Thursday, October 7, 2010

Angels for Horses

One of the problems with trying to write as things are happening is that sometimes SO MUCH is happening that there's no time to write it all down. If I was a professional, I supposed I'd learn to take notes and remind myself later what I wanted to write about but I pretty much depend on sitting down and just letting the experience flow through my fingertips. And then sometimes you write something, save it but convince yourself that you posted it but didn't, and then a month goes by and it's still sitting there waiting for it's release, or maybe that's only me!? That said, I'm going to leave the rest of it in the context in which I wrote it back while I was in Kentucky. Hopefully some of the other post ideas are still solid enough in my brain that it will translate well here almost a month later....

Working the WEG has been exciting and exhausting all at the same time. In order to take advantage of the gift of access to the park, venues and exhibits I have to get their early if I'm scheduled for an afternoon - evening shift or stay late if I worked an early shift. Early sometimes means getting up at 4:30am to get to the park by 5:30 for a team meeting before a 6:00am shift. Double that up with afternoon (or evening events that begin at 7pm!) and some kind of evening feeding for me, and I'm wandering into the house at 11pm. Time to write is not usually on the top of my energy expenditure lists but I am trying to keep a mental list of things that seem "blog-worthy"...and hopefully I get to them all before I have a mental crash! Instead of notes, I've been grabbing brochures and taking photos. I have a lot of jumping photos and I lost track of who's who, but the horses are amazing!!! I will get around to posting some of those and writing about a couple of angles I've been following.

I have two days of volunteering left to do and I'm trying to organize myself for an easy exit on Sunday before I have to leave for Louisville to return my car and head back to Seattle. Right now I'm trying to sort out my brochures and the stack regarding rescue has my attention.

Specifically, the items I picked up from the ASPCA are foremost in my mind because I just visited their table located inside the side door to the History of the Horse Museum on the grounds of the *usual* Kentucky Horse Park yesterday. They gave out some cute horse faces on a stick with some information on helping horses on the back & told us about a display in the museum about the ASPCA and how it started as an organization to help horses in New York City. I hadn't known that about them before!

Abbey, the youngest daughter of my host family here in Lexington & the equestrian of their family, joined me for a day at the WEG & of all the things she could choose to see, she was excited to see the ASPCA exhibition because of her love for animals and specifically horses. She had just watched a show on MTV this week and recorded it for her Mom & I to watch just the evening before: The World of Jenks episode - Freedom's Flight focused on the work of 23 year old activist, Brogan who works with a group called ARM (Animal Recovery Mission) to shut down illegal horse slaughter operations in south Florida. As of the taping of the episode ARM had been able to help close 75 operations, many with prosecutions.

Obviously Kitty, Abbey's Mom & my host for the time I am here in Lexington has fostered a deep love for animals in her children. Just here in the house "we" have a large Chow mix named Marley & a large assortment of cats! It turned out that Abbey had a day off and had not had the opportunity to go to the WEG so we had ourselves an adventure watching Vaulting and the first session of Jumping. In between the two we wandered into the museum (mostly to use the good bathrooms!) and came across the ASPCA table.

We met two very nice women who told us about the exhibit and that the ASPCA had been originally started in 1866 by a New York aristocrat by the name of Henry Bergh who championed the plight of animals & specifically the cart horses of New York City. As it turns out the official seal of the ASPCA is an Angel attending to a downed cart horse so it's support of equine rescue seems quite natural.

As the story goes, Bergh, was a champion for animals and founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1866 as a way to become a voice for helpless horses who were mistreated on the streets of New York but included the mistreatment of animals of any kind. In 1867 he created the first ever Horse Ambulance and later a sling used for horse rescue. Among his other horse stewardship accomplishments, he advocated to build fountains on the streets of New York for work horses to drink from.

While today the ASPCA is probably best known for it's work to help dogs & cats, it's eye opening that even back in the late 1800's there were horses who needed rescuing. It's not just a recent development in the equine community.Burgh's fight continues today and even S.A.F.E. has received ASPCA grants to help us help horses in need. I did find this poster quite interesting. This outlines the results of their work in 1909...clearly there was a huge issue, even then.

If it's hard to make out here's some of the statistics:
Arrests & Prosecutions .................................................. 1,936

Animals Suspended from Labor.....................................7,606

Horses, Mules & other large animals disabled
beyond recovery & humanely destroyed......................2,870

Small animals, homeless or disabled beyond
recovery & humanely destroyed................................222,468

Disabled horses, mules & other large animals removed
from the streets in ambulances..........................................921

Complaints of cruelty reported & investigated...........11,229

Calls made for unwanted , sick or injured animals....62,408

Horses examined on the streets and in stables to determine
their condition and fitness for work...........................367,380

Yes....the year was actually 1909. The treatment of animals has been a long standing issue and for more than 140 years there are voices in America who speak for them and are truly their angels. For more detailed information please check out the ASPCA's History Page.