Before I say anything I invite you to look at this video. This is Marc Houtzager riding Calimaro in the European Championships in Rotterdam. When you hear the crowd shouting that is when the protesters came on to the jump course and ran through the jumps. Video courtesy of Horsetelex.
The protesters had the words”Stop horse slavery” painted on their bodies. They also carried signs that said ” Horse beating is not a sport”. They ran around the jumps and one young woman ran right in front of the combination of jumps that the horse and rider were heading toward.
The most miraculous thing was that the horse and rider just rode on as if none of this was happening. What does this mean?
- This horse is NOT a slave. He knows his job and he enjoys it. Both horse and rider are completely focused. This horse has never been ‘beaten’ to go round a course of jumps. Horses that jump at this level like their work . If they didn’t they would not be doing it. Their riders, owners and grooms go to tremendous lengths to look after them as top athletes. These horses are stars and they know it.
- Horses are intelligent, sentient beings. If sport horses do not like a job, be it jumping, dressage, reining or pulling a carriage they will let you know. I once had a horse that did not like dressage. She went on to a career as a jumper with another rider and excelled at it. She chose her job.
Who are these protesters? Apparently they are a group who believe in veganism and think that horses should live a “natural” life out grazing in a field. They should never have to work for humans. Here is what I think about that.
- I have nothing against vegans or veganism. I often eat a vegan diet. There are many things to recommend it.
- There are people who thrive on work and being involved with a career that they enjoy and is meaningful to them. There are horses who are the same. My horse Biasini will, no doubt, eventually retire but for now he loves his work and I believe he would be depressed without having his job.
- I have nothing against protest and I believe it has a place in democracy and protesters have a right to express thier opinions. But not at the expense of the safety of others.
- These protesters are professing to care about horse welfare but they actually put both horse and rider at great risk. What if their actions had caused Calimore to be injured? I guess they didn’t think about that.
I felt it was important to write about this incident even though I realilze it is giving more exposure to these thoughtless protesters. I would like to suggest to them that if they want to help underprivileged equines they should support The Brooke. This organization helps working animals, in the developing world, who are suffereing because of ignorance or desperation. The protestors should put their energy there and do some actual good for horses.