Shark’s Perspective: Retirement
You know, I’m just a horse, but a great horse if I may say so. I’m big and handsome and strong. I’m not mean by any stretch of the imagination, but at times I just feel so good and playful I’m a bomb waiting to explode, and sometimes I do. I run and buck and play and strike and really have fun with my tail in the air. I wouldn’t mean to hurt any person, but if they got in my way in one of my “flings”, they might get hurt. My 1200 lbs. can do a lot of damage to a human body, even if I don’t mean to hurt anyone. It’s even worse ’cause I’m in with two beautiful fillies (Heaven on earth), and we play a bunch. I get a bit perturbed because they don’t respect me because I am The Barking Shark. They actually pick on me and bully me and I let them do it. I don’t know why. I’m not a wimp, but I love their company and we play a lot and enjoy life.
I’m really glad Pam and a group of others decided to buy me to retire me from the track. I’d been racing for many years and sure had my share of injuries. One day I was at the top of the game and a few years later I was at the bottom, but they kept sending me out there to “win”! And, because I’d been at the top of the ladder and dropped down, I did keep winning. But I was ten years old! Give me a break (not literally)! I’ve paid my dues and won over half a million dollars and they still wanted to squeeze more out of me. So they were going to keep racing me until the leg that has the screws in the cannon bone or the suspensory ligament injury I have re-injured itself or something else broke. Hey wait!!! I’m The Barking Shark. I deserve some respect and consideration!! I’ve earned a bunch of money for my owners, been injured in the process and now should be entitled to a nice retirement like people do.
Well, fortunately I was saved from a possible doomsday fate.
You know, now that I’m really retired and see what life is like as a real horse, I wonder about those horses that are in training as race horses, show horses, trail or endurance horses or just backyard pleasure horses.
Let me tell you a bit about us horses. We’re real social creatures and used to lots of freedom of movement. Give us our space and our chosen companions and we’re really happy. (I know some people who are the same way, but I won’t mention any names.)
I think there are lots of us who enjoy or enjoyed doing what we do or did. We’re professionals at it even if we don’t compete. We’re trained to do something for our owners. Some owners know what they’re doing and others don’t, but we’ll go there in another of my perspectives. Right now I’m just talking about us horses that have been in training and need to get a new life. I have a couple of farm mates here who are retired Grand Prix horses. It was really sad to watch them for the first few months they were here. They would trot or canter around their pasture in a totally collected frame. I’m going crazy. “Hey you guys, you’re out in pasture!!! Let loose and enjoy!! You’re not in the show ring anymore.” As the months progressed so did they, and they actually began to loosen up and act like real horses. I really couldn’t get in and coach them, since we’re in different paddocks, but I sure watched them change over the months. Now, a few years later, they’re just horses like me.
We’re all lucky to be here retired at this farm. I’m just sorry that I hear Pam saying that she has to turn away horses like us because she doesn’t have the funding or help to take care of us. I know I, The Barking Shark, demand a lot of attention and care, not to mention the expected treats, so if I have to multiply that by many I can understand why Pam has to turn away my brethren, although I’m sure it pains her to do so. I owe my life to her, and most others here do too. I wish there were a way I could help her help my brethren.
I hope you humans/people know that horses deserve a retirement just like you do. Some get a better deal than others, but we don’t deserve the slaughter house or cheap auctions. I was lucky and got what I deserve. (Maybe I’d like a bit more of the Kentucky bluegrass, but I’ll settle for what I have in love and vittles. I haven’t lost any pounds and I get lots of love and carrots.)
I, The Barking Shark, really have a message to put out to all of you people who own us horses. Please know the responsibility you’e accepting when you buy or breed a horse.
We don’t ask to be born, but when we are, we become your baggage. Please treat us with respect, care for us and love us as a creature that you created or obtained for your commercial or personal advantage. Know that we have a long life, which depends upon you for our well being. We don’t come cheaply and demand a lot of care. Be prepared for such if you decide to enter this world of horses, because we can be burdensome, but we can also brighten your day and create many memorable moments whether in the winners’ circle or just hangin’ out. You owe us that respect and care in our retirement years whether from age or infirmity. I don’t want to hear that you can’t take care of us any more because we’re injured and you have another horse to ride or whatever. Hey there! We were there when you wanted us to perform, so now take care of us when we can’t. You got into this field of owning horses for your own enjoyment. So, what about our “afterlife”?!?! Don’t just discard us. We’re real living and feeling creatures. Have a heart and accept your responsibility or don’t even go there about owning one of us. We don’t need the pain when you decide to discard us like a piece of equipment. Buy a bicycle instead to get your “rides”. They don’t have feelings or feel pain.
I think I’ve probably said enough to anger some, but those are my perspectives on who should own a horse and how we should be treated when we can no longer be “productive”. Those are my thoughts, which are of course noteworthy because …
After all, I am…
The Barking Shark