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Heroes of the ‘horse world’

I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the work of the people who over the years have been rescuing the many neglected and mistreated horses in Barbados.

Having been a part of the “horse world” for over 30 years, I have seen the good work of those who truly love and cherish “the horse”.

At present we are seeing and hearing a lot more about the inhumane practice of ill treating horses and the horror is a shock to many. Over the years however, there have been people who have been instrumental in saving many of these horses but unlike a dog or a cat, the upkeep of a horse is time consuming and costly.

These animals, particularly thoroughbreds, need to be fed on horse feed and large supplies of quality grass and hay. They cannot live on grass alone with little or no access to water, while being staked in the hot sun. For the people who have successfully re-homed the unwanted racehorse or polo horse there is a limit and knowing this limit allows them to keep the horses in good condition.

The horses we are seeing highlighted in recent time have been given to people who do not understand the expense involved in keeping a horse healthy, nor do they understand how to properly meet the needs of a horse.

Though it is not well-known to the public, the Barbados Equestrian Association, the governing body of equestrian sport (show-jumping, dressage) in Barbados has also played a big part in helping these animals.

At present, there is a trophy given each year to the best re-trained thoroughbred (these are horses that have come from the racetrack and polo stables and have been “retrained” to jump and perform dressage and some have become good trail riding horses).

It is hoped that by having this award, members would be more inclined to take a horse from the track and re-train it rather than buying and importing horses for the same purpose.

Retrained race horses that have been on our circuit include, Super Trooper (one of the top jumpers in the island at present and who has been featured in the newspaper quite regularly), Bayswater, also seen in the top level of jumping and in the dressage arena. Also Jeblar’s Hero, who for many years was a successful jumper and later a schoolmaster in the riding school. Whiskey for Me is a successful dressage horse. Others include Valentino, Happy Hour, Merlot, Emmanuel, Happy Miss, and the list could go on but suffice it to say that the good work of these heroes and their stables, which have quietly operated for many years, have been a big part of successfully re-homing and re-training these horses.

It is my hope that in light of the negativity that is now surrounding the horse world, that Barbadians recognise that there have been quiet heroes working in the background on this tragic issue for many years and now that it is being highlighted in the press on a daily basis, they should recognise that not all horse owners are willing to give away their horses to the first taker but are willing to find them and provide them with safe, healthy, loving and caring homes.

These are the people that need to be highlighted as an example of the way horses should be treated even when it is assumed that they are past their “economic usefulness”. Their example offers others the opportunity to learn how horses should be kept and cared for and their work should be recognised by the press because highlighting the positive is also a way of creating change.

— Chris and Nikki O’Neal

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