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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why No Horse Slaughter in Tennessee

Horse Slaughter Plants in Tennessee are once again on the agenda for Tennessee legislators. A bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Andy Holt of Dresden, to encourage opening horse slaughter plants in Tennessee was put off Monday for three weeks.

Here are just a few reasons (with supporting data) as to why I feel horse slaughter plants in Tennessee are a BAD idea:

Horse slaughter proponents argue it as a form of humane equine welfare for so-called “unwanted horses”. The process and mechanics of horse slaughter and the conditions are far from humane. They are horrific. There are plenty of undercover videos showing the graphic process. You can search for and watch such videos online for yourself if you dare and determine if you feel it is “humane.”


No Market & Cost Prohibitive
Slaughter for human consumption in Europe or the United States will not be effective in controlling “unwanted horses.” Due to new strict drug restrictions imposed by the EU (European Union), by 2013, slaughter will be too cost prohibitive a method to use as a means of controlling the “unwanted horse” population, because:

-Effective July 31, 2010, the EU will not accept imported horse meat from countries like Canada and Mexico unless it can prove that certain drugs and steroids were not ingested by the horse within six months of slaughter.


-By 2013, the EU rule will require each slaughtered horse to be shipped with an Equine Identification Document (EID) - a detailed electronic log of a horse's lifetime veterinary record and the drugs it has been given. A number of drugs - including, but not limited to phenylbutazone, testosterone, common dewormers and some antibiotics - must not have been given to the horse in at least the last 180 days prior to slaughter or they cannot be imported into EU nations.” Rachel Whitcomb, EU Standards Could Signal New Challenges for Veterinary Records, Horse Transport and Slaughter, DVM, August 2010, at 2E, Vol. 41, No. 8.


-Under these regulations the only way US horse meat would be acceptable to the EU market is if processors keep the horses in feed lots for 180 days, which is not cost effective, or we breed horses specifically for slaughter and then we are in the same boat as to the so-called unwanted horses.


-If we cannot ship horse meat to the EU because of its regulations, who is going to buy the horse meat?


-Will the market for horse meat in the United States be large enough to support this industry, given the amount of drugs labeled “not for human consumption” given to our horses?


-How will the USDA regulate horse meat for US consumption?



Again, we are back to the same problem of horse slaughter not being cost effective, nor solving the problem of the current “unwanted Horse” population. Better alternative to slaughter: work w veterinarians & vet schools to provide low cost/ no cost euthanasia.

Many other reasons slaughter plants are a BAD idea for communities based on previous slaughter plant history in this country (Dallas Crown and DeKalb, IL) are:
-Horse slaughter plants create environmental hazards and pollution.


-Plants create negative social impact on communities and lead to increase in crime rates.


-Plants deter other businesses from coming into their area.



-Lead to increase in migrant workforce.


-They devalue property.


-Blatant Animal Cruelty occurs- the USDA has documented 900 pages of graphic photos displaying the horrors horses are subjected to in these plants. Not to mention there are plenty of undercover videos on the internet displaying inhumane treatment and cruelty.



Don't take my word on it though, read for yourself the following letter from former Mayor Paula Bacon of Kaufman, TX outlining such problems and issues from her own personal experiences with slaughter plants in her state:


-http://www.animallawcoalition.com/horse-slaughter/article/686
Also see article presented by “The Community Preservation Project” opposing a slaughter plant opeining in Mountain Grove, MO.

-http://www.facebook.com/messages/1267396169#!/notes/jan-myers/information-regarding-the-horse-breeding-and-slaughter-plant-to-be-opened-in-mou/10150554078845855

There is no time like the present to contact your Tennessee legislators and let them know how you feel about horse slaughter plants in this state. Look up and contact your representatives here. Let Governor Haslam know your position too here or twitter @BillHaslam.
Follow on twitter #NoTNHorseSlaughter






Thursday, February 02, 2012

Horse as Teacher.The Path to Authenticity



I'm reading th BEST book that I have to share! It's one I'm reading slowly because I'm relishing in its richness. It is chock full of wonderful insights and beautifully written from the different perspectives of women contributors having one thing in common- life-changing experiences with horses! Their stories explore the profound and life-changing effects horses have had on their lives. Definitely check this one out for a feel-good and soulful horsey read that will warm your heart.


Warning: This read may induce the urge to kick up your heels and nicker with joy. In such cases, simply "Go to the horses." They'll accept you as one of their "herd" wannabees...














Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Buck Brannaman on ABC: Lessons in Life from Horses

Photo from http://www.brannaman.com


I just ran across this interview abc did with Buck Brannaman. Of course, "Buck" is naturally my favorite movie of the year. Yes, it's horsey....yes, it's got a cute cowboy....yes, I have a horse named Buck(Y)....perhaps I'm a bit biased? Nah..... or should I say....NEIGH?

The movie has gotten lots of buzz, and been enjoyed by plenty of non-horsey folks too. So, there's something of interest to folks about horses and their mysterious connection and relationship with humans. Even though the "Oscar's" have snubbed this documentary film this year, people have already chosen this film as a feel-good favorite! People have voted this enlightening film the winner of the People's Choice award at Sundance Film Festival and the Audience Choice prize at the documentary community's love Cinema Eye Honors fest.

So what is it about horses that draw people in? The reasons will be different for different people, but I believe one key has to do with horses' mystical, shaman-like connection to humans. Horses have an ability to "see" deep within what we often hide from the world and ourselves. Horses live in the authentic present. People do not. Horses will expose our "masks" and reveal our truth's. They can help us to better "see" ourselves, our world, and develop an understanding of broader connections...of our interconnectedness.


Why am I so fascinated with horses? It's really quite simple. I'm obsessed with "learning" and in my own experience, there has been no greater teacher of authentic, honest, truth in life, and present moment, than a horse. It's a profound experience and bond that transcends thinking, feeling, and reaches beyond to the soul. Who needs a phD when you've got a horse? Heck, even the interviewer made this connection....

Interviewer: "I thought I'd get a lesson in how to ride. Instead, I got a lesson in life.".....I couldn't have summed it up better myself!



Enjoy this interview and be sure to get more bang for your BUCK, and check out this fascinating man and his life journey with the even more fascinating horse!

http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/video/buck-describes-abuse-finding-peace-15426113

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Riders Prayer

RIDERS PRAYER

Dearest Creator in Heaven, give me strength to guide my horse.

Make my hands soft & my head clear.

Let my horse understand me & I him.

My heart you have blessed with a special love of these animals, let me never lose sight of it.

My soul you have gifted with a deep need for them, let that need never lessen.

Always let my breath catch as the sun gleams on an elegant head.

Always may my throat tighten at the sound of a gentle nicker.

Let the scent of fresh hay & a new bag of grain be sweet to me.

Let the warm touch of a warm nose on my hand always bring a smile.

I adore the joy of a warm day on the farm. The grace & splendor of a running horse, the thunder of it's hooves makes my eyes burn & my heart soar, let it always be so.

Dearest Creator grant me patience, for horses are harnessed wind & wind can be flighty.

Let me not frighten or harm them, instead show me ways to understand them.

Above all, dear Creator, fill my life with them.

When I pass from this world, send my soul to no heaven without them.

For this love you have given me graces my existence and I shall cherish it & praise You for it for all time.

~Author Unknown

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Its About Time








It's about time for a post. I've been so busy with all things life...including horses, that I've seriously neglected my writing duties on this blog. I've spent most of my efforts this past year on my Memphis Horses Facebook page. I developed this blog based on my love for horses and my passion for promoting their value to people and communities. I'm a pusher of horse welfare, an anti-slaughter advocate, and a supporter of responsible horsemanship principles and management. In a nutshell, I have zero tolerance for:



  • Abusers of horses (mistreatment)

  • Neglect of horses (starvation/abandonment)

  • Irresponsible breeders (backyard breeders)

  • Horse Slaughter

  • Anyone selling a horse they cannot responsibly care for to auction/slaughter. Humane Euthanasia is NOT an arduous responsibility people! If you can afford to buy a horse, you CAN afford to give them a dignified end that does not involve abandonment, starvation, pain, suffering, or selling to auction/slaughter. If you choose such an option rather than to choose an ethical and painless option for your horse or horses, I have no problem calling you the Bottom-Dwelling Low-life Coward that you are! I make NO apologies for this sentiment!

  • Horse Auctions

  • Kill Buyers

  • Any person, industry, business, etc. that does not "Take Care of Their Own."

Horses give me hope. Horses give me clarity. Horses give me opportunities to learn, to teach, to become a better human being. I'm on a mission to promote these concepts to others. To inspire people to see horses as I do. As the honest, humble, strong yet gentle guides, teachers, and healers that I believe them to be. They are gifts to people. Teaching us how to "see" ourselves, others, and the world in an enlightened way regardless of our "riding" use for them. Its about time I get back to writing more about my experiences with horses.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Take Time to Smell the Roses


How many horse folks out there have ever noticed how horses can show you how to slow down and live in the moment? I’m a busy body - I tend to naturally want to be moving. I simply have a hard time sitting still. If I’m sitting still, I’m fidgeting. Shaking a foot, leg, hand….I’ve often wondered, why it’s so hard for me to just chill! I’ve had people comment on it before. I even made someone giving a presentation nervous through all my fidgeting…oops! I’ve actually apologized for it and reassured people that it is a habit of mine….I’ve never been able to sit still well. I’m always thinking. When I have to wait on something, I’m thinking. Thinking about what I need to do, where I need to go, what I want to work on. If I got paid a dollar for every “thought” I had I’d be sitting right now on a beach outside my Mediterranean villa sipping a tasty beverage. One day, one day…. But I recently realized why I’m hard-wired for horses. Horses slow me down! They bring me back down to the moment. They give me the gift of being able to “see” life for what it is and appreciate it.

Okay, so they can also ironically turn me into the energizer bunny. When I’m around horses, I’m on a mission. I know what I’ve got to do, and it’s time to get busy. Typical day with my horses goes like this. Get to barn, grab halter, catch my horse (s) in pasture. Repeat, repeat again….. having more than one horse means more work! Oh, and let’s not forget the lesson horses and “old geezers” that sucker me into bringing them in too! Next comes either feeding, or grooming. I LOVE to groom. Every horse-lover has their own special “system” to this and bag of tricks. There is something about the “system” & business of it that’s calming- ironic?

Although I’m crazy about all horses, there’s one special breed that I’ve always had an affinity too. Thoroughbreds! Anyone whose spent time working with them will know what I mean in that most thoroughbreds don’t want to stand still or to walk. This is TORTURE for many! In fact, when retraining off the track thoroughbred’s, I don’t dare start them off by trying to first train them to stand still, or even walk when I’m on their back. This is just NOT natural for them, and by forcing them to slow down, walk….you may create a ticking time bomb that’ll quickly explode.

No, they need to be busy. They need to be moving forward. Pull back, they’ll go faster. It’s trot, trot, trot and more trot. Pretty quickly, in all that business, they start to relax. Their mind starts to slow. They start to listen more to you and you to them. And before you know it, you’ve got a harmonious team in forward motion both thinking alike, and almost melding into one mind. When riding them, all I have to do is “think” of something, and my horse will follow. A thoroughbred at this stage is so sensitive to the slightest feel that my aids…even at the subtle thought are transferred to them. For anyone who’s been here….this is a “WOW” moment. For those that haven’t, stick with horses…they’ll show you the way to this. Only the horse can teach you what this is. You have to be willing to listen though.


Eventually, the hottest off the track thoroughbred will get used to the “routine” and settle. As you both develop into a “team” you’ll eventually be able to start them back at the beginning so to speak, and walk before trot. But this “busy body brain” will always be hard-wired into a thoroughbred psyche and reappear at times. It’s part of who they are and why I adore them. It’s also why I can relate and connect with them so well.
I’m like an off the track thoroughbred. It’s through my nervous pent up energy and moving that I’m able to settle my brain and have great ideas. I guess I have to exhaust myself to “calm down.” But the activity, settles my mind, body, and spirit. It makes me happy. When I’m working with a busy horse, I’m able to be in that moment. Make my body relax, and listen and respond to my mount. The horse tells me what “he/she” need’s to settle, and because I’m in tune with them and “listening” I can respond. When finished with the ride, I’m able to see more clearly, think more clearly, be in the moment and enjoy it and so is my horse! It’s a special feeling and one I’m truly grateful for. This feeling and recognition is truly a gift- and one that only a horse has been able to give me. It’s a combination of magic, spirituality, and something bigger than me and the horse. It’s truth, calm, and as close to heaven as I’ll probably ever get while on this earth.

Now, I’m not suggesting that high strung people start riding high strung horses! That can be a recipe for disaster. But speaking for the anomaly that is me- it works, and it’s magic. The very nature of all the hard-work that is horses is what keeps me grounded. Keeps me sane, keeps me focused. How ironic that it’s through being busy, that I’ve been shown by horses to slow down and take time to smell the roses? Take time to “see” life in the moment and appreciate it. I hope that you are also able to let your horses show you the way to this. If you’re willing and open to it, they’ll teach you to take time to smell the roses too, and appreciate what’s important in life.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I Ride

Here's one for all you Independent Cowgirls out there! Thank you Stephanie Sudduth Cash for sharing this beautiful note!

I ride. That seems like such a simple statement. However as many women who ride know it is really a complicated matter. It has to do with power and empowerment. Being able to do things you might have once considered out of reach or ability.

I have considered this as I shovel manure, fill water barrels in the cold rain, wait for the vet/farrier/electrician/hay delivery, change a tire on a horse trailer by the side of the freeway, or cool a gelding out before getting down to the business of drinking a cold beer after a long ride.

The time, the money, the effort it takes to ride calls for dedication. At least I call it dedication. Both my ex-husbands call it ‘the sickness’. It’s a sickness I’ve had since I was a small girl bouncing my model horses and dreaming of the day I would ride a real horse. Most of the women I ride with understand the meaning of ‘the sickness’. It’s not a sport. It’s not a hobby. It’s what we do and, in some ways, who we are as women and human beings.I ride.

I hook up my trailer and load my gelding. I haul to some trail head somewhere, unload, saddle, whistle up my dog and I ride. I breathe in the air, watch the sunlight filter through the trees and savor the movement of my horse. My shoulders relax. A smile rides my sunscreen smeared face. I pull my ball cap down and let the real world fade into the tracks my horse leaves in the dust.

Time slows. Flying insects buzz loudly, looking like fairies. My gelding flicks his ears and moves down the trail. I can smell his sweat and it is perfume to my senses. Time slows. The rhythm of the walk and the movement of the leaves become my focus. My saddle creaks and the leather rein in my hand softens with the warmth.

I consider the simple statement; I ride. I think of all I do because I ride. Climb granite slabs, wade into a freezing lake, race a friend through the manzanita all the while laughing and feeling my heart in my chest. Other days just the act of mounting and dismounting can be a real accomplishment. Still I ride, no matter how tired or how much my seat bones or any of the numerous horse related injuries hurt. I ride. And I feel better for doing so.

The beauty I’ve seen because I ride amazes me. I’ve ridden out to find lakes that remain for the most part, unseen. Caves, dark and cold beside rivers full and rolling are the scenes I see in my dreams. The Granite Stairway at Echo Summit, bald eagles on the wing and bobcats on the prowl add to the empowerment and joy in my heart.

I think of the people, mostly women, I’ve met. I consider how competent they all are. Not a weenie amongst the bunch. We haul 40ft rigs, we back into tight spaces without clipping a tree. We set up camp. Tend the horses. We cook and keep safe. We understand and love our companions, the horse. We respect each other and those we encounter on the trail. We know that if you are out there riding, you also shovel, fill, wait and doctor. Your hands are a little rough and you travel with out makeup or hair gel. You do without to afford the ‘sickness’ and probably, when you were a small girl, you bounced a model horse while you dreamed of riding a real one.

Julia Edwards-Dake