Why do I blog?

I guess this is a question almost every blogger must have asked themselves at some point.  Why do we do it, why do we sit behind the computer in our spare time and stare at an empty screen, trying to gather our thoughts and make the effort of painstakingly putting them into words? Why do we press publish at the end to launch these thoughts into cyberspace? What do we expect to get out of it?

The answer to that will be different for everyone. When I started this blog I wrote for myself. Trying to paint pictures in words. I wouldn’t describe myself as a verbal kind of person. In fact, words don’t come easy to me. I think in images. A lot of artists keep extensive sketch books with ideas and the preliminaries for their works of art. It doesn’t work like that for me. Ideas form as images in my mind and when they are ready, I put them into stone, or onto paper. I have never felt the need for sketch books. It’s much harder to put my thoughts into words, but I do enjoy it. Anyway, I wanted to keep a journal about my horses and I wanted it to incorporate photo’s and so I came to blogging. Initially, I wrote in a kind of vacuum. My blog was out there, but I had no readers and I hadn’t really worked up the courage to leave comments on other people’s blogs, so I wasn’t attracting attention. I wrote to release, to remember, and to try and make myself laugh at the trials and tribulations of life with horses and my blog was just a private bubble. When I first noticed that people were reading my blog, I was surprised.

This has always been a small blog, but it still grew to become something more than just a journal; it became a place to connect, to share and discuss. It became part of a community of horse lovers who are interested to share their experiences. Over the years, I have enjoyed the contact with like-minded people all over the world, and I have had wonderful comments on my blog. Support when I needed it. Advice, especially appreciated when I just started out transitioning to barefoot. I have learned things that you won’t find in books. Sometimes I got comments that made me laugh out loud (and that’ll teach you not to sneak some blogging time in during work hours!). Always, I enjoyed the stories of what I came to regard as my blogging friends.

In spite of all that, I was ready to give it all up. Because unfortunately, I have one reader who is definitely not my friend. I have had really unpleasant comments from this person, and it has taken the joy of blogging away from me. I felt that this person was reading over my shoulder every time I started a new post, ready with another snarky comment, and the words just dried up.

I have no problem with critical comments. I am always interested in other people’s point of view and I’ve had discussions here about topics like bits versus bitless and barefoot and hoofboots, but in the end it is obvious that everyone is always looking for the option that suits their horse and their particular situation best and these discussions have taken place in a respectful dialogue. Unfortunately, there is always the risk of running into the person that seeks to ridicule and crush ideas and when it is about the one thing that matters most to me, the relationship with my horses, I found that I am vulnerable.

You can moderate unwanted comments, but you cannot stop a person from reading your blog.  I thought about stopping blogging altogether, and then I considered changing the settings to make this a private blog, but I realised that I don’t want to lose what I have enjoyed so much over the past few years. And it’s not the writing, it’s being part of the horse loving blogging community. So I have decided to start a new blog, under a different name. If you’re interested, please leave a comment below, and I’ll let you know as soon as my first post is up.



An Irish summer

A few years ago I went to Scotland for a couple of days. They had wonderful postcards in the highlands: Winter in the Highlands, Summer in the Highlands etc. They were all the same; thick grey fog with dim outlines of a couple of sheep. We could make similar postcards for the South-West of Ireland, except it would have to be rain. Endless, interminable rain. Only the temperature might give you a hint what time of the year it is. I can’t remember the last time we had a decent summer, but this year is worse than ever. After a couple of nice days at the end of May, June has been a complete wash-out and July is off to a bad start. The land is a swamp, the rushes are growing better than ever and the mud is of a boot-sucking quality I was unprepared for, so when my wellie got stuck I got an unpleasant surprise when I shot forward to tumble headlong into a pool of muck. I was not amused, but it did provide some entertainment for my horses.  Minnie and Cassie watched with utter astonishment as I trashed around. Ah well, at least I didn’t damage my camera!

In a country where everyone is always hoping we finally might get a bit of a summer, even though we all know better, the weather is a great topic of conversation. The language is full of meteorological euphemisms. “A soft day” for instance means a day with a very fine, misty drizzle and a balmy temperature (too warm for a jacket, but if you don’t wear one you get soaked, miserable!). “Not a bad morning” means it isn’t raining…yet. And dull, gloomy overcast days often elicit exclamations of  “Isn’t is a lovely day?” Just because it isn’t raining.

Personally, when I think of a soft day, I think of blue sky with white puffy clouds sailing along in a gentle breeze. And a lovely day is definitely not one of those grey, overcast days, where the clouds are so low that they smother the hills. I yearn for days where I don’t have to wear thick fleeces and rain jackets, but it is the lack of blue sky that gets to me most. Still, even in this wet Irish summer, there is beauty to be found. You just have to see it.

A name and a trim

He’s been here a week now, the pony, and as his personality started to emerge a name began to suggest itself to me. I got some really nice suggestions for names, and I let it all simmer away, but in the end I think the pony gave me the name himself and so we have decided on Arrow.

Arrow has had almost no handling, so he has no manners and he has never heard of things like boundaries or following a lead. Some training was definitely in order and because I couldn’t get a head collar on him I started him practically straight away with the clicker. Over the past few days I have done a lot of work with him. I can now touch him everywhere around his head and neck, stroke his ears and face and put a head collar on without a problem. Not only can I put the head collar on, he will stand still while I put it on and fasten it without fidgeting too much. Thanks to the clicker, Arrow has learned very fast. Food is an incredible motivator for him. Still very new to clicker training myself, I am absolutely astonished what can be achieved in a short time.

Arrow came in dire need of a good trim. High heels and pointy toes might look nice under an evening dress, but not on a pony. On a hard surface Arrow was standing on the hoof wall only, his frogs were floating in space and he had a classic toe first landing. After the head collar, trimming was definitely a priority. My experience with trimming doesn’t really go much further than maintaining the hooves of my own two horses and giving Maíre a hand with hers.

My horses received a proper professional set up trim and as I was looking at those long toes, high heels, elongated soles (forward foot syndrome?)  and stretched white lines,  I would really have liked somebody else to trim Arrow for me. I was also a bit worried about the amount of ridges in the hoofwalls and some reddish bruising on the hoofwall of his hind feet; I’m not looking for trouble but it did make me wonder if he could have been sub-clinical laminitic at some point last year.  So, feeling a bit apprehensive about tackling those neglected feet myself, it would have been wonderful to have a professional nearby, but as that is sadly not the case, I had no alternative than to roll up my sleeves and get to it myself.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to do it on my own. Maíre came over yesterday to help. I always think it’s a good idea to have a second pair of eyes and to be able to discuss what needs to be done, but especially now that I was feeling a bit insecure. As Arrow was already tuned in to clicker training, we decided to use it during trimming and it proved to be a big help. We started by clicking and treating Arrow for lifting up a hoof and then for holding it up without pulling. I would lift his feet, while Maíre stood beside him at his head and did the clicking and treating. Then, as I started to trim, Maíre continued to click and treat him for standing still and not pulling his hoof back. As she was flooding him with clicks and treats for his good behaviour, I was able to trim and finish with hardly any drama at all. We used the same approach when I pulled his legs forward to put his hoof on the hoof-stand. It worked really, really well and I got all 4 feet done in a relatively short time. Arrow was absolutely great; he didn’t just accept the trimming, he also ignored the high winds and being buffeted by a hailshower during the process! Ah, April in Ireland!

I took off as much as I could (or dared), but on the whole I prefer to err on the side of caution so I trimmed conservatively. I think in this case it is probably better to trim regularly and give his hooves and legs time to re-adjust gradually than over-doing it or making a mistake. Afterwards, I took Arrow out for a walk. He walked without a problem on the rough, stony surface of the track and on the road he happily bobbed beside me, bursting with energy. And landing heel first.

Twinkle likes going for a walk too!

How (not) to catch a pony

For the past couple of days my new pony has been living in the picadero. I couldn’t put him in with Minnie and Cassie yet. I wanted him to be wormed, checked by a vet and as he is absolutely crawling with lice, he would need to be treated for that too before I let him anywhere near my mares. But first, I must be able to catch him. That, as it turns out, is easier said than done. When I got the pony home, the first thing I did was take his head collar off. I didn’t even think about it. The head collar was way to small, and it has actually left marks on his face. So it was not really surprising that once it was off, the pony was disinclined to let me put anything even near his head; when he saw me approach with a (new) head collar in my hand, he took off and bounced around the picadero like a furry ball with legs. If I don’t have a head collar in my hand, I can walk up to him and stroke him. When I come in to skip out he follows me around and he can even get a bit pushy, he is not shy; but as soon as he spots a rope or head collar he takes off. I never considered that catching might be an issue, because I never have to actually catch my horses. If I want them, they usually come when I call and I can walk up to them anytime, anywhere and slip on a head collar. I just took it for granted but this pony needs convincing.

I want to do things in such a way that it will give the pony only positive experiences, so I decided to start him with clicker training straight away. Like most ponies he is incredibly motivated by food, and it didn’t take long before I had him targeting the head collar, even if it was a bit tentatively. He also let me put my arm over his neck and pat him on the other side after a few click and treats. I thought things were going really well and I expected to have the head collar on in a few more days.

This evening I was just putting on the coffee after dinner, when my husband said: “Is that your pony?” I looked up just in time to see something furry streak past the window like a cannonball. We went outside and sure enough, the pony was out celebrating the first bit of freedom and liberty in his life by racing around, bucking and kicking. He had figured out how to let himself out of the picadero. Smart pony! But I was not happy, because we hadn’t really sorted our little catching problem. And if you can’t catch a pony in a 20 meter picadero, what hope is there to catch him in 8 acres?

I decided to leave him for a while to calm down. It didn’t take long, all that grass was far to tempting after spending the last couple of days in the picadero on a diet of hay, so the pony soon settled, and when I came back outside he was grazing peacefully besides Twinkle. I walked up to him and held out my hand. He sniffed it. Click and treat. I brought my arm up and stroked his neck. He stood still. Click and treat. I showed him the head collar, he sniffed it, click and treat. But as soon as I lifted the head collar, he turned around and shot away like an arrow from a bow. Sigh and retreat…

I thought he might follow if I led Twinkle away, so I led her to the yard and put her in a stable, but the pony had other ideas. He had hopped on the bank that divides the front fields from the back fields and stood there like a goat. Of course Minnie and Cassie immediately and unhelpfully discovered him and I only managed to get the pony off the bank just in time before he hopped down and found himself trapped behind the electric fence that keeps Minnie and Cassie away from the bank. The pony whirled around and galloped off and by doing some fast running my daughter and I managed to head him in the direction of the yard. After a few panicky moments when Minnie and Cassie threatened to come over the fence, we managed to drive the pony into the yard. I decided to try if we could lure him into a stable, so I gave my daughter a bucket of food and positioned myself to the side to block the pony if he tried to whirl around. My daughter shook the bucket and every time the pony took a step in her direction I clicked, and he got to dip his head in the bucket and get a mouthful. My daughter would step back and wait until he followed and so with baby steps and lots of food, we managed to get him into the stable. Just as well, because by this time it was getting dark. Inside, we gave the pony the bucket, and while he had his head in it, I sneaked on the head collar, took it off, let him eat and put it back on again. Well, it’s a start.

The pony is spending the night in the stable. He has been wormed. I’ve treated him for lice. It wasn’t exactly the way I wanted to do it, but the opportunity was too good to miss. Tomorrow I’m getting the vet out to check him. After that, he is going back into the picadero until I can walk up to him at anytime and put the head collar on. But I’ll put a padlock on that gate!

Any more suggestions for names? He is proving himself cheeky and spirited, we have deleted all the gentle, cuddly names from our list!


The Nobel prize for Forbearance

If there was a Nobel prize for Forbearance, I think it should go to my husband. Because my husband has the misfortune to be married to a woman who equates loving animals to bringing home the unwanted, the uncared for, the sick or injured and the strays. Years ago, we used to live in an old house surrounded by trees that housed a rook colony. There is no species of bird that makes so much noise as a rook colony. Especially during the months of May, June and July, when they hang around full-time to hatch eggs and bring up the young. They emit a non stop racket of screeching  and cawing that blocks out all other sounds. We could hear them long before our house came into view.  For 8 years I never heard song birds unless it was at a friend’s house. During nest building season my husband always tried to discourage them by wacking the slitear into the trees. It never worked, he only achieved that the birds soon recognised him and retaliated by shitting on his head the moment he ventured outside. They never bothered me. Of course they didn’t; I was the sucker that dug up worms to try to keep the young alive that hadn’t passed their first flying test and were huddling miserably on the ground, ignored by their elders.

Over the years my husband got used to coming home to find cardboard boxes filled with a wide variety of animals that needed some form of care, or new additions to the family because someone had dumped a litter of kittens. Not to mention all the victims the cats dragged in…And I don’t think my husband will ever forget the time I was raising a baby Long-Eared Owl in the kitchen. The day he came home and discovered that the owl had learned how to fly, before I got a chance to warn him, nearly stopped his heart when it flew straight at him, talons stretched out. I told my husband it was because the owl wasn’t sure where to land, but I don’t think he quite believed me. Fortunately, the falconer that agreed to take him was very happy with him. The owl I mean, not my husband.

When we bought the land we live on now my husband got really worried. I’m sure that the idea of what I might do with 16 acres terrified him and of course I did get my first rescue horse before the deal was even signed, because a neighbour of ours died and nobody wanted his old mare and I couldn’t bear the idea of her going to the factory.

Eventually my husband put his foot down and so I rehomed the ones I had and promised not to take in any large animals anymore. I’ve done my best to keep my promise, although I brought home Fido the dog, who was only a year old and on his way to be put down for no other reason than that the new landlord of his owner didn’t allow pets. But he was only a collie, you can hardly call that a large animal. Other than bringing Fido, I concentrated on looking after my own. And when I got phone calls about horses being dumped in the forestry or other animals in peril, I did my best to find a place for them, but I didn’t bring them home. Until now.

I got a phone call from a friend. I know him because I used to teach art to 2 of his children. He is going through a particularly difficult divorce and he admitted to me he was unable to look after his animals properly. Would I please take his pony. And without consulting my husband, I said yes. I couldn’t help myself. Because the thing is, this offer came at exactly the right time for me. Cassie is ready to be brought back into work, but Minnie can’t handle being on her own and she is absolutely frantic when I take Cassie away. I have no alternative but to lock her in the stable, which she hates, but it is the only way I can prevent her from injuring herself in her attempts to follow us. The only times when Minnie has been able to cope is when Máire comes over and we leave Minnie with Rosie. I have always felt that two horses is not enough, it doesn’t make a herd and it is not easy to take one horse away and leave the other behind. I felt that if I wanted to have any chance of getting anywhere with Cassie, I needed to find Minnie company. So I had been throwing out a few feelers about getting a little rescue pony. My friend’s pony is a Kerry Bog Pony, like Rosie, and it seemed like a prayer answered. So last night during dinner, I airily mentioned to my husband that my friend T was in dire straits and had offered me his little pony and that I had accepted. My husband reacted as I expected, by nearly choking on his dinner, but he couldn’t really say much because of the presence of my son’s friend who was staying over, which is why I had kept my announcement until dinnertime.

Anyway, this morning I hooked the trailer onto my jeep and set off to collect the pony. T is a good man, who loves his animals, but he was in a far worse state than I expected and so were his animals. I don’t really blame T. Some of the neglect was due to his mental state, some of it to ignorance, but at least he had the good sense to realise he couldn’t cope anymore and to ask for help. The pony is a 2 year old whose head collar hadn’t been taken off since he was a foal, because T was afraid he might not be able to catch him, he hasn’t been handled, he has funny bald patches and his hooves are terribly overgrown and will take months to recover, but he was otherwise in good condition, not starved. All he really needs is time and attention. I led the pony to the trailer and with lots of treats and patience I coaxed him inside inch by inch. We left the pony with a hay net to get used to standing in the trailer, and T showed me the rest of the animals he wants to rehome. Apart from the pony, he has lots of sheep and goats, dogs, cats and chickens. When we got to the goats, T said: “Please Sandra, please take a goat.” I said that I didn’t know anything about goats, but T said: “You’re so good with horses, please take a goat, they’re easy, please take Twinkle, the kids love her”. He started to untie Twinkle from her stake and said, “ Besides, you can’t look a gift goat in the mouth” and before I could say anything, he opened the jockey door of the trailer, Twinkle hopped in and positioned herself beside the pony, and that was that. What could I say? It was obvious that this was hard for T and so I hugged him and got into the jeep to drive home.

At home, I parked and went inside to ask my daughter to help me unload. We put the pony into the picadero, because I don’t want to put him in with Minnie and Cassie until he has been seen by a vet, and then we went off to find a spot for the goat. Twinkle was trotting happily along with my daughter. I went off to get an old dog collar to replace the twine she had around her neck. It was then I found that she had a deep cut in her neck where the string had been. As I was massaging ointment into the wound, my husband came out. “Who is this then” he said. “This is Twinkle, and she is ours”, I replied, glancing at him through my eyelashes. I have to admit I was a bit worried. Neither of us is in work. We have no money, and I’m bringing in two extra animals. My husband rolled his eyes up and went off, only to reappear a moment later with a bucket of water. “She looks thin”, he said, “we need to feed her up a bit.”

That’s why I think there should be a Nobel prize for Forbearance, and my husband should get it. Now all I need is a name for this pony!

A life in the balance – the background to “Scary tale”

Years ago, before we bought this land and built a house on it, we used to live in the north of the county and our next-door neighbour there bred Connemara ponies. His land was miles away on the other side of the mountain, but we had a half-acre field beside the house that we weren’t using and every now and then he would ask if he could put a couple of horses on it that he needed to keep an eye on. One day he asked us if he could bring a mare and foal. It was the mare’s first foal, and he would like the use of our field to make sure everything was going well. We agreed and the mare and foal arrived. It was obvious that the mare was a bit unsure, but the foal, only a few days old, was full of the joys of life. Born chocolate-brown, he quickly shed his coat and turned brilliantly white, with a few brown freckles in his face. My daughter and her friend, the neighbour’s daughter, called him Starburst.

We really enjoyed the company of Starburst and Daisy, his mother, that summer. Starburst was an exuberant and inquisitive youngster, bursting with curiosity about the world and it didn’t take him long to discover the weak spots in the hedge. We often found him dancing and doing caprioles on our lawn, while Daisy was anxiously whinnying at him from behind the fence. Starburst was unperturbed, he was brimming with confidence.

The first couple of years of his life, Starburst ran wild with a herd of horses. As his breeding was excellent our neighbour had high hopes of retaining him as a stallion, but he just didn’t make the grade and at 4 he was gelded. My daughter and her friend stayed by his side the whole afternoon, keeping the other horses away from him until he was ready to get up. I remember that he was easy to back. Although he could be cheeky and quite full of himself, he was friendly and he trusted people. He learned quickly. A week after he was first ridden, I was able to take him out on his own for a short hack down the road. That summer, my daughter and her friend, both 11 years old at the time, were able to ride him. Starburst, as always, was full of confidence and safe as a house with these young girls.

I really liked him, my daughter was in love with him, and so I approached my neighbour with an offer to buy Starburst. But this was the height of the Celtic Tiger years, Connemara ponies were making huge money and although my neighbour was willing to give us a discount, the price he asked was well above our budget and that was that. I swallowed my own disappointment and consoled my daughter, who was devastated. Shortly after that, we moved away and so I lost track of Starburst.

What are the chances that you meet a horse again, years later, in a country full of horses? Life can be funny sometimes, its’ path twists and turns and you meet people, you make new friends and you lose track of some because you’re on diverging paths, but sometimes, unexpectedly, your path crosses that of an old friend. Two years ago I met Starburst again. I had just bought Cassie, and because we were in the process of moving from rented accommodation to our newly built house, I urgently needed a place where I could leave her for a couple of weeks until we had settled in. I phoned a woman I knew slightly; I had met her through riding club activities and I knew that she had a yard with stables and plenty of land. She was friendly over the phone and she invited me over to view her yard.

The yard was beautiful and highly professional looking. 7 spacious stables and tack-room built-in a U-shape complete with arch and bell-tower. The tack-room was fully fitted with everything one could possibly need in any imaginable circumstances. Beside the yard there was a well maintained sand arena with freshly painted jump stands and trotting poles neatly stored at one side. The whole set-up was as far removed from my own yard as a castle is from a cottage. And she doesn’t run a livery or competition yard, this is all for her own use. It was absolutely beautiful. 

I have to admit I was completely taken in by the look of the yard and the woman’s BHS qualifications. I felt sure that this was a professional horse woman, vastly more experienced than myself and it seemed obvious that my new horse would be in excellent hands for a couple of weeks. I was so impressed that I didn’t even wonder why her own horses were inside, in spite of the fact that it was a beautiful day, one of those days in early February when you can smell spring on the breeze and the blood quickens. Anyway, the woman was introducing me to her horses, and when we got to the third stable the horse inside turned around and I was looking at Starburst.

There was no doubt about it; although he was covered in rugs and had a different name, I recognised him immediately, even if I hadn’t seen him for about 4 years. Did Starburst recognise me? It is so easy to interpret a horse’s reactions in a way that pleases us, but he came over and sniffed my hair, then breathed in my face. I felt touched. The woman was paying no attention and moved on and I didn’t say anything. We made arrangements for Cassie’s stay and then I left.

Cassie stayed in that yard for a couple of weeks, and it was not ideal. I quickly discovered that the woman’s ideas on stable management were very different from my own and they were non-negotiable. Her own horses only got turned-out in fine weather and for no more than an hour. No horse was allowed out unless they were fully booted up in tendon boots and over-reach boots and that included Cassie, even though I’m not fond of boots because it is easy for a horse’s legs to overheat in them. On the whole I didn’t really mind the list of do’s and don’t’s too much; Cassie was there for a few weeks only so it was just a case of grin and bear it, but what really stayed in my mind was the atmosphere in the yard. I felt uncomfortable. And my new horse wouldn’t eat. At the time, I put it down to the changes in her life, but when I got her home I discovered that Cassie could eat for Ireland and was most definitely a good-doer.

There are lots of people like this woman. They want the best for their horses but they treat them as if they are humans; they keep them inside in stables, smother them in rugs regardless of the weather or the temperature and feed them at meal times only, two or three times a day. That is because they themselves feel most comfortable inside their homes and they don’t stop to consider what the horse would choose for itself. Horses of course are herd animals who need the company of other horses, they need to be able to move and they need to be able to feed ad lib. If you take that away, their physical and mental health suffers. 

And Starburst?  Starburst had changed. I was surprised to hear him referred to as a green horse and that he was prone to show “airs above the ground” and was difficult to manage.  Watching him being led out was not a pretty sight. I only saw the woman ride him once and that was in walk in her arena on a very tight rein. The horse looked ready to explode and the woman looked scared. Not a happy combination. The thing is, it shouldn’t have been like that. Starburst should have been ideal for what she wanted him for; riding club activities and hacking. He was so full of confidence and promise when he was young, but he just couldn’t cope with being locked up.

For the last 8 months or so Starburst has been intermittently lame and he has been subjected to a whole range of tests and treatments. The vet couldn’t find anything wrong and all x-rays and scans came up clean. So he was taken to a sports injury therapist, who diagnosed deep muscle trauma (from what, standing in a stable?) and subjected Starburst to a series of injections of some muscle relaxant. The injections didn’t seem to do anything, the vet recommended the horse to be taken out and put back to work. The woman said she couldn’t, because the horse was still intermittently lame when she took him out of the stable.

A few days ago she phoned me to tell me she had finally found the cause of his lameness. She had diagnosed that he must have a low lesion to the distal ligament in his hind leg. She said it hadn’t shown up on the scan because it was an old injury, but she had decided on a course of treatment. First of all, to stimulate extra blood supply the leg needed to be re-inflamed. She has been doing this by putting some heating ointment on the leg, wrapping it in cling film and brown paper and bandaging the leg up to be left on overnight and to repeat for a week. Then she is going to have blood extracted and prepared for this new treatment she found on the internet, in which the leg will be injected with a high dose of platelets.  Then he will get 8 weeks box rest! She hoped that would improve him, but she was aware that this type of injury only had a small chance of healing, so if it didn’t help it was curtains for him. She told me she was devastated and what did I think?

I am quite proud of myself that I didn’t scream at her, but replied (icily, I have to admit) that she could start by turning him out 24/7, that he had already been on box rest for the last 8 months to no avail and that she could increase the blood supply in his legs by taking his shoes off. She said that was impossible because her farrier had told her he needs the shoes for support for contracted heels.  I coldly replied: “And how do you think he got those contracted heels in the first place?” And then she hung up and I haven’t heard since.

There are two kinds of abuse. Physical abuse when a horse is beaten and starved is easy to recognise. Psychological abuse is far more insidious. Nobody who would visit this woman in her yard would recognise that here is a situation where the horses’ welfare is not properly taken care of. But if you would test this situation against the Five Freedoms of the Animal Welfare Act, I think it should be clear that all is not well. Not if you think that a horse should be entitled to live life as a horse. If you ask the average horse lover what they like about horses, the answer is usually something along the lines of their beauty, power, spirit and freedom. Why then do we so often try to take from them the very qualities we so admire, why do we feel the need to control their power and limit their freedom?

This woman will tell you how much she loves her horses, but at the same time she won’t hesitate to dispose of a horse that is useless and they are all insured. And I worry about Starburst, who was a lovely horse and deserves better.