I'm back! Did you miss me? Or did you rejoice when you thought I'd finally shut up for good? Hah, no chance of that!
So I've got a few excuses for not posting regularly in the last 3 months: I've moved to a new house, I've gotten a gig writing for a horse magazine, and lots of other big life stuff... but now I'm sort of settled. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, now let's do this!
First up, we have not one, not two, but three victims of irresponsible breeders on Craigslist to talk about! Obviously, none of the horses below should be producing offspring, but which horse has the worst conformation, hmm? Is it:
A) the scrawny, fugly, 4 year old curly stallion? (For sale for only $250! Bred 3 mares this year!)
B) the weak-rumped, no-loin Appaloosa mare with spine problems?
($450, and it's a two-for-one deal, that's right, another bred mare will be thrown in for free!)
OR is it
C) this coon-footed, downhill, spotted pony stud who might have been taller if he'd been fed well? (Only $350 for this guy, he has "thrown color" on his seven foals!)
I say it's a toss-up between B or C, leaning towards C, but let me know what you think!
And as usual folks, as we sit here criticizing bad backyard breeders in a bad economy, in a nation overpopulated with horses, in an state chalk-full of low-quality horses, remember: it's not the horses that are to blame. If you can give one of these guys a home, go for it! They didn't ask to be born with poor conformation, and they didn't ask to produce more babies with poor conformation. Their scummy owners did that crap. These horses are still deserving of love.
Now I want to backtrack a little to August, and tell you that the "big lick" Tennesse Walking Horse Celebration in Tennesse lost another major sponsor this year! After Pepsi backed out in 2012, I knew it was only a matter of time before this archaic, abusive competition ended, and now I think we're seeing its death throes. Attendance was down this year, and 10% fewer horses entered. Hooray! Unfortunately, the number of cruelty violations were double what they were compared to last year, and testing still doesn't seem rigorous enough.
(If you're not sure what I'm talking about, check out this article on the horrific torture of soring. Soring is traditional at the big TWH Celebration, where grotesque gaits are rewarded by the judges.)
|A scene from "Next Town Over," by Wisconsin writer, artist, and animal lover, Erin Mehlos|
On a lighter note, have you seen Next Town Over ? It's a free online comic, one of my very favorite reads. It's a blend of magic, mechanical wonders, and the Old West. And did I mention gorgeous freaking art?! Gawd, so gorgeous. If you're looking for cowboy chases, fire magic, and a horse that steadily becomes steam-powered, go check it out!
Ok northern folks, have you seen this horse?? She's a big bay mare with a little white on her left hind leg near the hoof, and a huge heart-shaped white blaze. She may be in the Twin Cities area now.
"Mystery" is her name, and one of her previous owners is trying to solve the mystery of where she ended up. Mystery was given to Camp Courage/New Friends as a riding horse for kids and disabled adults, with a written agreement that she be given back to her owner if things didn't work out or the camp was sold. Well the camp was sold, and Mystery was sold, but the owner was never contacted. The camp doesn't know where the horse is. The owner just wants to know that the mare is in a good place, and offer a retirement home if the current owner should ever want to give her up. Let's help this super responsible owner! Find Mystery!
Mystery was last seen in the spring of 2014 near Maple Lake MN, which is northwest of Minneapolis, MN. Please contact Mystery's owner at 612-518-4578 if you have any information, or email via this Craigslist ad. More pictures available on that ad.
Erin, the owner, really needs your help! (Btw, this is not the same Erin that writes the comic.)
"I have a 24 year old Thoroughbred cross gelding whom I desperately need a place for in the next few days. He lost a lot of weight in last year's brutal winter and never totally recovered. I don't think that I can expect him to get through the winter, but I am very busy with work and nursing school and wanted to wait until December 18th to have him put down. The school semester will be over by then and I will be able to deal with that difficult task better emotionally and mentally. However, I got a message from the person that owns the place where he currently lives and she wants him moved or put down by the end of the week - she has decided she doesn't like having a thin old horse there, even though he eats and moves around fine. He hasn't been off the farm in 4 years, so his coggins isn't current, but it's never been positive. If anyone can help me for the next few weeks, I would be truly grateful. Hartford area would be best, but I am willing to take anything right now. I will supply his grain and supplements. Also, I kind of wonder if he would be ok in a stall, since he is still eating and has spunk in him, but where I currently keep him, I can't afford a stall, due to my work/school situation. If anybody knows of ANYTHING - private boarder or retired horses facility, please contact me. THANK YOU FOR HELPING!!"
You can contact Erin at 262-365-4902. Normally I would be pretty adamant that a horse's welfare should come before an owner's emotions-- a skeletal old horse should be put down ASAP. On the other hand, I remember exactly what it was like to be on a high-stress schedule and an emotional roller coaster as a working student. It sounds like the owner here really does want to do the right thing, she just needs a tiny little bit of time.
In other news, Valley View Acres Horse Stables near Woodstock, Illinois has tragically burned to the ground, killing 32 horses in the process. Five horses survived. The cause of the fire has not been determined, but it is thought to be spontaneous combustion. If you want to support VVA, check out their Facebook page (their website is currently down). Winter is the worst time for barn fires-- there's lots of hay, bedding, dust, and dry air around to create an inferno. Make sure that you're taking basic safety precautions in your barn:
- encase lightbulbs in metal cages or frames, to prevent horses from breaking them accidentally
- encase electrical wires in metal conduit to keep rodents (and cribbers) from chewing them
- never leave a space heater on unsupervised
- make sure your heated water tanks never run dry-- the heating element can start a fire
- check to see if your bales are hot inside, a sign that the hay baled too wet-- it can combust!
- sweep up loose shavings, cobwebs, dust, and straw
Finally, here are free and cheap Wisconsin horses. Can you give one a home?
Chestnut pony mare, 12.1h, 14 or 15 years old, not ridden since 2009. Free. Kenosha
Call Marilyn at 262-886-9022
5 year old Tennessee Walker gelding, not broke, natural gaits. $300 Columbus
Call Robyn at 920 382 1174
QH gelding, 15.2h, some arthritis, well broke, needs sold TODAY. Can deliver. $375 Madison
4 year old QH/Halflinger mare, 13-14h, halter broke $200 Appleton
Morgan mare, "early teens," trailers, trail rides $200 or best offer Reeseville
Pinto mini mare, has founder issues, has been with a stallion Free Eau Claire / Lake Wissota
That's all for now folks, but stay tuned for more North Horse!