Welcome to Fern Valley

Here in central Alberta prime farm country,my husband Martin and I work together raising beef cattle and Appaloosa horses. Fern valley appaloosas have long been known for their quality of temperament conformation and color.I have recently rediscovered a love of writing and have published 2 collections of poetry. "Telling Tails" and Tails Trails and Campfire stories" . I look forward to a future spreading my wings as an author and as a horse woman .

Monday, 12 September 2011

Where do you go ?

Bear with me all, you haven't been subjected to one of my "I have been thinking" posts in a while

This one has been some time in coming , a couple of situations have presented themselves in my circle of influence, that have me wondering . Both are about horses , and struggles , and both are too far away for me to do what my natural reaction would be , which is to just go and help where I can .
One , and elderly man with failing health , has several horses, varying ages , and not a lot of training . By that I mean , handled and well cared for , but due to his age and failing health , not necessarily broke to ride in any discipline . These are nice horses , in good flesh and quiet , but  not particularly marketable . And should this fellow , become more ill or frail , the situation can and likely will go down hill in a huge hurry .Family are not close by , and are while worried and wanting to do something , in a quandary as to exactly what to do .
The other situation is ,also far afield from me , horse owner and breeder of purebreds , good quality stock , well handled , shown trained . Has first been faced with challenges of ill family members, a economic sh*tstorm and if that was not enough a personal health crisis that  was very nearly catastrophic.
I am not "naming names " because  I don't really feel it is helpful to the situation, and also unlike the blog out there who purported to be "for the horses" and essentially was a huge cyber bully I am not here to "out " anyone or hurt them. I simply wonder if there is something we in this huge equine and blogging community can do .
Some of us have seen a situation, and done some fund raising, great work , to all who have done it! And I am not saying we cannot continue to do that. But one of the things brought to my attention , was the need for simple "hands on help" unloading bales , holding horses for vet care and farrier , filling water tubs etc.
Not every problem can be solved by us throwing money at it , and thank goodness for that , because , not to many of us have money to throw!
  I am lucky in that my family is close by , many of them involved in the horse industry themselves , and I have great friends who are also willing and able to step up as needed . We have worked together, many of us for over 20 yrs in the industry ,and I know , a phone call is all it takes to get a crew to help me, and the same in return. But what about those who are not as blessed to be close to aid?In my life it is practically unheard of to be far from family , but many folks have had to move across the country for work, or other reasons , and what of them?
So tell me about  your area, does Animal control offer any support services?
4 H groups?
A friend suggested a  high school program for equine studies  doing a project
I know there are rescues out there, and in some cases that is an option, but they are overloaded, and some cases are not yet at the rescue point. Can the industry support one another and become more sustaining ? or are we destined to have the wins , and losses , with no middle ground.
One thing that would be good to have is some sort of  ,I don't know data base (I am waaay to big a techno bumpkin to figure out how ) , or something that would link us to other horse folks in the area. In Alberta we have a couple of groups , horse clubs etc , and also the Horse Industry Association that sponsors a conference each year, bringing the horse owners and breeders together as well as trainers, and clinicians for a yearly conference. They also issue updates and education on management etc. The Mane event is a huge scale conference every year that also brings together the industry but in a different level. What I am talking about is a network of like minded folk who are willing to share their time and or knowledge in their region .
As I said , the situations I am talking about are far too distant for me to just hop in the truck and pitch in, though I am trying from my end to do what I can .
Just wondering if we could ? how we could ?Or am I just a silly Pollyanna  believing in fairies and rainbows.
Any thoughts would be appreciated, Meanwhile stay safe!


IanH said...

I hear what you are saying, but I also don't know how to address it. Having just bought a horse (replacement for old age), I was astonished at the number of low cost, available horses just here in Alberta. The cases you describe are people that no longer can afford or care for their horses. There is also, in my opinion, an oversupply of young, untrained, very very green horses available, far more than what the demand requires. Perhaps part of this should be "responsible" parenthood when breeding horses. It is a very thought provoking situation!

Ami said...

I know NOTHING about horses or how to handle the situations you've just described, but once again, I am not surprised by your warm heart and kindness.

I sure wish there were more people like you in the world.

kden said...

Ami said pretty much the only thing I could offer also. Don't let it consume you though, you can only do so much. And believing in fairies and rainbows is good!

aurora said...

You pose a very good thinking post, and one that crosses any caring horse owners mind. What would you do, and where would you turn, if...some things are simply out of our control, and bad things do happen to good people - and horses. SO sad, yet true.

The industry acknowledges similar, and yet there seems to be no easy solution...kudos to you for bringing it to the forefront in search of fostering goodwill.

Perhaps area groups can band together to provide some type of helpful course of action, there is power in numbers.

Anonymous said...

Very worthwhile thoughts - there are a lot of situations out there like the ones you describe, due to the economy and sometimes just bad things happening.

It would be good if there were something like a Horse Helping Hands - people who could do real work, including work to train and then market green horses or horses who had been off work for several years - otherwise unless family is involved with the horses they're likely to go straight to auction if the owner dies or no longer can take care of them.

And I think there should be a distinction between short-term issues - unemployment (which we can only hope will be short-term) or illness or accident - and longer-term problems like increasing age, permanent disability or just plain bad judgment - overbreeding or overbuying of horses. In case of short-term issues, people can more easily pitch in to help out but in the case of longer-term issues, real changes may need to be made, including finding new homes for the horses.

Not sure how to implement - it almost has to be community based to work, I think.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I like your idea. My neighbor who breeds horses is getting quite old and feeble, and I often offer to help, but she always says she has family who helps. When I meet other horse people in my community, I ask if we can ride together, and they often tell me they already have all the friends they need or already have riding partners. Of course, I want to say, "Well, I don't. I need a riding partner and horse friends."

I'm continually astounded by the selfishness or insensitivity or fearfulness or whatever it is of the locals. I've posted ads for help at the feed store and got no responses. Yet the people in the blog world always say they'd help if they lived closer.

I too worry about bloggers who need help running farms in their crises, and think about how I'd be over there in a heartbeat if they were closer. I never hear about local people who need help running their farms and ranches, probably because they've all got family helping out. I'm down to just my husband, and have no one else to help should I become incapacitated.

C-ingspots said...

Huge issue and seems to be a valid concern EVERYONE involved with horses is discussing these days. And, the problem will continue to grow until all breeding ceases. Period. Regardless of the quality, regardless of the breeding, there are too many horses already...why would anyone claiming to love these magnificent animals be breeding in this day and age? That is the million-dollar question for me. There are rescues cropping up everywhere...kudos to most of them. However, in some cases they are being run by people who have big hearts and no knowledge, but get huge tax credits...and continue to breed their own "quality" horses. That is a problem, in my opinion. We need horses to become "somewhat scarce" again, and that will increase their value. Until that happens, and our lousy (worldwide) economy improves greatly, horses will continue to suffer everywhere. We do what we can, most of us do, anyway, but there's no easy answers. You are very blessed to have a circle of family and friends willing to help in a crisis. I only wish we could all say that. But, all the ideas you mentioned are good ones, and most of them are being utilized to some degree at the community level already. Thank God for caring individuals who give of themselves for these worthy causes. I work for an equine veterinarian and therefore, see more suffering than I would ever wish to see. Unfortunately, I also still see many, many "caring" horse people who continue to breed their own horses instead of adopting, or purchasing some of the thousands and thousands of available horses who are already living, and in need of homes and educated individuals willing to give of their time and experience to groom them to become useful, productive horses. There...I'm stepping down from my soapbox now.

kestrel said...

A thought provoking post. All too often people pull apart when they should be working together.

Cut-N-Jump said...

A lot of thought has gone into this on my part as well, since I know people in these or similar situations. Which at times raises tough questions...

There have been times I have helped others who were hurting- physically, financially or both- wondering the whole time if they would step up to help, if it were me, not them.

Some people, I know without a doubt- would! Some do without asking. But sometimes Asking can be the hardest part. Are we admitting defeat, failure or ??? by asking for help? It depends on the situation which varies from case to case.

I think a place to start would be the breed clubs. Would they be open to organizing a group that can come in to help out other members when they are in times of need? They can sponsor shows- but when push comes to shove are they there for each other as friends or family would be and should be? Church groups do this, why can't the equine community?

Crystal said...

There is definitly a need for something like this. I would go anytime to help someone that needs is (and have) but I just never hear about it. It would be nice to have some sort of place people could evenn post that they are needing help that lots of people could read.

Sherry Sikstrom said...

Interesting insights , all of them. As far as responible breeding goes, this individual has not been breeding in the past couple years . Of all of her stock I do not believe I saw any but 1 under the age of 3, and they have not bred any this uyear either. What they have done is chosen to "background their horses" , (raise them up, start them under sadlle before selling)Which in my opinion gives the horse a far better chance in a shaky industry . As for never ever breeding until the glut of recue and unwanted horses is reduced.I cannot entirely agree.I have and continue to raise one or 2 a year.I have had very little problem finding a market for them. And I would not compare them or me to the Breeding for #s product out there. Keeping in mind many horse that are rescued come with issues some insurmountable .I applaud all who are able to "adopt " and or rescue a horse , or horses , and create a good quality of life for them .

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Rainbows are real....and how do we know that fairies aren't?

I like how you think and dream and hope.


Shirley said...

In response to C-ingspots, it is unreasonable to ask breeders to just stop breeding- especially good quality horses. It is however, unreasonable for someone who owns an average or poor mare, to breed her in the hope of selling the foal. Most people I know who are breeders keep a close eye on the market, and breed accordingly. They are also prepared to keep any that don't sell, myself included. One friend didn't breed any mares this year, although she has a decent demand for her horses.
Not everyone wants a rescue horse, or a horse with issues, or a horse of unknown breeding, especially in this age of breeding for specific events. That is why good knowledgeable breeders will always be able to find a market for their horses.
This may not be a popular statement, but closing down the packing plants in the US caused a lot more grief for horses than the people who lobbied for it ever intended. I think it should be way more heavily regulated, but should open again. Sending old, crippled, or unwanted horses to the plant is more humane than letting them starve through either neglect or lack of finances.
As far as helping hands go, it pretty well has to be local, and most communities have a good grapevine that works for helping out when someone is in need. Although sometimes, the one in need doesn't reach out and ask for help.