The dilemma of trying to make a difference for horses.

There have always been those that want to help the horses at risk of suffering. All of our animal welfare societies in America and abroad were founded with the motive of “helping” the working horses, in cities, at war or anywhere they are neglected and abused.

I have been doing this work, taking care of retired, disabled and homeless horses for over eight years now. I can say quite honestly that I have not seen any real progress in addressing some of the fundamental problems that exist for our working equine friends, even with the incredibly massive opportunity that the NYC carriage horse issue presented. I still cannot tell what, if anything, has changed for working horses in America. Animal activists still hate working horse people and working horse people still struggle day to day to articulate the value the horses have in their lives and the community. The whole issue is so loaded with so much confusing propaganda that it seems almost impossible to come to any real understanding of what is really “useful” for our horses in need. Socially and historically so much of what we have been “taught” about the actual value of our partnership with horses is mired in emotional and detached rhetoric that even attempting to describe our experience with them seems too hard, too daunting, too tiring.

Everyday for all the eight years I have lived on the farm doing this work I have been criticized and labeled (sometimes in extreme derogatory ways). My motives and credibility are questioned too, yet I am simply doing what I can to provide opportunities for all who care like me to get to know them better and help in creating useful solutions for the ones who need us.

The issue of homeless and unwanted horses has to be revisited from a new perspective, a fresh perspective from where we stand today, in modern and more enlightened times, a perspective that addresses the “heart” of the matter. At Blue Star we are trying to do our part, to do something useful for them.

The development of our pasture management system has been long and drawn out. The work with the design still has a long ways to go, this too has been criticized and demeaned by some visitors who do not bother to ask the important questions of how to help make things better, but rather write harsh and demeaning reviews, deterring those that might look closer from doing so. The horses help keep us inspired and motivated to keep moving forward. The horses are always the victims of these attacks in that by destroying our credibility, their opportunities are diminished. It is tiring, to say the least.

We can debate and even argue all we want about what is right for horses and what is not, but until we come to some common- ground, rooted in respect for each other’s differences, we will not be able to create any lasting solutions for our equine friends in need. The very idea of owning horses is so loaded with unconscious and unexamined ideas of who they are and who we concerning their welfare that it becomes nearly impossible to describe what they mean to us. There are those that want to see horses more and more marginalized, and there are those that want them among us, affordably existing and somehow co-existing in a world that is determined to isolate, marginalize and control nature in a dangerously detached way.

The biggest supporters on the farm all along have been the young people who have offered their time and energy, some for years now, to build a better life for themselves and the horses they learn so much from. So much could be learned from these innocent and loving young people who not only “talk” about making things better but actually “do” make things better.

Horses are nature. Horses are also excellent and masterful teachers of the kind of sensitivity required to live the mindful lives we are all seeking, especially in regards to the interconnectedness of all life. All of that gets lost when communicating from one horse person to the next, all with their very own ideas of what is suitable for horses. It seems to have become hard to even admire them without experiencing some anxiety for their welfare.

Horses like Sarge, who lost his eyesight a couple of years ago, lost his job as a pack horse in the Adirondacks. He was “rescued” from the kill buyer that bought him by a caring individual who saw that he didn’t deserve to given up on so easily. Today Sarge is the alpha of the herd he lives with, the retired and disabled herd who also are helping raise the young Clydesdales (that are bred to be meat) ¬†and have come to live on the farm. Sarge proves that nature finds a way to adapt and adjust in miraculous ways when given the chance.

At Blue Star, we keep hoping that a new language emerges that can attempt to describe their significant role alongside us clearly.

Piper and I with Behnam and Tommy and Ben. Behnam is from Iran, our friend and excellent trainer and horseman helped the boys learn to ride for an event for Peace run by Chief Arvol Looking Horse. The common ground we all share in our diversity is that we love horses. Horses are the language we share with each other and we understand each other perfectly, we love them and with them learned to love each other.

I am not an academic, and I am not a scientific authority in equine related issues. I am simply a person that loves them. So much so that I have given over eight years of my life attempting to make a difference for them, for us all, in my own way doing the best that I can. For me, they have given me a life worth living, not so much in the work I do with them or in helping the unfortunate ones but more in the companionship and relationship I enjoy with each and every one that I meet. I have witnessed countless, literally countless encounters between horses and humans where a very profound and meaningful connection has sparked an elevated, and some would say mystical experience that has changed lives, some radically. They can modify, for the better, the course of our lives as much as any therapist or learning can. It is worth our best efforts to do what we can to take better care of them.

I have spoken to countless groups of all kinds and all ages and all backgrounds trying to find a language older than words to reach their hearts and help them see that what is happening to the horses, by discarding them and turning away from the serious issues that exist for them is what we are doing to each other. Throwing away, discarding, turning away from what we don’t understand in each other is causing a breakdown of the integrity of how we are made. We live in an interconnected matrix of life that affects all living things, there is no way to be outside of the sacred, the gift of life.

I know that what lives on this farm has a value that is not so easily measured in a material way yet is worthy of all the sacrifice and hardship it has required of me and the many others that have given to it. This farm and our attempt at creating solutions for the horses care and their role in our community deserve whatever we can spare to give to it.

Have you hugged you a horse today? If not, why not? Blue Star has all the free hugs you could want with all kinds of “working” horses just waiting to meet you….where you are at in the “now.”

 

Please Join the Herd! Visit the farm and ask the questions or share the solutions you have! We are all in this together, horses, humans and Mother Earth and you will always have friends that will meet you unconditionally for the good of all. There are no challenges in equine welfare or elsewhere that we cannot face with the help of each other.

 

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One thought on “The dilemma of trying to make a difference for horses.”

  1. The progress is slow because the message is genuine and selfless. It comes with no real estate prospects, political power, or financial benefit endgame. But your are educating, and speaking for myself, you have added another voice to your fight. I can now explain to people why good intentions do more harm than good if they are driven by bad information

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