Since Princess Anne spoke at the annual conference of the charity World Horse Welfare suggesting changes to how Britain thinks about horse meat, the equestrian world has seen some ongoing debate on the subject.
In my childhood and early teens I spent many months in Italy and that’s when I first encountered shops entirely dedicated to horse meat. In fact, I still remember the very first time I got enlightened one actually eats horses on a shop-able scale because I cheerfully and obliviously entered one thinking it was a tack shop…
The front window had horses painted on it in a way you could not see inside and a life size horse statue stood proudly at the door. I was beside myself with excitement (as you are when your great pleasure in life focuses on spending few hours in the morning browsing equestrian magazines and all things horsey) and was somewhat shocked when instead of shelves full of books, tack, grooming equipment, lotion, potions and air full of thick, eye watering scent of leather I was looking at red and pink, bloody and raw smelling room.
It was an odd experience of a kind when you look at something that appears incredibly heavy yet is amusingly light to lift. Visually, it was just in a reverse…
Many years later in Poland I bought a horse from a dealer who aside of dealing in show-jumping horses also bought and prepared horses for meat. All of them were sold to Italy. It was 1995 and to my knowledge it was a very profitable business. The horses were all cold bloods of different breeds, all huge and fat and shiny with long curly manes and big gentle eyes.
Before I bought my horse from that yard I had him on trial for a couple of months. This meant I had to ride him each time from dealer’s stables to the training centre where my trainer was and so I spent thirty or so minutes at the yard a day for those couple of months. One meat horse I remember to this day came down the ramp onto the yard with a bicycle chain for headcollar with few men holding onto him and not being able to control him. It was a sad picture and one that comes to my mind every time I read or hear how opening up for market of horse meat is going to improve equine welfare…
Having said that, all horses meant for meat were kept in exactly the same way as all other horses for sale. It’s not to say that was any particularly excellent way. They each had a separate stable and a lot (and I mean A LOT) of forage and feeds. They were being fattened up I suppose to weigh as much as possible since the price was dependent on weight. Continue reading My Experiences with Horse Meat…→
From time to time we come across something that takes us back in time…
It happened to me yesterday so first, let me tell you a real life story. I haven’t blogged about it at the time due to sensitive nature of the whole case but years have passed so here we go.
One lovely morning in 2010 I went to work as usual. At the time I taught and groomed freelance at ten, eleven different yards around London, from small private places to big training centres. It took quite a bit of organising as I didn’t drive so I had separate sets of clothes and equipment in lockers at each yard. I’ve also had enough training on equine infectious diseases to know that at the yards with questionable management I needed to have certain rules and that was to have separate boots for those places…You can wash most things in high temperatures if you need to but boots are tricky to wash well unless you have some sort of disinfectant with you all the time. I didn’t have one.
On that one lovely day, my intricate and incredibly interdependent work pattern collapsed. Little did I know how badly.
It started with a phone call from a yard manager of one place I groomed at. She sounded very worried and concerned because she had just spoken to her vet who informed her there was an outbreak of strangles at a yard she knew I also worked at. Funnily enough I was at that yard at the time knowing absolutely nothing. Off I went to chat to another freelance instructor working with me and surprise surprise she also was not informed.
We then had a conversation with the staff who told us they had a couple of horses with flu like symptoms and that they were being moved to the back yard awaiting further tests. I phoned the yard manager back relaying what I learnt but she was adamant the vet diagnosed Strangles.
Somebody was lying for sure but we had no idea who and what was going on. Most of all, I was shocked none of us freelance people got informed as all of us worked at many different places in several counties around London.
I saw the horses in question, they looked subdued and off but that’s about it. I changed into my non-work clothes and went home to google everything possible about working at a place with Strangles…I found nothing much. I spoke to the vet who advised me to change all clothes and wash hands with antibacterial solution before leaving the yard. I bought a few bottles of those little hands sanitizers and used it non stop.
I informed my other yards about an issue and suspected disease but it was not without drama because the affected yard decided to keep a secret…Myself and other instructors were told not to inform anyone else about the veterinary investigations.
On one hand I could understand the owners because the craze that happens in the industry when infectious disease happen and a stigma that surrounds the yard affected are all very difficult to deal with. On the other hand, everybody needs heightened awareness on everything hygiene to contain the disease…
I chose to be open about it and informed all my other employers…
Few days passed and I received a message from the yard manager who initially phoned me asking me not to come to work because she was worried about having Strangles at her yard…I was taken aback by this. I had a horse at livery at the yard at the time too so it was a very difficult moment.
Few other yards followed.
I spoke to a centre manager of a big riding school I freelanced for asking her opinion (they had Strangles at the yard years earlier) and she was happy for me to continue to work. Her decision pretty much saved my livelihood at the time.
As more places grew in disease paranoia and as I lost 80% of my income I became rather desperate and emailed British Grooms Association for advice on procedures. They were very helpful and even put me in touch with a vet who advised me to simply keep my working clothes separate, use disinfectant as I was already using and otherwise work as normal. There were no actual procedures in place for freelance workers…
The whole thing slowly turned from a problem to a nightmare. Strangles got eventually confirmed at the stables with more than 2/3 of horses becoming ill over following weeks. Although I was hearing that my measures were more than enough to continue my work as usual, I started to doubt myself.
As the affected stables remained opened for business ( I still have no idea why the vet didn’t order temporary closure) I continued to work there whilst dropping most of other jobs. In the end of the day, if for whatever reason a horse at one of my other, healthy stables became ill I would forever regret my decision to work regardless of danger.
That was a pretty dark period of quite a few months. I love my job and love teaching so not being able to go out there and do my crazy amount of hours that I was used to was killing me. I also terribly missed my horse whom I couldn’t go and see either.
As far as I am aware, to this day there is no protocol for freelance instructors regarding multiple work places and infectious diseases. I guess it is down to each and every person’s honesty to report they work at an affected yard. Although I endured some significant financial hardship at the time and was told by the owners of affected place that if I wasn’t so naive and informed others I could have worked as normal, I wouldn’t do anything different.
I would, however, like to see some support network available both for freelance workers and the staff at affected places as it was a very sad time with young girls looking after seriously ill, seriously suffering horses.
Why this story all of a sudden?
Well, yesterday I received a message…I get a lot of spam nowadays but I appreciate networking and enjoy it so if someone has something interesting to say, I keep on reading 🙂 This particular message took me back to those dreadful several month in 2010!
It was a product presentation and the more I read the more difficulties from “my strangles year” I remembered. As I finished reading, looking up the website and checking up on recommendations I knew my life, and perhaps life of the yard affected, could have been rather different if I had that product back then.
As it sounds so incredible I am going to extend this post further and let you have more information:
Equilyptus is revolutionising Bio Security within the equine world. It eliminates odours, kills bacteria and germs allowing you and your horse to be free from spreading contagious and infectious diseases such as STRANGLES, RINGWORM and EHV plus many more. It is also effective against THRUSH, MUD FEVER and SWEET ITCH
Equilyptus is specifically designed to be used by vets and such like for Bio Security when travelling from yard to yard and horse owners when Temporary Stabling, even stud farms and racing yards. Use directly on you, your clothes, equipment and any other surface even bedding. Also tack, blankets, mangers and smaller areas where bacteria, germs and flies collect. When used correctly on you, in your yard, stable and transportation it will not only encapsulate all dust particles but also inhibit and stop the spread of bacteria germs fungal spores and viruses
According to Olympic Champion Tim Stockdale, “if you own a horse you need Equilyptus all year round. It’s Brilliant!!!” It is also endorsed by Olympic bronze medallist Caroline Powel and Margot Tiffany BHSI who was on the board of Directors of the British Horse Society.
What is so special about Equilyptus and what are its unique selling points?
100% money back guarantee to destroy all odours. Kills 99.9% of bacteria Destroys fungal spoors Effective against thrush Effective against mud fever Effective against EHV and many more viruses Fantastic coat shine Safe on clothes fabric leather and any surface Safe on human skin Neutral Ph Balance Non toxic No alcohol Non hazardous Non irritant Non carcinogenic Safe on any animals No shelf life Contains the natural oil from the eucalyptus leaf Encapsulates dust particles Environmentally friendly Fully biodegradable
Now, do you understand how reading the above caused some turmoil in my memories?!
Please tell me if you had used this product? I am seriously thinking of buying this.
Somewhere between all the arenas and horses and riders are the hours of travel and miles of views. This year might be manic and hectic but it comes with its very own dose of memorable, catchable moments 🙂 I am hoping to re-visit them at some point when I stop running around like a mad person! For now, hope you enjoy 🙂
I started blogging in 2007 by setting up a diary for my freelancing pursuits. It became a very genuine, honest account of a not always straight forward journey to a place I wanted to be at. I decided to stop publishing that blog in 2012 (more on this later) and set up one that was less about just me and more about everything grassroots equestrian sport related.
That’s how this blog came to life as part of my Aspire Equestrian Riding Academy. In its current form it’s only a baby (not even two months old!) and with it I am learning to use a different blogging platform (have previously used blogger and an integrated version of wordpress on Aspire’s site).
I appreciate every single person who reads and leaves comments on here. I am old enough to remember the world without Internet and as a knowledge greedy person I am incredibly grateful for an opportunity to write, read and chat so freely about things I am passionate about.
Ok, here we go with the Award!
Here are the rules of Liebster Award:
Thank the person who nominated you and include a link back to their blog. List 11 random facts about yourself. Answer the 11 questions given to you. Create 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate. Choose 11 bloggers with 200 or fewer followers to nominate and include links to their blogs. Go to each blogger’s page and let them know you have nominated them.
Here are Suzie’s questions and my answers to them: