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Tennessee Walking Horses

Story ID:3770
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:various Tennessee USA
Year:2008
Person:Astrid Lindgren
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It is good that Al Gore is trumpeting the need to address Global Warming.
But after being soundly criticized for
living in a spacious mansion which used a
lot of natural resources, he did
address this deserved criticism by making his home greener.

I find that some people are concerned about the environment but
sadly dismiss the animals who are a very large part
of the environment. They are sentient, feeling animals with needs
very much like our own. They get cold, they get hot, they get hungry,
they get thirsty, they get lonely. I am often surprised that when people
buy a pet, they don't seem to realize this and often dismiss their needs
and thereby cause them suffering.

Despite the warnings of not buying live bunnies for Easter, the family
down the street bought one and now regret it. Bunnies are hard
to care for and this poor bunny has been relegated to a small cage
on the porch. I told the father that I hope he is taken
in at night - especially like nights which are frosty. The poor bunny
needs exercise too. Yes, they admit they should not have gotten the bunny.
Stores which sell and promote them during the Easter season are sadly
largely to blame. Anything for a buck- event if it means that an animal will suffer.

Of course, besides pets factory farm animal needs are certainly not met either. Kudos to
Astrid Lindgren (Pippi Longstreet) who, because of her compassionate writings
in Sweden, was able to effect most needed compassionate changes for their animals.

One writer on an Oped blog asked what are we doing every day. He said he is
trying to save democracy. A worthy ambition. People like Astrid Lindgren
and others are trying to educate people to treat all animals compassionately
and humanely. I'm always amazed by largely Christians who tell me that as
the "top of creation" it is their "right" to treat animals as they do. Sadly, in my
estimation, this only proves, that with this type of arrogant thinking, we really
don't belong there at all. I challenge anyone who witnesses the mistreatment of
any animal to tell me that the kind, loving God of Creation approves.

If you've never read Astrid Lindgren's account of an imagined visit of God to a
pig slaughterhouse in Sweden, I think you will find it interesting. Here I copied
the last part of her article --"I Had a Dream the Other Night" which was published
in 1987:

".....and so I led Our Lord to one of our big Swedish slaughterhouses for pigs...And
then we stalked into Hell.

Our Lord was at first dazed by the stench when he regained His wits He shouted:
"Stop! Stop it!" I see that these animals are suffering!"

He took in everything. He saw the multitude of terrified pigs being driven to slaughter
with electric shocks, saw the speed with which they were stunned and hung up being
hastily bled and then chucked into the scalding vat. There was one poor little devil
who hadn't been bled quite to death because of the rush, and when he landed in the
scalding water, he regained consciousness, screaming, swimming around among the
corpses of his fellow pigs (and, for the matter, in their urine and feces).

........Then Our Lord came to life! "What kind of blockheads are these to whom I gave
dominion over the animals?"

(Because of her compassion and caring, Astrid Lindgren achieved the enactment of
the 1988 Law Protecting Farm Animals in Sweden.)

Now, if I could, I would like to challenge Al Gore, proud former Senator from Tennessee
--that if he feels what is being done to the beautiful Tennessee Walking Horses is cruel
and totally without merit,
that he will use his political prowess and influence to convince his state legislature to ban
the use of "The Big Lift" in training
the Tennessee Walking Horses to "high step" usually with a great deal of pain.

Years ago I read about how cruelly these horses were treated and thought the practice
had died out with the 20th Century. Not so, per the Doris Day Animal League.

In their flyer I read that in the 1940's and early 1950's the Tennesee Walking Horses
provided much pleasure for the general public. THEN --the NATURAL front leg action of
some of the horses when performing their natural signature gait --the running walk in
the ring-- was noticed by the judges who awarded glowing tributes and accolades to the
trainers and owners for this feat.

Sadly these horse owners and trainers decided they wanted more accolades and created
"The Big Lift" --an extremely exaggerated high-step which produced injury to the horses.
The flyer explains the procedure:

"To produce a similar gait with a less-talented horse and with less time spent on
training, the use of weighted shoes or stacks, and chains around the horse's front legs
came to be used. Some even file down the hoof to the quick or place tacks that penetrate
the quick of the hoof and then add the weighted stacks and chains inflicting pain that
causes the exaggerated or "enhanced "gait."

These poor horses, because of these harmful techniques, are not only in pain but unable
to be let out of their stalls. Confined for 365 days standing in a stall - is this not cruel
and unusual punishment? What is their crime? Obviously, it is only being the victims
of the "top of creation" who feel that this exalted position allows them to do cruelties such
as this. Well, I don't believe I'm the top of creation--only proper loving actions deserve that
exalted place, but I hope that God has endowed us with loving and compassionate hearts
and souls. And I don't believe that He condones such terrible treatment such as this
for the pleasure of people. Do you?

I don't think that the famous Lipanzer horses are subjected to any cruelty re their
wonderful high-stepping performances. Kudos to the trainers if this is so.

Sadly, I just received a Care2 Horse petition after submitting this musing.
I was unaware that horse fighting, which has been outlawed almost world-wide,
still exists in countries like the Phillipines, Indonesia, China, and South Korea.
They are brutal and inhumane and are featured in annual festivals or
events put together by locals for an afternoon's gambling and entertainment.
Another example where man as "king" denies compassionate treatment to his fellow
living creatures.