The Right Way to Ruin a Horse

Insane footage of an illegal trotting race on a busy Irish road, with spectators jockeying to keep the Garda away from the sulkies. How these eejits avoided numerous head-on collisions I’ll never know. They were greater fools to film it all and load it on the internet. I hope there are plenty of arrests. (UPDATE: it was the Cork to Mallow road, and one arrest has been made)

Throwaway Ponies

More abandoned horses: after dead and dying ponies were found dumped on Bodmin Moor, police in the New Forest suspect the same thing is happening in Hampshire:

An animal abandoned near Lyndhurst had to be shot because it was in a weak condition.

It was found just two days after a dead pony had been discovered at nearby Ipley. Police believe both animals were taken to the New Forest and dumped by people determined to avoid veterinary bills or the cost of disposal.

The latest incident involved a skewbald cob cross filly thought to be about a year old.

The corpse of a starved grey pony carried by litter and dumped in Sussex.

Another German media outlet covers the issue of horse welfare in post-crisis Ireland.

Meanwhile, in other British native pony news, you need planning permission to keep a Shetland pony in the Shetland Isles.

Pony Say No

A pony express rollercoaster at the Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park in California is under state investigation after an accident last Thursday in which ten people were injured. Riders sit astride saddles and lean forward over the necks of model ponies as they charge around a modest course of rises and falls. As one troop of “ponies” was setting out, it met one of the inclines, slowed and finally rolled back down the hill into another pony troop in its “stable”, landing ten people in hospital over night. Thankfully they are all out and well. LA Times story and artist’s impression of the ride here.

The rollercoaster ponies’ performance sounds exactly like that of the hired Connemaras that my family tried to ride up the Gap of Dunloe during one wet and windy Irish holiday in the 1980s. The ponies went about half a mile, turned and headed for home. Mum and I managed to get them pointed the right way after a struggle, but it was too late for my father and brother, the nonriders, who were helpless, and rapidly disappeared back down the track towards the stable yard.

I have a feeling that perhaps the owners of Knott’s Berry Farm weren’t looking for quite that level of authenticity in a pony ride.

Upstairs, Downstairs

Sidesaddle doyenne Nannie Power O'Donoghue

“I once caught an abigail in an English house pirouetting before the cheval-glass, dressed in my riding-breeches, and grinning delightedly with a hand on either side of her waist. By way of punishment, I made her divest herself of the trifles in my presence, and by doing so found that she had augmented the evil by making an entirely wrong use of one of my silk vests – while, as an end to all bitterness, she had actually fitted on my stockings and boots.”

Mrs Power O’Donoghue
, 1880s.

Horses and the Credit Crunch

The horse world’s reaction to the recession has not been monolithic. On the one hand, much of the industry has held firm as people go on spending money on their horses. On the other, the number of horses abandoned or turned over to welfare organisations has increased, and people are, for once, facing up to the problem of what to do with so-called “surplus horses”. Probably no surprise to horsekind, who’ve long known that their fate depends entirely on the human hands that hold their halter rope.

This week brought a series of stories from Ireland that illustrate it neatly – although I could easily have dug through my filing cabinet and found earlier articles that show the same thing happening in the UK. Here’s the Irish Independent saying that the Dublin Horse Show (which opens today and has been running since 1864) is holding its own, albeit with lower champagne sales, while the Irish Times writes up proposals for a one-off horse cull, with the government covering the costs of slaughter.