Horses in Portugal

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Melbourne Cup Horse Racing Disapproval

“Mr Ward said it was time the industry honoured horses’ memory with a minute’s silence, rather than simply covering the scene with a green screen.”

– http://www.news.com.au/sport/superracing/melbourne-cup-2014-admire-ratki-collapses-after-the-race/story-fndpqu3p-1227112384729

That is the most thoughtful and respectful way to honour and remember the horses that have died for the sake of our entertainment…akin to the valour and the honour we have afforded to those men and women throughout history, to this day, who have been sent and killed in the name of peace and corporate acquisition. I am certainly not here to disrespect those of the past, horses or people alike, but simply offering a minute to remember those of the past does not make it acceptable to carry on with gruelling equestrian sports, or human wars for that matter.

If we really wanted to honour horses (and wo/men) we would endeavour to put an end to unnecessary cruelty and punishment endured at the request of others. My horse racing rant has fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, drawn a unsavoury parallel to a number of pointless patriarchal past-times. Horse specifically; If one was to do their own research, and I invite you to do so, in to the impacts of a number of conventionally held ‘must-dos’ such as shoes, bits and dominant, punishment-based methods of training one might just see that there are better and more harmonious ways to develop and maintain a relationship with horses.

As Peter Moody pointed out in his letter, (http://www.equestrianlife.com.au/…/An-open-letter-from-Pete…) “upwards of $35,000 per horse per year” is spent on “private vets, farriers and dentists to chiropractors and nutritionists” ensuring “nothing but the best” for their equestrian pals. He assures people it is not about the money. I personally think this is a load of bollocks and I am open to argument on this point but I would suggest that if one truly, deeply, cared and loved horses they would not treat them the way they do, in this industry. The same could be said about people!

I am certainly no horse expert but with the little knowledge I do have, and witnessed, there are far greater ways to respect and appreciate these powerful and symbolic animals than subjecting them to harsh conditions of equestrian spectator sports. I question whether or not a single thought has crossed the minds of the winner’s ,Perfectionist, owners or rider, who have just come in to an excessive amount of cash, for all horse’s well-being after Admire Rakti’s sudden death just minutes after the race end. Or is Admire Rakti, and the other 125 horses that have died this year from training and racing (in Australia alone), simply just another casualty, an unfortunate necessity, and that is just how it is?

Every drop of life…

Who knows anything about death? Nobody. After millennia of thinking about it, not even the greatest minds have come any closer to answering the perennial question of “What happens next?” that so chills the soul. Why bother about it? Why not use our consciousness of the awesome and sometimes dreadful mystery of mortality to drink every drop from the goblet of life while it is still in our hands.

– I think I found this in the book Horses and Zen

What I have learnt about horses

I can’t help but feel the presence of a huge black shadow lingering over our relationships with horses. Throughout history, in war, sport, work and recreation we have inflicted great pain on the horses physical body and spirit to bend its will to suit us. Solace is found in the improvement of our methods during the most recent decades but still we use pain and punishment to achieve what we want without consideration of a connection with horses spirit and own language. As with many things in our culture, we seek quick fixes and instant results, not allowing ourselves, and our horses, the eternal benefit of a true friendship and a willing partnership.

My experience with horses is admittedly limited but I have spent a great deal of the last 7-8 months reading and researching different methods and meanings of horsemanship. It has been incredible to see what it is possible to achieve by devoting yourself to the understanding of horses rather than simply making them achieve a goal by any means required. At first, things like bits, spurs an other equipment were introduced to me as the standard, and I first thought that horses were all about riding. Just jump on, somehow go forward, steer with the reins, pull them to stop. But in such a short time I feel I have learnt that there is so much more to true horsemanship that that. While most of the knowledge I have gleaned from books, videos and received from people with a great deal of experience with horses, I am lacking in the physical experience needed to achieve the true connection with horses I long for.

Through my research I have learnt of the terrible pain we have inflicted on our equine ‘friends’ throughout history, being seen as nothing more than a mere ‘tool’ for us to manipulate and control by any means. These ‘means’ resulted in the development of bits, harnesses and other devices that would be better described as tools for torture. We have callously slaughtered horses by the thousands during war times without the slightest consideration given and we continue even to this day with the utilisation, and destruction, of the body and soul for the purposes of entertainment and sport. So-called lovers of horses subject them to the torments of show jumping and racing with little regard for their joints or mouths which research shows does immense amounts of irreparable damage in the shortest of times. How can someone who supposedly loves horses not be willing to realise that there is a better way!

It is needless to say that since my first ride on Rupert, a 5yr old Gelding, I have developed a real love of horses, and I have dedicated a great deal of time to learning about training them, gaining their respect and their trust. I have come to realise that without first receiving their willing trust and respect, you can not forge a true relationship. And a true relationship can only be developed with time and with the horses best interests in mind. You need to understand how they think and act accordingly, communicating in their language, the only language they know. Unlike our horses we have the ability to learn their language and adapt to suit them, and in doing so we can create a willingness within them to perform with us, for us.

My journey in to the Equine world is only just beginning but I am starting to see what is possible and I can see the way that I do NOT want to go. I hope that as I venture deeper and more fully in to the mind of the horse I will be able to develop the skills and understanding that allow me to make real connections and enrich the lives of horses, enriching my own along the way.