16 November 2012

Man o' War at 22 at THE Stud

Man o' War at 22.  Still supple and powerful.

This short but valuable view of history also has another feature that interested me.  The narrator says Man o' War was "retired to the stud." Few people--except me and a few diehards--use the word this way anymore, but this use from a more animal-oriented era gives the hearer more information than the current use as a synonym for any intact male horse.  The word once meant a horse breeding farm, and on such a farm would be stud horses and stud mares.

Not only a superb runner, Man o' War went on to become a top sire, even though his book of mares was restricted by his owner. Had he been on the open market, his name might be even more prominent today.

15 November 2012

Wild Horse Soap Opera Continues

My, my. I expected the BLM mess to continue, but I hadn't expected Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to threaten an investigative reporter who dared to inquire about the issue.

Of course, Secretary Salazar wasn't expecting to find himself on the   viral video carrying his threat.

That led to a "sincere" public apology that even hit the New York Times: "Colorado: Interior Secretary Apologizes to Reporter."

The posturing and rhetoric is likely to continue.  The welfare of the horses is unlikely to improve. Too many cattlemen want the horses gone. Too many companies want to extract the last ounce of minerals from the land the horses occupy.

9 December 2012 -- UPDATE

Well, well. "Interior Secretary Moves to Tighten Rules Over Sale of Wild Horses."

11 November 2012

"Wild Horse Buyer under Investigation for Breaking State Law"

Tom Davis' name has been coming up a lot in horse circles of late.  With any luck at all, it'll soon be coming up in court.  The bare facts revealed so far indicate the corruption goes way beyond Davis too.

For example, here's one paragraph from the November 11, 2012, Colorado Spring Gazette article "Wild Horse Buyer under Investigation for Breaking State Law":

Davis, 64, a livestock hauler and proponent of the horse meat industry who lives in La Jara, 15 miles southwest of Alamosa, has purchased more than 1,700 wild horses from the federal Bureau of Land Management since 2008 — roughly 70 percent of all horses sold by the agency.
Could anyone of normal intelligence read this article and think Davis found "good homes" for all these horses?

Worse yet, the BLM--or at least some BLM employees--were deeply involved in this. As the director of Wild Horse Education, a Nevada-based advocacy group, Laura Leigh said,
Let's get real. There is no way the BLM could think someone was buying that many unadoptable horses for anything but slaughter. The people who sold those horses are just as culpable. This is a breach of public trust and there needs to be some accountability.
Here's the contact information for Colorado’s 12th Judicial District Attorney, David Mahoney:
Alamosa County Office  
426 San Juan Ave. 
Alamosa, CO 81101 
      (719)589-3691; (719)589-2734 fx
Feel free to give his office a call. In fact, put his number on speed dial. Call early, call often. Then call local stables, horse owners, and the media.  I want more coverage of this mess.

Flagrant law breaking and corruption don't sit well with me, especially when Mexican slaughter houses are involved.

For what it's worth, I'll add that I'm not utterly opposed to horse slaughter. I am however absolutely opposed to inhumane horse slaughter and inhumane horse transport, both of which flavor this story of contempt for horses and laws.

UPDATE: June 18, 2013 -- "DA Won’t Prosecute Wild Horse Investor"


09 November 2012

Captain Meyer of the Meyer Remount Farm

One of the most influential riding instructors I had was an old cavalry officer.  When I started taking beginner lessons from him many decades ago, he was quite old--his 80s I later discovered--and extremely crotchety. Several people warned me to expect yelling, swearing, and little concern for the comfort or mental health of the rider.

For the first few lessons, I found him exactly as described. I also discovered I had about as much aptitude for jumping as I did for playing the piano: next to none.

Since Captain Meyer taught jumping, this was frustrating for all involved, but one day things changed.  Captain Meyer was loudly badgering me because I was refusing a small coop. Captain Meyer knew I was causing the refusals, not his mare. I knew this too, but under his yelling, my tension increased with each effort. Finally, I did the totally unthinkable. Near tears, I turned my head and snapped, "You wouldn't treat me like this if I were one of your Thoroughbreds."

To my surprise, he didn't curse.  He instantly softened his voice. I don't remember his exact words, but his voice soothed and soft directions provided confidence and the timing. The mare and I trotted in circles a few times as he talked me calm. Then he had me approach the jump. His words urged and encouraged, his tone saying "Easy, easy, easy now. Now FLY." And his mare and I sailed over the little coop.

After that, Captain Meyer never yelled at me again.  Even when he barked instructions from a distance, I could hear encouragement in his tone. I still had no talent, but I became a favorite student of his, and he became my first memorable instructor.

I'll always remember him sitting neat and stern on Native, his tall, mobile lectern.

"Do Horses Expect Humans to Solve Their Problems"

In "Do Horses Expect Humans to Solve Their Problems" (Lesimple et al. 2012), the researchers "hypothesized that because domestic animals are so attentive and dependant [sic] to humans’ actions for
resources, the counter effect may be a decline of self suf´Čüciency, such as individual task solving."

The experiments challenged horses to open a box containing their food ration and "more than half of the horses that showed exploration behaviors toward the experimenter failed to open the chest (N D 18, 60%), while only a third of those that did not (N D 5, 31.2%) failed (Fisher’s exact test, p D 0.04)."

Were I continuing their experiment, I'd test upper level horses, including a set described by their owners as intelligent and inquisitive. I suspect the choice of riding school horses used for students "from beginners to moderate level" played a part in so many horses failing to open the box. Typically,  riding schools chose docile, patient horses for beginner/intermediate rather than horses with great curiosity or keen intelligence.

I could certainly be wrong about horses in general, but, whether filled with food nor not, few boxes go unopened around here. My horses like me, but they love a good puzzle, and they adore toys.