Shark’s Perspective: September 2009
Where does the time go?
Wow! Here it is September and I’ve been remiss in my responsibilities to get my thoughts out to you since last spring. Where does the time go?!? It’s not like I have a lot to do around here except keep my mares happy, put up with their nagging at me and watch over what’s going on with the rest of The Gang from my old penthouse pad, but time just really got away from me.
Maybe some of it was because our routine got out of sync when Pam got hurt. I know we all mourned the loss of Macho Man. He’s been with us a long time and his death was a real shock. I wasn’t in the paddock with him when it happened, but I was in my penthouse position to observe. It was very sad!
Maybe that’s why I haven’t gotten around to expounding on my thoughts and perspectives for the past few months. It’s been real hard to swallow the sudden loss of a friend.
Even though when Pam put me in the paddock with Macho and the rest of those guys, I didn’t get treated as I should have, I still cared about them. I was “rescued” from the group that picked on me because Pam felt sorry for me. Huh, that’s a first. Here I am the big strapping muscular and oh so handsome The Barking Shark, and I’m pitied in my position by some little woman who wants to make me happy and comfortable. That’s a big switch from the trainers who just kept wanting to race me to win, even though I had my physical problems. They just thought I’d go on forever and keep on bringing in the checks. Hey, I could beat those guys at the level I was racing, but I don’t know for how long my old injured legs would hold out. I was too dumb to not try, so I kept winning. As long as I kept winning, they kept racing me. This seemed like a no win situation for me.
But then, before I was supposed to race again, some group of people got together and paid way too much money to keep me from the next race and retire me to GEVA. Hey, that didn’t bother me a bit. I was happy to get off the track. I just kept shuttling from barn to barn and they kept racing me. Life is good in retirement.
I hadn’t been off the track at a farm in a long time. I was in a stall at first and I was scared when Pam came in to clean my stall. She had that pitchfork in her hand, and I wasn’t sure what she was going to do with it. However, as the time passed, I realized that it was only to clean out my poops and messes in the stall, and not to jab me to move over or whatever.
I remember I was afraid of any movements when I first got here too. I didn’t know if someone was going to hit me or what, so I was really on the defensive. If Pam raised her hand to do anything I shied away. Slowly I realized that she wasn’t going to strike me or do any harm to me, but it was just a human gesture for whatever reason, and I learned to trust her. Now I don’t even think twice about such things. I have no reason to doubt her good intentions here. I trust my surroundings, which makes me a happy horse. I see my brethren out there in other paddocks with the same attitude. Actually, the treats and personal attention cause us to become overbearing at times and Pam puts a “recess” on such. I guess we have to get our act together and get some manners in place to warrant the treats without being so pushy. We do have a tendency to be that way. Nothing’s free in this life!!
So, what is my message and where am I coming from in this? Well, I think it’s two-fold.
I think you people need to realize and accept that we horses have feelings too, just like you. We feel pain and abuse, and neglect, and intimidation and fear and loss of companion just as you people do. We suffer, and hurt and experience fear. We’re creatures of fear and flight from predators, and that’s our first instinct, unless we learn to trust you people to guide us through that fear and give us the confidence in you to know we’re safe. We really want to please you and also feel safe.
We also deserve a comfortable retirement and/or rehabilitation as here with GEVA. We’ve put out our all to provide the show for the horse racing industry, and haven’t always been treated as the stars we are. At times we raced when we shouldn’t have, compromising our well-being as well as the jockeys and other horses in the race. I probably shouldn’t mention such things, but hey, I know what my injuries were and they kept racing me to get the money. So, are we horses merely a means to the end of the money wagon? That’s not right! And, it’s not only we race horses that experience this fate. The show horses and eventers suffer equally from the attitude and acts of the owners and trainers.
We horses are/were/will be the only thing that makes horse racing and the horse show world. Without us there is no horse racing and there are no horse shows or events! Without us there are no trail rides or hunts or barrel racing or breeding for more horses. Since I was a race horse, I speak more of racing, but what I say I believe applies to all horses in any venue. We provide the show, make the profits for the owners, breeders, trainers, jockeys, associations and any others associated with horses. How many of them have come forward to support us, the stars of their industry, when we can no longer provide their entertainment? VERY few. We’re an expendable commodity. When we can’t produce for them, then we’re expendable and our welfare is not an issue.
Tell me, why are we so expendable?!? I, The Barking Shark, ran my heart out with my injuries and provided for my owners. But, you know what. My breeders and owners have never come forth to provide a cent for my retirement. It’s really a big insult to me! I can tolerate it because I’m in a happy home, but it’s inexcusable!
So, I’m The Barking Shark, a somewhat famous horse, and a very happy horse now with my mares. But, you people out there who supposedly have the brains to control us and this industry, please tell me, a horse, how you’re going to resolve the retirement issue for us and provide enough income for farms like ours to maintain us. We deserve better than what is being offered, which is next to nothing. We horses treat each other better than that. It’s a very sad statement on the part of the horse industry for their lack of caring about our welfare, but we sure appreciate the life we’ve been given with the wonderful people who volunteer here at GEVA. And do you know the interesting fact is that none of the volunteers is or was associated with racing, showing or actually even riding. Most of them just love us horses (but what’s not to love about us!?!) and love to spend time with us. I hear that a few of them had a horse when they were kids, but for the most part they just appreciate us for who we are and treat us accordingly. They GIVE to us. Our ex-owners and breeders, etc. TOOK from us and most have given nothing back to us or to GEVA. I’m just a horse, but I’m a smart horse, as most of us are, and there’s something wrong in this big picture.
Well, I just have to stop talking about this because it gets me too upset and then I might get unmanageable and pick on one of my mares, and I certainly don’t want to start acting like a person. After all, I am The Barking Shark, the only one of a kind, or should that be “king” …
The Barking Shark