Are we an Endangered Species?

Are we on the way to creating a world where there is no more room for horses? In a practical sense, I think we may be. This is hardly news to some of us, but someone sent me this article form the LA Times, and I thought I'd pass it along, since it's something that affects all of us in one way or another. I know this is a huge problem on the East Coast as well; nearly all of the stables where I rode and boarded years ago have now been demolished to make way for encroaching development, not to mention the trails that have been destroyed or made forbidden to horses. Or, in some cases, the stables remain but the surrounding pastures are sold off for houses and condos; the horses must live in their stalls more or less 24 hours a day which, in a way, is worse. Is this happening in your area too? Have you felt the squeeze of development on your equestrian pursuits? Is there anything we can do about it?

Equestrian culture may be fading into the sunset

...the vanishing of horses is a sign that 'we are separated from the land. . . . People are afraid of the dirt. They are afraid of the dark. They have no sense of their place in the natural world.'

7 comments:

  1. The article was very disturbing. I'm afraid this isn't only happening in California but here on the East Coast too. As you said where there were stables and trails in the past, now there are parking lots, condos, and housing developments. The trails have been taken over by ATV's or bikers etc... there are not many places left for us and our horses. I know it will get worse unless there is some real activism about horses and equestrians. Sadly, this probably won't happen either. No one can understand who doesn't own or ride a horse what the big deal is, because people are so into themselves nowadays they can't think of any other living thing that is more important than themselves and their comfort and instant gratification in their lives.
    It is such a shame I do wish we as riders and horse owners/lovers could all band together across the country and make our voices heard and get things changed before it goes too far.

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  2. I am a cynic from the middle of the country. Honestly I'm kind of surprised that people in Los Angeles actually have horses at all! They're just not urban animals to me.

    Being in the relatively sparsely populated south has a lot to do with my attitudes toward horsekeeping, I know. But around here there's plenty of horses, plenty of places to ride, and plenty of stables. Of course nobody has any money or any training.

    That's the thing that yall are overlooking. If horses are a luxury item, people are more inclined to learn something about their care and use. Nobody at my old barn had a clue about horse overpopulation, or being a good ambassador to non horse people, or basic safety. I really think raising the bar isn't a bad idea, at least down here.

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  3. I live in Chicago. My mom had horses growing up. When i was younger my mom had a horse for us and we boarded at a great little facility that is now part of the ever expanding Woodfield Mall. there were many little boarding facilities with pasture turnout. I was living in Los Angeles for many years and returned here in 1999. There were many small acreage horse keepers in LA County. There were horses all over the canyons -- santa monica, palisades, topanga, malibu, etc. -- when i was there. mostly the pipe corral set ups, no grass, dirt type turnouts. it is desert. I recently acquired a horse, and there is NOWHERE close that has pasture turnout that is reasonable. Board is $600 to $1200 within a 30 mile radius from me. These barns want more for daily turnout, if they even have any turnout facilities. I currently keep my horse 70 miles away. This will change, but its disheartening. Illinois does not protect its farmland. THe open spaces are being developed so fast it is frightening.

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  4. I agree wholeheartedly w/ Grey Horse Matters: "No one can understand who doesn't own or ride a horse what the big deal is, because people are so into themselves nowadays they can't think of any other living thing that is more important than themselves..."

    This reminds me of another post over at Behind the Bit. She talks about people being so disconnected from nature, there's even a book about "nature deficit disorder" in children.

    There is a network out there, which is acting in the interests of horsepeople. It's called the Equestrian Land Conservation Resource, and their website is www.elcr.org.

    When I bring my kids to the barn, I am glad that they are able to see, smell, touch and talk to horses, cats, dogs, goats, chickens, etc. Guess they're not at risk for nature deficit disorder. They do suffer from Eating All My Horse's Peppermint Candy Disorder.

    One last thing, however. I myself moved from CT to Colorado so I would be able to have horses in my life. It was simply too expensive where I grew up on the East Coast.

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  5. hmmm... nature deficit disorder... that's just bizarre to me. i will have to look into the elcr, thanks. i grew up riding horses, and i had to move so i could have horses in my life too. the whole things just makes me sad.

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  6. Believe it or not, some of us who live in the LA area own horses and actually ride them- and they're not pasture ornaments. :-)

    Where I live, it's a never-ending struggle to preserve trails, open space to ride and to keep the developers at bay. It's not easy but we've managed to do a pretty good job of it so far.

    Unfortunately, for most people out here, horses are something they only see on TV and it's kind of sad. When we do public events, you constantly have to be on guard because people don't know how to act around them.

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  7. adam - good for you for fighting to keep your area horse friendly. i know what you mean about the average person having no experience with horses - not only do some of my non-horsey friends not know how to act around horses, they are actually terrified of them! maybe there is a way to interest, educate and include the public in more horsey events?

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