The Tangled Web of Horse Cruelty
 By Winniefield Park   •   4th Oct 2015   •   4,665 views   •   3 comments
The Tangled Web of Horse Cruelty

Burnings, beatings, torture, soring: these things are obvious cruelty. One would like to think that the ASPCA, The RSPCA and others had the ability to intervene, save horses and provide law enforcement with the information to prosecute the offenders. But, the ideal scenario and the one that actually plays out are often very different. And, not everyone agrees on what constitutes cruelty. What one person thinks of as a normal and necessary practice others regarded as cruel and unnecessary.

There are those that believe that keeping a horse in captivity, riding or driving it, or having any interactions at all is cruelty. You might think that this is PETA’s stance. But, surprisingly it isn’t. Even PETA acknowledges:

“When there is a respectful, loving bond between horse and human, then horseback riding can be as much an act of companionship and exercise as walking one’s dog.”

PETA objects to any activity which stresses horses due to exertion, heat, or involves the use of whips, spurs or any other equipment that causes a horse pain. By this definition, any horse sport such as jumping, dressage, horse racing, combined driving, endurance riding or barrel racing is cruel. Obviously, there are radicals amongst their ranks that disagree. But, if you enjoy gentle rides while the whether is good, and use only positive reinforcement to train your horse, PETA isn’t likely to object.

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The ASPCA points to horse slaughter as a major cruelty issue. And, we’ve seen even on Ponybox, there are many that disagree. When the bill that brought an end to horse slaughter was passed many people pointed out that it only created more problems. Now, instead of horses going to slaughter, some would be abandoned, overburdening rescue organizations, and ultimately not providing a solution to the problem of unwanted horses. Years after horse slaughter was banned, supporters and opponents are still struggling with the bill’s fallout.

While large organizations struggle with specific cruelty issues, individuals are reacting because humane societies and rescue groups don’t seen to move fast enough. There seems, at least to me, a spirit of vigilantism within the horse world. The internet makes it easy to call out people who aren’t doing things the way we’d like. Yet others are showing up at stables and seizing horses, sometimes without the owner’s blessing. I know of one instance where several people showed up at a barn and started ‘saving’ the horses, loading them on trailers parked on the road. A local human society was already looking into the case, law enforcement had been notified, and the owner was attempting to comply, but that wasn’t good enough.

And there are incidences when rescues and humane societies seem to react too fast and make moves that don’t make sense. The RSPCA in Scotland has come under criticism after it destroyed eleven horses that could have been easily rehabilitated, despite offers to rehome the horses and media attention around the situation. Critics of the RSPCA are calling for government oversight so that cases of cruelty are properly classified, perpetrators are rightly punished and their innocent equine victims given the chance to live good lives.

There are many other examples of how dealing with horse cruelty is ineffective, overzealous or inappropriate. How do we identify, classify, prosecute and prevent incidences of horse cruelty? These are complicated issues that have no easy answer, or perhaps, no answer at all.
Valkyrie  MOD 
PETA knows absolutely nothing about horse care or basic animal husbandry. I have zero respect for them as an organisation.

I used to be timid around horses, too scared to hurt them because I didn't want to "abuse" them. Years later I realise that it isn't abuse at all (unless you are all out beating the hair off them). A smack for biting you isn't abuse, a slap with the crop for not paying attention to your leg isn't nasty.

Horses beat on each other all the time. If you've ever watched a big paddock of horses for a while you'll see pinned ears, bites, spins, kicks, chasing, shoulder-barging, and general bullying. That's how horses discipline each other. So why do we tip-toe around them? They're big animals. They need to respect you and your space or someone will end up hurt.

I will never, EVER beat a horse out of anger. And I will never, EVER discipline a horse by hitting the head or anything bony like the legs. But the chest? Shoulders? Hindquarters? Fair game. If a yearling
  Oct 5, 2015  •  4,874 views
Winniefield Park  
Well said.
  Oct 5, 2015  •  4,811 views
Ruby Creek Ranch  
Val took the words right out of my mouth.
  Oct 7, 2015  •  4,763 views
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