owner, trainer and coach. She worked at the Missouri Foxtrotter Riding Academy (warning: site may be down due to heavy traffic) located at the Driftless Valley Ranch in Mazomanie, WI. The Upper Midwest Missouri Foxtrotter Association has just removed her from its board, but we don't know whether Driftless Valley has fired her or not. The Midwest Horse Fair organization has issued a statement condemning Plasch's actions, but we don't yet know if she will be allowed to come back next year. Hopefully, all of the media attention, including this video which has an interview with person who caught the abuse on tape, will mean permanent banishment for Plasch. Several witnesses have attempted to get some legal action going, but so far it seems officials are treating the incident as harmless. If you disagree, you can contact:
Animal Services Officer
Public Health-Madison & Dane County
Ph. 608-243-0310 or try (608) 266-4821
Or write to:
Public Health Administrative Office
Attn: Animal Services
210 Martin Luther King
Jr. Blvd, Room 507
Madison, WI 53703
Plasch has now released a statement defending herself:
"Attempts to load the horse had been going on for an hour and a half prior," and "gentler methods such as tapping and using treats were used at the start and were not successful." She also said in the statement that the horse had become violent.
Can anyone say, "lame excuse to throw a temper tantrum?" I have a challenge for you, dear readers: let's see how many ways we can come up with to get a balky horse into a trailer that don't involve beating it with a plastic bat. I'm willing to bet that most of you are not trainers, yet you can come up with dozens of better ways. Ready? I'll start us off:
- Using a butt rope.
- Training a horse extremely well prior to a major show, so that this is less likely to happen in the first place.
- Lunging the horse immediately after he refuses to go in the trailer, teaching him that refusal = more work than cooperation.
Several people have defended Plasch, saying stuff like, "A plastic wiffle bat doesn't hurt," "everyone loses their temper sometimes," and "the horse was aggressive." To which I reply:
A wiffle bat doesn't hurt much, but can you imagine how afraid this horse was? And the next time he even sees another trailer, he'll be even more afraid because of what he's experienced. Violence of any kind is never an appropriate training technique. Yes, everyone loses their temper, but this is an adult professional entrusted with the care of children and other peoples' horses. Even if she couldn't be adult enough to handle her shit, she could have found a better way of taking out her frustration. However, I don't believe this was spontaneous at all; ask yourself why a trainer would be carrying a large plastic wiffle bat around at a show unless they intended to use it exactly for this purpose. I'm betting beating balky horses into and out of trailers is Cyndi Plasch's favorite technique. Finally, this horse was not aggressive. Despite being whaled on with a bat, I didn't see him try to kick or bite even once in this video-- hardly the behavior of an aggressive horse. But even if it was an aggressive horse, does that warrant repeated beatings with a bat? Um, no. That's not how you deal with an aggressive horse, that's how you make one worse.
Cyndi Plasch = Scum. Spread the word.