Use Your Head
The March 2002 editorial “Supplements Endangered” by Dr. Eleanor Kellon misleads horse owners on the real issues. There’s no question that regulation of supplement/nutraceutical use in horses has reached a level of insanity. Dr. Kellon’s suggestion to change the legal definition for these products is correct, but her assertion that the solution is to stop killing horses for food will only lead to more suffering by horses.
On the surface, it would appear to be an animal-welfare issue, but it is not. I sit on several animal-welfare boards. If horse people are not educated on the issues, they will vote with their hearts rather than their minds, and horses will suffer.
-Dennis J. Foster
Executive Director, Masters of Foxhounds Association of America
Nice start on getting political (“Contraband in the Barn”) in your March 2002 issue.??I agree that horses should have every access to nutraceuticals, herbal preparations and the like. In Dr. Kellon’s editorial, she acknowledged that Americans don’t eat dogs and cats, which are likely to get “legal” access to nutraceuticals before horses, and asked that horses be treated the same way. We need to ban the practice of sending horses to slaughter for human consumption, then we won’t have to worry about what products horses get because they won’t be part of the food chain.
Stop Breeding Useless Horses
We should insist on the horse being reclassified as a pet rather than as a human-food animal/livestock. I suspect that if this reclassification became a nationwide standard, it would be the end of the slaughterhouses.
However, the horse-owning community will have to take better care of their own, supporting hospices for horses and retraining for healthy animals. More of us should open our barns to “companion” horses, and we should stop trying to pass the buck by unloading elderly and sick horses to someone else, rather than paying for euthanasia.
But the most important thing we can do is to stop breeding unusable horses! It’s not just backyard breeders or bad management. Every breed has breeders who scrimp on good stock or breed horses with demonstrable flaws in the hope they won’t show up in the next generation.
It’s time for us to take responsibility for the animals we cause to be brought into this world. If we did so, there would be no slaughterhouse industry, and the question of unlicensed products being fed to horses used for food wouldn’t come up.
I strongly object to comments made by some of your readers in the March 2002 issue regarding boarding versus keeping horses at home.?? It’s the height of arrogance to suggest that a true horse owner can only know their horses by mucking out.????
I own three horses, all of which are at livery due to the fact that we travel a great deal. The horses are all exceptionally well cared for.
The fact that it’s not the right time to have them at home doesn’t mean I know less about horse management than the person with a horse in their backyard.??That magical relationship with my horses is attained by time spent both on the ground and in the saddle. I believe most people who board their horses are even more proactive in every aspect of their care because they aren’t on site.
Horse Care Is Hard Work
Unlike the letters in your March issue about the boarding editorial by Margaret Freeman, I agreed with everything she said. The editorial was directed toward readers who board and were considering horses at home.
I have two horses at home and it’s a lot of hard work and responsibility, but I enjoy it. However, when I tell people what I have to do 365 days a year in all kinds of weather, they think I’m nuts. It takes a dedicated, hard-working person to take care of horses properly.
I’ve seen too many people buy a horse, bring it home and then find out what it takes. They see the romantic part of owning a horse, like galloping down a beach, and not the reality of how much physical work and time is involved.
Whenever someone tells me that they are considering buying a horse. I recommend that they learn as much as possible before doing so. I also tell them all the things you mentioned in your article. People who haven’t been around horses and/or haven’t done the dirty work usually can’t believe horses take that much work and time.
What really upsets me is when someone brings home a horse and then doesn’t take care of it, whether out of pure ignorance or laziness.
As a tack-shop owner, I am a little perturbed about the March 2002 article about mail-order/online shopping. A couple years ago you did a nice article about shopping at your local tack shop. It seems that you no longer??support the idea of on-hands shopping where you can compare quality, receive advice and interact with other horse enthusiasts.
The local tack shop will always have to compete with mail-order pricing, and personally, I strive to keep my prices economical.?? But if we aren’t supported by our local community, we won’t be there when someone needs something the day before a horse show, or their horse is injured and they need bandaging supplies right away.
I do have a website for my store, and I order things online occasionally, but I always try to support the stores in my town first. I am fortunate to have loyal customers who check with me first before going online or to the catalogs, but I don’t think that’s a common practice. Shopping online is fine if you know what you need, and a hassle if you need to return things. If you need advice, want to buy quality products, or need something right away, then the place to go is your local tack shop.
Desert Wind Saddlery