One of the most exasperating things about the horse world is how fractured it can become. Disciplines, training methods, you name it – it sometimes seems that instead of pulling together, we split off into our own little worlds. Even worse, we spend time arguing about perceived rights and wrongs rather than seeing what we can learn from each other.
So how wonderful it is when we show that we can get together over things that matter. The floods which have had such a devastating impact on the Somerset Levels and have also caused chaos in other parts are a prime example.
On a small but important scale, there are stories of yards who are not affected offering temporary housing for the horses of those who are, sometimes without charging. On a bigger one, there is the wonderful way farmers and horse owners have helped others by transporting hay to affected areas – a move that quickly became known as Hay Aid.
Then there’s the fantastic way that farrier Mark Johnson and others started a massive campaign to help neglected horses turned out on Leicestershire flood plain. Mark was already concerned about the horses’ plight when he saw one lying down in water. When he went to investigate, he found a horrific sight: the decomposing body of a foal.
Mark called the RSPCA and police are also involved. Sadly, although the local fire brigade got the horse to dry land, it was in such a terrible state that it had to be put down. More than a dozen horses have since been moved from the site.
A social media page was set up: you can see it here.
On the page, you’ll also find a link to a petition calling for animal protection charities to be given power to remove suffering equines from unsuitable conditions. It’s a difficult issue and obviously great care would need to be taken to ensure only charities with sufficient knowledge and facilities were given these powers, but it’s certainly provoking thought.
It’s also important to realise that charities must act within the law. World Horse Welfare representatives visited the site and its deputy chief executive, Tony Tyler, pointed out that Fosse Park isn’t an isolated incident.
Maybe we should also remind ourselves that valuable though social media can be, it isn’t a solution in itself. ‘Liking’ a page may make you feel good and that you’re part of a virtual army and it does give ammunition to those on the ground fighting for change.
At the same time, it doesn’t achieve anything directly. If you want to do something positive to help, join WHW, send a donation to Blue Cross or organise a sponsored ride/dog walk/whatever to raise funds and help them continue their vital work.
Then go out, give your own horse a pat and a carrot and give yourself a pat on the back.