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We Are Flying Solo

May 29, 2012

Unscheduled PSA: Don't Be An Idiot; Don't Kill Your Horse

I know you have earned an Encore update, but I have some amazing images to upload and organize first.

At the moment, however, I have something to say.  I preface by saying that, in the National Forest where we spent the weekend, there are a variety of equine campgrounds, ranging from a gravel lot with no electricity and no permanent equine enclosures to a lovely bathhouse, cabins, grassy campsites, multiple barns and pens, and washracks.  There is a reason I pay extra to camp at the latter, although even it is not immune to idiots.

If you travel with your horse, even if you are "only" trail riding, you have the following obligations:

-Your horse must have a safe place to stay overnight, with clean and safe footing, free of hazards, where he can lay down and rest after hauling your butt up and down mountains all day.

-Your horse must ALWAYS have water to drink.  Yes, really, always.  It is your responsibility to check his bucket periodically to make sure it stays full and clean.  I don't care if the bucket is heavy, your arm will not detach.  You can always use several smaller or half-full buckets to top it off.  If we have to fill your horses' empty buckets when it is 90 degrees and they slurp down the entire thing in one go, they have just told on you.

-After you have ridden, I don't care how hot you are, how many beers you want to drink, how long you want to practice your redneck yells, which of your handguns you want to play with, or which of your shirtless neighbours you want to flirt with (all of which I saw when we rode through aforementioned other camping areas).  Your first responsibility is to make sure that your horse is hosed off, cooled out, his feet and body are checked over and returned to safe place where he can rest with water.  Only after all this is completed may you attend to whatever else it is you want to do.

-Even after you have put your horse away, you must go check on him 30 minutes to an hour later; he may have guzzled his bucket of water after hauling said butt up said mountains and need a refill.  Or he may be showing delayed signs of heat stress or colic or other problems.  It is your job to know and respond.

-If your horse's back is shaped like a U, his pelvis is rotated on the end of his spine, and the top of his rump sits 4" higher than the low point of his back and all of his back muscle is completely atrophied, leaving a ribby, dangling belly between normally muscled shoulders and haunches, for the love of cod, your saddle does not fit, your horse's back has a major problem and you should not be plopping yourself up there without addressing it.

-If you have failed to do these things and I have to ride through your equine ghetto of a campground and see your dead/dying horse lying in his shoddily constructed "enclosure" of ancient tape around trampled manure and mud while you peer at him from 20 feet away and then wander back to your trailer without a peep and if I have to wonder whether your potbellied shirtless neighbour is actually going to try and shoot your horse with the 9 mm handgun he is playing with on the other side of me, it is going to take every ounce of willpower within me not to leap off my horse and push you in front of the next passing logging truck.  Or possibly attempt to stab you to death with the dull knife in my saddle bag.  If I have to ride away as quickly as possible, praying I don't hear gunshots behind me, I am going to wish upon you the worst karma I can think of and then I'm going to get even more creative than that and wish that.

The horses don't get a choice (although I would be deeply gratified if they trampled you the next time you came in the pen); therefore, you don't have one either -- you must attend to their safety and needs before all else.  Then I don't care how many beers you drink or how little clothing you wear as long as it doesn't wake me up.

End PSA.


  1. Thank you.
    I agree with every singe point

  2. That poor grey pony! Oh my god, somebody was riding him/her? Sick. I'm sorry you had to see all that-it sure would take the fun out of it for me too:(

  3. And when you are foxhunting on Memorial Day, I don't care how gorgeous you and your horse look... it is your responsibility to bring your own water and sponge. Do not wander around all of us that are prepared to take care of our horses asking for water because... you didn't bring any! Just sayin'!

  4. Sarah, that picture is a generic one, it is not one of the actual ones we saw. Although it is very similar, sigh.

    Suzanne, totally agreed on the water!!

  5. Did you report the place? I know some states and towns are bad about enforcing animal cruelty laws, but at least it gets on the record. Animal neglect and cruelty is a precursor to potentially harming humans, and when investigating violent crimes, it helps the police to look at records of animal cruelty.

    I'm sure you know all of that. I don't know why I put effort into typing it lol.

  6. Michaela, unfortunately we live in a place where burden of proof is on the reporter and little will be done. As long as there is some semblence of hay and a bucket, all is presumed well and the conditions are so temporary...

    Oh and there is no phone service. I do what I can where I can, but this one was beyond me.

  7. The last horsecamping I did (about 3 weeks ago) there were at least half a dozen people hand grazing their horses who dropped the lead rope. They then looked on shocked that their horse would happily trot off to visit the other new horses with hay and grain all around them. I helped catch a couple and then gave up and watched in amazement. I even saw one guy lead one horse with another following with the leadrope dragging on the ground. Every 3rd step or so the poor guy would step on it and crank his head to the ground. IDIOTS!

  8. *shame* I will admit that Solo took advantage of my two seconds (literally) of trust (which he didn't deserve in the first place) and led his best friend Pete on a romp through the hayfield. He did not have the good grace to just go to the next horse and stop. We were very lucky they saw the gate into the fully fenced field as an opportunity.

    BAD HORSE! Corrupting minors...

    I agree that far too many people let their horses wander unattended. We did however, receive our karmic punishment for laughing at the man trying to catch his escaped mule the day before.

  9. Lawl...

    For the love of cod! I will be reverting to your version of this saying from now on!!

  10. Oh good heavens, I know just what you mean. Don't you just wanna go over there and bash some heads?

  11. Yes, I want to bash them really really hard.

    Lisa -- take it and run with it!

  12. Uuuhg. If I only had a magic wand to rain down punishment on people who do that.

    When I'm just riding my horse at home I feel guilty if I even take my own helmet off before I've taken the mare-beast's saddle off.

    Soo many people who have animals and shouldn't. I wish on them the abuse they dish out to their animals.

  13. ROFL, I'm glad I'm not the only one with a massive guilt complex.

  14. YES - I swear, even if I am dripping sweat and feel as though I must rip the helmet from my noggin I too feel guilty if the saddle isn't off yet. Every time.

    My son and I went riding at a Boy Scout camp a couple weeks ago, and they had an almost-white Appy still in service whose back was almost as bad as that poor beast's in your photo. AND he had what they called "Appy Eye," which I would guess was an advanced case of uveitis and didn't look very comfortable. I went over to pet him and was told he's "grumpy." Gee, I wonder why... >:-/ I was Not. Happy.

    Boy, I just bet you wanted to do some damage to that guy. I KNOW I can't afford a horse, but I guess I should have one anyway and just never feed it or take care of it - problem solved!

  15. You do have to feed it, you just don't have to give it water unless you really feel like it. The feed scoop's not that heavy, after all. Not like a water bucket, geez.