Sunday, November 30, 2008
This note from NickerNews reader Maria:
I was a bit aprehensive about trailering my horses to OOB for a late
November ride. The weather looked good. There was no way to get
the approved seal to park and ride at Pine Point in Scaborough on such
short notice. I made a call to the OOB dispatch and was told we could
park along First St. and use Staple St. Ext. to excess the beach. I was
also instructed to pick up any droppings.
When we arrived, we found a
municipal parking lot right off from First St. We unloaded, saddled up
and had a nice ride on the beach.
The down side of this advanture was the trains which passed through.
First St. runs along the tracks and three trains went by in the 3 hours
that we were there. Although we were in a parking lot, it was close. We
were lucky to have been able to use the parking lot, as our rig was long and the lot only had a few cars.
For a group of riders to go down
together, parking would be an issue.
The other issue was that you would
need to be aware of where the OOB, Scaborough town line is on the
beach, so you wouldn't get in trouble by crossing the boundry to
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
My old mare, Phoenix, and I are all about the same thing lately. Namely, FOOD!
It's gimme, gimme, gimme in the effort to stay warm with this onslaught of cold temperatures! This week, we've been in the teens overnight and barely making it into the thirties during the windy days.
I knew winter was here when I stopped into my friendly North Yarmouth Variety after one of my barn visits. Usually, it's a donut and coffee. Now (and for the foreseeable future!) I got their bacon egg sandwich. It's warmer and heartier. Yum.
And for Phoenix, I've doubled up on the beet pulp. She was getting it once a day. Now it's twice. I soak it and then warm it up with hot water before feed time. I like to think she appreciates it.
Whether we add outside layers (coveralls for me, occasionally a nighttime blanket for her) or inside layers (fat), it's what we do to get through this lovely season.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
The following is an email letter I submitted to a public
radio show. They were asking for stories of communities affected by the
economic downturn. And, of course, I thought of our horse community.
the letter: I listened to your show today while driving from barn to
barn. I take care of horses for a living. One segment prompted me, the
audience, to write about our community during this economic struggle.
And so here I am!
am writing on behalf on the horse owner community. Now you may think
horse owners are a well-heeled bunch. And you wouldn’t be entirely wrong.
People who hire me to take care of their horses aren’t the ones I’m
But many, many horseowners live paycheck to
paycheck. I know lots of horse folks from across the socio-economic
spectrum and we all agree this winter may bring the Perfect Storm we
I hope you’ll consider airing my point of view.
the past year or so, prices for grain, hay, shaving, and other supplies
essential for horse care have gone up dramatically. Some blame biofuels
for grain increases. Lumber mills are burning their own wood instead of
oil, so wood shavings (for horse stall bedding) are no longer a cheap
byproduct. Their cost has shot up.
It costs at least $4,000 per year to care for a horse, so a 30 percent hike in food prices is pretty hard on people.
in Maine (and much of the northern US), costs shoot up in the winter
anyway as we lose our pastures to cold and snow. So we replace our
“free” pastures with more hay and grain. And then, of course, they need
more hay and grain just to stay warm, too.
Maine is a poor,
rural state to begin with. Add a tough job market and I’m thinking the
laid-off worker will feed his kids before he feeds his horse.
my opinion, even the recent, well-intentioned ban on horse slaughter
will put horses and their owners in a more miserable position.
envision horses dying in their fields. I drive by farms where they’re
suffering already. So, which is more humane – a captive bolt to the
head or death by starvation and exposure?
My friend in Montana sees the same thing happening there.
I talked with a man who works for the Bureau of Land Management and he sees the same thing.
aren’t enough equine rescues in Maine to handle all the neglect cases
that are piling up. And I fear there aren’t enough horse owners with
deep pockets and big hearts to adopt or foster all those being
surrendered or seized.
Just today, I heard of a dozen seriously neglected miniature horses surrendered at a local veterinary clinic.
of my clients asked me to spread the word, he had a good quarterhorse
and was asking $5,000 for him. I just laughed. In this climate, I doubt
he could give him away. Just look at craigslist, I told him.
true – boating and horses are two of the most expensive recreations.
But you can’t throw a tarp over your horse for the winter.
hope you might consider airing this point of view on behalf of all us
committed to keeping equines safe and sound during this tough time.
Monday, November 10, 2008
I am in complete agreement with the whole horse slaughter thing --- I think it has created a ton of hardship for horses. It really sucks that animal rights people don't really think of the whole big picture when they are lobbying so hard to get something banned.
Those same folks could lobby the horse-loving population to make sure horses don't fall headlong through the huge cracks that have developed since the slaughter ban.
we were doing the Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue course, our
instructors had nightmare stories of possum-bellied livestock trailers
(the kind meant for hauling pigs) crammed with horses bound for
slaughter either north of south of the border. Then the trailer crashes
because its overlimit and illegal and they're trying to get away with
it on sideroads and at night.
More horses suffer.
I work with the MSSPA here in Maine. Proceeds from this site goes to the MSSPA. www.msspa.org
Almost all their horses come from court cases where the state animal welfare
department has seized horses from owners for neglectful or abusive
I've been to their barn several times and every single horse
has come from a nightmare. Brooke was kept in a 10 by 10 stall for
years and shared it with 3 other horses and even bore a foal in that
stall with the other horses in it. Others have had to have their
halters surgically removed because the halters have dug so far into
their skin and muscles. Sick situations all.
probably have a million dollar
per year operating budget. They house 70 horses steadily. Only about 12
per year get adopted out, mostly because as you can imagine, the horses
can be tough to handle.
There are maybe a half dozen much smaller equine rescues in Maine.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
This entry is from my friend, Afton Otto. We wrangled together in Montana and she has many years experience in things horse in Alaska, Colorado, Montana, and Idaho.
Both of us have seen the unfortunate by-product of the new ban on horse slaughter in the US: More Suffering Horses.
It's too bad when all those animal rights folks were conjuring up this law, they made no effort to construct a contingency plan for all those "saved" horses. Instead, many horses saved from slaughter end up staying alive but just barely. To say their lives have been improved would be a gross mistake.
Afton writes: "I can't write everything that has led me to this point as it will
take a couple hours so here's the short version of the story: the
slaughter ban in the US has really put the horse market in this area of
the country in a bad way.
People are selling off, giving away and
deserting their horses by the dozens as along with the poor economy,
hay being high, etc. they can't afford to keep them and nobody wants to
buy or take them in.
The language in the bill that was passed to ban
the slaughter made no provisions for the horses that would be going to
slaughter except to say "people can take them to a shelter or rescue or
have them humanely euthanised". Unfortunately, humane euthanasia is
expensive (if you can't afford hay, you probably can't afford
HEuthanasia), and there is one rescue in Montana that I have been able to
find. There are several sanctuaries but when those people max out with
horses, no more move in until one dies, etc. So, what we want to do in
this area is to start a shelter!
It is very hard to get started as I
absolutely don't know which direction to go or who to talk to! We are
currently looking for a "free" lawyer to help us and may have some
leads and other than that are kind of stuck! Would you know how to
proceed with this?
Also, it makes me a little bit angry that no one is
talking about this huge problem except to put people on the news that
are neglecting their horses (no mention of how and why they got to that
point in the first place), and I want to put it out there and gain
public support, who do I write to and what should I say?????"
Consider NickerNews a venue for getting the word out, Afton!!
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Yes, folks, that wonderful time of year again. I broke out the orange vests for Brooke and Shea and put orange felt collars on Phoenix and Trixie. We've been hearing gunshots in our neighborhood for over a month now. Target practice, I imagine.
Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with deer hunting. I don't even have a problem with deer hunters. But I do have a problem with Stupid Deer Hunters -- like the Massachusetts woman who shot and killed our dog just a few hundred yards from our house (I suppose I should feel blessed she didn't shoot my mother, who was taking our English Pointer for a walk). Or like the hunters who come into my neighborhood from who-knows-where. You'd swear they're trying to see tracks from the warmth of their pickup truck. No kidding, I have seen these guys sitting 20 feet from their truck with their rifles on their knee, waiting for a deer (or something) to walk within range!
Yes, this blog entry is heavy on disdain. But hey, now I have four horses in my care. And they look a lot more like deer than our dog did.
More to follow...