"Dr Matt was right when he said that until recently horses were pretty much just beasts of burden. But I believe many of them still are. Just different burdens. Instead of pulling a plow or wagon, they're jumping fences. Or racing. Or doing heavy-handed dressage ballets."
(He's American, so we'll forgive him for not being able to spell plough.)
Last year I remember seeing this promotional video for the Hickstead jumping on Sky. Lots of slow motion footage of the jumping. And lots of big bits, tight reins, heavy studs and leatherwork. Anybody else think these horses do not look happy?
As for racing, starting a ridden career at two is, in my humble opinion, not good for any horse. I also don't like the way most racehorses are kept, little turnout, lots of concentrated feed, rugs, shoes, all the things we do to horses for our convenience, these things certainly aren't convenient for them. A huge percentage of them develop ulcers from the stress of their unnatural lifestyle, hardly surprising is it?
So why does all this happen? Same reason we've been using the horse as a beast of burden for thousands of years, because it suits us and because it makes us money.
But this abuse of the horse's trusting, compliant nature doesn't just go on at the high end of competition. Every time I go to a show here I see unhappy horses and heavy-handed riders. Kids wearing spurs. Ponies in gag bits. Tight nosebands. The infernal de Gogue. Horses getting hit because they didn't understand what the rider wanted of them. The list goes on.......
You don't have to take my word for it. Here are some pics I have taken in the last year or so - and these are just some of people I don't know, plenty of others I could include but this blog gets me into enough trouble as it is ;-)
The human race doesn't have much to be proud of really, does it?