April 15, 2002
Horses do have need for food, shelter, safety
I agree wholeheartedly with the original writer's fact-based opinion that there are a growing number of horses living in questionable conditions.
Each day on the way to work, I pass a small parcel of land Ñ yes, this time of year it is mostly mud Ñ which is a fairly new home for five to seven horses. There is no shelter besides a small grouping of trees that does not cover all the horses at the same time. The owner has parked a sort of metal shipping container on the property, not nearly tall enough to be converted into "stalls." I often see the owners feed the animals by strewing bales directly onto the mud.
My dad and sister owned two horses back in my high school days. We had 2.5 acres Ñ more than twice what your letter considers "just enough to house a horse properly."
We built a barn, fenced off our entire property (except the house and garage) into two sections, then spent months attempting to turn mud back into suitable ground. You move the horses to the other "pasture" when the ground gets too soft, then slosh the mud away in wheelbarrows, seed grass, fill trenches with gravel to collect water.
It never quite worked.
One spring, our younger horse died. Despite our best efforts using off-the-ground feeders, he accumulated too much dirt in his digestive system by grazing in the mud. Realizing we couldn't provide a suitable home, we soon sold the other horse to someone who did own a pasture and barn.
I'm finding it hard to relate with your words, "... the need of having a horse" and "not all of us can afford five acres..."
Let me see if I can relate: My wife and I are having our first child. We both make enough money to make ends meet, but when she stops working, our current expenses will outweigh our income. I want to provide for my family without going into debt and without neglecting them. We're moving out of our three-bedroom home into a small apartment, cutting our rent, utilities and commute expenses. Don't feel "pity" for us Ñ that's where we are at in life, and the adjustments we will have to make.
OK, so you don't call horses an "extravagant luxury" item. Neither are they human beings, but they do have need for food, shelter, and safety. I think this is indeed an issue of reassessing your reasons for owning the animals.
If your situation in life doesn't allow you to provide an adequate home, and if you care for the animals so much, I suggest you put aside your pride and "keeping up with the Joneses" attitude and wait until you can "afford five acres on Hollywood Hill."
Dustin Bell, Duvall