Horse Shootings and Horse Shoeing

Bloged in Mustang by admin Wednesday January 24, 2007

To update on an article we posted last week, the Calgary
Sun reports that as of January 24, four more of the
Alberta wild horses had been found shot to death near

While out riding on January 23, some members of the Wild
Horses of Alberta Society discovered the remains of a wild
horse family, including the stallion, one mare, a
yearling, and a foal.

The remains, spread over a distance of some 200 meters,
had been scavenged by wolves, and were located about six
kilometers from those of three other Alberta wild horses
discovered shot to death earlier in the month.

RCMP’s David Heaslip, who is overseeing the investigation
into the ongoing wild horse killings, says he has received
several tips on the identity of the shooter, and believes
the same party is responsible for the latest deaths.

Heaslip has temporarily put his other investigations on
hold so that he can focus on finding the shooter, and will
be using DNA evidence to help.

The Wild Horses of Alberta Society, in the meantime, has
increased to $6500 the reward it is offering for
information that leads to the apprehension of the party
responsible. You can read more about their efforts here:

Because the Alberta wild horse herd is descended from
domestic horses used in lumber camps generations ago, the
government neither considers the two hundred horses in
the foothill of the eastern Rockies to be, nor offers them
protection as, wildlife.

In a more uplifting, and somewhat personal vein, an
article by Meghan Low of the Quebec Suburban is advocating
the idea that horses might be more comfortable if we
stopped shoeing them.

Alisha Viglas of Baie d’Urfé, who boards her horse Jet at
the Rappenhof Barn in St. Lazare, tends to Jet’s hooves
by using the “Barefoot Performance Trim” method, which
simply means that she trims the bottoms of Jet’s hooves
before they have a chance to overgrow.

The theory behind the Barefoot Performance Trim is that,
in the days when horses were used for transport and
industrial purposes, they often stood in dirty bedding for
long periods of time, and horseshoes were necessary to
keep the bottoms of their hooves elevated and germ-free.

But shoeing them also prevents the natural expansion and
contraction that occurs as the horse’s weight, during
movement, comes down on and is removed from, the hooves.
The shoes force the hooves to be in a permanently
contracted state, impeding blood circulation to the
horse’s legs. My family’s horses, kept on a ranch by the
Pacific, were always allowed to go barefoot.

It just made sense because they were free ranging
animals for eight months every year, and Mother Nature
as she does for wild horses, kept their hoofs trimmed.
Because they were healthy, they didn’t experience any
hoof cracking, and the riding we did during the summers
was sufficient to keep their hooves from becoming
overgrown until they were turned loose again.

do question, however, the wisdom of the Barefoot
Performance Trim, both for horses which have to compete,
and those ridden over long stretches of asphalt roads or
in wet or icy conditions. Proper shoeing, on a correctly
trimmed hoof, can offer them extra support and traction,
and perhaps, the confidence to put that little extra
effort into their work.

I love, during the summer, to go barefoot on the grass,
but having to do it today, on the icy ground of late January,
would be a “horse of a different color”!


Help the Mustangs

Bloged in Mustang by admin Friday January 12, 2007

If you are a fan of the wild horses of Canada, you might
want to send some support to the Wild Horses of Alberta
Society, who are offering a $4500 reward for information
leading to the identity of the parties responsible for the
shooting deaths, in the past two years, of sixteen mustangs.

The Society’s spokesperson, Bob Henderson, is of the opinion
that the Alberta government, as evidenced by its “horse
capture regulation”, is not averse to having the entire wild
horse population removed from the area around Alberta’s
western foothills.

The herd of mustangs, which numbered as high as 1000 in the
mid 1980’s, has been reduced to only two hundred today, and
if their numbers are further diminished, will not be able to
sustain a gene pool diverse enough to produce healthy

The horse capture regulation allows anyone to track and
capture the animals, and it has been suggested that most of
the captured mustangs are sold for slaughter. But the
animals which have been found shot, were shot for no
discernible purpose.

The mustangs are considered neither livestock nor wildlife,
so they are supposed to fall under the protection of
Alberta’s Sustainable Resources Development Ministry. One
has to question, however, exactly who is working at
sustaining them.

You can contact the Wild Horses of Alberta Society, and read
more about the plight of the Alberta mustangs, at:

Or here’s a suggestion: if the Alberta government actually
does want to be rid of the horses, give them to Nevada’s
Wild Horse and burro Expo, which has been set up as a
non-profit organization and uses its funding, in part, to
make sure the Nevada’s wild horses and burros have
sufficient habitat available. And they are doing this in
spite of the fact that Nevada is currently the fastest
growing state in the U.S., with land prices steadily
increasing. Where there’s a will…

On another somewhat discouraging note, Kentucky Derby winner
Barbaro has suffered a recurrence of the laminitis in his
left hind hoof which was such a grave cause of concern
earlier this summer.

The flare-up has necessitated further surgery to remove
damaged hoof tissue, and to cut his left digital flexor
tendon so that it stopped pulling on the coffin bone which
attaches to the hoof wall, and required that Barbaro, who
had been enjoying daily outdoor grazing sessions, and was
close to being moved from the New Bolton Veterinary Center
to complete his recovery in a regular facility, is now back
to using a body sling to support his weight for several
hours each day.

The good news, if there is any, is that both of Barbaro’s
hind legs are infection-free, and that his primary doctor,
Dean Richardson, says that, in spite of the setback,
Barbaro’s left hind hoof still has more healthy tissue than
it did following his first laminitis surgery in July.

On the bright side, we are already in the Thoroughbred
foaling season, and spring CANNOT be far behind!


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