Posts Tagged ‘emotional capacity of animals.’

Apache the horse


I’ve given up on the news.  I can’t bear to hear one more report about the horse meat scandal because nobody is apparently bothered by the real issue here. Horses, as close to man as any dog or cat are being routinely dragged into abattoirs and slaughtered on an industrial level.

Horses who once won rosettes at the Pony Club, had their manes platted by adoring teenage girls and whose welfare was once important enough to their owners to earn them pain relief in their feed are destined for a terrifying end that no creature deserves, let alone ones so intelligent and faithful.

Horse power 

Like many young girls, I dreamed of having a horse, but finances and circumstances meant that I was 28 before I learned to ride. My life changed practically overnight when I found someone needing a sharer. Apache was a 14.2 tri-coloured Welsh Cob with a heart of gold and a will of steel; one she frequently demonstrated when I wanted to stop and she felt like going the distance or vice versa. I was never a great rider, but I just loved being around her. I even loved mucking out and to this day can’t pass a yard without inhaling great gleeful lung fulls of ‘eau de stable’ such is its ability to transport me back to happy times.

We had some great years together before she finally retired to live out her golden years at a nice yard with a warm soft bed, thick rugs for her arthritic joints and all the care and attention befitting a lady of advancing years.

A peaceful goodbye

In March 2011 I got a call from her owner to say she was having another bad bout of colic and that the vet had done all he could. She was in great pain and it was only going to get worse.  I blogged about it at the time, (Can animals heal a broken heart?) reflecting on the amazing reaction of Little Bear and Annie when I returned home from the Yard that awful day.

Apache passed peacefully in a field full of spring grass with the sun on her back.  She was given pain relief for the colic, sedated and then euthanised while the people who adored her whispered their love and prayers in her chocolate-brown ears.  It was quiet, calm and dignified and she showed no sign of fear or stress.

I still feel like a traitor for my complicity in her death, but in my heart I knew it was time and so I think did she. The alternative would have seen her writhe in agony as her gut twisted and so, as the lesser of the evils I, like her owner opted for the kinder path.

If death can ever be ‘good’ then I’d like to think that hers was at least in the right ball park.  Her peaceful passing was a world away from the fate of so many millions of horses that are slaughtered on an industrial scale, many after enduring long terrifying journeys to abattoirs and the thought sickens me to me core.

That these incredible creatures should ever find themselves in a slaughters hands is the real scandal and for all our righteous indignation about ‘mis-labelling’ we need to remember who’s paying the real price here.

P.S As I was finishing this post I came across this excellent blog – it’s says a lot about how we’ve ended up in this mess.

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