For the past ten days, I participated in a kind of charity project. Every evening we reported the number of our steps to a fellow blogger, and he donated 0,10 € per 1.000 steps to a private animal rescue organisation that supports a former Hannoverian brood mare as well as stray dogs, cats and sheep. I donated 30,00 € too, because these small rescue organisations always are short of money. Needless to say, I was a horse lover myself, back when I was a teen.
When I was a teenager, I was crazy for horses. My parents couldn’t afford to buy me one, but I took riding lessons twice a week. I looked after horses and was responsible for their care. I spend a lot of my free time with horses. My parents didn’t object and let me do what I wanted, as far as my grades in school didn’t suffer from it. I remember many magic moments from this time. Humans and horses are so different, but they can become so close. It was a heady feeling, not only while I was riding. Horses are fascinating creatures.
But even as a teenager, I noticed the horses were treated differently. The privately-owned horses spent their time in generous stalls, where they could easily lie down and wallow.
The school horses, that were owned by the riding club, earned their living by teaching humans how to ride. They lived in narrow crates, which forced the bigger horses to stand all the time. And they always were tied to the wall near their head, what made even chasing flies difficult.
Every school horse was assigned two grooms, they had to take care of the horse six days a week. I was trusted to take care of two horses during those years, one was a brown Trakehner mare named “Marina”, the other a dapple grey gelding named “Cäsar”. It was checked if we took proper care of the horses, and we were trained well. This was important, because ailments or illnesses better are caught early. In this time I learned how to observe my pets and take note of every change.
And yet… While the privately-owned horses were given the time they needed to recover from an illness or injury, chronically ill or old school horses disappeared after a short time and were replaced by other horses.
Well. Who is going to tell the enthusiastic girls, who bustle around the horses happily, that their darling’s life ended at a butcher’s hook? Not the parents, that’s for sure. Maybe they suspect it, but they want to keep their child happy. Not the manager of the riding club, thats for sure, too. They want their paying members to stay. After a few years, we got a new riding instructor, who implied what was really happening. He said, the horse “was died”, instead of “it died”. He also was very open about the fact he liked the quality of horse meat, because “it’s low fat. They keep moving until the end”.
The horse next to me on the picture above is Dingo. Dingo is one of the few lucky school horses that had a life after this hard time. Someone bought him for his daughter. But this is not the rule.
Of course our relationship with horses is different, compared to dogs or cats. We are close to cats and dogs, because they live in our home. Horses often are assigned a task, dragging logs, sports or breeding. It doesn’t matter if this tasks are getting done or not, keeping a horse is expensive.
A creature, that willingly works for us its whole life, deserves to be cared for in the sunshine years. Who makes the decision to buy a horse, owes it to his companion to think ahead. There is a german saying: Thinking should be left to the horses, because they have a bigger head. But it is us humans that need to think this over and act responsibly.