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Horseback Riding and Animal Rights:
Can They Ever Be in Harmony?
Comments by: Erin Oldford - 26 Feb 2002

Hi Everyone!

I just though I would comment on this issue one last time.  It has been
an interesting conversation and has made me do some "thinking" about the
state of mind of my animals, not just the horses, but ALL my pets.  I'm
wondering if Jim or others would consider it sinful or enslaving when I put
a leash on my dog at the park.  I do end up doing a lot of "tugging" on the
leash because she's not used to being on one but has to be in certain
circumstances.  What about spaying and neutering dogs and cats.  All of my
animals are fixed and any future animals will be sterilized as well.  My work
with our local animal pound, seeing puppies, kittens and healthy adult
animals euthanized due to overpopulation, has made me a true believer in
sterilization.  What about my two goldfish?  They were given to me by a friend
two years ago and are in a 5 gallon tank.  I have no clue whether they are
happy or bored or exactly what their state of mind is to be quite honest,
but I do know that they are healthy.  Is this enslavement??  Also, we have had
a huge problem with mice in our 150 year old farmhouse.  They were leaving
droppings all over my kitchen.  I live-trapped them and put them in my barn.
Is this animal cruelty?  I really don't mind if they hang out in my house I
just couldn't handle the feces in my silverware drawer!!!

We could go on forever here, I know.  I guess all I can say is that all of my
animals are precious to me.  Horses have been a part of my life for 30 years.
I feel like I know my horses and the "species" in general, quite well.  There
are ways of working with horses that are very gentle.  I have never "broke"
or "harassed" a horse into submission.  I gain their trust so that they are
not afraid of me and learn that I will not hurt them.  This is done by
spending lots of time on the ground with them touching them and talking to
them.  Metal bits do not have to hurt.  A gentle snaffle slides into the mouth
and seats down behind the teeth. Used correctly it is not bothersome at all.
You would know for sure if it was!!  I do not "toss" saddles onto my horses
backs, I quietly place them on and gently tighten the cinch enough so that
it won't fall off.  How do I know that the horse is not unhappy??  Well after
spending as much time around them as I have I know the signs!!  Ears pinned
back against the head, tight muscles, ringing tail, tossing the head are
just a few of the signs that something is wrong.  They will let you know just
like any other animal or any human for that matter.

I have spent many wonderful hours on my horses back wandering through
fields, meadows and streams enjoying the wind and the sun and nature.
Sometimes we meander aimlessly and sometimes I let her run "full speed"
which I know she loves.  I thank God for allowing me the opportunity to get to
know this wonderful creature and my horses and all of my animals will
always receive the best of care and plenty of love.  I adore them, I respect
them, I am amazed by them.

In Christ,
Erin

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