I was speaking to my German friend (who is also a vet) today, and we inevitably went to the same discussion we have been having, it feels like, for years and years and years.
The problem is, no matter how many times we discuss this, how many angles we try to see to it, we never get to any kind of solution.
So today, I am going to put my head in a hornet’s nest…
For the last 20 years, or probably longer, there has been the discussion about rollkur, about tight nosebands, about wounds made by spurs, blue tongues….the list goes on, and now the latest about a very well-known rider in the jumping world “touching” the horse’s legs with a pole when they go over a jump. And then being allowed to do the rollkur for 10 minutes at a time! WHAT?? How is that ok? It is like saying it is ok for a woman to be raped for 10 minutes at a time! What is wrong with us?
Why are we still having this discussion? I am so tired of seeing gruesome pictures of horses being tyrannized. I also believe we become so used to seeing that, that the only way we know to handle it, is to scroll further. Unfortunately this does not help any horse who is being bullied.
Can you imagine if horses could yelp like dogs, how loud it would be in our arenas? Every person would run off the street to go and have a look and maybe even frown at that blood-chilling howl. But unfortunately our equine partners are silent, the scream stifled inside the horse.
How do we plan to solve this? Why have we not solved it yet? Where must we start? At the top of the sport? At the basics where we are being taught this?
Or can we change the calloussness, the insensitivity, the unfeeling cold-heartedness of the riders and those around them? I cannot stand it anymore when I go somewhere to teach, and some teenager is sitting on her 100 thousand euro horse, sawing away at the mouth, kicking viciously with the spurs, and the mother on the sidelines shouting “kick it harder”! And if I dare to interfere, I get shouted at that it is none of my business! It IS my business, I am seeing it, and if I do not speak for that horse, who will?
So my question is….HOW DO WE CHANGE THIS? I feel it must be up to each and every one of us to say something when we see a horse being maltreated, or this will continue for another 20 years, until it will be outlawed to ride a horse altogether.
If we continue to think that horses do not feel, then horses have to continue to feel that we do not think.