Saturday, May 9, 2009; 12:06 AM
This is a Rant Post
So jumps racing - or more commonly known as steeplechasing - is on the verge of being banned here in Victoria and South Australia. If the ban goes ahead, it's more than likely South Australia will follow immediately.

For the non-horsey dictionary : jumps racing / steeplechasing is basically horse-racing, only it goes very fast over a series of fences in which the horse is required to jump at dangerous speeds.

I am ranting because of the ignorance of people who should just keep their big, fat mouths shut if they don't know anything, otherwise you end up looking like an idiot.

So the industry is in a fair amount of uproar over this controversy - and fair enough, I daresay. I've never been a fan of steeplechasing, in my personal opinion, I think it is foolish and stupid and reckless and dangerous, and go ahead with the ban I say - but I cannot stand people who do not know any better and all they know is to shake their heads and say, "The poor horses! Think of the poor horses!" and then cry their eyes out for "the poor poor horsies!!" And then, oh of course, the inevitable, "All sports regarding horses should be banned! The poor horses! Being enslaved by cruel humans!!!"

No, shut up. Ignorance like that drives me nuts. Yes, steeplechasing is dangerous, but so is cross country, and eventing, and endurance - and yes, even dressage. Yes, accidents happen - and the reason animal activists like to target horse racing so much is because it is so popular. You don't see crowds of millions betting thousands and thousands of dollars on cross country. You don't see the declaration of a public holiday to celebrate the National Dressage Finals or whatchamacallit.
No, horse racing is popular and human nature loves their excitement and glamour and of course, money. If an accident happens at a racecourse, millions of people will witness it straightaway and automatically a media circus is formed. Look at Barbaro, for heaven's sakes!

And yet the many deaths at Badminton, or Burghley, or other world-class equestrian events for 3 day eventing goes unnoticed. Teddy, the hero of 3-day eventing, the underdog who died before his Olympic debut - what newspaper ever reported that? Oh, but everyone knew about Barbaro! Poor Barbaro! What an outrage!! Oh poor, poor Phar Lap!! Oh, the poor horses that died in the steeplechase! The poor dears!

Ban horse riding! Ban it all! Horses are not our slaves! Oh, we are sooo cruel, to inflict them with saddles and bridles and bits and whips and spurs! So cruel! Look, making that poor horse canter a 20-meter circle in that soft sand arena, so cruel! The poor pet, the poppet! Oh, do stop torturing the creature and let me give it a carrot, pray! Let me pet it and coddle it and bring it home and it can sleep on my sofa! So cruel!

SHUT UP. Here, okay, take my horse. Take it home with you and end this cruelty. Sure, keep it in your backyard, let it eat whatever it wants! Feed it all sorts of scraps from your kitchen and spend no less than 5 hours a day cuddling it. Sure! I'll come back in 6 months and I will find my horse transformed into an overweight creature, with bloated guts and severe cases of untreated thrush and laminitis in the feet. I will find a horse turned into a brute which bites and kicks and rolls his eyes at you and rushes you for food, who bucks when you so much as put his rug on, who will not lift his feet, who will not hesitate to knock you over and send you to the hospital en route to Christopher Reeve land.

Because, my dears, that is what happens when you mollycoddle a horse. Sure, don't ride him, that's so cruel! Idiot, horses need exercise. What happens when they don't get exercise? They get all that energy pent up inside and no outlet for it. They keep eating and gorging on your good grass and your endless supply of "yummy sweet treaties for my favourite pony" and they end up overweight and underworked and develop laminitis - which the ignorant horse "saviour" will not recognize and will eventually die.
You cuddle them, ask them to pick up a foot and they refuse - you say, "Ohhh my dear, is something the matter?? Okay, okay I won't force you, let's try again tomorrow." And the horse learns, "Hmmm, okay, this human lets me do whatever I please! Yeahh!" and not tomorrow, not the day after, not ever will they let you pick up a foot again because they learn they can get away with it. If they turn to bite you, it's "Ohhh my poor baby, did I upset you??" and a shitload of petting and soothing commences.
Uh, if someone pet me everytime I bit, I sure as heck would bite a lot more! I mean, surely petting me when I bite means you're rewarding me for doing something right, right?


Stop and consider. Believe it or not, some horses enjoy being worked. Some horses enjoy the exercise, and going out for good hacks, some horses love jumping, and yes - some horses love racing. And think about it. If your horse was valueble, worth say, a good few thousand, would you really abuse it and starve it and whip it till it's precious, expensive coat is scarred with blood and wounds? No. An unhappy horse will not perform as well and willingly as a happy one, and any good trainer knows that.
Compared to the days of old, when horses were thought of merely as dumb beasts of burden and were forced to haul carts of coal around all day, today's world is a much better time for horses, where 90% of horses are kept for leisure purposes. It is good times.
Horses in most places are treated kindly and humanely. They get good feed, good pasture and good stables. They get good grooms who look after their every need. Rugs in winter, fly masks in summer, access to plenty of fresh water, sweet hay, supplements of every kind, vet care, plenty of attention.

There are always a few dodgy places around where horses should be better off dead, but luckily, such places are few and far between nowadays. Horses are no longer driven around in check reins, and as for docking of the tails, it has been illegal for a long time now. Ignorant horse owners are abundant, but education programs are also abundant. And almost every ignorant horse owner will have a good horsey neighbour who will be able to come over and say, "Okay, this is how you muck out a stable, or your horse will get thrush."

And as for the ban on steeplechasing, I know it could be a good thing and lots of (ignorant) people are thinking gladly of the horses who will be "saved from the cruelty." No. This isn't Black Beauty with the happy ending. More than likely, if the ban goes ahead, most of the horses will be shot.
No, this isn't your Neverland where all the horses simply retire and spend the rest of their days happily grazing beside the Fountain of Eternity with fairies dancing in the trees above.

A ban on jumps racing is pretty much destroying the livelihood of many, many people - and I know some people who are jumps jockeys whose careers are now at stake for this - and therefore, money will suddenly be scarce. It is basically robbing someone of their living. They will not afford to send their horses away to retirement farms, and it is likely not many people will want to buy these horses. Money will need to be spent on retraining and rehabilitating them, and who can pay for that?
No, they will be shot, or sent off to the auctions , the knackers or the glue factory, so if you think those poor creatures are finally "rescued", think again.

As for the jerkface trainer on the news who threathened to shoot his horses, cut off their heads and send them to government officers, I hope you rot in hell. Immediately after making his threat, he followed up with, "I love my horses, I do."
No shit, you don't. If you really did love your horses, you wouldn't brag about shooting them on national television, much less lopping off their heads. If you really really loved your horses, you would give them away as pasture companions, if not to be sold as riding horses - as opposed to shooting them. I feel sorry for you, who understands not compassion or empathy. I hope somebody threathens to shoot you and lop off your head, and let's see what you have to say about that.

Unfortunately, that is the way the equine industry works, and sometimes the mass culling of horses is inevitable. There are too many good horses and too little homes. And what do these ignorant self-proclaimed "horse lovers" intend to do about it? Oh, the poor creatures, let them run free! Sure, if we let them run free, where? It is too naive to think that no animal should ever be killed and they can all live happily ever after in nature. Yeah, sure, let's see how that works. We get a mass overpopulation of wild horses, they spill out into the cities and a mass culling by helicopter is forced to take place. Or somehow you miraculously find an endless supply of green pastures and never ending funds to look after all the horses till the end of their lives. Great, just great. Let me know how that goes.

What a lot of people don't seem to realize is that a horse is a commitment. It requires patience, time and a whole lot of money. Whoever says horses are cheap can kiss my tucchus. Your horse will always have some need for funds, be it food, vet bills, tack, shredded rugs, and the amazing ability to get into all sorts of injuries and maladies. Whoever tells me they will have a property where they will rescue all the horses in the world and simply let them sit in the backyard and eat away a long and prosperous life, sure, if you have the fortune of Bill Gates, go ahead, all the more power to you and God bless you. But if you live in a corner block with a 4 acre backyard and work a regular old Joe job daily, then, all the more power to you and God bless you, but those horses will probably be a lot better off in their comfortable stables by the expensive steeplechase race tracks, eating their quality grain and getting their daily exercise, with a vet on 24 hours standby with X-rays, MRI scans and personal nutritionists than with you.

As for me, personally I am all for the ban on steeplechasing. It is a foolish sport and many a good man and horse have been lost for the reckless abandonment of taking horrendous fences at horrendoes speeds. It should not have existed altogether.
I just feel for the hundreds of horses that will probably be needlessly killed as a result, and the hundreds of people who will lose their living.
And for all you ignorant people out there who think that it is better for the horses, do everyone a favour and THINK before you speak. Sometimes, it really isn't.

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Anonymous Sammie said...
Ok, i can understand where people are coming from when hey say steeplechasing is bad, BUT what will be worse is, if it is banned, whats going to happen to the horses who were once steeplechasers? not many people will buy them right? SO they are going to end up in the knackery or getting shot. So in turn, hundreds of horses will die anyway. I'm glad someone shares the same opinion as myself.