Friday, November 29, 2013

Wounded Vet Gets Help From Horse Therapy Program

Horses help us SO MUCH!!! ~Declan

Wounded vet gets help from horse therapy program

By LINDSAY S. BUCHANAN, (Florence) Morning News                                                         

TIMMONSVILLE, S.C. (AP) — For wounded Army National Guard veteran Sgt. Matthew Smith, the timing could not have been more perfect when he was connected this March to Bethlehem Therapeutic Riding Stables, and the feeling is mutual.
Gwendolyn Maddrix, founder and director of the horse therapy program run out of Tally Ho Equestrian Center in Timmonsville, said when she met Smith, she had no idea working with her first wounded veteran would turn into a huge part of her life.
A small weekend program, Bethlehem started as a tribute to her daughter, who suffers from several medical issues and who benefited from receiving therapy working with and riding horses. Now the nonprofit is looking forward to a contract with the Jacksonville, Fla.-based Wounded Warriors Project, which will result in a full-time program covering a service area with at least 6,000 wounded veterans eligible to participate.
"It's just been an amazing road," Maddrix said. "Wounded Warrior had been looking for a center for three years in this area. It's such a rewarding experience working with the Wounded Warriors, and we're excited - overwhelmed and excited at the same time - and just honored that we're going to get to be the ones who are going to work with the warriors in our area. That our little program is going to get to do something that big is just kind of mind blowing."
All of this came about when Smith, an Iraq war veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, had a motorcycle accident that left him with a traumatic brain injury and a fractured neck, leaving him in a four-month coma and a general prognosis from doctors that he would never walk or talk again, possibly living out his life in a nursing home.
Smith, then 24 years old, had returned from Iraq in 2005, not knowing how his time there had affected him. Although his mother, Shelene Smith, was concerned that something was off with her son in the months following his return, he continued to work long hours at his job while sleeping few if any hours at night.
He was riding his motorcycle one day when he had what is called a PTSD zone.
"It's a zone where you black out but don't really black out," Shelene said. "You're not familiar with anything around you, and you physically freeze. And that's what happened. He froze, and the bike just went out from under him."
Things did not look good for Smith, but after almost two years of being moved from one hospital and care center to another and battling the Veterans Administration to get Smith's injuries classified as service-connected because of the PTSD he was suffering, things finally started turning around.
When Smith finally left Walton Rehabilitation Center to move back home, he was not only talking but also walking with assistance. He had proved his critics wrong, yet he still had a long battle ahead and was left relying primarily on a wheelchair to get around and his mother to interpret his blurred speech.
It wasn't until the family connected with the Wounded Warrior Project that Shelene, Smith's strongest advocate and tireless champion, began to get some relief from the all-consuming task of making sure her son had everything he needed to gain as much independence as he could.
The Wounded Warrior program is a nonprofit that works to provide everything for wounded veterans that the Veterans Administration cannot or will not provide, including horse therapy, something that had been suggested to Shelene for her son.
After getting Smith into Wounded Warrior's Independence Program - a service that teaches everything from basic daily skills to emotional support - and securing both a life coach and a peer mentor through the program, Shelene was ready to get Matthew involved in the community.
That's when she found out about Bethlehem's horse therapy program.
"I never dreamed - I mean, Matthew never rode a horse in his life, much less with a brain injury," Shelene said laughing. "The thing I've realized about the horse program is that it teaches them discipline, organization. They have to use memory. It teaches them to respect. It teaches them balance."
Maddrix agreed and said that horse therapy is a perfect fit for Smith's challenges. When he first came to the center in March, he had to be held on the horse the entire time. Now he can ride, and occasionally even steer, by himself.
"Matt has problems with his entire left side, and he's had to learn to use that left side to stay balanced on the horse," she said. "Your body doesn't differentiate between a horse walking and you walking, so when you have a physical injury, it's just an amazing way to relearn."
At Bethlehem, an entire team works together to create a lesson plan for Matthew, including Maddrix, occupational therapist Leslie Rutter and several volunteers and instructors.
"It's a great exercise," Rutter said. "As a therapist the greatest thing about it is people are having a good time and don't even realize they're benefiting so many different areas."
Those benefits are also great for Bethlehem's other students, primarily children with autism and physical disorders but also people dealing with emotional issues.
"Horses teach you a lot, so a lot of times the horses teach the students, and there's a bond between the animal and the student," Maddrix said. "They get connected, and there's a relationship there as well as with the instructor. We focus on physical, mental and emotional, so it just depends on what the person's needs are."
Bethlehem has been a PATH International member for three years. PATH is the organization that certifies stables as being therapeutic horseback providers and grants the Premiere status necessary to contract with the Wounded Warriors Project to serve wounded veterans.
Currently Bethlehem is going through certification testing to reach Premiere status - Smith is receiving services at the stables through a subcontractor until they obtain the new rating - which will allow them to contract directly with the Wounded Warriors program.
Once the contract is secure, Bethlehem will be an official provider of horse therapy services for Wounded Warrior and the only certified center in the Pee Dee or Grand Strand areas.
That's a daunting task for Maddrix and her team, but it's one they are willing to take on if it means giving back to the ones who protect their country.
"We were really excited about working with the Wounded Warriors, but we had no idea how big it was going to be," she said. "I just feel like when God blesses you, you should not only be thankful but you should give it back."
Because of the large number of wounded veterans expected to start the program in the next year, the center is looking for volunteers and instructors. They're especially asking any military veterans or those familiar with the military to step up and help with the Wounded Warrior project.

The Serene Beauty Of Horses In The Womb

This is pretty cool! ~Declan


The Serene Beauty of Horses in the Womb

Photographer Tim Flach sees similarities between baby equines and humans

As posted by Smithsonian

By Jesse Rhodes                                                     

Flach’s most intimate treatment of the subject—his documentation of the gestation of a horse—even reveals a biological resemblance. In its earliest, undifferentiated days, the milky white form might appear to be that of either human or equine. But by day 85 the graceful, 5.5-inch-long figure—suspended in formalin and photographed through a glass container—is undeniably a horse. “I hope it inspires a sense of awe,” Flach says. “You’re seeing something in its design stages.”


This 10-day-old thoroughbred embryo was in transit between mares at the Equine Fertility Unit in Newmarket, United Kingdom. Flach had a matter of minutes to spend with a petri dish in order to capture this image.

Day 30

When scientists decoded the genome of the domesticated horse, they found that a horse’s chromosomes are arranged in similar ways to our own. Here, at day 30, the pearlescent organism could easily pass for any mammal—even human.

65 Days

By day 65, the embryo has grown to two and three-quarters of an inch and has developed definitively equine features.

Day 85         

“I was very lucky to find something that has a gesture about it,” Flach says of the porcelain doll-like fetus, aged 85 days, lying in peaceful repose. “It was about picking an angle and lighting the shot.”

Two Florida Therapy Horses Newest Breyer Model Horses

Congratulations Magic and Hamlet!! ~Declan

Two Florida Therapy Horses Newest Breyer Model Horses

By Associate Editor on November 26, 2013  As posted on Horses in the South


Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity based in Gainesville, Florida. The teams of tiny horses visit over 25,000 adults and children each year inside hospitals, hospice programs and with children who have experienced traumatic events. From Sandy Hook Elementary School/ Newtown, CT to the tornado survivors in Moore, OK to child trafficking victims in Washington, D.C., they bring their special love where it is needed most.  Gentle Carousel is currently working with children living in orphanages in Athens, Greece and then will be returning home to make hospital visits in Nashville, TN and Florida for the holidays.

Gentle Carousel therapy horses Magic and Hamlet are the newest Breyer Model Horses.  Earlier this year, therapy horse Magic was even invited to tour the famous Breyer factory (Reeves International Inc.) in Pequannock, NJ and meet the artist working on her original model. She was returning from a second trip to Sandy Hook/Newtown, CT and the Yale-New Haven Children’s hospital and stopped to visit a child with a life ending illness in New Jersey where the factory is located. Magic is the first horse to ever to visit inside the Breyer factory.

Magic and Hamlet will be also be special guests at the 25th Silver Celebration BreyerFest in 2014.  BreyerFest, the world’s largest model horse collector and equine festival, is held each year at the Kentucky Horse Park. More than 10,000 people will attend. Breyer has strong ties to the real horse world and say they add “the latest and greatest stars” to their model line each year.

Therapy horse Magic was also named by TIME Magazine one of History’s Ten Most Heroic Animals (the only living animal on the list). She is AARP’s Most Heroic Pet in America, a Readers Digest/Americantowns Power of One Hero and was one of Newsweek/The Daily Beast’s Ten Most Heroic Animals in America.

Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

French Riders Protest Over Tax Saying Horses Will Suffer

Pro-slaughter people talk about a huge market for horse meat in France, so why did thousands of French people ride their horses to the capital of Paris to oppose a new tax hike which they say will send 80,000 horses to the slaughter house?  Yes, they are worried about all the jobs that will be lost, but they also say they care about what will happen to all the horses.  ~Declan

French riders protest over tax, saying horses will suffer

PARIS Sun Nov 24, 2013 10:58am EST  As Posted on Reuters

Paris equestrial protest
A demonstrator holds a placard reading 'Hollande you are not the right horse' at Sunday's protest in Paris. Photograph: Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images

(Reuters) - Thousands of horse-lovers paraded their animals through central Paris on Sunday in a protest against a planned sales tax rise they say will put riding centers out of business and send horses to the slaughterhouse.
The protest by riders from across France came a day after unions in the western region of Brittany organized a march for jobs and social protection attended by thousands, one of many in the region in recent weeks.
Anger at taxation, unemployment stuck at 11 percent and sluggish economic growth has sent thousands of people into the streets across the country over the past two months.
On Thursday, farmers blocked roads around Paris with tractors to protest against a so-called "eco-tax" on road freight and the planned sales tax.
Organizers of Sunday's protest say the EU-mandated rise of France's VAT to 20 percent as of January 1 - from the 7 percent reduced rate paid by equestrian centers today - will shut down a fifth of centers across France.
Some 6,000 jobs will be lost, they estimate, and 80,000 horses will have to be sent to slaughter.
"Riders, up in arms!" shouted protesters carrying signs reading "Sales tax at 20 percent - Death of Horses and Ponies".
A guillotine was wheeled through the streets, its blade poised above a toy horse's head. Another horse effigy was mounted on a crucifix.
One sign read "Too many taxes = Spanghero," a reference to the French firm the government said sold horsemeat labeled as beef that made its way through the European food chain, prompting a food scandal earlier this year.
"It's a death blow," Serge Lecomte, president of the French Horseriding Federation, told Reuters TV.
"That's why people are so worried, because they see the end of their activity and the end of a lot of establishments, the jobs and the horses."
Some ponies sported red bonnets like those worn by protesters in Brittany, and by peasants who rose up against tax rises in the 17th century. Some marchers wore horse masks.
Socialist President Francois Hollande's popularity ratings are at record lows, with voters angry not just over a lack of jobs, factory closures and taxes but over issues ranging from immigration to bickering within the government.
The government has been pushing to maintain the 7 percent reduced sales tax rate for equestrian centers since March 2012, when the European Union said the rate was improperly applied and threatened a heavy fine.
As negotiations with the EU continue, the government has said it will prop up the sports sector with additional funds to make up for the higher sales tax, beginning in 2014.
(Writing by Alexandria Sage; editing by Andrew Roche)

French Horse Riders Protest Tax Hike - Say 80,00 Horses Will be Sent to Slaughter

Pro-slaughter people talk about a huge market for horse meat in France, so why did thousands of French people ride their horses to the capital of Paris to oppose a new tax hike which they say will send 80,000 horses to the slaughter house?  Yes, they are worried about all the jobs that will be lost, but they also say they care about what will happen to all the horses.  ~Declan

French horse riders take tax protest on to streets of Paris

François Hollande's plan to treble VAT on equestrian centers will 'send 80,000 horses to the abattoir', warns industry
Paris equestrial protest
A demonstrator holds a placard reading 'Hollande you are not the right horse' at Sunday's protest in Paris. Photograph: Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images
A French mood of mutiny that has rippled through Brittany and infected teachers, farmers and shopkeepers, skipped species on Sunday when horses took to the streets of Paris to complain about tax rises.
Thousands of disgruntled horse and pony riders rode through the French capital to complain about tax increases they say will put many of them out of business and send 80,000 animals to the abattoir.
The "cavaliers" blocked roads from the symbolic Paris squares, Place d'Italie, Place de la Bastille and Place de la Nation, in protest at government plans to almost treble VAT on equestrian centres.
It was the latest manifestation of the growing revolt over PresidentFrançois Hollande's tax reforms, many of them aimed at reducing the country's public deficit to meet European Union demands.
Horses at Paris protestHorses in Paris during the demonstration against the proposed raising of VAT)for equestrian centres. Photograph: Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images
The country has been beset by protests in recent weeks by workers including teachers, ambulance staff, farmers, shopkeepers and lorry drivers.
Hollande is France's least popular leader since 1958, according to opinion polls, caught between pressure from Brussels and the anger of a population already hit with one of world's highest tax burdens.
Inhabitants of Brittany, in north-west France, who claim they are bearing the brunt of company closures, layoffs and tax rises, are symbolic of the spirit of mutiny sweeping the country.
Tens of thousands of protesters wearing revolutionary-era "bonnets rouges" have clashed with police, promising to make the region Hollande's "cemetery".
The caps are reminiscent of a 17th-century revolt against Louis XIV's stamp tax in Brittany and became one of the official emblems of the 1789 revolution.
Breton protesters against the Ecotax, nicknamed the '"lorry tax", aimed at making heavy goods vehicles pay for polluting the environment through additional road levies, have destroyed more than 46 traffic radars. The damage is estimated at more than €6m (£5m), according to TV channel France 3.
On Thursday, French farmers brought traffic in Paris to a crawl as they drove tractors on to main roads into the capital to protest about changes in the European Common Agriculture Policy that would increase subsidies for livestock farmers to the detriment of those producing cereals.
Farmers' associations are also angry at the imposition of higher VAT on fertiliser and at new anti-pollution laws, which they claim would curtail their use of tractors.
Thierry Merret, the president of the FDSEA farming union in Finistère, said the government "understood nothing" and that "decisions are being made by Parisians who know nothing about the realities and needs" of those in Brittany.
"We ask them for concrete responses on the question of employment and preserving industrial activity, they reply with talk about helping staff deal with redundancy," he told centre-right newspaper Le Figaro.
The increase in VAT on equestrian centres from 7% to 20% has been imposed on France by an European commission directive that has the backing of the European court of justice. French equestrian associations want the directive renegotiated.
Serge Lecomte, the president of the Fédération Française d'Équitation, told journalists: "The situation is exceptional. The whole sector is now in danger."
Lecomte said the VAT increase would lead to the closure of 2,000 horse centres out of 7,000 with a loss of 6,000 jobs out of 40,000, in the next 18 months. "It will send 80,000 horses to the abattoir," he said.
France has about 700,000 horse-riding instructors and 2.3 million people who ride, 82% of them women. It is the third most popular sport in France.
The government has promised subsidies to prevent riding schools from going under, but Lecomte said this was not a solution.
"Today we're one of the rare sports which is self-financing. To change this and become dependent on subsidies to function is neither enviable or possible," he said.
The French sports minister, Valérie Fourneyron, has voiced sympathy with the equestrian lobby, agreeing that the government needs to renegotiate the European directive.
She added: "But this negotiation is not for the short term. In the meantime we will do all we can in conjunction with the sector to ensure the impact of the VAT [rise] is limited."

Why Eating Horse Meat Won't Lead to Improved Horse Welfare

Why Eating Horsemeat Won't Lead to Improved Horse Welfare

Posted: 22/11/2013 10:29   As posted on the Huffington Post Blog UK 

If Princess Anne wanted to ignite a debate on the desirability of eating horsemeat, she has succeeded. It is a shame that the media discussion following her comments is largely based on unsubstantiated premises and not on fact.
Considering what is observed of the rearing and slaughter conditions for those animals (chickens, pigs, cattle) that produce most of the meat and animal products across the globe, owners will not take better care of their horses if they believe they could sell them for meat. In our modern industrial society, consigning animals to be eaten can pose a serious threat to their health and well-being.
The industrial slaughter of horses elsewhere in the world is beset with animal welfare problems, both in terms of the suffering endured during transport to slaughter as well as in the abattoir itself. With their sensitive nature and innate flight response, it is difficult to slaughter horses humanely.
The knowledge that horses could be sent to slaughter for human consumption when they have 'outlived their usefulness' does not lead to better treatment during their lives. It could equally be argued that such a situation could instead encourage neglect. For example, it is conceivable that owners may withhold essential veterinary medical treatment from their animals because the administration of various drugs, which are banned for use in food-producing animals, may exclude them from the food chain and thereby also from delivering a financial return.
More importantly, stimulating a market in horsemeat where one does not already exist could lead to greater overproduction of horses as owners try to make some money from their breeding operations. Such an attitude would not alleviate the horse welfare problems we already have - it would exacerbate the problem. Rather than talking about eating horses, perhaps the industry should focus on why people are continuing to breed thousands of horses each year that end up without homes or owners. Matching supply and demand is not easy but we should certainly attempt to do this to avoid thousands of horses being neglected and/or abandoned.
A lot of the media and public discussion seems to be based on the idea that horsemeat is being widely consumed in Europe. Because it is normal to eat horsemeat elsewhere in Europe, the argument appears to be that it should be normal to eat horsemeat in the UK too?
While it is true that the majority of meat from horses slaughtered in the UK ends up being exported to the European mainland, the fact is that Europe - or rather the European countries where horsemeat is traditionally eaten - has been losing its taste for the product for some time. The European horsemeat industry has been in steady decline since the 1960s as both culinary tastes and cultural attitudes towards eating horses have changed.
In France and Italy, the traditional heartlands of horse slaughter and consumption, the numbers of horses being killed have fallen dramatically during the past 50 years.
FAO statistics show that, in 1961, 333,000 and 283,000 horses were slaughtered in France and Italy respectively. In 2011, the numbers had dropped to 15,500 (95 percent reduction) and 62,237 (75 percent reduction).
The horsemeat production figures for Italy also include tens of thousands of horses that are forced to endure long-distance transport from elsewhere in the EU and beyond. The Italian Institute of Statistics recorded some 46,156 live equidae being imported to the country in 2011 (a 10.6 percent decrease in equine imports from the previous year).
Research also shows that, in the countries where horsemeat consumption could be viewed as traditional, the population is not exactly clamouring to eat the stuff.
In July 2012, an Ipsos MORI survey commissioned by Humane Society International on attitudes towards and the consumption of horsemeat in Belgium, France and Italy reported that only 50 percent of respondents in France, 51 percent in Belgium and 58 percent in Italy believed that it was acceptable to eat horses. Moreover, most of the poll respondents said that they never or only rarely eat horsemeat. Only a very small percentage of respondents said that they eat horsemeat frequently - 3 percent of Italians, 4 percent of French and 6 percent of Belgians.
Clearly the vast majority of people in the countries that have traditionally eaten horsemeat are not going out of their way to eat it. What one eats is heavily influenced by culture. Many years ago, in an influential paper touching on the status of animals in society, the renowned Cambridge anthropologist, Sir Edmund Leach, commented on food taboos and animals that may not be eaten. Eating animals that are too close to "self" (in the way we normally structure our world) causes great discomfort. Therefore, pets are not eaten and horses, who occupy a mixed category of companion and agricultural animals, are also dangerous to eat and are tabooed as food in most societies around the world.
While utility (as measured by the sum of benefits over harms) is a useful construct in our modern world, it is not the only value that governs our lives. Horses in the UK occupy a special place in British culture and are not viewed as food by the vast majority of the population. We should keep it that way!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Clydesdale Art to Take Centre-Stage in Scottish Town

This is really cool! I can't wait to see what designs the artists will put on the sculptures.  ~Declan

Clydesdale art to take centre-stage in Scottish town


Thirty life-size Clydesdale horse sculptures are expected to draw thousands of visitors to a Scottish town next summer in a special art project.

“Ready Steady Gallop!” will see the creation of a trail of 30 uniquely painted, 1.9-metre tall horses throughout the South Lanarkshire town of Hamilton and surrounding areas.

clydesdale-art2The 10-week project is being led by the Hamilton Business Improvement District and Wild in Art, a company that specialises in producing award-winning, mass participation art events across Britain.

Artists from across Scotland are being invited to come forward and lend their creative flair to the project by designing and painting the horses. Local schoolchildren will be inspired and guided to get involved with their own versions of the sculptures.

The concept of painting a series of sculptures for an arts event has proved successful in several other centres, with Bristol staging sculptures of Gromit – an animated character – while Norwich came up with gorillas and Liverpool went with penguins.

Locals and visitors to Hamilton will be able to get involved by seeking out each of the horses, which will be placed in prominent locations throughout the town and surrounding area.

By following the trail, participants will discover public art as they have never seen it before, the organisers say.

Hamilton businesses are being encouraged to sponsor a horse and, at the end of the project, the sculptures will be auctioned, with proceeds going to Kilbryde Hospice.

“This is the first event of its kind in the west of Scotland and it is going to be something really special for locals and visitors to get involved with,” said Gareth Walker, who heads the Hamilton Business Improvement District.

“The spectacle of the horses will hopefully draw people from far and wide, and we hope to raise fantastic sums for Kilbryde Hospice.

“Wild in Art have created some amazing events in other towns which have drawn thousands to see their sculptures and we hope that our Clydesdales will be just as popular.”

Wild in Art director Charlie Langhorne said: “Our events are designed to bring the enjoyment of public art to thousands of people while offering new ways to explore a host town.

“We hope the industries and businesses in Hamilton will recognise the cultural benefits of sponsoring a sculpture as well as the positives for their own community. It will be a fantastic spectacle for the people of Hamilton and is an excellent way to raise vital funds for Kilbryde Hospice.”

The Clydesdale was chosen as the central theme due to Hamilton’s proximity to Clydesdale Valley.

Organisers want to celebrate the role of Clydesdales in the livelihoods of people who worked the land throughout Lanarkshire.

Pretty In Pink: 3D-Printing 'Jimmy Choos' For Horses

This is cool technology! ~Declan

Pretty in Pink: 3D-Printing 'Jimmy Choos' for Horses

Students Film Navajos and Horses In Arizona to Raise Awareness

These are some cool boys!!! ~Declan

Students film Navajos, horses in Arizona for film to sway Congress

Posted: Saturday, November 23, 2013 10:45 pm

Horse Documentary

The audience for school projects doesn't typically include members of Congress. But a short film by three students at Charter Tech High School for the Performing Arts in Somers Point is planned as part of a Washington, D.C., event early next year to promote passage of a federal bill that would ban the slaughter of horses.

Students Tyler Hersh, 17, of Absecon, Eric Klein, 16, of Cherry Hill, and Joe Parisi, 17, of Egg Harbor Township, spent four days last month with the Navajo Nation in Arizona, filming tribe members and their horses on behalf of the Animal Welfare Institute, or AWI, in Washington, D.C., which funded the trip.

Instructor David Von Roehm, who had worked with AWI before, went with them.

Hersh said their goal was to raise awareness of the Navajos' relationship with horses and efforts to stop the slaughter of horses for food in the United States. They filmed tribal members on a ride, and interviewed elders and the tribe's medicine man.

Klein said because they were in the Navajo Nation, they had to abide by their laws, and there were some things they were not allowed to photograph.

"They don't always like outsiders, especially with cameras," Parisi said. "And not everyone knew why we were there."

Hersh said a major challenge was the dust in the desert, which got into the equipment.
"You had to constantly clean the lenses," he said.

Parisi said he loved learning about the lifestyle and culture of the Navajos.

"The horse is really sacred to them," Hersh said.

A tribal elder in the film talks about how the Navajo communicates with his horse and sings to it.

The group tried to find some of the estimated 75,000 wild horses that live on the Navajo land but admit to having some difficulty, since not all areas were accessible to them.

Chris Heyde, deputy director of government and legal affairs for AWI, said the institute has been fighting to ban horse slaughter in the United States for years. He said they have had success in delaying slaughterhouse operations, but the proposed Safeguard American Food Exports, or SAFE Act, would outright ban the slaughter of horses.

"It would eliminate the annual battle," Heyde said.

According to published reports, the president of the Navajo Nation, Ben Shelly, had supported the roundup and slaughter of some wild horses, citing the damage they cause. But other tribal elders opposed the move, and in October, Shelly withdrew his support and agreed to investigate other methods of managing feral horses.

The Charter Tech students have been compiling a five-minute video for the AWI, and will also prepare a 20-minute film as a class assignment.

Van Roehm said while the film focuses on the horses, he also wanted to show how they are also part of the Navajo culture.

"We wanted to show the spirit of the horse," he said. "I hope we shared that."

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Horseman's Leap of Faith

Marty Irby is an extremely brave man.  I'm so glad he found the courage to stand up for what he knows is right.  I believe that he can really make a difference in the dark world of horse soring and make the horse's lives better and free from the pain and abuse.  Mr. Irby, I know God is with you and is certainly smiling down on you.  ~Declan

Roy Exum: Horseman’s Leap Of Faith

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 - by Roy Exum as posted on The Chatanoogan

Back in July I got a deeply-touching letter from a horseman who had finally had enough of the sleazy side of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. Marty Irby, a mover and a shaker within the seedy “Big Lick” segment that sores and abuses the beautiful Walkers so they’ll prance in a grotesque manner, was ready to go clean.
The Big Lick bullies roared back, his boss firing him and his father still not speaking, but Irby has stayed strong and is determined to “save the breed, not just end the torture and cheating” that is rampant among the scofflaws centered in Shelbyville. He testified last week at a Congressional hearing in Washington, speaking on behalf of “sound,” or healthy, horse lovers who want the chains and pads banned from the animals, better inspections and stiffer federal penalties in House Bill 1518.
Predictably, within the next 24 hours Irby received a threatening message on his Facebook account from a Big Lick trainer who was identified by the Huffington Post Tuesday afternoon as Chip Weddington, a known violator of the federal Horse Protection Act who was suspended for a year in 2011 after inspectors found horses in his care had been sored with caustic chemical substances.
The HuffPost had an earlier story on Saturday that revealed a Tennessee Congresswoman, Marsha Blackburn, was actively trying to stop pending legislation and mentioned the Republican from Brentwood had been given a reception – and a check for $70,000 – by the Big Lick in August. Now the same columnist has written another, entitled, “This Man Refuses To Be Intimidated By Threat After Testifying On Horse Abuse.”
In the Tuesday story columnist Christina Wilkie alleged that Weddington, a childhood friend of Irby’s in the horse world, wrote on Facebook: “I don’t associate myself with (expletive)-made mother (expletive) who sing like little (expletive) birds to the (expletive) [Humane Society of the United States] and everybody else … I hope your gay (expletive) gets what’s coming to you soon!!!” Weddington added that if Irby ever approached him, he would “knock ur (sic) smooth (expletive) out.”
According to the HuffPost writer the matter was still being investigated by Capitol police late Tuesday afternoon.
The message comes as the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association’s leaders are attempting to remove Irby and other sound-horse advocates from its board and nominate a Big Lick leader named Steven B. Smith as its president. Smith, the state campaign chairman for Senator Lamar Alexander, and his family are big contributors to the Tennessee Republican Party.
Smith has served on the Breeders and Exhibitors Association before but, after he was reported cited for several soring violations in the 1980s, he stepped away from the Big Lick. HuffPost reported Tuesday that Smith, his wife Denise, and son Steven Jr. have given $270,000 to the Republican Party since 1989. No politicians from Tennessee have endorsed the pending legislation.
During the hearings last week, Irby gave eyewitness testimony to a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee that soring is continuing and it includes “corrupt inspections, corrupt judging, corrupt business practices … corrupt horse shows and corrupt titles”
But for the past year he has begged his friends in the horse industry to understand what he now does. That is why this summer he wrote about his “Leap of Faith,” why he turned away from soring. It is a beautiful story but too long for one reading in its entirety. So as Marty Irby is being threatened and cursed this seems like the perfect time to share what he wrote.
* * *
By Marty Irby
A few days ago, I had a revelation while driving to the World Versatility Show and thinking about all that has happened. There are sore horse people who know God, and there are sound horse people who don’t. Many of the sore horse people, who know God, don’t necessarily know they are sore horse people. I know this because I was once one of them.
Soring has become such a culture for generations, that many who were raised in this just don’t see it. Their hearts are hardened, and they are blind to what is really going on. They think using Gojo or hand cleaner on horses' feet is okay, and I used to think that way too. The fact is the rest of the world doesn’t see it that way, and Gojo makes a horses foot sensitive so that he will react to a chain and step high, stick his backend, and shake his head a little harder.
What do you think that horse feels when that chain hits his sensitive foot? Why does one utilize Gojo? For the sore horse people who know God, please know that Gojo is soring, and if you will pray and think about it long enough then God will show you the truth. For the sound horse people who don’t know God, please know that I would not be here with you all now if it were not for Him.
God is the reason that I was slowly brought from having both feet in the sore horse camp to having both feet in the sound horse camp. God is not merely some big, grey headed guy in the sky as many think. God is love. God is everything. God lives within each of us, whether we realize it or not. God put The Tennessee Walking Horse on Earth to help mankind, and for God’s glory. What an amazing horse we have, that has saved so many people in so many different ways.
I ask each of you to please do me one favor. Whether you are a sore horse person who believes in God or a sound horse person who does not please pray that God will open your heart and mind, and will awaken you. Please pray that God will show you the truth about who “HE” really is, and what you should do for The Tennessee Walking Horse and its future.
If this story does nothing more than touch two people in the world, then it will have served its purpose, and have been worth writing. Always know that if you follow God, do the right thing, and even with nothing left in your life but Faith, then he will take care of you. Many of you may think this story is about the Tennessee Walking Horse, and for years I thought all of my efforts were, but that is not so.
This story is about God, and so is my progression, because that is what the Tennessee Walking Horse is really and truly all about.
Everything good in my life today and everything good that has ever happened comes first from God, and second from the Tennessee Walking Horse, even the ability to write this story because God gave me two hands, and I received a full paid college scholarship because of the Tennessee Walking Horse. What I do each day I owe to “Him” and our horse.
For God’s Glory, Long Live the Tennessee Walking Horse!