“The greatest deterrent
to freedom are men and women of zeal, well-meaning, but
without knowledge or understanding.”
~Justice Louis Brandeis~

"People are so quick to defend their own agendas, but they so often fail to realize we must protect the rights of all if we are to continue to have any rights of our own."

Ranch meaning, in general, any real world dwelling probably not involving full care board. Kind of a rural voice of real horse owners, trainers, traders, auction owners, rodeo contractors, etc.. all of us who have taken a verbal beating and called greedy ass hats. Back at the Ranch contributors, moderators, subjects, and so on, are pro-horse, pro-owner, and pro-slaughter.
Back at the Ranch was formed by a group of like minded horse / livestock owners. It is a place for us to try to educate, a place to vent our frustrations with the current equine industry, a place to share humor and snark, and in general try to open the eyes of the public who seem to be anti-agriculture.We do have a section for comments of course, and if you would like to email us you can do so directly or through the contact us form. We like to hear from our readers. I hope you enjoy reading our blog as much as I enjoy managing it.
Ranch Manager

Saturday, November 7, 2009

We Really Love Thoroughbreds…….

For As Long As It Takes Them To Make Eight Starts……..

Rants and raves, one darned (damned?) opinionated Broad er..., Woman--who loves Thoroughbreds; loves the sport; and freely expresses her exasperation. The Alpha Mare wants to see good things all around for everyone in horse racing,
PETA and some others have convinced a lot of people that our sport is rife with hard-hearted horse haters. Not only do we force horses to run—we may actually pray that one of them goes down. We get a sadistic thrill out of seeing a horse writhing in pain, and then euthanized. PETA has done a great job of convincing a lot of lonely, ill-informed, ignorant people that we are The Bad Guys.

But we who love Thoroughbreds—genuinely love them—and the sport of racing them, have before us a Golden Apple. The chance to band together and make a difference. This plum opportunity has been handed to us on a silver platter. We can resurrect the reputation of the sport—a reputation that has been decided by PETA's spin doctors—simply by making a few phone calls.
So starts one of the Alpha Mare’s columns. She goes on to say the plum opportunity is Madeleine’s plan for the now 33,000 mustangs but I plan to deal with the Equine Cap and Trade way of buying off PETA in another blog so…. back to the eight starts and the love of thoroughbreds.
Eight starts. Eight is the average number of starts made by a thoroughbred race horse. Equus magazine has an article on conformation types, specifically, the classification of horses into basic conformation types, The Question of Type. “Durability is not an issue in breeding the racehorses of today”, states the November 2009 article. The average number of starts for a thoroughbred is between six and ten, eight.
So let’s do the math……
If….. it takes three to six months to get a colt from the pasture to fit, gate okayed, and ready to enter in a race. If…..a conservative time between races for a horse is three to four weeks. If……8 starts is multiplied by 3 weeks = twenty-four weeks or roughly another six months. This makes the estimated length of the horse’s career around a year from start to finish. If…… a horse must break their maiden before they are four, most will have achieved this (or not) by their fifth birthday. If…… most are started as long yearlings to make the two year old season many will not make it past their third birthday without needing a career change or a “forever home”.
PETA’s spin doctors are trying to make those involved in racing “Bad Guys” by taking aim on an industry they don’t understand????? PETA and the HSUS are perfectly fine when they are after the AQHA, rodeo, barrel racing, roping, auctions, or just about any OTHER horse activity. The literal translation for this particular commentator I believe is, “I love PETA or HSUS spin until it is directed at me and mine, then they are WRONG”.
“Let’s band together and do something”…….One of the most popular dodges blames the AQHA for the vast numbers of unwanted horses. The AQHA lobby is for slaughter to allow the association to continue killing horses in droves instead of policing its breeders and contributing to horse welfare. This is a chanted “fact” for anti-slaughter campaigners. One of whom stated statistically half of all foals registered with the AQHA will end up going to slaughter. The anti-slaughter/anti-AQHA commentator didn’t provide any verification so I can’t say how this statistic was gathered but……..
I wonder if the Thoroughbred foals registered each year have even 50/50 odds of reaching their seventh birthday. I also read an anti-slaughter statistic stating the average age of a slaughter horse was seven….. Remember eight starts….. a career lasting less than one year. Most working ranch, rodeo, or other performance event horses are in TRAINING to even compete in their career discipline for that length of time or longer. The Jockey Club may produce fewer foals each year but do they have the better chance at a long productive life?
We have done blogs about the practice of breeding event specific horses. We have done blogs on the practice of breeding genetically defective animals. We have done blogs on breeding animals with less than functional conformation. We are not singling out thoroughbred racing to pick on.
“Let’s band together and make a difference.” How can we do that?
Is this “doing something” time better spent on the phone or in breeding sheds, the training arenas, or studying form to function conformation as it applies to the speed horse or any horse for that matter? Is this “doing something” time better spent whining “there aught to be a law” or trying to convince others who “truly love thoroughbreds” there just might be a better way to make horses last longer? Make them more marketable to people other than racing enthusiasts. Maybe send them home from the track while they are still sound enough to remarket?
We have spent a lot of time here talking about the “rescues”. We have spent a lot of time talking about thin Thoroughbreds and dysfunctional personalities using them as fronts in a personal agenda I can’t begin to understand.
I would like to introduce you to one “pro-active” program run by people who impress me as “truly loving thoroughbreds” for the long haul, not just eight starts and on to Madeleine’s place. http://horsecreektb.com/ Go have a look. “Meet” some people who have set out to produce race horses who can do everything plus run, see some pretty scenery, and some truly “rehabbed” ex-race horses. Who is doing more to promote and better the thoroughbred horse and horse racing? Who would you rather have standing behind a horse you were buying, the Alex/rescue crowd, the Alpha mare, any one of the anti-slaughter ranters who have weighed in here, or these good people and their lifetime commitment to these horses?
………..or just one more answer to the burning question “What are we doing?”

By RH1

note: I know this isn't really Saturday Satire or atleast not as satirical as we've been in the past. However I thought it was an appropriate blog for the day of the breeders cup....

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Shortest Day of the Year…………

The winter solstice…..The shortest day of the year…or the longest night, however you prefer to look at it.
I started out to write this as commentary to the Ranch Manager’s piece on Karen Sussman and it kind of evolved into an opinion. I have never been short on opinions. The comments of earlier discussions involving rescues, thin horses, education, and other management issues made me wonder exactly what constitutes cruelty and abuse.
I don’t agree with Cheyenne Canyon Quarter Horses and Paints/Black Hills Sanctuary’s breeding of mustangs until 2009 when the BLM has been struggling to place horses removed from the public range, but Mr. Hyde is/was a rancher. He is familiar with range and livestock management. He has maintained his facilities and land well. His horses winter out in the Cheyenne River breaks and canyons. 11,000 acres or more with around 600 horses and good winter feeding practices the property and horses can operated in the same manner as any other ranch. I will disagree with his philosophies. I will not take away from his management. This is a paragraph taken from The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribal News article about horses surviving the winter. “At the sanctuary near Hot Springs, the horses eat grain daily in winter, and workers make open water available. Charlie Summers, who photographed the sanctuary horses and his wife Rita, saw other dangers, besides lack of food, water and shelter. On the sanctuary, the winter perils are slipping on ice of the Cheyenne River and causing serious injury. There are mountain lions in the Cheyenne River Canyon and we do see some skeleton remains of horses from unknown causes, says Summers.”
These sanctuary horses have it much the same and somewhat better than their free roaming relatives. Things are different for the smaller rescues and less managed sanctuaries. I wonder how many of the well meaning contributors to these establishments have any idea how quickly the living conditions for the stock can deteriorate in an over-crowded poorly managed facility, not only rescues and sanctuaries but private horse owners. The rescue situation brought to our attention by Ranch Hand 2 is another good example.

When I wrote the market opinion blog several months ago I made a statement about placing a wanted to buy ad and waiting to see what turned up. I used this picture as an example of the situations so common.

The horses are thin. They have no papers, no conformation, no training, and no value. The excuse for this now is “rescue”. “I got them out of a bad situation”, “and near as I can tell you haven’t offered them any improvements”. Winter is coming. Winter with the management and nutritional challenges those of us who have wintered many animals for many years cope with, plan for, and deal with quietly. Winter will look a lot different for horses like Dayton Hyde’s or mine than it does for Karen’s, Epona’s, or even the ones above. On the ones above or one like him, no one will even pick them up to get them out of the bad situation that “saved” them from the last bad situation. The problem now……as long as they are not slaughtered…..no one cares.
The phenomenon I can’t grasp?……. horses who are hide stretched over the bone, standing in ankle deep mud, s***, and walking over the dead bodies of the ones who weren’t so hardy at a rescue or a private owner constitutes a situation needing education, help, and more money from someone not at all involved, not an immediate call to law enforcement. If they are dropped off at an auction…..the auction owner is responsible and becomes blog fodder for 50 animal angel/sharkonline/anti-slaughter see how horrible this is, finger pointers. If they are in the holding pens of a trader who may or may not buy butcher horses, they are in a “feedlot” and the same course of action is required.
Three Strikes was not “outed” by the any anti-slaughter, animal rights, rescue, or any sort of horse saving community internet police corps…….Nope….the neighbors……farmers and ranchers who had to drive by the stupidity every day, reported it. Are Epona and Karen Sussman next on the list???


Their concept of cruelty has to be in the end destination not the horse keeping practices. Here is a picture of one of those horrible Canadian feedlots. Those are round bales stacked up as a windbreak. There is feed over-flowing the bunk. The pens are scraped and clean. The horses look comfortable and fed. They don’t have a bright future but neither do the mustangs at Karen’s sanctuary, the horses belonging to the owner above, or rescues we have talked about earlier on.

By RH1

Monday, November 2, 2009

Saving the Horses.......

Rescue should be a safe haven, right? Those who choose to take in horses should be prepared to do a lot of hard work, and spend a lot of money. They should be willing to put in long hours, make tough decisions, and put animals before themselves. They should have an open door policy, and be willing to answer any questions from those who are considering donating to them. In short, simplistic terms, these are the basics of a good Rescue. It doesn't seem to be so difficult, does it? So why is it that there are more and more of the ones that can't seem to get it right? And why are they successful at getting not only the money, but the support and seemingly undying defense of those who donate to them? In the past few months, as I've followed the story of a Rescue that has allowed horses to starve, I have also become aware of others who seem to flourish although it is obvious that they exist for their own purposes rather than for the good of the horses they take in. For example- I have been reading about one Rescue in particular who doesn't appear to have any idea about what it takes to even provide the basics in Equine care. Horses regularly go without grooming or hoof trims. The number of horses housed in this place is well over the amount that can be cared for on a daily basis. There is no segregation. Mamas and babies are turned out with large horses. While basic feeding needs are met, it does not appear that much more is done. This particular Rescue does not seem to be able to say "No" to a new horse, despite the fact that very few it currently houses are worked with or adopted out. While it claims to be "all about the horses", the horses don't seem to be much of a priority. This particular Rescue was so "about the horses" that it transferred some of them into a Rescue that has allowed some to starve to death. Those horses were never removed. The reason given was lack of room, yet this Rescue recently took in a new horse from somewhere else. Out of sight out of mind? Where is the responsibility? This Rescue continually asks for donations for just about anything, but when asked questions, becomes very confrontational, or simply refuses to answer them. If pressed, she will often present a dramatic situation that will bring her supporters running to her defense. For example-she is involved in the abuse story I wrote about earlier. For those interested, NOTHING has happened. No charges pressed, no horses removed. This woman in particular has been instrumental, in my opinion for the situation. She placed herself in the middle of the situation, and manipulated it in order to gain attention, and try to deflect the blame from herself for her part in the situation. Any time she was asked questions that she did not wish to answer, she either refused, or accused the person asking of creating drama. When she finally could not deflect the questions any longer-voila!!!!! she was the recipient of a threatening phone call!!!!! She did not know what to do!!!!! Of course, her supporters came running, and precious time when horses were starving was wasted in trying to decide whatever should be done to help her! Had I not read all of this myself, I would not have believed it, but it is all in print, and it is all true. I'll give her this, though. She knows how to get to those who continue to send her the cash. And I guess that's the key. You've got to know how to spin the tale, and reel 'em in. If you can personalize the story enough to get these people to feel they're part of it, they'll continue to shovel over the cash, and back you up no matter what you do. Emotion is key to being able to continue to operate a Hoarding Situation under the guise of a Rescue. I believe that is what we're seeing in this case, as well as others like it. The basic elements are always the same. No one can care for the horses as well as they can. There is almost a never ending need for some sort of attention. It can be in the form of drama, daily tragedies, or simply the need to have in your possession a horse that people are concerned about, or interested in, but it will be there. You'll see horses coming in, but you won't see them leave. The horses truly aren't the main concern, it's the emotional feedback the person doing the "saving" gets when they get them. They generally don't have much interest in getting them trained or ready for homes. Someone stated once that these hoarding situations are like a "Hotel California" for the horses. Sadly, that is often true. They tend to humanize the horses to the point that they often report conversations they have, and those who contribute to them just get sucked in all the more to the imagined relationship. It's genius, really. And if it was truly beneficial to the horses involved, I'd be all for it. But in comparing these few places I've run across to the ones that really work, I find that they really aren't "all about the horses"-they're sadly, more about the hoarders. And there's a serious downside. In some cases, horses that deserve to go to good homes where they would be used end up as early retirees simply to meet the emotional needs of those who have "saved" them. In the case I had written about earlier, this woman is at the very least partially responsible for the pain and suffering for horses that to this day remain at a Rescue she continues to support! Why do these people involve themselves in this? If it is, indeed "all about the horses", why are those horses still there, and why did this woman leave the ones she took there in the hands of someone who was not caring for them? Why is she even now, refusing to answer questions? or even post the contract that placed her horses there? Why the cover up? Why the secrecy? And what in the hell is wrong with those who continue to support her?
By RH2