I just returned from the International Conference on Equine Welfare in Alexandria, Virginia. Was I, were any of us, expecting the turn-out we got; the quality of speakers; the commitment that floated in the very air we breathed, the tears shed (not for long but intense nonetheless); the sad but heroic (in the original Greek sense of the word) passion that drives all great and global change? Maybe 30 or 40 were expected; over 100 showed up…from every state you can name…from as far away as New Mexico, Texas, and California. And apart from me and my colleague from the Cdn Horse Defense Coalition (CHDC), two other Canadians showed up from Markham, Ontario, at their own expense, just because they wanted to learn about what goes on beyond their local horse farm! Impossible to comment on the intelligence, willingness to learn, and dedicated love of horses that their very presence showed– simply and without fanfare of any sort (in typical Canadian fashion).
The horror that afflicts our horses spans three countries, not just the United States (I’ve only just begun collating information on which other countries either slaughter or eat horsemeat. We know that 16 per cent of the world’s population eat horsemeat, concentrated in certain countries…Australia among them. More on that in a later post.). One of the eternal flaws of the US is its utter inability to see beyond its own borders. I’ll speak of American self-absorption more in a later post. I want to draw attention to what happens in Florida because so many Quebeckers are snowbirds (people who spend winter in Florida and return to Quebec some time in April or May).Read More
Right…I know…my last post was supposed to be about the amazing work Deb Harper, natural horse trainer, does, and I ended up talking about so many other things. Deb Harper graciously allowed me to spend one full day and one half with her horses in Abbotsford, British Columbia. Now understand: I grew up with horses here in Quebec. My middle brother taught me to ride (Western) and there wasn’t a horse I couldn’t ride, including our humongous stallion, Tornado the Third. My youngest brother and I would ride for hours in the fields owned by B.P. (British Petroleum) and Union Carbide (they didn’t mind); we could ride for two hours in fields and forests, uninterrupted by civilisation…until we’d come up eventually to Henri-Bourassa boulevard and the nearest “Roi de la Patate”, a fast-food outlet of the era, offering steamed hot dogs and French fries, poutine…that sort of, um, brainfood. We could stop for a rest, unsaddle and we and the horses would just lie down and chill…no reason to hobble or tie up our friends: we were all just hangin’. We were there together, just enjoying the place and the day.Read More
Deb and I became friends through the circuitous means of the internet. I needed a picture of a Canadien stallion (go to Ground Manners. A Novel to see the stallion featured on the cover). I first found Deb’s picture of the magnificent stallion, Swallowfield Eno Kelbeck, owned by Roxanne and Marty (see previous blog on My Gentle Reader), now standing at stud for canadream in Quebec. Unfortunately, Kal was being featured on the cover of another book on the history of le Canadien. I must admit that the way Deb took Kal’s picture–mane blazing and full frontal–made me fall in love; and I have since met Kal in person and I can vouch for his beauty, his pure expressiveness, his perfect conformation. Roxanne described the wisdom in his eyes, and it is truly there, for all to see. Roxanne referred me to Deb (bless you, Rox!). Immediately, Deb sent me several others of her pix, and, among them, I came across Bromont Loupin Prince, owned by Betty and Judi of Five Winds Farm in BC. It wasn’t the quality of the picture in this case; it wasn’t the background…it was him, his intelligence, his maturity, his gorgeously indented (concave or is it convex?) cheeks and wisdom-filled eyes. I was floored. I had to have him; GM had to feature him on the book cover. Deb visited Prince recently, and told me that he is as active as ever. He’s 25 or 26 now…mature for a stallion, I guess. I met many of his “get”, his progeny, at the CHHAPS show in Maple Ridge, but I never did get to meet the man himself, Prince, who is well-named, I’ve no doubt. Here are some pictures Deb took on her recent visit; none are of Prince but they are stunning reminders of how nature and horses belong to each other. I’m sure Betty and Judi won’t mind. I will be in BC next year…and God willing, Prince and I will meet…and I will thank this glorious creature for sharing this great, good earth with me, and everyone around him, just as I whispered to Kelbeck when I met him earlier this year. The breathtaking intelligence and beauty of horses always makes me think of the line in “The Colour Purple”: when you just walk by one of God’s perfect creations and not take notice of it, God must be insulted. I’ll say this for myself: I have never been in the presence of any equine and not bowed my head in respect, and not looked on in awe.
I saw the, um, owner of these dogs (over 500) on the news…didn’t seem like all the lights were on, you know, just not a full deck. Crying, she claimed: ”We just wanted to find good homes for these dogs…that’s all. We didn’t mean…etc.” Right…so, in the meantime, you didn’t water, feed or see to the wellbeing of these dogs, eh? Just figured they’d survive on air while you went about your business? Uh huh…geez, are you of the same species as I am? Although Anima-Quebec took full credit for this rescue (see their website), it is thanks to the Humane Society International/Canada that these dogs were rescued at all. My Fred was a rescue…from the Monteregie SPCA. Quebec…sais-tu vivre ou non?Read More
I will be at the International Conference on Equine Welfare in Alexandria, Virginia, in just “two more sleeps”. (See prior blog, International Conference on Equine Welfare). I adopted that phrase from my spouse’s golfing partners; I guess it’s the phrase parents use when their kids are excited about going somewhere–”just two more sleeps and we’ll be at DisneyWorld”! I like it. I’ve been counting the hours until I leave for Virginia where I will meet up with crusaders for horse safety, some of whom I have been communicating with for at least two years–in some cases, longer. I will finally, after much tongue-lolling, be able to view the Humanion documentary, “Saving America’s Horses” http://www.savingamericashorses.org (which, btw, is now in Canada as of this very weekend, in Huntsville, Ontario). Crusaders may not be the best noun to describe what these people do, what they believe in, and how devoted they are, but I must say, that, in my silly, childlike mind, I’ve often harkened back to images of Crusader Rabbit and Mighty Mouse when I think about the enormous burden placed on people who fight for horses’ lives and security–a veritable David-and-Goliath scenario. As a child, I watched Crusader Rabbit and Mighty Mouse, despite their diminutiveness, triumph over evil. Myself being just (only just) 5’2″, you can understand why their successes meant so much to me…and why, in my personal life, size has never been an obstacle to me. As here, as now…no matter what, we, together with our American colleagues, will bring down the slaughterhouses, the killbuyers, the overbreeders, the minions of a corrupt industry. Sceptical? Just how many crusades have you undertaken recently?Read More