What I find really cruel is that I am at work 60+ hours a week, while my horse hangs out in the field with the sunshine and his buddies. Gets his meals delivered to his bedroom, and daily grooming, but doesn't have to work most of the week, because I am working most of the week.
He can hack a little fence here and there, and he will be ok.
Just because someone is ignorant doesn't mean one has to respond with meanness. When I've encountered that kind of sentiment I say that horses have been domesticated and bred to work, and most of them have no problem with their jobs- but a 1200+ lb animal that hates jumping is pretty hard to argue with! This usually gets people thinking about it differently, which probably would not happen if I was a jerk about it.
You can take a line and say it isn't straight- but that won't change its shape. Jets to Brazil
i've also seen horses voluntarily jump stuff in the fields; one !@#$% i used to ride would zig in at the last second to go over jumps when you were trying not to; i've ridden horses that have jumped a) shadows, b) shafts of sunlight and c) imaginary objects.
so, yeah, some of them apparently like it.
(and i've also ridden horses that have turned themselves inside out rather than go over a ground pole.)
Gravity works, and the laws of physics are a bitch.
There are plenty of horsepeople who think x,y,z is a "cruel" sport and a lot of those folks you might call "educated" horsefolk. Racing comes to mind as something I *know* some people from hunter/jumper land find as cruel. From a background of both sports, when confronted with this, I generally give a "well, I don't agree" and leave it at that unless pressed because as we all know, some people will not change their minds no matter what (see raving anti-carriage horse threads )
Explain to your relatives that if people didn't love horses enough to do things with them, being the expensive creatures they are, instead of owning them people would be eating them. Go into great detail about the slaughter process and how especially inhumane the process is for horses because it is designed for cattle. Then go into detail--video helps here--about how nearly all slaughter is in inhumane. There are lots of videos on the web. In fact there are some really good ones of horses prior to slaughter, trying to escape etc.
You could attempt to educate them about horses in general (especially how to tell a happy horse from a not happy one). I have had more than one horse who considers NOT jumping to be VERY cruel!. But if they are saying that anyone who jumps horses should be arrested, my guess is there is more stuff going on than what is cruel to horses.
Different branches of my family are at polar opposites politically. We NEVER discuss politics! Not. Ever. We all get along VERY well!!
They might not be wrong when you consider the sport of jumping rather than the pasttime.
Step back and look at the details of some riders/programs.
Observe the weird bit/martingale/noseband combinations used. The drugging. The "corrections" when the horse refuses. The travelling road show that keeps horses far removed from what most would consider a healthy life style for an equine.
Even someone who doesn't know much about horses knows a 150lb person CAN make a horse do things it doesn't want to do; the abuse and misuse of horses through the ages is well documented.
Not saying the person is right, but to dismiss them as ignorant is close minded. It is possibe that someone who doesn't ride/know horses is better able to be objective than someone with a vested interest in the sport.
If you really want to take the time to discuss it, it's probably worth mentioning that there are extremes in every.single.situation.
For example, parents enrolling kids in sports. Some kids are lucky enough to have parents that gently push them in a supportive way-- those kids either enjoy the sport or not, and either continue or try something else (just as most of us do with our horses. Horse doesn't like jumping? Let's try another discipline, or sell the horse to someone who enjoys the same things).
Then there are the parents that FORCE child to continue, push him/her really hard, and child is never happy/burns out/breaks (many of my former gymnastics friends come to mind...).
Following that line of logic, really anything can be considered cruel if it's pushed to the extreme. I doubt jumping a couple of courses a few times a week is considered extreme for the average horse. It's a natural function of the species.
CHT, I loved your post and everything you said in it. I have witnessed jumping as being cruel and cannot always agree with anyone who said it isn't. It can be. I was just looking through the archives and came across the thread about GM and the horse getting impaled and bleeding to death. How can we have examples like that and not on some level agree with the "activists"?
Secondly, and I apologize if I am misreading the posters here, but I disagree with the thinking that the horses somehow owe us, for having food brought to them, for hanging out in the pasture, for wearing expensive shoes...did we not volunteer them for this lifestyle? Yes, they may only work for an hour a day but hauling someone around, being expected to always be good no matter what, is a one hard hour of work! I just think we should feel obligated to them, not the other way around, and we should always respect and appreciate what they do for us. They have no ability to make any life choices, we make those for them; is it really fair to look at it as though they are our employees?
I have witnessed jumping as being cruel and cannot always agree with anyone who said it isn't. It can be.
On that train of thought anything and everything in life for everyone can be cruel because there are ways to make it all bad. Forcing ice cream on someone who is lactose intolerant....should we proclaim eating ice cream is cruel?
Some bad people does not make the sport/activity they happen to participate in cruel.
I say this: I spend a lot of money to keep my horse in food and board and shoes. In return, they have a very minimal part-time job which requires them to carry me on their back about 5 hours a week and may include jumping fences. I work for a living and so do they.
If you break it down based on board and shoes and think of what you spend on them as their income, my horse basically makes $80 an hour. I'd carry someone around my back for that...
Originally Posted by rustbreeches
[George Morris] doesn't always drink beer, but when he does, he prefers Dos Equis
They just need to meet my horse to change their mind he is happier/has more pep in the ring that has jumps in it versus the dressage ring. Even happier if someone else is jumping (always trying to go faster) and good lord if he gets to jump he thinks he has won the lottery! He is one that would jump on his own if turned out in a ring with jumps. He does "jump" ground poles and the little creek in his field which is kind of pointless. Been bringing him back to work so started lunging him over a jump and he threw some bucks of pure joy in after the first jump and trotted around like a maniac trying to pull the lunge so he could go over the jump again. I didn't want to encourage speedy trotting so I waited to let him jump until he slowed down. Just tell her some horses live to jump and you are giving them a job they love.
Every morning while I'm straining between the shafts of my wheelbarrow, digging my feet sideways into the mud while the horses follow gleefully behind, yanking and stealing mouthfuls of hay, I reflect on the fact that for 7,000 years we enslaved them to move our burdens, fight our battles, and haul our asses.