This was brought to our attention by some horse lovers in the UK. It is from the Telegraph, written in 2017 by Sarah Knapton and Charlotte Krol, and not covered it seems in the US. It is a trend we are warned that is spreading resulting in some tragic occurrences.
The trend of breeding animals to make them more attractive even when it damages their health has spread to horses, vets are warning, after a stable released images showing a ‘cartoon-like’ colt.
Extreme breeding practices have already left animals like French bulldogs and pugs struggling to breathe as their faces have become squashed over time to suit human demands.
But vets believe that the worrying practice is now happening in horses after a US stud farm offered an Arabian Colt for sale with an strange concave, or ‘dished’ profile.
The farm described the horse as a step towards ‘perfection’, but equine experts warned the animal may find it difficult to breathe and exercise with such a flattened nose.
UK equine expert Tim Greet of Rossdales Veterinary Service, in Newmarket, said although Arabians were known for their ‘dished’ features, the new colt ‘takes things to a ridiculous level,’ and said the deformity could be even worse for a horse than for a dog.
“Dogs like man can mouth breathe, but horses can only breathe through their nose,” he told Veterinary Record magazine.
“I suspect exercise would definitely be limited for this horse.”
The nine-month-old colt, called El Rey Magnum, was bred by Orrion Farms, a specialist Arabian breeding farm in Ellensburg, Washington, US.
Since launching a promotional video earlier this month, under the title ‘You Won’t Believe Your Eyes’ the farm has received interest from across the world, including the UK.
Doug Leadley, farm manager and primary breeding adviser for Orrion, said: “This horse is a stepping stone to getting close to perfection” and US vets who have examined the colt says it has no medical or respiratory issues.
Well, you can pay vets to say anything. We have witnessed that time and time again.
The article continues with:
Dr Madeleine Campbell, an equine reproduction specialist, expert in animal welfare and ethics and director of the Equine Ethics Consultancy, added: “Whilst it is obviously impossible to comment on an individual animal based only on photographic evidence, as a general principle any trend towards breeding for extremes of form which might adversely affect normal function must be condemned, on welfare grounds.
This would apply equally to head shape which might compromise the ability to breathe or eat normally or, for example, to extremes of animal size which might compromise the ability to give birth normally.”
Another source states, “Many experts gave their opinion on this example of extreme breeding. Dr. Madeleine Campbell is an equine reproduction specialist, and also an expert in animal welfare. On top of that, she’s the director of the Equine Ethics Consultancy. So she’s probably got a fairly good handle on all things horses.”
This quote disputes? clarifies? who bred and owns the horse:
“Regency Cove Farms, in Oklahoma bred El Rey Magnum, and said that in his breeding they knew he would be a “very unique animal” who would be a little bit different. Orrion Farms in Washington owns El Rey Magnum. Veterinarians are expressing their concern with the breeding practices. [Italics added]
“The owners of El Rey Magnum, at a specialist horse farm in the US, have defended the appearance of their nine-month-old colt, which resembles cartoon horses in Disney films Sleeping Beauty and Aladdin”, writes The Daily Mail.
Vanity breeding. Do you find this attractive, or repulsive? Legitimately cool or legitimately cruel?
The Equine Heritage Institute writes in an article entitled, “The Role of the Horses in Human Societies”:
“Most people think of history and civilization as being made and created by men, but often, history and the development of human societies and civilizations are drastically altered by the introduction of an influential catalyst. Some of those influential catalysts from our past are fire, the wheel, metal, agriculture, religion, and written language but one is missing in the typical history books and it comes in the form of an animal.”
“There is one mammal that transformed the world once its speed and power were harnessed. It is the first thing that allowed man to travel faster than his two legs could carry him on land. It is the creature that a few of us, as equestrians, know and appreciate in our current-day lives. The unsung hero is the Horse.”
“Something special happened 6,000 years ago when the horse became domesticated. The world was transformed. The equine’s speed and power gave man a new approach to the world. Now tribes were united into empires, distance travel became viable, and cultures and languages raced around the known world.”
“The uses for the horse in man’s life go on and on. The horse was used for food, herding, warfare, transportation, communication, agriculture, trade, commerce, pleasure, sport, religion, symbol, status, gift, industry, competition, and recreation. This is to say nothing about its significant role in the transfer of language, culture, and technology that resulted with the increased mobility the horse offered to man.”
“The horse has had an impact on the world — everywhere [he] went and on every aspect of life.”
Before the invention of the automobile, lest we forget, horses were employed to pull just about everything imaginable — from traps and carriages for journeys cross country to short journeys in towns and cities, from delivery wagons to fire wagons and horse drawn ambulances, and of course ploughs on farms.
“There are many roles that working horses fill in today’s world: police horses, border patrol, military horses, carriage horses, pack mules/horses, dude string horses, and ranch horses, to name a few. Horses that plow, heal, or protect have distinctly different lifestyles than the average riding horse.” Read more »
From the moment humans encountered and captured horses, they have been used to labor for us, whether directly or indirectly. Where would we be without them?
This Labor Day let us remember and give enormous thanks for the horse.
It has been called “The Deadliest Horse Race in the World”.
Each year in mid summer, a small town in Eastern Washington State, called Omak, proudly promotes an event named “The World Famous Suicide Race,” considered the marquee event at the four-day Omak Stampede rodeo.
Omak straddles the border of the Colville Reservation, home of almost every racer, horse owner, and trainer.
Town officials claim this event (created as a draw for the town’s annual rodeo) is a celebration of history and tradition. In reality, it’s murder on horses. The race seriously injures and kills horses.
Over a span of four days and nights, riders repeatedly run their horses off Suicide Hill with a 120-foot galloping start. At breakneck speed, the horses then meet the Okanogan River. Entry into the river is narrow, causing bottlenecks and horrendous multiple-horse spills. Horse and rider then face a treacherous and often panicked swim about the length of a football field to reach the other side. The final grueling sprint is a 500-foot uphill climb to the finish line.
Always the second weekend in August, each race awards five points to the first-place finisher, four to the second, and so on; the overall winner clinches the King of the Hill title on Sunday.
FIRST LEG — DOWNHILL DEATH DROP
Anyone who has ever watched a Western movie will have noticed that when a horse is asked by his rider to carry him down a steep decline, even in hot pursuit, how carefully the horse proceeds, measuring every step.
After a galloping start in the Omak Suicide Race, horses are whipped to make them “charge” down “Suicide Hill” an almost complete vertical drop of approximately 225 feet at a 62 degree angle, much like a steep staircase.
Studies carried out regarding equine vision show that because of the position of the horse’s eyes, which are set wide apart on either side of the head, there is blind spot directly in front of the forehead. Researchers believe that this “blind field” is the width of the horse.
This means when a horse is catapulted down a sharp decline such as “Suicide Hill” he cannot judge where to land his feet and will not realize where the ground is until it comes rushing up beneath him. Horses are also known to lose their footing and somersault head over heel down the hill.
Since he cannot see the horses ahead of him he may crash into them. Others trip over or collide with falling horses.
The numerous any injuries that occur in pile ups on Suicide Hill are the leading cause of death in the Omak Suicide Race. These include a broken leg, fractured knee, fractured pelvis, broken shoulder, and heart attacks from overexertion. It is also a mentally terrifying experience for the horse.
The above are not only expected in the Omak Suicide Race, but also heralded as part of the excitement.
SECOND LEG — THE SWIM
At the bottom of the downhill death dash, the horses who have survived the first leg are immediately faced with the rocky Okanogan River and a frenzied swim across it.
Horses who have already sustained injuries, panic or get caught up in the reins, and drown. Some horses land in the rocky waters sideways having lost their balance and direction, and in an attempt to right themselves so they can swim, wrench their necks and backs, sustaining further trauma.
Horses are not natural swimmers and tend to panic temporarily when they cannot immediately feel the ground beneath them.
When horses swim they will employ a trotting motion and “a breathing pattern characterized by brief inspiration and prolonged expiration.” The difficulty in breathing when swimming is probably due to the pressure applied to the chest and abdomen of the horse by the water and the fact that the horse does not have the rhythm of body and abdominal movements that serve to help the breathing process” when he is on land.
“[It] should be noted that swimming also results in relatively high blood pressures compared with galloping and that some horses have experienced nose bleeding after bout(s) of swimming. As such, swimming is not recommended for horses with respiratory disease and it is also contraindicated in horses with back injuries.”
Because there is no support from the ground and there is little or no resistance from the water, the amount of energy required to move forward in the water is significantly greater than that required to move forward on land. It takes approximately four complete swimming strokes to cover the same distance as one galloping stride on land. Based on this approximately 500 yards is about equal to a one mile gallop.
As stated before, notwithstanding the physical dangers, the experience is mentally harrowing for the horse.
THIRD AND FINAL LEG — THE UPHILL SPRINT
Already terrified, exhausted and possibly injured, the horses face the third and final leg of the Omak Suicide Race which is a punishing and backbreaking uphill sprint.
When a horse’s gait quickens to a gallop, his breathing is linked to the rhythm of his hoof beats. During high-intensity exercise, this rhythmic breathing lowers oxygen intake, producing a buildup of lactic acid and carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration, causing fatigue and cramping, much like when a human athlete gets a “stitch.”
To bring the body back to normal, CO2 moves to the bloodstream and is expelled from the lungs. Lactic acid is neutralized in various organs, including muscles. With continuous overexertion, the recovery process is disturbed. In this situation, acid buildup, called acidosis, further reduces oxygen flow to the muscles, creating long-lasting fatigue — and [permanent] muscle damage.
The Omak Suicide Race takes place in four heats over four days.
Like humans, horses are imprinted with every experience they have encountered since birth. They are highly sensitive, instinctual animals, and much like us, think about not only what they have been through but also about what they may be about to endure.
Horses have sharper and broader hearing ranges than humans. Loud noises are painful to a horse’s ears. Their sense of smell is also acute. Horses sense or “smell” the fear in other horses, which further perpetuates their own.
Their sensitivity to sound and smells is why they become hard to handle when they are subjected to surroundings and activities they are unaccustomed to and receiving conflicting messages from their senses. The tumult of such an occasion as the Omak Suicide Race must be an assault on their senses that is debilitating and petrifying.
MARKETING GIMMICK OR TRADITION?
First run in 1935, the Suicide Race was the brainchild of Claire Pentz, publicity chairman for the Stampede, after failing to attract big crowds with boxing, trained zebras and stock car racing.
Stampede organizers currently contend that the Suicide Race has roots in Native American tradition and claim it is a customary rite-of-passage, but as you just read, an Anglo conceived the race as a publicity stunt.
The race wasn’t the only thing “created” by white man; the very invention of a Colville Tribes unit is recent.
The races that used to occur among Native tribes of the area were longer-distance, cross-country races on horses bred to thrive on the hard, rocky, desert terrain of Eastern Washington. This is not comparable to flinging a long-legged thoroughbred or quarter horse down a 62-degree slope in the dark of night.
A native rite-of-passage traditionally refers to a ritual or ceremony indicating the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Historically, Suicide Race rider’s ages range from 18 to well into the 30’s. Many have ridden in the race year after year seeking cash and popularity, not cultural fulfillment.
Animals 24-7 report that at least two horses died in the 2018 Omak Suicide race, bringing the known toll since 1983 to 25, “with many more suspected but undocumented”, and no record existing of injuries and deaths from the first “Suicide Race” in 1935 through 1982.
IT JUST WON’T STOP
PeTA has run letter-writing campaigns. HSUS has documented it but unable to accomplish anything past that. That was dangerous enough.
In 1993, the Northwest’s PAWS, or Progressive Animal Welfare Society, tried a more robust tactic, filing a lawsuit that alleged organizers harm horses for profit, but a Superior Court judge threw out the case. In 1996, a PAWS member sued the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office and the rodeo for roughing him up when he videotaped a horse being euthanized; the suit settled for $64,500.
From 2005 to 2009 The Horse Fund ran a campaign to end the Omak Suicide Race, initially focusing on its sponsors. When they went away, Omak got more. Our investigators were harassed, hotel rooms broken into and trashed. Mrs. Farrell received numerous death threats, all which were reported. Not a single law enforcement agency took it seriously — or took any action.
That was then. This is now. Social media has revolutionized advocacy. There have also been changes (for the better) in the law. We are prepared to take this on once again. And we will win — for the horses.
WHAT ABOUT TRADITION?
No caring society subjects another living being to such blatant cruelty and death in the name of culture or entertainment.
There comes a time when we as a people must move forward, and leave behind those acts and events unacceptable in a civilized society, regardless of how steeped in tradition. In this case the tradition so-called is manufactured tradition and means nothing to anyone at all.
Horses forced to take part in the Omak Stampede’s Suicide Race suffer enormous physical pain and suffering by way of broken bones, irreparable tendon damage from falls and collisions, and long-term muscle damage from overexertion. “Suicide horses” die from broken necks, strokes, heart attacks and gruesomely by drowning.
These horses do not participate willingly. It is not their intention to suffer. It is not their intention to die.
This is not so. There are not more horses than the land can sustain. Read on.
FEDERAL LANDS — A Perspective
The federal government owns roughly 640 million acres, about 28% of the 2.27 billion acres of land in the United States.
Four major federal land management agencies administer 610.1 million acres of this land . They are the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and National Park Service (NPS) in the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Forest Service (FS) in the Department of Agriculture.
In addition, the Department of Defense (excluding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) administers 11.4 million acres in the United States , consisting of military bases, training ranges, and more. Numerous other agencies administer the remaining federal acreage.
The BLM manages 248.3 million acres of public land and administers about 700 million acres of federal subsurface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM has a multiple-use, sustained-yield mandate that supports a variety of activities and programs, as does the FS, which currently manages 192.9 million acres.
Most FS lands are designated national forests. Wildfire protection is increasingly important for both agencies.
The FWS manages 89.1 million acres of the U.S. total, primarily to conserve and protect animals and plants. The National Wildlife Refuge System includes wildlife refuges, waterfowl production areas, and wildlife coordination units.
In 2015, the NPS managed 79.8 million acres in 408 diverse units to conserve lands and resources and make them available for public use. Activities that harvest or remove resources from NPS lands generally are prohibited.
Numerous issues affecting federal land management are continuously before Congress.
These issues include the extent of federal ownership and whether to decrease, maintain, or increase the amount of federal holdings; the condition of currently owned federal infrastructure and lands and the priority of their maintenance versus new acquisitions; and the optimal balance between land use and protection, and whether federal lands should be managed primarily to benefit the nation as a whole or to benefit the localities and states.
WE’VE BEEN THERE
Various individuals who work and volunteer for The Fund for Horses (The Horse Fund) have viewed great pieces of public lands managed by the BLM over the course of 15 years. They viewed these public lands by both helicopter and light plane.
It is virtually impossible to get across to anyone who have not seen the vastness of these areas just how immense federal lands are.
You can fly for large chunks of time — sometimes hours — and see absolutely nothing but land as far in any direction as your eye will take you.
A huge chunk of federal lands managed by the BLM are where our wild horses and burros roam.
ROOM FOR OUR WILD ONES
How is it possible there is room for cattle ranchers, miners, drillers, and all the rest, yet not space for our wild horses and burros, somewhere — no matter how remote? We do not care.
Our wild horses and burros would acclimate themselves. It may be unsettling at first. However they would survive.
It would be much better for our wild horses and burros to remain free roaming, even if it meant being captured and re-released, no matter where it was, than being robbed of their precious freedoms, breaking up their bands and confining them to holding facilities often in unsafe and deplorable conditions. Certainly anything must be preferable to submitting them to a brutal and terrifying death by slaughter. Castrating their males. Yanking the ovaries out their females.
We asked BLM personnel why this was not a workable solution, one that could surely offend no one and possibly delight quite a few.
The BLM spokesperson replied that the Department of Interior would not want wild horses and burros removed from their designated, herd management areas and moved to vast open spaces where the BLM might find it difficult or impossible to track and “manage them”. That they told us would be in direct opposition to the 1971 The Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.
At any rate, it seems obvious to us that they could simply do fly overs (like the ones we went on) once or twice a year to see where the bands were and report on their size and condition.
Certainly this is doable and good economics. Would this not also benefit America’s public lands? Wild horses and burros actually refurbish the land, not destroy it leaving it barren the way say, cattle do.
Mostly importantly of all, this would mean no more deaths like those of the 14 murdered Triple B wild horses. At least out in the wild, our mustangs and burros have a fighting chance to survive.
At long last we finally won some introductions, and caught the ear of some valuable people at the Department of Interior. They have been much more receptive to our ideas than the BLM have been. Please chip in with a contribution, any amount, to help keep us in nation’s capitol and active on behalf of our wild horses and burros, domestic horses, racehorses and walking horses. There’s a lot to do!