Thursday, August 9, 2012

DNR OKs Dog Fighting + Olympic Rolkur & Tevis Results

First, a break from horses to talk about other critters I love:

The Dane County Humane Society is one of the biggest players in a lawsuit against the Wisconsin DNR. At issue is this: should people be allowed to hunt wolves using dogs? Currently, the DNR is okay with it, as long as it's not at night.

Dog fighting is illegal, but the WI DNR says it's okay to hunt wolves with dogs? How about NO. If you really want to hunt a wolf to prove how macho you are, it should be you against the wolf, not your dogs fighting until death or disfigurement on your behalf. I'm not too happy about the plight of the wolves, either. Hunting wolves? Ehhhh... maybe. Chasing wolves down to be slowly ripped apart by hounds? No. Not that the dogs do all the ripping; check out some hound casualties and their story here (warning: graphic!).

Okay, back to horses.

If you've been breathing in the last week, you've already heard about the Olympic Equestrian controversies going on, but they bear repeating. It's a tale of two horses, two riders, and the stupidity of the FEI:

Tiffany Foster was just about to represent Canada in individual and team jumping at the Olympics. Her horse, Victor, had trotted out sound and passed the initial pre-competition fitness test with flying colors. Then, at the last minute, he was disqualified. Why? He had a minor sore spot just above his coronet band. When the judges poked it, he flinched. This was called "hypersensitivity," and Tiffany and Victor were denied the chance to compete in the Games they'd worked so hard to get to.

Patrik Kittel, a dressage rider from Sweden, was also just about to represent his country in the Olympics. He and his horse, Scandic, went for a warmup ride. Kittel forced Scandics head into his chest using his double reins, making the horse exercise while barely able to breathe, see or endure the pain. The judges gave him the thumbs up, and later, gave him a good enough score to compete for an individual medal.

What the freaking hell?!

The FEI argues that hypersensitivity of the legs can be caused by illegally using capsaicin (found in chili peppers) on a horse to make him jump higher. However, Victor wasn't tested for capsaicin or anything else-- they just disqualified him for the scratch.

Meanwhile, Patrik Kittel is notorious for using rolkur (I don't care that he calls it "Low Deep Round" instead). At the Odense World Cup Qualifier a year or two ago, he even kept his horse's head so tucked up tight, the horse's tongue turned blue and lolled out of his mouth, apparently from lack of circulation. Video here. He did it in the World Equestrian games in Kentucky (pic right). He does it everywhere! But hey, I guess he's A-okay, huh?

What the freaking hell.

If you don't remember what rolkur is, you can try this simple experiment at home. First, bend your head and neck until your chin is touching your chest. Then bend even further-- get that nose down! Now, go outside and run for half an hour. Throw some ballet moves in there as well. If you can't keep your head down, strap it down with a belt. I know you can't see anything but the ground, or breathe beyond shallow gasps, but do it anyway. Hooray, you just experienced rolkur!

Let's move on. I've had a rough week, and it's only Thursday-- how about some nicer news?

The Tevis, the famous 100-mile endurance race, was run this week. The top 10 riders were all mounted on 9-16 year old Arabians, and they all finished in about seventeen hours, including rest periods and vet checks totaling about 2 hours. 15 hours is not a particularly fast time for the Tevis, but amazing nonetheless-- can you imagine riding 5-6 miles per hour for that long?! Many riders were from Colorado or California, with Texas, Wyoming and New Mexico represented as well. Seven were women, three were men. First and second place were taken by the husband and wife team Garret and Lisa Ford, on their horses Fury and Cyclone. The coveted Haggin Cup (horse in the best condition after 100 miles) went to Rusty Toth riding Farrabba, AKA "Stoner." LOL. They got fourth place in the race. Here's what they look like:

By the way, the Haggin Cup is considered by many to be a better prize than actually winning the Tevis race. In endurance, it's not about just getting across the finish line-- it's about getting across while still looking like you could go another twenty miles.

205 riders started, and only 98 finished. When only half of the riders even finish a race, you know it's tough! That's why the Tevis motto is, "To Finish is to Win." You can see the full race results here

You can watch a video of the winners, their horses, their families and their trophies below. Warning though: it has a fucking annoying soundtrack.


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