Trump, Stein or Clinton? How Would Your Horse Vote in 2016?

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Theodore Roosevelt in patriotic mode. Via Library of Congress. https://www.loc.gov/item/2013651643/

I thought it would be interesting to compile the horse welfare promises of this year’s US presidential candidate promises. Which platform is best for your horse?

Hillary Clinton, Democrats

“As president, Hillary will …

Protect horses by ending the slaughter of horses for human consumption and cracking down on the practice of horse soring, in which chemicals or other inhumane methods are applied to horses’ limbs to exaggerate their gait.”

(Bernie Sanders co-sponsored the SAFE Act, which aims to close the last loop hole that enables US horses to be sent to slaughter. He also opposed soring)

Donald Trump, Republicans

I couldn’t find anything on Trump’s website about horses.

Jill Stein, Greens

I couldn’t find anything on Stein’s website about horses.

Gary Johnson, Libertarian Party

I couldn’t find anything on Johnson’s website about horses.

Darrell Castle, Constitution Party of the US

I couldn’t find anything on Castle’s website about horses.

Tom Hoefling, America’s Party/American Independent Party

I couldn’t find anything on Hoefling’s website about horses.

Bob Whitaker, American Freedom Party

I couldn’t find anything on Whitaker’s website about horses.

Scott Copeland, Constitution Party of Idaho

I couldn’t find anything on Copeland’s website about horses.

Gloria LaRiva, Party of Socialism and Liberation

I couldn’t find anything on LaRiva’s website about horses.

Lynn Kahn, Peace and Freedom Party

I couldn’t find anything on Kahn’s website about horses.

Jim Hedges, Prohibition Party

I couldn’t find anything on Hedge’s website about horses.

Ed Chlapowski, Reform Party

I couldn’t find anything on Chlapowski’s website about horses.

Emidio “Mimi” Soltysik, Socialist Party

I couldn’t find anything on Soltysik’s website about horses.

Alyson Kennedy, Socialist Workers Party

I couldn’t find anything on Kennedy’s website about horses.

Chris Keniston, Veterans Party of America

I couldn’t find anything on Keniston’s website about horses.

Monica Moorehead, Workers’ World Party

I couldn’t find anything on Moorehead’s website about horses.

(I had to stop at this point but there are also a plethora of independent candidates, should your horse choose to explore their platforms)

CONCLUSION: your horse is voting for Hillary Clinton.

Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

  • Composer Eve Harrison teamed up with Scottish schoolchildren to write a musical about the horse meat scandal, called The Unspeakable. If I weren’t on the move just now I would dig out a 17th century story in which Scottish children chased and stoned a man known to eat horse meat. (BBC)
  • The FAO reports that the number of horses in the world has dropped by a million every year from 2009–2011, doubtless in response to the recession. The number of donkeys has increased – again, I’m pretty sure that’s down to the recession too. Donkeys make the developing world go round, after all. (Horse Talk NZ)
  • In the wake of the horse meat scandal, Ireland tightened its enforcement of slaughter regulations, with the result that the number of horses entering abattoirs has plummetted. The government is now considering a humane disposal programme for horses that have been treated with bute and other drugs that render them unfit for human consumption. (Irish Times) Meanwhile the UK’s DEFRA will close the loop hole that allowed horses travelling between Ireland, the UK and France to escape a full vet inspection. Racehorses and FEI competitors will still be excused (Horse Talk NZ)
  • In May the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association’s executive committee voted in favour of a bill that would end the use of padded shoes and chains. The board of directors nixed it. Now a member of the executive committee is running an unauthorised poll among members to ask them what they think, and feathers are flying (The Tennessean)
  • Archaeologists in Bulgaria have uncovered a 2,500 year-old Thracian chariot and two horses – the twist? The horses were somehow buried standing (Habitat for Horses)
  • Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

    • Professional child jockeys (as young as 4) in Indonesia (SBS)
    • Virtual racehorses on the game Digiturf sell for $7,000 and $9,000. (ESPN)
    • The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration goes ahead, although welfare concerns knock out some leading competitors. DIg into the comments here. (Tennessean)
    • The number of horses slaughtered in Ireland this year appears to have fallen by half since 2012 – a good thing. The government are still organising a horse disposal scheme. (Irish Independent)
    • Mongolians and their horses (The Diplomat)
    • The results of a study into the deaths of feral walers culled by helicopter gunmen in Australia. (Horse Talk NZ)

    Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

    Subway art at Campo Pequeno station, Lisbon

    Subway art at Campo Pequeno station, Lisbon

    • The American Quarter Horse Association is being sued for not allowing the registration of cloned horses. (ABC News)
    • A New Yorker suggests that the local Boris bike system is replaced by one providing horses. (Gabe Capone)
    • The suspicious death of a racehorse in West Virginia. (Bloodhorse.com)
    • A profile on Marty Irby, a Tennessee Walking Horse breeder who switched sides and joined the campaign to end endemic cruelty in the Big Lick industry. (The Tennessean)
    • More intrigue in New York: carriage drivers say the ASPCA has funded a group that’s attempting to trash the campaign of a mayoral hopeful (New York Daily News)
    • Fascinating gif of a horse jumping – with a skeleton painted onto its coat, so you can see the physical process of leaping. (Reddit)
    • The Wall Street Journal on London’s mews: once stables and carriage houses, now des-res homes. (WSJ)
    • Lone Ranger star Arnie Hammer says his co-star stole the show. Not Depp, but Leroy, a tall grey Nebraskan who stepped into the shoes of Silver. (Omaha)

    Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

    photo

    • The US Equestrian Federation has finally – yes, FINALLY – banned the chains, weighted shoes, pads, collars and rollers used to produce the monstruous “big lick gait. Good news for the beleagered Tennessee Walking Horse. (The Horse)
    • This week was, mercifully, a week in which images of Shetland ponies wearing woolly jumpers flooded the internet. This is my favourite account of the story, thanks to the clash  between the chirpy CNN reporter and the indignant Scotswomen she interviews. Don’t tell a Scotswoman that her jumper makes a pony look fat. Just don’t do it. (CNN)
    • The UK Food Standards Agency has issued an update about findings of bute in horse meat. (FSA)
    • Brony fan art. Including porny My Little Pony graphic novels. I remember that there was joke slash fic on the subject years ago, but now it seems to have crossed a line. More fascinating developments in our everchanging weirdness about horses. (Cracked)
    • A horse in Norwich City scarf turned up at Carrow Road to watch a game, sadly on the wrong day. (SB Nation)
    • The Pony Racing Authority has a new fearless leader: ex-Cheltenham racecourse MD, Edward Gillespie. Chief exec Clarissa Daly commented: “The PRA is committed to increase the numbers from non-racing and non-horsey backgrounds and to make racing more accessible to children and young people from all walks of life.  With Edward as our new Chairman we are better placed than ever to achieve this.” (Horse Talk)
    • HSUS is forming a Responsible Horse Breeders’ Council in the USA. Hopefully they will be able to reach irresponsible horse breeders too. (The Horse)
    • Here’s my Telegraph piece on the history of hippophagy, taboo, rite and rational consumption. (Telegraph)

    Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

    Berlin graffiti

    • A young Scottish showjumper who’s only been riding for three years has been sponsored by Euromillions lottery winners. (Horse and Hound)
    • Meanwhile a nineteen-year-old started a millionaire’s fund of his own when he became the youngest ever winner of the showjumping CN International via Karen K. (Spruce Meadows)
    • Corrective surgery for thoroughbred yearlings before auction. Do they need it? Should it be disclosed? How much goes on?  As one concerned owner points out, “A stallion retires to stud that might not have held up to racing say in 1965 or 1975 and now you’ve got these horses going into the gene pool. I think that unquestionably changes the face of the genetics going forward.” (Kentucky.com)
    • The US federal Horse Protection Act is criticsed by those trying to prosecute abusers of Tennessee Walking Horses. They say the penalties must be much stiffer. (SF Chronicle)
    • In Britain a couple are fined over a thousand pounds and banned from keeping animals for ten years after keeping a pony in a 6ft by 4ft shed. (Daily  Mail)
    • Korean pop group KARA flash their gams and do the “horse riding dance”, which is apparently all the rage among the young folk. (allkpop.com) UPDATE: Thank you to the Atlantic and Ben Perry for this detailed explanation of the horse riding dance.
    • Documentary Wild Horse, Wild Ride, tells the story of trainers preparing fresh-off-the-range horses for the Mustang Makeover. Think Josephine Pullein-Thompson’s Six Ponies and then some. (LA Times)
    • The Seventh Russian polo Open at Moscow. (Living Polo)
    • Przewalski horses return to the wild in China. (Horse Talk NZ)
    • The ill-gotten gains of a city official in Illinois are up at auction: hundreds of top-rank Quarter Horses. (Wall Street Journal)
    • And last but definitely not least, these surprising and moving animal portraits by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Look! Look! (Flavorwire)

    Nature Wins Over Nurture in the Gaited Horse

    Guðmundur Arnarson rides Sævar frá Stangarholti (grey with sunfading black base) in tölti at five-gait horse championships in Hella, 2008. Photo Dagur Brynjólfsson, WikiCommons

    We talk very easily about “a gene for this” or “a gene for that” but most of our characteristics have more complex biological origins than a single strand of DNA. That’s perhaps why it’s such a surprise to read this story, which my brother, Sarah Everts and Christine Wilsdon all sent me.
    Researchers at Uppsala University have discovered that a variation on a single gene called DMRT3 on chromosome 23 causes gves mice a fifth gait. The scientists moved on to looking at Icelandic horses, famous for their rapid “tolt” and sometimes for “pacing”. From GenomeWeb:

    To look at this in more detail, the team started by doing an association study involving 30 Icelandic horses that could walk, trot, gallop, and amble or “tölt,” and another 40 Icelandic horses that could do those four and move at the two-beat pace gait.

    Amongst the horses capable of pacing, the researchers found a significant association involving a region on chromosome 23. More extensive analyses indicated that five-gaited Icelandic horses typically share several SNPs in the region, including a nonsense mutation that introduces a premature stop codon in DMRT3.

    When the team screened hundreds more Icelandic horses, it identified the same alteration affecting both copies of the DMRT3 gene in almost all of the five-gaited horses tested.

    In Icelandic horses with four gaits — those that could tölt but did not perform the pace gait — the DMRT3 mutation was still more common than it is in many other horse breeds. But the change was far less likely to be homozygous.

    The nonsense mutation in DMRT3 turned up in some other breeds too, the researchers reported, though it tended to be more common among those with uncommon gaits and in breeds developed for harness racing, consistent with the notion that DMRT3 function contributes to the way coordinated movement is controlled.

    Discover Magazine has interviews with some of the scientists involved and added this, suggesting that while nature may have made the gaited horse by random mutation, it was human nurture that helped it to thrive:

    By contrast, it’s absent in all horses that stick to the standard walk, trot and gallop. Thoroughbreds, Shetland ponies, wild Przewalski’s horses—all of them have unabridged DMRT3 proteins. The conclusion is stark: for a horse to move beyond its three natural gaits, it needs a stunted version of the DMRT3 protein. … [Mice with the mutation] walked normally, but the coordination between their legs broke down at high speeds.

    The same is true for horses, and explains why the DMRT3 mutations are almost non-existent in the wild. Carriers find it hard to transition from trots and paces to full-blown gallops. They lack the coordination necessary to pull off the fastest gait, and predators would easily have removed them from the gene pool.

    Humans were kinder, and saw a different sort of potential. Andersson imagines that early humans noticed that some horses could move in unique ways, and selected them for breeding, perhaps because they offered a smoother ride or were more versatile at intermediate speeds. Certainly, these animals also do very well in harness-racing, where trotting horses are disqualified if they break into a gallop. In our stables and tracks, an otherwise debilitating mutation has found a comfortable home.

    At this point a bell went off in my head and I made my way to the bookshelf. Stephen Budiansky’s The Nature of Horses: Their Evolution, Intelligence and Behaviour. Page 21 of the Phoenix paperback:

    The almost unbelievable discovery of fossil footprints of three Hipparion horses [in Tanzania]  from the middle Pliocene (3.5 million years ago) has provided ample confirmation of the speed and agility of these grasslands adapted horses.  … A subsequent analysis of the horse footprints makes a convincing case that these Hipparion horses traveled at a good clip utilizing the gait known as the running walk – the characteristic gait of Tennessee walking horses, Icelandic ponies, and paso finos, in which the length of stride is extended and only one or two feet are in contact with the ground at any given time. Comparison of the the fossil footfalls wih the footfall patterns of Icelandic ponies suggests that one of the Hipparions was traveling at 15 kilometers per hour.

    Hipparions, imagined by Heinrich Harder (1858-1935) via WikiCommons

    Hipparion is a relative of the modern horse, but not an ancestor. According to Wikipedia, it existed for 22.219 million years, which really ain’t bad for a runty little gaited horse.