Friday, March 7, 2014

Letter to the Torturer

I just want you to know that Pink hated you to her last breath, who ever you are.
She was soft as a kitten and the color of pink cotton candy. She should have belonged to, and been loved by a little girl all her life, but she wasn't.
She was tortured by you. She tried to dance for you during her episodes of Post Traumatic Stress, we saw the anxiety come into her eyes when she remembered you. She would lift her legs, one, two, three, four. Then she would growl, roar, and kick out, she would bite the wall in rage! You think you broke her? Well you're wrong!

I saw her when she lay down for the last time, the ligaments in her legs gone. I watched her dream about you. I saw her kick and strike and bite you over and over again. All the years that went by, but she never forgot you. I pray that during this very last dream she finally killed you.
I sat at her head and petted her face, wiping the tears that fell from her eyes, I told her that I had her back and I would protect her from you while she slept in peace until the very end.
And so, Torturer, in the end, she won. She fought you one more time. Her spirit so strong that you could not break it.
She now is peacefully dead. Safe from the memory of you, never again will you haunt her. Awake or asleep she could not escape the memory of your abuse. It is over now.
And so all you others out there that think it's okay to abuse “dumb” animals, all you who think it's okay to maim, cripple or mutilate them in the name of sport, fashion, or “tradition” - cutting off dog's ears, horse's tails, horse tripping, bull and dog fighting, abusive “training” practices, the soring and tail breaking of the gaited horses, Spanish “dancing” horse trainers, Rollkur, etc. - Do you really think animals are so unaware? That this is acceptable? Really??

Well Mr. Torturer of Pretty in Pink, you are a Loser! This dear sweet soul responded to our love, she chose a human to be her very best friend. She loved her Aly. She came to us emotionally damaged and mentally shattered, but she never stopped hating you. Do you think horses don't have emotions? That they don't remember their enemies? Well, with my own eyes, I am a witness that you are dead wrong!

And so, soon, justice will be served. You will not be torturing horses much longer. I pray that you get to face the sins you have committed against Pink and. all the others that you have “trained to dance”. And to all the other torturers out there, you will pay. Very, very soon it will all end. There will be justice for the innocent ones, for none of them belong to you. They are the possessions of the creator of the universe and he is watching you! “revenge is mine, I will repay, says Jehovah” (Romans 12:19) All of the chapter eleven of the book of Isaiah describes the paradise to come concerning animals and humans “they will do no harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain”. At that time all the torturers will be judged. Where will you stand?
Poor innocent, beautiful, little Pink mare, may we find her again in paradise, untainted by fears, horror, and hatred of the torturer.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Just Another Sin Against Horses

There is a well hidden part of the horse business that not all horse people know about. I do no know all that much about it myself, but what I do know is ugly. There are places that keep pregnant mares that can be rented to “adopt” foals other than their own. They are called “nurse mares”. Now that sounds sweet doesn't it? They are used if a client's valuable mare rejects her foal, dies or can not produce milk to feed it. Still sweet, huh? Sometimes the client's mare is a show horse and needs to go back to work immediately after foaling and is not allowed to raise her own baby. In this case they rent a nurse mare and somehow get them to foal at the same time as the client's mare. The nurse mare's foal is euthanized. It has no value. It is the law, I'm told, these foals are not allowed to be rescued and bottle raised. They can not be transported into the state of MA. All foals less than 3 ½ months can not be moved without their mothers. The dept. of agriculture is working on the “unwanted horse” issues. This is the beginning. This dirty nurse mare secret is being exposed. Somehow though, I think people with too much money and not enough compassion will find a way around this little glitch. To continue to enable this horrible business ny trying to rescue these foals, is wrong, it is very difficult to bottle raise a new born foal. I'm sure most never get colostrum (first milk, full of antibodies) from their mothers. This means, basically, they have no immune system. They need this milk within the first 12 or so hours of life. After that they can not absorb the anti-bodies.
I have a solution to the “nurse mare” foal sacrifice problem. This is so simple I don't know why no one ever thought of it before. Now don't get me wrong, I do not approave of this business. I think it is just one of the “carbunkles (boils) on the backside” of the horse breeding industry. But if it has to be, I think is a large mare is bred to a very beautiful shetland, welsh pony (or otherwise) stallion, that big girl could not only feed the customer's foal, but her own teeny tiny baby as well.
One of the best kept secrets in the equine industry is that any pony (under 14.2 hands), especially typy pretty ones can be sold to A circuit people for thousands of dollars! I'll bet a weanling of this coupling could easily bring $5000 at the pony auction in (I think) Virginia? Once a year this auction takes place, all they sell is ponies and reps from very fancy stables are there to purchase for their clients children and students.
Combine the personality of some big, gentle warmblood or draft horse mare and the size and spunk of some fancy American Shetland and a really nice baby with looks and gentleness and personality will be the result. I've seen 14h A circuit ponies go for $40,000 or more!
I hate the whole idea of the breeding of too many horses. The foals of nurse mares can not be bought across state lines into MA. Bottle raising foals is very difficult. They need their mommies. According to “the law” these foals must be euthanized. Don't know all the details, don't want to. Just another sin against horses. But, if it's going to happen, this is a seriously great solution. These foals would have the chance to go on living (what kind of “horse person” would allow this to happen anyway?!) The baby would be valuable, could stay with it's mother and grow up with his adopted sibling, seems like a win/win situation to me.
This mare would have plenty of milk to nurse both foals, plenty of colostrum, the foals and mom could be a mini-herd. Socialization would not be a problem. Foals will learn to be horses from each other, no spoiled brats to deal with and beautiful baby to be sold for lots of money plus the adopted foal will probably be more successful as a horse as well.
I guess I said it before, but I really hate the nurse mare business. But this could work so well for all. Poor little babies...

Man Vs. Animal

When did torture, cruelty, and murdering of animals comes into fashion? Anyone seen “Swamp People”, “American Hoggers”, or “Turtle Man”? Why isn't it against the law in every state in this country to use dogs to hunt down and attack any animal, even feral pigs? For the hunted there is no escape.
What about “Turtle Man” who catches “problem” wild animals with his bare hands, all the while screaming at them as he terrifies them in a small area from which there is no escape. Obviously these “encounters” are staged. These animals, for some reason dont just tear this man to shreads, they only want to get away.
Then there's the “Swamp People”, somehow they trap alligators, haul them over the edge of their boat and shoot them to death before our very eyes. What do they do with them after they execute them? When did alligators stop being protected? Is this legal? Do they eat them? Most of those killed are huge. How can even their thick armor like hides be used for anything?
How can it be alright for horribly mauled and mutilated feral pigs, still alive, be allowed to be stacked on top of each other on their backs (literally “hog tied”) on racks of ATVs, possibly for hours while these people get their load filled? The dogs used are often terribly injured as well. Not just men, but women too are involved in these blood baths. They think of themselves as quite awesome.
I know that this crap has probably been going on for years but for some reason not they are filmed and put on public TV for the world to watch. Even the horrible documentaries of how animals kill each other for food on every nature channel, all life and death struggles in nature for all to watch. What has become of the human race that such “Entertainment” floats their boat?
With the death of beautiful, gentle, Steve Irwin, who treated all creation with reverence, love and respect, these horrible documentaries have become rampant.
Much of the human race has lost their empathy. With the dawning of computerized animation where “anything goes”, and the horrible is excepted because it isn't “real”, the creation is suffering. Are humans no longer able to separate animation from reality? Blood lust has overflowed from video games, “cartoons” and movies making these horrible reality shows and documentaries acceptable because people often can no even see the difference.
Let me tell you now, Jehovah, creators of the universe and all living things, the owner of us all is watching. We will be held accountable. He gave us permission to eat animals, but not to kill, maim or torture them for sport or fashion. Not even a sparrow fall from the sky without his knowing. Think about that! MT 10:29 Jesus himself said this!
I know I sound preachy, but you know, this must be told. So very soon there will be an accounting – and no power in the universe will stop it. God's kingdom is coming. We are living in the last days. Each night while watching the news, can count on my fingers the Bible prophecies being fulfilled right now! Soon wars will cease to the extremities of the earth – wars between humans and between animals. These is so much more involved than can be written here in this article and all have the right to make their own choices, but time is running out. Justice is on horizon – the storm is coming.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Rest in Peace, Dear Fancy

Eye of the Storm lost Fancy on December 5, 2013. She was 26 years old and likely had cancer. She was a lovely girl and will be missed. Below are some photos of her in the snow taken back in 2011.

Please see the donation button on the left to help support the friends Fancy left behind. Thank you!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Why We Use Positive Horse Training

While I've been working at EOTS for years – I also have my own 3 horses. Mine are rescues too, the littlest is a pony who is one of EOTS's rescues, then I have a small black draft mare, Tank, and a large Belgian draft, Revel. Tank was my first horse. While I've learned more than I can say by volunteering at EOTS owning and living with my own horse really ended up being a crash course in horse care, nutrition and especially training!
Before Tank I was a dreamer. I read every book on natural horse training, communicating clearly with your horse, speaking their language. Wow it was different with a real horse! While Tank progressed slow and steady with the basics she had some glaringly obvious issues we needed to work on. The most obvious was her fear. She was afraid of the world – and wouldn't leave whatever spot she decided was her safe spot, her stall and paddock. Another big issue was that when she was overwhelmed, frightened or confused she would run away to her safe place – and there was nothing you could do to stop her.
When this began my heart was broken. I had always dreamed of training and riding my own horse, of having that magical relationship you hear of with everyone else. Why couldn't we make this work?! I was so frustrated – then I realized, so was she.

I needed to find a way to communicate with her that was clear and left no room for confusion or questioning. I needed to find a way to work with her that was based on her wanting to do what I ask, because there is no amount of force I can use to make her do what I want, if she doesn't also want to. I can't out muscle her, I need to outsmart her, I needed to make her think that doing what I asked was the best thing ever.
With nothing left to loose I experimented with a training style I had heard of on the internet. I found a few good videos on how to gets started – and I tried it. And it worked. It worked fast! The training style is based on Positive Reinforcement (reward based training). I started by teaching her just to stand still and face forward – setting the president that if she wants her reward she must always be contained and politely respecting my space. At the same time I taught her a bridge signal. This signal can be the click of the clicker or a smoochy sound I make myself, or any unique sound that won't happen by accident. This bridge signal “bridges” the gap between the action the horse performs and the reward that will follow. The “bridge” signal buys me time to get her reward and enables me to mark behaviors that I can't be rewarding while they're in progress (jumping or lunging for example).
Once I taught her how to be respectful of my space for her reward and what the bridge signal means – I taught her to target. I held out a crop and when she touched it with her nose she got her bridge+reward. I used the target to teach pretty much everything else from here on out! She's learned to lunge at liberty (in a full paddock, forming an even circle around me – not a round pen), to lead at liberty over and around obstacles, to give to pressure and some other simple tricks. I also spent a great deal of time “counter conditioning” her to objects that frighten her. I started with simple things, plastic bags, plastic bottles with noisy things inside – I would make these objects come alive and reward when she showed signs of calmness or curiosity. Soon she began to realize all these silly objects Mom came with wonderful things. She soon loved whatever I could throw at her – she reaches to touch objects she's never seen before.
I like to explain to people that when I got my Tank she was a “shoot first, ask questions later” type of girl – she'd spook and explode at anything that could, maybe, be a threat. But now she's gained so much confidence, she's beginning to “ask questions” first, she's beginning to let curiosity win out over fear. I have continued to learn more and more about the training style, learning more about the science and the art of how to train using Positive Reinforcement.

I handle her almost completely at liberty (without tack) now. The only times she wears tack is in “minimal choice” situations, like for the vet or farrier. She knows in these situations she must comply – but because I've spent so long reinforcing these behaviors at liberty – it takes the stress away from when she has no choice over the situation. Because I work with her mostly without tack, I am forced to listen to her, understand how she's feeling and working around her feelings that day – I'm forced to train her at her speed. It leaves me without a choice but to work as a leader and partner – rather than a boss.
I have never felt such a partnership with a horse before as when my horse has complete choice whether or not to work for me, and knowing that as a fair leader I'm rewarding her and making the experience something she enjoys as much as I do.
I have found my partner in Tank.

Since I've found how wonderful this is, how easy to understand and how happy and eager horses become with this training style I've begun to try it with the horses at the rescue. The young volunteers have practiced it with their horses and have learned how to trust their favorite horses. They've learned they don't need to use tools, force or pain to control their animal – but instead how to work in partnership with their friend. They have each picked their favorites to work with – I love watching their relationships grow and their goals change and expand as they get better and better. If you follow our facebook you'll be sure to see lots of pictures and videos of the girls working with their favorite horses.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Memories of Junebug

Junebug was always shedding!
I realized today that I have been taking care of some of the Eye of the Storm horses for ten years now! That's a long time to have known, loved and cared for anyone. Junebug was one who was there from the beginning. She is everyone's “first” at EOTS. Whenever we had a new volunteer, Junebug was the first for them to lead in or out, the first for them to groom, the first for them to fall in love with. Whenever Junebug walked by we had an on-going joke of “watch out! She's fast!” and “she's a wild one – hold onto her tight!” - Junebug did NOT find this as funny as we did! Regardless of whether a new volunteer was leading her or if we just left the gate open for her, she would teeter her way into the barn, grabbing a bite or two on her way in of whatever goody she could find.
Despite her physical difficulties Junebug had a very important mission at Eye of the Storm, not just in comforting our horses who are reaching their final days, but also in welcoming and teaching our new volunteers.

While she wasn't the biggest fan of children – she knew it was her job to take care of them. There was one day we had an entire girl scout troop come in to meet the horses, Junebug was volunteered to be their grooming project (she is well known for her extreme shedding!). Buggy stood like a stone while 5-10 girls climbed all around her, combing and currying and brushing every inch of her tiny self. She was eternally patient. When she was done she politely put her head against me (as I held her) and told me she was ready to go back to her stall. At Eye of the Storm we don't ask much of our horses – and usually, when we do need something from them they are happy to oblige, especially Buggy. We will all miss her.
All dolled up by the girls!

Nice to Meet You!

Hello! I am Jessica, a life-long volunteer at Eye of the Storm. I've popped up a few times on this blog, and if you follow our facebook page (which you should!) I'm the one always posting all those pictures of the horses.

I've been volunteering at Eye of the Storm since I was 14 years old, being 24 now – that's a whopping TEN years! Wow the time flies. I started as just a horse loving kid who wanted more out of a relationship with a horse than just once a week riding for half an hour. At Eye of the Storm I discovered how intelligent and kind horses are. Having few human friends in my childhood, the horses here become my rocks, Solomon and Noogie in particular. Solomon showed me the ropes of Eye of the Storm. He taught me how to speak “horse”. He is as mild and kind as a horse can get, but due to his past he has some sore spots. He taught me where he liked to be scratched and where I should never touch. He taught me about how the herd works – he was the lead gelding of his herd of mares, at the time he had Nessa, Snowdrop, Junebug and Bianca. He taught me how he protected his mares, but he also taught me that Nessa was really the one in charge. He did the guarding – but she kept everyone in line. I've watched through the years as his herd dwindled, I've seen his sadness when he lost his beloved Snow Drop. He loved her so much – it wasn't much reciprocated, but he protected her and worried when she was away. He taught me what love looked like in it's purest form. He is my friend still today, while he's grown old and I've gotten my own horses – I watch him still as he takes care of the new volunteers and takes care of the girls who are just like I was – teaching them what horses really are.

One of our first rides together
I rode Solomon only 2 or 3 times in our time together, he wasn't sound very often. I remember each time and loved every moment of it. Being given permission to ride by Nina is a badge of honor here, it means she trusts us to do right by the horses. It means she believes our relationship with the horse is strong enough to be safe. And we were safe, Solomon took great care of me. The first time was just in the ring we walked and gaited and had tons of fun. Riding him was like riding a couch! But riding him taught me to pay attention to what he was telling me. I started to see when he said he was uncomfortable and it was time to stop. I started to know when it was time to play, when he was bored or excited. We even got to go on one glorious trail ride! We rode through the woods and encountered some dirt bikers who had dug a jump for their bikes – my loyal steed Solomon carried me past those bikes and we flew over the jump together! I have taken lessons for years, jumped and ridden several horses – but nothing compared to that feeling. He was pretty sore and uncomfortable the next day, we decided that would be our last trail. But I think we both thought it was pretty worth it! I love him even still today, he's the first grizzled old face I see when I enter the barn and the last nose to kiss good night to. His herd is down to just one, Bianca, but he still does his job and protects her. Solomon has taught me to speak horse.
Solomon helping me get ready for the last open house

Eye of the Storm has been so much for me. I've learned to speak horse, I've learned that horses are so much more than something to ride on, the horses are each worth so much more than what they can do for us. The horses at Eye of the Storm can't do much for us, and we don't ask much of them – but they gave me what I needed most, friends and a safe haven. I've learned too about health and nutrition and about how even something as simple as what we eat can greatly affect how we feel and think! If we balanced our diets as well as we balanced our horses, with the herbs and supplements we'd all feel so great! I've been at EOTS through surgeries and vet care, I've helped wash Rose's hives and held Viking's head during his gelding, and Czardas's head during her canker removal. I've learned the goods and bads about modern veterinary medicine, the options we as animal caretakers have to keep our animals safe. I've learned about the beginning of life with our two colts, and the end of life with the many we've been there for when it was their time to cross over. Being here has provided me with more opportunities than I can imagine, including a scholarship to college and job opportunities. EOTS has truly shaped my life and will become my future.

I'll be posting up a few stories as well as Nina's on the blog so keep an eye of who signs it! :)