Archive for Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Animal friends

December 28, 2005


To the editor:

I care for creatures who cannot stick up for themselves. I care a lot for animals, whether they are wild or they are our household companions. It really angers me when I hear of people mistreating the animals in their care. I was recently made aware of someone who actually hits his horses in the face. Horses are beautiful animals and do not deserve this treatment. It makes me wish that the horses could fight back.

People get pets all the time that they do not care for properly. Your animal companions need food, water and care. Put yourselves in their place. The cats and dogs are mammals, just like we are. They need the same things we do. They feel pain. I also think they have emotions such as love and loyalty. If you are going to adopt an animal companion, please give him or her the care he or she needs and wants. If you aren't willing to take proper care of the animal, give it to someone who is willing and able to.

I worry more about them when the weather is exceptionally cold or hot.

If you witness cruelty toward an animal, please report that to the Humane Society or the ASPCA.

Kathy Schott Gates,



Ember 12 years, 6 months ago

If you think that horses are incapable of defending themselves, go ask a buster that has had a run in with an unbroken gelding. They will just look at you and laugh.

Animals don't retaliate because they are afraid. It is the established order of nature and to most animals, people are the alpha. The alpha is to be 'obeyed' at all costs, and should never be 'questioned', so to speak at least.

Despising animal cruelty is all well and good, but some understanding of the animals in question would be slightly helpful.

If all else fails, a horse can easily avoid being smacked in the face by simply putting the roughly 2000 pounds of it's weight on one of our much more delicate and breakable feet.

And by the by, hitting a horse in the face, while not recommended and generally frowned on by most trainers, is still acceptable in certain cases. Beats using a martingale strap or a pronged bit. Those are simply cruel.

mefirst 12 years, 6 months ago

Gee Ember, you're so smart. You know all there is to know about capitalism and horses. Walmart good, hitting horses good. Always seeing the silver lining...that's admirable.

DuQuesne 12 years, 6 months ago

To say "... people are the alpha... " sounds frighteningly like dominionist thinking something that used to be referred to politically as, "manifest destiny," the premise that those in charge are supposed to be in charge and the proof of it is that they are in charge. On the other hand Ember clearly demonstrates a knowledge of horse breaking.

I would still say that, even if it could be shown that animals have no emotions and are incapable of "thought," to mistreat or neglect those in our care is criminal, and to condone such mistreatment or neglect diminishes us all. Asserting that we are "above" other creatures only resorts to objectifying them as "other" - a cheap propaganda technique at best.

-Schuyler Duquesne

Speakout 12 years, 6 months ago

Well DuQuesne, that is like children. I think mistreating children is criminal, too. I mean, having children when you have no means to support them is the epitome of mistreating them, but there again, our feelings and needs come before that.

What about spanking? I spanked my children once each for getting onto a very busy road. Today, I would be arrested for child abuse if they complained. We have turned the world around for the children and today they are less and less capable of growing into what we think they should be.

No animal, including children, should be abused, but every animal, including children should learn discipline.

gr 12 years, 6 months ago

I don't know guys, but have you ever seen how horses act around each other? And I don't know the circumstances of when Ember describes hitting a horse in the face, but if the horse was going to treat you as it does its fellow horses, giving it a light smack in the face may be well advised.

Horses will intentionally kick each other and bite each other. Many of the times they are doing these things for "fun". If the trainer didn't stand their ground and at least present themselves into the competition arena, well, there would be no training going on. "Training" horses by definition requires being "above".

DuQuesne 12 years, 6 months ago

Golly, Speakout - sounds a little like, "It's dirty work, and I get to do it." -Schuyler DuQuesne

sweetpeagj 12 years, 6 months ago

Ember..that is patently false about being obeyed at all costs. Yes, they do want to please us but not at the cost of their own freedoms and lives. I have owned countless pets that I adopted got healthy and found good homes for. I have to say that punching or slapping anything in the face is abusive and overly aggresive in any situation. How would you like to be trained by getting hit or punched anywhere on your body? If they obeyed at any cost then where do you come up with them stepping their weight onto anything? Please think before you type such ignorance gets animals killed on a daily basis.

sweetpeagj 12 years, 6 months ago

Speakout..your comment about spanking when a child is in danger and then getting arrested for it is false. You are allowed to discipline. There is a big difference between discipline and abuse. This is yet another example of people speaking out without all the facts. People can get called on for spanking but an investigation is just that. If all you were doing is proper behavior modification then you would have no worries. Of course, it sounds more dramatic when people make that statement instead of thinking logically.

Ember 12 years, 6 months ago

Hmmm, I don't know what I am talking about when it comes to the concept of the human being being the 'alpha', you say.

Let's see, I suppose volunteering 3 years on a wolf sanctuary up north doesn't really count as direct knowledge, I suppose?

I suppose having dogs since I was 3 doesn't count either then.

How about raising horses for 4 years until my father received transfer orders to another military base when I was younger?

I have a great deal of experience with pack mentality within an animal heirarchy. Once the alpha male of a wolf pack is backed down, the entire pack will look to you for guidance. The human that spends the most time with a dog from the time that it is a puppy will be looked at as the alpha, also. Ask any animal behaviorist and you'll get about the same answer, just with a few extra words.

Horses are 10 times smarter than most people think and they are also a pack animal to an extent. That is why they will form a bond with their most frequent rider. Horses are very prone to posturing, also. A single strike, just enough to grab their attention when they are balking, is actually not considered to be abuse. It should, however, be a last resort.

Balling your fist up and punching the horse, however, would be abuse.

Just because you don't have direct knowledge about animal behavior other than the average household ones does not automatically imply that I know less than you.

That is a gross assumption, I would have hoped most people who admit to knowing less on a topic than they should wouldn't instantly assault the words of someone who does know more on a specific topic.

Apparently, my hopes and aspirations were aimed a bit too high.

yourworstnightmare 12 years, 6 months ago

"I love animals...That's why I kill 'em!"

-Graham Chapman as the Great White Hunter in "Monty Python's Flying Circus".

gr 12 years, 6 months ago

Yeah Ember!

I'm glad there are some people around here who don't abuse animals but yet, understands them.

mermily 12 years, 6 months ago

many a great thinker has noted that you can judge a society by how they treat their most vulnerable. you don't have to be a great thinker to see the logic in this.

debating whether or not a several thousand pound animal is physically capable of "defending" itself seems futile when that animal holds an undeniable place below us on the ultimate power pole.

the author was simply stating that the animals in our care, immediate care or indirect care, deserve our compassion. i agree and second the hope that if anyone witnesses abuse, of a non-human or human animal, that they report it. to some extent, we are our brother's keeper.

mom_of_three 12 years, 6 months ago

4 years of raising horses as a kid make you an expert - uh - no.
You do seem to understand the major points of horses, but in the 35 years my family has had horses, I have never hit them nor has anyone in my family, hit a horse in the head. That will not make you an "alpha" in their eyes. Instead, it makes them timid and head shy. You become alpha by your movements, actions, words, and commands. You become alpha by earning their respect. And the quickest way to lose it is to hit them.
There is a difference between training and abuse, and it appears to be in the eye of the beholder.

Ember 12 years, 6 months ago

If you do it repeatedly, Mom_of_three, any animal that you hit will become timid or vicious, depending on the individual nature of that animal.

At no point and time in anything that I have posted have I said that you should strike them automatically, nor have I said that it should be anything beyond the last resort.

Quite a few headsrong horses, especially ones that are direct decendants of the wilder mustangs from the desert southwest are very resistant towards saddle breaking, and frequently towards just halter training. Getting to lunge is a world unto itself of frustration and act and react.

The gentleman who I worked for in Arizona had been breaking in horses for well over 40 years, and had learned from the previous 4 generations of his family that did much the same thing.

A single smack, just about as hard as you might rap a child on the butt for throwing a temper tantrum, will frequently make a horse, especially a stallion, stop and think for a moment. The next instant, you start caressing the side of the face, down the neck and across the withers.

Horses themselves hit harder on each other than I ever have. Just enough to catch their attention, which is really no harder than a good round of applause.

The easiest way to encourage a horse to trust you is to not just sleep in the stable with him, but also demonstrate that he, and you, are superior to the other horses by backing them down. The horse will gain a sense of rank over the other horses and will start viewing you with that same look of you being superior to him.

The most obstinant horse I ever worked with got smacked a grand total of maybe 5 times, and 4 of those were on the hindquarters with a length of rope that fell on him more than actually struck. He hated to lunge most of the time. The only time he ever got struck around the face was when he tried to bite the first time I went to halter him with a swivel bit.

After a couple of months, Champ wouldn't so much as let the other stablehand even unlock his paddock door if I wasn't within sight. If it wasn't for the fact that I was moving to Nebraska and into base housing, my employer flat out offered my family Champ, plus my entire set of tack for much, much less than the bloodline would normally fetch. Half pure quarterhorse and half Arabian.

Miss that pain in the butt something fierce, too. Eventually, I will run horses again. I want my god-kids to understand and learn about horses first hand. One is already showing a lot fo interest in doing what I did after high school and go volunteer at a wolf sanctuary. I can only hope it sets him a bit straighter in the world, like it did me.

Ember 12 years, 6 months ago

Oh, and the one time I did strike Champ, it was about a handspan back from the main curve of his jaw and half a hand higher, or so. Basically all I struck was the back curve of his cheek, and it wasn't even with my palm. It was the back of my hand.

I've known trainers that will use ears as handholds, as well as hobble them before lunging them, and that is purely and simply evil. Also seen crops and reins used on legs, across faces, and a whole list of viciously cruel things.

A handful of smacks in the lifetime of a horse does not constitute animal abuse. Some of the things I've seen, however, definately amount to it, and have been reported as such, a few times with videotaped proof.

wonderhorse 12 years, 6 months ago

I struck my mare in the face once. She was newly purcahsed, and had already bitten my grandfather. I determined that I did not want to get bitten. When she turned her head to bite me, as I was brushing her, I smote her on her face. I loved that lady, and she and I went on to win the U!2 KWHA championship. She bit several people (she was real obnoxious), but not me.

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