Keeping Tradition “Alive”

Another depressing piece on ponies kept on common land, this time on the Gower peninsula. It’s from This is South Wales:

 

It costs as little as £2 to buy some foals — less than a pint of beer — but around £200 to put them down and dispose of them, according to the Gower Commoners Association (GCA).

This has led to more people buying ponies and horses who then find out they can’t afford vets’ bills and rising feed costs.

…Concerned residents and walkers have contacted the Post saying they have seen dead or malnourished horses and ponies on the peninsula.

John Lovett of Cockett was confronted by a dead horse last Sunday while walking along cliffs near Overton last Sunday.

“It was one of a group,” he said. “It didn’t look too old. Its eyes were gone. You could see the ribs of another one. It’s been a really harsh winter. They don’t have much to eat. I sometimes bring carrots to feed them.”

There are people who still breed these horses. Who fail to give them minimal care. Who cling to the “tradition” of keeping horses even when it makes no economic sense to raise them as a cash crop, and when the horses are dying under their eyes.
Horses don’t “need” to be kept on any common land. It’s nice to have them there, but not when they’re corpses with their eyes pecked out.

Keeping Large Numbers of Horses during a Recession

HOW NOT TO DO IT:

Some 250 horses have been dumped in Bridgend by owners who, it seems, could not afford to feed nor care for them. There are rumours that some have been killed on the roads already, and a few have died of lung infections or starvation. In the photo on the Daily Mail’s site you can see them picking soiled straw out of a muck heap. The Mail article also has details of a local charity which is trying to take in the horses, and which needs donations desperately.

 

HOW TO DO IT:

Ensure that the horses are inanimate when you take delivery of them, rather than afterwards, when  you have bought lots and discovered that you can’t feed them and they subsequently starve to death. In other words, hoard model horses.

My final outlet for childhood horse-craziness was collecting and showing Breyer model horses. You took artful photographs of your stud of fine beasts and posted them off to someone in Spokane who was running a show. A few weeks later, a big manilla envelope would come back with a typed and photocopied list of results and perhaps – perhaps! – some slips of coloured ribbon and homedrawn certificates.

You could join an association, register your horses and mail off each horse’s cumulative results at the end of each year so that they could earn points towards a Register of Merit of Legion of Merit badge. You could spend hours researching pedigrees for them and toiling over adverts for your stallions. I even branched out into racehorses a few years before I went to university (when horses real and inanimate fell by the wayside).

Anyway, a friend passed on another friend’s new blog, dedicated to the nerdy and deeply satisfying practice of researching pedigrees for model horses, and you can read about the process here, at ‘Pedigree Chum’. The internet was only just beginning to kick in when I gave up and sold my virtual racehorses, but I do find them mentioned here and there on the net still (ah, idle Googling). And of course, the models are still prancing dustily along the shelves in my bedroom in Norwich: Surafic, Torah Tanak, Mishmish II. Sorry about that, Mum and Dad!