Escaping The Equestrian World

A friend of mine recently asked me about the rules for driving with a horse trailer, empty or without a horse in it… And that is when it hit me. I don’t know. And for once, I don’t know who to ask.

And it is awesome.

Usually I would just ask the ever “helpful” horse-people I know on face book, or on horse web, (The Danish Heste Nettet,) and they would instantly launch themselves into a long debate on how the rules really are, and I’d have to read through it all and answer politely, while waiting for someone to answer, who actually knew where to find the rules and would post a link, so we could all see how wrong we were, and get our facts straight.

The thing is though, that since the Danish Equestrian Federation decided to change their rules, to live up to FEI’s standards, and allow for horses to BLEED while warming up, and in the show ring, I deleted myself from the Equestrian world.

I withdrew my horses from the federation’s system, I signed myself out, I quit my membership of any club under the Danish Equestrian Federation and even if I didn’t delete my profile on Hestenettet, I haven’t activated it since I got a new computer, and I honestly can’t remember my password anymore.

Then, an old friend of mine and I, had a rather serious falling out, over a case of animal mistreatment, and with her, I cut my last ties to both the online and offline equestrian world. I deleted myself from all the horse groups on face book, and let go of other people’s horses for good.

I still have some horse-friends on my friend list, don’t get me wrong. People who post pictures of happy, loved and cared for horses every once in a while. People who aren’t typical equestrians; always looking to be better than others, mostly by putting others down and by disregarding the welfare of their own horse. I can honestly say, that I have been much happier lately, without the drama of the equestrian world in my life and with only the friends who share my views on animal welfare, left.

I guess the lesson is simple, really. Not my circus, not my moneys- even if I would like to save all the monkey’s, from cruel hands, I can’t. But I can walk away, and keep my own little monkeys safe from harm. Not to mention, I can keep my sanity, by not subjecting myself to the drama and the heartache anymore.

I don’t think I realized though, how effectively I had closed that door behind me, until my friend asked me about those rules for trailers and I had no go -to -girls anymore. And as soon as I realized that I was without that “safety net,” I found myself breathing a lot easier. It was as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I don’t know. I am sorry that I can’t help. I am not part of the equestrian world anymore, I truly am not. I don’t know anything about rules for transport, for show, for slaughter, competition, paperwork, abuse, doping, training, rollkur, you name it, I am OUT. I have no contact with this world anymore…

And I repeat, it is awesome.

The years of my life I have wasted, trying to change or survive that world, hoping for a better tomorrow… And it just keeps getting worse. I even named my book, Surviving the Equestrian World.

In the end, I could not. I was drowning, and I didn’t even know it, until now, when I am finally breathing. By all means, my next book should be called, Escaping the Equestrian World, but to be honest, I can’t write a whole book about that. It is very simple. Just walk away. Let it go.

Love your horses, trust yourself and don’t let others bring you down or draw you into their web.

I know that I am letting a lot of people down, who have come to look for Veronica Merlin as the girl who dares speak up, and take on the federations, and try to make a change, but I guess that I am passing on the torch. If I have to keep documenting animal abuse, by taking pictures, that means that I have to be there, to see it. I have to show up at the championships, with my camera, and subject myself to the cruelty that is everywhere at most shows.

I don’t have the heart. I know a lot of people who wants to do it, not so much for the horses involved, but more out of spite for the riders, because it is a very Danish thing, to want to bring each other down. Let them do it, if they dare stick their neck out. Their heart’s won’t break. Mine always did, whenever I saw an animal abused.

Most of all, what I am truly relieved to have escaped, are the excuses, of those who sort of mean well. The “I am wearing a noseband, but it is lose! And my horse is much better with it on, than without it!” and the, “I am wearing spurs,  but only so I can use smaller signals and make the horse respond faster,” and the, “I do have my horse locked up in a stall 16 hours (or 23) a day, but only because he doesn’t like the cold,” or any other lie that horse people keep telling themselves or those around them, to justify keeping a huge animal in a very small cage, tying it up and beating it to make it “dance…”

It always gnawed at my soul, to hear my friends speak like that, and not being able to change how they viewed their horses, and at the same time, I very quickly realized that you can’t make people change by telling them how wrong they are. All you can do, is smile when they say dumb things, and then, set an example by not locking your own horse up in a tiny cage, and hope that in time, they may add the pieces together themselves. It should be simple. We all know that horses are made to live in the wild, to walk all day, to only sleep for three hours tops, to eat a little all day, I mean, that is common knowledge. Still, it is radical not to keep your horse in a stall?

One of the things that made me start trimming my own horses hooves in the end, was that kind of attitude in my Ferrier. It is everywhere in the equestrian world. He kept telling me, that if he was to fix Saleem’s hooves and the position of his legs, it would be so much easier if I kept him in a stall. On a pasture, he moves around too much…

To which my only answer was, “then help him!” Of all the horses in this world, the ones who actually WALK on their legs, needs their hooves, where as the horses, locked in a cage, most of the day, can get away with crooked legs, to some extent. Of course, his job would be much easier if the horse was kept fixated and never moved at all, but that is hardly the point, now is it?

I will add, that I love this guy and I am very sad that I could not take it anymore, in the end, but this go-to thing people have about locking horses up, whenever the smallest problem arises, was killing me. I needed someone who would understand that a horse like Saleem, (any horse, but also horses like Saleem,) needs to walk on his hooves, he needs to use his legs as much as he wants, and what he needs from his Ferrier is assistance. There is no easy fix. But there is such a thing as a happy horse, vs. a caged animal.

So the safety net I have left now, are my vets and it is my luck, that they seem to have given up on me a long, long time ago. They never tell me to lock my horses up anymore. They help me treat it if I have a problem, and they only suggest options they know are available. Even when I once in a while have a foal with pneumonia in the middle of the winter, we just treat it, and they never advise me to lock it up in a stall or to even wrap it up in clothes. In fact, they tend to tell me not to. Which is why I am one lucky bastard, to have found them.

I guess in the end, they are all the connection I need to the equestrian world.

And yes, it is awesome.


About Starstone

-Owned by horses. Writer, Photographer, Director, Musician.
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2 Responses to Escaping The Equestrian World

  1. Lella says:

    I don’t know how good you are in swedish, but up in Finland in the equestrian world speaks out about that horses aren’t cars. You should at least try to read it 😉

    • Starstone says:

      It’s a sweet article, and a this is kind of what I don’t miss at all. This rider clearly means well, and she says all the right things, but she isn’t doing them. Her horse not only wears a noseband, but also a martingal. For someone who believe that communication with the horse is the most important, it is kind of very sad to see how she doesn’t feel that a martingal (and the noseband) is an instrument of force, and nothing else. And I really don’t like the notion that you can’t force a horse, because they are so big. A lot of people make a living out of breaking and forcing horses. It is very, very easy. Much easier than actually teaching them trust, for instance.
      And I can’t stand how people think that they are being nice to their horses, when they make sure that they get all the massage and chiropractic they need, because reality is that very few horses would need it, unless the rider was inflicting pain and wrong training on them on a daily basis. If your horse keeps needing help, one should change the way it is ridden, rather than justifying it by getting it help, once the damage is done.
      No, I really don’t miss the equestrian world. Not even a little bit. I am sorry, but an article like this one, just doesn’t make me happy. It makes me wonder how it is that people doesn’t see it?

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