Why we're here

We are taking a stand against horse slaughter returning to the US and are striving to stop the transportation of horses to other countries for slaughter. Some of us are working in those other countries as well.

We are taking this stance as Pagans and Heathens, at a time when it seems some have decided that eating slaughtered horse meat in ritual is somehow cool, edgy and "ancestral." Therefore we want to show that that minority does not represent all of the Pagan and Heathen communities. Many of us worship Horse Deities, many of us are horse people who may see our horses as sacred charges who we care for to honor these Deities. Not by killing but by striving to give them good lives.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

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Saturday, August 24, 2013


Mustang! Say the word and for most people it conjures the image of a muscle car. Mustang! The word has this feeling for freedom and power. Everyone wants a mustang right? Me too!

I confess of all the horses I have ever ridden I love mustangs the most. If I was offered a beautiful perfectly trained (discipline of your choice) horse or a freshly rounded up mustang, I’d go with the latter. They are built to survive, they are smart, sure footed, thick boned and free from human breeding stupidity.

I have had the privilege of owing two Bureau of Land Management (BLM) mustangs. I didn’t actually get these guys from the BLM, they were always from a second or third owner. So I haven’t had to deal with the regulations one has to meet to be able to adopt a BLM horse.

There are quite a few regulations:

An outside corral with a minimum of 400 square feet (20x20) per animal. Corral should not be too large (more than 50x50), as animals are easier to gentle in smaller corrals.

        All fences and gates must be at least 6 feet high for wild horses over the age of 18 months. Five foot high fences are allowed for gentled horses, yearlings, and burros.

·         Fencing material should be 2x6 inch wooden planks spaced no more than one foot apart, rounded pipes, poles, or similar materials that do not pose a hazard to the animal. Small mesh, heavy gauge, woven wire fencing with a 2x6 inch board along the top, center and bottom is acceptable. No barb wire, no electric wire, no T-posts, no high-tensile tubing. Once gentled, the animals may be maintained in pastures or in box stalls with daily turnout.

·         Shelters can be a three-sided shed attached to the corral, or box stall in barn attached to corral, allowing animal to move freely between the corral and shelter. Shelter or stall space should be at least 12 X 12 feet per animal.

Sounds great doesn’t it? Sounds like the BLM is really on the ball and really cares about these living legends right? On the front page of their website they even have this cute little quote:

An Act Of Congress
 "Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; (and) that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people ..."

(Public Law 92-195, December 15, 1971)

As with anything if you think the government gives a shit, you would be dead wrong!

Lets take a look at one of their notorious holding facilities shall we? Palomino Valley Center 20 miles north of Reno/Sparks, Nevada (probably where my current horse came from).

“The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) public workshop on August 6, 2013 in Reno was a pitch session for the agency’s point of view that shade is not necessary at the Palomino Valley Center (PVC). The facility is the largest wild horse and burro short-term holding, adoption and processing center in America.

PVC resembles a feedlot–fattening up wild horses before probable slaughter for human consumption. Even so there is no shelter for the close to 2,000 captive wild horses, including pregnant mares and foals, at the huge facility.” Link to full text.

Didja catch that? In the requirements to adopt a Mustang or Burro you have to provide a shelter, yet the BLM has stated that at their Palomino Valley holding facility they don’t really need shelter.

At a recent auction held in Fallon Nevada; at the Fallon Livestock Exchange, or as most of us call it, the Fallon Slaughter auction. At first the U.S. Forest Service postponed the round of up the horses that would end up at Fallon. THEN the Paiute Shoshone tribe(s) didn’t seem to get the message and continued with the round up.  Now the problem here is that tribal lands, Forest Service and BLM lands are all adjacent here. If you know anything about horses they move around quite a bit and don’t really care about lines on a map. What I am sure has happened is that some of the BLM Mustangs, which are protected moved on to tribal and Forest Service lands. Thus the Forest Service and BLM allowed the round up of the very horses, which are protected, by the tribe.
The dark area is tribal land, the green is Forest Service and the salmon area is BLM land, map found here

Then there was a big hullabaloo where people could come claim their branded horses but the unbranded ones would go to the auction. Which ones do you think the BLM Mustangs were? So these horses that ARE protected were most likely sent to slaughter. Rescue organizations have rescued what they could but couldn’t save them all.

Oh wait, there is more…

During these round ups (authorized or not) they use helicopters and motorcycles to round up the horses. Some horses I believe are quite literally run do death, regardless of the cause of death some of the horses that are rounded up die.

 How many you ask? Well that is the $4,000,000 question. See BLM employs some individuals with questionable math skills to report the number of deceased horses. Their mortality reports vary wildly from the rendering company receipts. There is also no control over disposal of the bodies. Sometimes they use landfills, and one landfill reported the tonnage of horse carcasses, which estimating the average weight of a horse was shockingly different from what the BLM reported.  For more info go here

Bottom line, the BLM doesn’t care, to them the horses are a nuisance. They won’t provide shade, they just cart the carcasses off and won’t report any real statistics. They just want to get the horses off the BLM land and gone somewhere else.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Why should horses have a special status?

In sparing match I had with a fellow Heathen, I had stated that horses were “companion” animals to which that person stated that was a point frustrated them because it assumes all other animals are road kill. This is a comment I have seen over and over, also the “what is the difference between a horse, an elk, a cow, a dog..... etc. None. They are all animals and can all be a food source...”

I don’t believe that the love of horses means all other animals are road kill, however I do believe that horses have a special status in human culture; it’s just that most humans have forgotten what they owe horses.
I’d like to list out a few things that through the grace of the gods or just the make-up of horses have caused them to be our partners in building civilization.

I should probably save warfare to last, but this is what inspired this article for me. As a child I my dad had a couple movies that I was amazed by and scared by. One was Gallipoli and the other was the Light Horseman. Of the two my father liked the Light Horseman better, or I remember seeing that one the most.
This particular movie was centered on the Australian 4th and 12th Light Horse Brigades and the “last successful” cavalry charge that occurred on October 31, 1917 WWI at the battle of Beersheba. Of course they put in the exciting conclusion of the mounted soldiers riding down on the Turkish artillery. I always found this terrifying, because I sure would not have wanted to be the Turks in this instance.

One would think that this was the last time that horses were used in modern warfare, and one would be wrong. Horses were used in WWII when the Germans were unable to create any motorized transport because its factories were needed to produce tanks and aircraft they used around 2.75 million horses, a few more than were used in World War I. Though these horses were not used in combat there were merely used to transport equipment.
The only remaining operationally-ready, fully horse-mounted regular regiment in the world, today, is the Indian Army's 61st Cavalry. Of course horses are used today by the Police Department and search and rescue.

 “The horse, with beauty unsurpassed, strength immeasurable and grace unlike any other, still remains humble enough to carry a man upon his back.”  ~Amber Senti
Something I would think few would know about is a “Pit Pony,” this is an equine (I’ve seen photos of ponies, horses and mules) that were used in mining. I’m sure the size of the mine had a lot to do with the size of equine used. This seems not to have been very common in the U.S., but more prevalent in Britain. The last mine in the U.S. that equines were used in was closed in 1971.


Picture used from Museum Wales site.

 Sometimes these equines were housed underground, and even lowered down shafts to be moved to where they were needed. They, of course, would be used to haul the mine product from where it was collected to where it needed to be delivered, and then loaded on a wagon or in later years, trucks.  
(Pit Pony story here)
“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” ~Winston Churchill

 My mother had Encephalomyelitis when she was eight, this was during WWII. As a result the doctors told her parents that she would always be a runt and a weakling, so her parents sent her to horse camp. Ideally this was to toughen her up, it did the trick! This was also during the Polio era when parents would send their children to horse camp for Therapeutic Riding (thought I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t called that then!) .
Mom would tell me how kids would show up with braces and crutches and go home walking after spending a month riding horses. I don’t know how true that story is, but it’s one that I have grown up hearing.

I recently posted an article in the “Sacred HorseFacebook group about how Therapists were using horses to help people overcome anxiety, depression, grief and low self-esteem. Full article here.
There are even Guide horses for the blind! These are miniature horses, however, according to the Guide Horse.org website, “The Guide Horse Foundation was founded in 1999 as an experimental program to access the abilities of miniature horses as assistance animals. There is a critical shortage of guide animals for the blind and guide horses are an appropriate assistance animal for thousands of visually impaired people in the USA. ”

One little fella, Cuddles, even found his way on Oprah

 Picture found here.
These are a few of the things that horses have done for/with humans. We owe them quite a bit, least of which to be treated humanely and not be cruelly slaughtered! 80% of Americans seem to agree, but just go about their business as cogs in the corporate wheel and don’t see what some greedy assholes are doing to our ancient allies!


Friday, August 9, 2013

I like this Paula Bacon lady...

Every small-town mayor is bedeviled by something. For Paula Bacon of Kaufman, Texas, it was Dallas Crown, which slaughtered horses next door to her friend Mary Nash’s 40-acre farm off Highway 175.

Dallas Crown was shuttered during Bacon’s last term in office after a 20-year legal battle over environmental violations that constantly overwhelmed the city’s wastewater plant with horse blood and discharge. But news that horse slaughter plants may be returning to the U.S in 2012 has Bacon speaking out about what one horse slaughter plant with 46 non-unionized employees can do to a small town of 6,700 hard-working people...

Link to full Forbes article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/vickeryeckhoff/2012/01/10/texas-mayor-paula-bacon-kicks-some-tail/

Friday, August 2, 2013

Lost in translation

I sit in an air conditioned box, in front of a computer while its probably 104F out side. I just got in from the car, another air conditioned box, after returning from the store yet another air conditioned box with food and drink in, yeah you guessed it, boxes.

The reason I make this strange statement on a horse blog is because I think, "we" as modern Pagans/Heathens really can't understand what our ancestors were thinking or doing, I think it may be "lost in translation". Their life was much different. I have the luxury of sitting a climate controlled room eating food I didn't have to kill, process and cook. I just grabbed it off the shelf and threw it in a microwave. (Not good food for me, mind you, but that's a different post.)

Your mileage may vary, but in my experience there is this weird phenomenon, Pagans/Heathens come from the city while some of the most devout Christians I have ever encountered come from the country. It almost feels as if we Pagans are trying so hard to connect with something that our fellow Christian country dwellers (ironic, no?) are already in contact with but just don't see the same way we do.

I feel like those of us who have been around horses, have had a glimpse of what our ancestors would have understood about horses. However unless we want to go live with the Amish, I don't think most citified Pagans/Heathens are really going to truly understand what was going on with our ancestors and the horses, and why they would be so important. Even now, I have a horse, but I don't rider her to work. I drive my car out to her, rider her and then I get in my car and drive to work. I'm not dependent on her to get me places or to plow a field or to pack a hunted kill or to carry me into battle.

This whole "Horses were traditionally very important and holy animals and part of that was eating them," smacks of eclecticism to me. Just yanking that one piece of lore out and forgetting the rest. With no understanding of the relationship between horse and human being gained but just eating them. THAT relationship is the one you want to get to know if you want to get closer to your horsey ancestors.

There is a great deal of specifically Norse lore around eating horses, sometimes because there was nothing else, but most often times horses seem to have been included as the main course. The Icelanders kept herds of horses to eat. It seems strange to me while they are doing all this horse eating they also ate cattle, pigs, chickens etc why is eating horses so damn important to Pagans, when eating beef or lamb was probably just as prevalent to our ancestors? Specifically, the Icelanders ate fermented rotting shark meat, but it seems to me no one is running to try and re-create that tradition in the United States and Canada. (They still eat this in Iceland at certain festivals)

Just why is it that eating HORSE is so important while maybe the shark thing isn't? Well, it seems that there was a King Hákon who was a Christian king over Pagan/Heathen subjects. Presumably in an attempt at being diplomatic he attended a "Pagan" festival/feast where the main course was, you guessed it, horse. The King refused to eat the meat as it was believed that only Pagans consumed horse meat (Christian propaganda at the time, I'm sure). The Pagans asked him to eat the meat and he wouldn't then the asked him to eat the gravy served with the meat and he wouldn't do that, and they asked him to eat the fat and he wouldn't do that. Finally as the compromise they got him to hold his mouth over the cooking pot and let some of the steam rising off the horse meat go into his mouth. This was regarded as a pretty crumby compromise by both parties.

I believe the following year they all gathered again and King Hákon was goaded into eating some horse liver, but he had it wrapped in cloth so he wasn't actually biting the flesh. I wonder, probably like the Norse Pagans at the time, if he ate any of the horse meat at all.

Eating the horse flesh seems to be so taboo to the Christians of the time, one has to wonder if it wasn't because they weren't really putting a spin on it, using it to vilify the heathens at the time. It seems that Odin and Freyr may have been at the head of a horse cult and the consumption of horse meat is heavily associated with their worship. Thus being a symbol of Heathen Faith.

At the same time that Pagans/Heathens are eating horses they also had horses they use for divination. These horses were never knew work and were kept for the specific purpose of divination. They weren't slaughtered for divinatory purposes either. The future was divined by the way the moved or what they looked at, similar to flights of birds. I don't see anyone trying to resurrect THAT practice.

However there is a similar taboo concept with beef as well. Apparently King Óláfr was having a feast and there was a hooded stranger that was telling the king that a pagan King Ogvaldr had enjoyed drinking the milk of a certain cow. King Óláfr at some point lifted the strangers hood and found this man to be Odin who had apparently brought some beef to the feast. Part of the beef had been cooked! Whether the meat was spoiled because it was from the long dead cow OR if it was spoiled because a Pagan god brought it to a Christian feast one cannot say. As the tale goes the king then throws all the meat out so that they would not consume any of the questionable meat.

When I was a teen there was a young kid, who was part of the family who basically ran the town, who bragged to a friend of mine about being so tough he rode a horse to death during a round up. To me this kid was a moron, he killed a useful animal either through bravado or an inability to determine there was something wrong with the horse. My opinion on this desire of eating horse meat to reconnect with the ancestors comes down to is Pagan/Heathen bravado or pissing contest to see who is more hard core! Who is the REAL Heathen? The guy who eats horse meat?

Now the addendum... I'm against inhumane slaughter of any animal, not just horses. I do NOT think you are more of a badass Heathen if you eat horses. You are a badass Heathen if you are your deeds.


Contributing sources
Riding To The Afterlife:
{M.A. In Medieval and Renaissance Studies}

The Prose Edda (Penguin Classics: 1970)

Agricola and Germania by Tacitus, James Rives and Harold Mattingly (Penguin Classics: 2010)

Viking Age Iceland by Jesse Byock (Penguin Classics:2001)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Ceffyl who?

Ceffyl is the Welsh word for horse. Words in Welsh often have a gender assigned to them (kinda like French and Spanish, but different -- they don't have the strange mutations). By the time I realized "ceffyl" also had a masculine gender, it was too late. The name stuck. So I'm a female Ceffyl, gramatically incorrect -- a funny thing for a writer. Some how fitting, though.

Like other people here, a large part of my life has been devoted to horses. We had our first horse when I was in elementary school. Later, my family had an Arabian breeding farm. The breeding program was very selective for producting elegant athletes who were pretty, intelligent, and athletic. Careful breeding. (Breeding philosophy is a whole different post.)

The majority of horses I've had (and have) are Arabians. I'm currently owned by two bay mares, Prize (age 28) and Kasane (age 7), and one gray mare, Rajiyyah (age 12). I mainly ride Kasane and Rajiyyah dressage. I still ride Prize periodically, but she is mostly ridden by little kids learning to ride. The picture below shows Rajiyyah (left) and Kasane (right) being very polite.

Kasane is the one I spend the most time with and am closest to. She's working on (almost!) Training Level dressage, basic jumping, trail riding, gymkhana, and side saddle. Kasane, in particular, knows that she is the Center of the Universe. All she has to do is look at me with those big eyes. Cannot resist the cuteness.

I lost one mare two years ago. Isis was the center of my world for 18 years. She had the nickname of the "Miracle Mare" and The Bay Wonder Mare(™) because she survived two cases of laminitis, metabolic issues, colic surgery, and EPM. The summer before she died, I felt her hand me over to Kasane. It is a strange thing, feeling one horse step back on purpose and let another fill the void. Isis knew her time was coming. Her story is filled with miracles and heart break. 

I ride a bunch of different styles. The style I use depends upon what my horse likes. Kasane likes dressage and jumping (so I'm tackling my fear of jumping because she has so much fun). I am eclectic in how I work with them: I try to listen to my horses and use whatever method and techniques create the clearest communication. It's usually a combination of natural horsemanship, intuition, deity work, and trying really hard to remain patient and stress-free. 

Much of my horse experience has not been directly related to horse slaughter issues. Prize's dam (a yearling at the time) was in line to be slaughtered when she was rescued. Slaughter is a topic that horrifies me on multiple levels. Just like horse abuse of any kind, except there is another level of blasphemy and sacrilege and cannibalism added in. 

Like others here, I honor a Horse Goddess and try to have a better understanding of Her by studying the context in which She was originally known. I do a lot of research and reading and then use this information as inspiration for my own practices.

I'm looking forward to reading and posting on this blog with the other horse people. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Redemption: Old Eyes Tell Stories

The barn where I board is full of wise old eyes: half of the horses are over 20. My old girl, Prize, is 28 and still teaches people (myself included) about riding and jumping. She's a bright bay Arabian mare with three white socks, a snip, and a blaze. She's not typey for an Arabian (most people think she's part Quarter Horse), but she is fearless and enthusiastic. The riding instructor at the barn--who previously was never a fan of Arabians--cherishes Prize as one of the best horses on the farm.  

For the first nine years of her life, she was mine: a $2 mare my family won in a raffle and was immediately claimed by me. She was the second horse I ever trained to ride. Over the years, she blossomed into a willing partner to try all of the crazy stuff teenaged riders do: medieval horse games (like ring spearing), trail riding, barrel racing and pole bending in hunt seat attire, jumping, Western, side saddle, driving, hunt seat, and dressage. Together we had the confidence to do anything. We never pinned very high but we had fun trying. 

After college, I tried to support her and board her. There comes a point when what is best for the horse comes first: I had to let her go because I couldn't afford her upkeep. When I sold her, I wrote a five page letter explaining her pedigree, her training, all of the cues I used when we rode--everything I could think of that I would want to know if I was the one blessed to buy Prize.
Prize, summer 2012
I let my baby go. As the years passed and other horses came into my life, I always tried to provide the best possible care for my horses because I never wanted to be in the position I was in with Prize. I was always haunted by the memory of how I had failed Prize and how I had to give her up. That guilt drove my career so I could have enough to support my horse.

When her 20th birthday came and went, I held a small memorial for her because odds were, I figured, something had probably happened to her. I wished for a happy life for her and hoped that anyone who had her loved her as much as I had. 

More years passed and I moved to across states, back to the same area where I had lost Prize so many years before. I never lost the feeling of having failed my favorite mare.

Three years ago, my mom received an email asking if she had a daughter who had won a horse in a raffle. This author of the email wanted to contact me because her daughter was going off to college. The family didn't want Prize to be inactive, so they were finding homes for their daughter's horses.

Prize was being boarded at a barn almost exactly halfway between my house and the barn where my other mare was boarded. She was 24 and looked much the same as she always had. Her back was swayed but the sparkle in her eyes was still there.
Reunion day: Prize, fall 2009. First time I had seen her in 15 years. 
The letter I wrote out of sorrow and pain ultimately brought Prize back to me. The letter had followed Prize from owner to owner throughout her life away from me. The lady who had Prize said that she knew someone who had written a letter like that had loved Prize. She offered to give me Prize.

I was torn. I wanted to give Prize the type of life she deserved but I already had a two mares and I wasn't sure I could support Prize. If I took Prize on without being sure I could pay her board, I wouldn't have learned my lesson that caused me to have to sell Prize in the first place. 

I told the story to the people at my barn. At my barn, the average lesson horse's age is 18-25. They have (at most) one lesson a day, and maybe a lesson every other day. They are like the grandparents of the herd. Prize, 24 at the time, could have a grand retirement teaching young kids about riding. The barn owners and I figured out that we could make this happen for Prize. She could earn her keep and I would cover farrier and vet costs. If (and when, given her age) something serious happened that required a vet, there would not be any heroic measures.
Prize, summer 2012
Prize is 28 now and has been at the barn where I board for three years. Like the other older horses, she is valued for her experience and patience. She walks quietly with the young riders. When they can't figure out how to steer her, she walks to the instructor and waits. When she sees me with my riding helmet on, she perks up. There is a spring in her step when I get on. It's Mom and we are going to have some FUN now! We've had to hand gallop a few times around the ring to get her to calm down before we started our jumping lesson. (Yes, she is now my teacher too.) 

When I talk to other people about how their horses are old and how they need to find a replacement, it makes me sad if the person's attitude is one of replacing a car or truck. Some people--like the woman who reunited me with Prize--find loving homes for their older horses. Others, though, don't seem to realize the gem they have in their back yard. That these grand old horses have given us so many years and so much love. They deserve the best possible care and active life style that they are capable of.

For me, this old girl is a blessing in my life. I have the rarest of opportunities to correct a mistake I made so many years ago and give her the retirement and life I always wanted to give her. 

She is my redemption.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Not bad for a horse that nearly died...

So a funny thing happens when you get a couple of horse people together... the horse stores begin to flow. It doesn't matter if is an English rider and a Western rider, we have one thing in common, our love of horses.

With this in mind I have been thinking over the past horses I've had the privilege to know. As I seek out rescue stories, many seem to have that quality. While I could share horse stories all day long, and sometimes I feel a little confined. People in my life aren't horse people. It confounded my mother that I married a computer tech instead of another horse person.

But I digress... also known as squirreling in some circles.

When I was somewhere between eight and ten I was taken to see barrel racing. I suppose my parents figured I should get involved with something to keep me out of trouble. (I have no idea why it wasn't 4-H). I decided it looked like fun and it would be fun to try.

My horse at the time was a little black horse that had a terrible habit of biting named Beaux (Bo the French way). He bit me on several occasions, and I don't remember but I was hanging around with some kids in the local arena and Beaux was my hero. One of the kids wasn't very nice to me and Beaux bit him in the knee!

While Beaux was a nice trail horse and a nice horse for a kid, he probably wasn't barrel racing material. Since we had at least fifteen head of horses at any time there was probably one suited to just about anything I might have ever wanted to do.

See that's the thing with a dude string, we bought the dregs of horse society, many of whom had a previous life as a competition horse. These horses had just become to old, lame or just plain didn't win enough.

There were three candidates for my future venture into gymkhana (games on horseback). Ute, Comanche and Pal.

Ute was a beautiful line back dun. His coloring was perfect, nice soft brown with a dark line down his back, and then a little darker mane and tail. He had a nice temperament, we could put anyone on him, they could have a freaking crying meltdown and he would just plod along with out batting an eye.

I believe that Ute was a kill pen special. He had a little problem... First he had a broken nose, not sure how that happened, but he had two large welts where his nose had healed. I don't remember reining being a big deal in the early 80's, but Ute had to be at least middle aged so was reining big in the late 70's? Well whatever he had been trained for, they had trained him to do sliding stops. He had done so many sliding stops that his hocks were fused. So for us it would be like our knees didn't bend anymore. So as you can imagine he had a rather strange gate. He wasn't lame, per se but he was only ever good for trail riding after his injury. So cross him off the list.

Next up was Comanche, HE was a buckskin, not a large horse but he was a pretty little thing. I think he was on the list because he was youngish and fast, but I don't think he was trained. See, Comanche had a little problem being a run away. On a certain bend in the trail or when ever he felt like it he would just take off for home at a dead run. Now he wasn't hard to stop, you just had to actually TRY to stop him. When he took off most people were to scared to actually pull back on the reins. My folks thought that he might be to much horse for me at that age, so he was a tentative.

Lastly there was Pal, I don't remember if he was a kill pen special. We were told that his original name as Apollo, he was a creamy colored palomino, but it wasn't always this way. See when you are going to buy a horse people want to cheat you an they sure did with Pal.

Now I don't remember how this went down but Pal was so sick when he was sold to us he was nearly dead gentle. I believe that he was colicing (or he was so sick that colic was a bonus) when we bought him but he was drugged up so we didn't know. Until he went down, and it was bad. I don't know why he lived, he rolled so much he rubbed all the hair off his back.

My first memory of him was him defecating blood... No literally. I remember as a child dry heaving when I saw this. Some how my parents nursed him back to health. Once he was over his sickness they still couldn't use him because he had no hair on his back! He was a golden palomino but after recovering from is illness he was a cream color.

Unfortunately we also learned, he was NOT the most gentle horse. He was kind of a dick and picked fights in the line. He would bite the horse in front of him an kick the one behind.

The one thing he had going for him was my parents thought he would be quieter than Comanche because he was 20 years old.

One day my parents got me on Pal an we were living at Pantano Stables which conveniently had an arena. At the time of this event I didn't know that Pal was HIGHLY trained, he was a parade horse and a sport horse, just about any showy thing you can do with a horse he could do. He was no stranger to competition in an arena either.

This fateful day I took Pal into the arena for the first time, I walked him around, he was fine. My dad said well, why don't you try loping him, just nice slow lope.

OK, so I did whatever to attempt a lope and he leaped forward into a dead run. While I had been riding for a few years up to this point this caught me off guard. I flopped forward and then face planted into the arena dirt.

I'm a little fuzzy on the chain of events after that but I remember mom holding Pal while my dad was putting me on him. I started screaming that my dad was trying to kill me! They got me on him and the led him over to the hitchrail.

Rule #1 of riding horses, if you fall off and don't require immediate medical attention, get back on!
I spent the evening with a mild concussion. The very next morning I thought my parents would be mad at me... Not that, that makes any sense, but I fell of in a big way. So in a meek little voice I asked my mom if I could go ride Beaux. She said she was so relieved, she thought I would never get back on a horse after my fun in the arena the previous day.

It seems to me that it was a couple of years before Pal and I tried that again. We were in Payson at that point. For an old man he kicked ass! I won third my first year competing in the gymkhana series and I ended up winning all-around the next year. Pal LOVED competition, I think he liked it more than me!
Thiefed from http://www.cowanbrothers.com/ it's not me

While there are more stories I could tell, not bad for a horse that nearly died when we first got him.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A little about me, Skullarix

Hello, my online handle is Skullarix. With this name one might be surprised to learn of my background with horses. I am nearly 40 and I have been around horses all my life.

One of my earliest memories was riding double with my mom, with my hands griping her belt as we rode up a steep hill. Another memory is when I turned five I was permitted to ride by myself on the horse (I got to control it instead of riding double). I remember the first ride alone, it was a trail ride. My folks had given me strict instructions not to talk to anyone! I remember some lady, who must have known me asked how I was doing and I wouldn't answer her!

Looking back I'm a little mortified that my parents allowed me to ride as the soul rider of the horse when I was five!

My parents owned a "horse rental stable" or to those in the biz a "dude string." Now how we ended up there is not important right now. What is important to note is that we needed horses, cheap, lots of them and gentle. We visited countless back yards, ranches and even the kill pens to find them.

My father never felt he was that good with horses. Sure he could ride them and was damn good, he was an old guy when he came to own horses. As my folks liked to say, they didn't bounce so good anymore. My dad also said that it took seven horses to get a good one, because he didn't have the stamina or knowledge to "gentle" them. Now I can't say what happened to the ones we didn't keep, I know we sold them to homes but some went to the kill pens or "killers" as we called them. I shudder at the thought, and I like to think we rescued more than we ever sent. (Perhaps I shall tell some of our rescues stories here later)

I don't think my folks ever wanted to send horses to the killers, I guess they felt they didn't have a choice when they did. Thus I was sent to camps and clinics where I, who was a little more bouncy, could learn how to train in a gentle way. My dad wanted me to be able to take ANY horse and make it into a solid citizen that could be ridden on the trail.

While it cannot be forgiven that my family did send horses to slaughter, and I have to live with the memory of that. What I can do now is try to stop the slaughter and rehabilitate the lost souls that have been abused and neglected.

On a personal level when I have not had time to work on stopping horse slaughter I have donated money to agencies that protected horses or horse rescue.

There are several horse rescue facilities near me, I have looked in to volunteering at them, but my work schedule never allowed me actual time to do this. However with recent changes, I am once again looking into volunteering.

While one on one a horse is not helpless and is not a pet, event the smallest horse can put YOU in a world of hurt. Its when we humans suck them into the machine of corporate greed that they become helpless. We need to give them a voice!

I do currently own a horse, her name is Fionnabhair "Fin" for short. She is a BLM adopted mustang. While I did not adopt her from the BLM I did get her from some people who wanted to use her as a brood mare to make mules. I think she had other ideas about this, since she never got pregnant and that is why she was sold. The people I bought her from got her from a woman who was hard on her luck and traded her for an undisclosed amount of bags of dog food!

Monday, July 15, 2013

"You will never understand the true meaning of sacrifice"*

I've neglected this blog and I found myself alone working on it. Now that I no longer am, I hope to also post more often.

Meanwhile, anyone reading this probably is well aware that there has been a lot going on regarding horse slaughter in the US.  From a crazy slaughter house worker posting videos of himself shooting a horse, to state laws allowing slaughter being passed, to state laws banning horse slaughter being passed, to battles with whether inspection must be allowed, to the Agricultural Appropriations FY2014 getting through both the Senate and the House committee votes with amendments banning inspection, to S. 541/H.R. 1094—The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act getting more co-sponsors in both Senate and House. Both bills have a ways to go yet, so please do not be shy about contacting your Senators and Representatives to make sure they stand for the horses (or to thank them if  they're already on it!...never forget to thank them when they're already doing it).

What I'm here to post about now, however, is back on the whole  Pagans Ate Horses Thing  ...yet AGAIN! And this time more closely associated with my personal path, with Macha and Her Sister and involves people I had mistakenly tried to be friendly allies with. A lot of those who focus on eating horse meat are Heathens and there is evidence for it not being uncommon among early Germanic peoples, but it seems that despite the obvious rarity of it among the Celts that some who claim Celtic practice (even if actually very eclectic...which was always a problem I had but, yeah, try to be friendly and open and what do you get....) seem to believe it's something they should bring back.  Even if it never, you know, was a thing (but, again, there is a lot of holes in their poor research).

I'm debating putting the link here, at this point I won't...if people ask I may add it later. I don't want to add to this group's publicity. 

I am  not opposed to ritual sacrifice of food animals, but do feel it needs to be only food animals. Animals that you eat already. I raise chickens and I do make the killing of our meat birds a sacred act.  The very nature of what makes something a sacrifice is that it is done in a sacred manner and humanely, by us.

It is not a sacrifice if the animal is slaughtered at a commercial slaughterhouse.  Especially when the animal is tortured, which horses are as, despite lies told by some, it's impossible to humanely kill a horse in these hell houses. And a Canadian horse advocate has confirmed on my Flying with the Hooded Crow FB page that in the Providence this group was in, it's the only way to legally kill horses.

Are companion animals "fair game" for sacrifice?  I do think it would be a very bad precedent.  After all, if it become acceptable with one companion animal, horses, then why not others such as dogs and cats.  There is perhaps more evidence of dog eating  in Celtic culture than for horses. We also have the "chewing the raw meat of a pig, dog or cat" as part of the formula for inducing imbas; perhaps given how scary the idea of raw pork is some might think it safer to go with dog or cat.  How many in this group would have participated in the ritual killing of one of their dogs and sat down to feast on it, which given an Morrùgan's canine associations makes as much sense as eating a horse to "honor" a Horse Goddess.

And at least if it was one of their dogs, it would be theirs. Making it actually more of a sacrifice.  At no point in their post or their blather on my FB page, did either woman mention that she raised the horse with honor, deep care, as a true votive animal before sacrificing her/him. At no point did they say why this was a sacrifice.

Because it wasn't. Feeling a little "torn up" because an animal species is your "power animal" is not the same as holding an animal you raised with love from infancy and offering up her life.  It isn't actually giving up a damn thing! It's just taking a life. But don't get me wrong, I'm not remotely condoning actually killing your pets for sacrifice. But don't kill someone else's former pet either!

If you want to discuss animals and sacrifice, you have to start with caring for the votive animal. This, of course, becomes the actual sacrifice.  It can entail moving to a location which is better for the animals but might separate you from friends, career and other conveniences.  Giving up your lifestyle, concerts, parties, various activities. You may find yourself out at 2 am in -40 degree F weather walking a colicing horse. You

might find yourself melting in 90 degree weather with extreme humidity trying to cool that same horse, again colicing six months later.  It may mean losing friends because they have no interest in that which has taken over your life....or, should you be dedicated to stopping slaughter, because you realize they support it in one way or another and are too loathsome to want in your life. Certainly, life not dedicated to caring for horses as a sacred task is easier.

Eating a dish of meat from an animal you did not know and that someone else killed, no matter how much  you tell yourself it was "ethically" done, is not a sacrifice. It's taking, not giving. To do so in the name of a Horse Goddess, well, really, is it Pagans who are supposed to eat their Gods?  Seems that's someone else. Not to mention all those medications that make their meat unsafe for human consumption. So claiming it's also to over come "health issues," well, OOPS!  Have fun being poisoned for your health then.

As a dedicant of the War Goddesses, Badb, Macha and the Morrígan, I feel I can also address certain other issues. Like "the Morrígan told me to do it" and what we might find ourselves asked to do. There are, of course, Pagans who clearly feel that if a God/dess demands it we must do it.  Perhaps there are some Gods this is true of, again, the Christian seems to operate this way according to some. Oh, wait, not always....seems there was some guy named Abraham who found himself rather conflicted.

Actually, an Morrígan, who, despite it being written late and by those who may not have fully understood it, we do have some story about how She interacted with a dedicant. Because that is clearly what Cú Chuainn is, when the stories are read from a warrior's perspective. But as those in question, along with an apparent majority of Pagans, have otherwise shown themselves to be unable to understand those stories by claiming She punished Cú Chulainn for rejecting Her, this is often lost.

But, no, think about what the sexual advances of a Sovereignty Goddess means, if you can get away from self-centered concepts "sovereignty."  It means easy victory.  If he accepted this he would have gotten that, his glory forever lost, he may have lived a longer life with no fame, She'd have turned Her back to him. Instead he chose, as he had as a child, the fame and She aided him by Herself raising odds against him in battle. What you, a non-warrior, think is a reward is punishment to one such as he was.   (I already have a post planned, it will be awhile yet, for my warrior blog which will include more discussion about this and it's already discussed in an article I have awaiting publication.)

 So, if we choose to accept that this woman was told by the Morrígan or Macha to eat horse meat, her blind obedience, when she says she was conflicted, sounds like a seriously failed test.  To go against what you claim is your nature in service to a War Goddess is truly an insult to Her. This is a Goddess who challenges and expects to be challenged. We do not worship her on our knees and go against our values to do so. Therefore I do hope that these people, who also think She possess them yet somehow She is unable to pronounce Her title correctly for them, are just delusional.  Otherwise, they are surely lost.

As I have seen others become loss. They often do not know it, but others watch them stumble and play act. It's sad.

We do not worship a Horse Goddess by eating horses! It's utterly insane. We worship by sacrificing ourselves to care for and defend Her children. And we will speak against those who are so warped and twisted that they kill what is sacred!

*quote from the Wicker Man (original)

Toronto city council unanimously passes motion in support of Bill C-322

I'm new here, I will post an intro on myself later but I thought this was important to post:
from the "Canadian Horse Defence Coalition's Blog"
A few weeks ago, the CHDC posted an item regarding Councillor Michelle Beradinetti’s push to have Toronto Council agree to a Motion in support of the federal Private Members’ Blll C-322 – An Act to amend the Health of Animals Act and the Meat Inspection Act (slaughter of horses for human consumption). 
 The significance that Canada’s largest city adopted this Motion cannot be understated. The Motion recommends the Government of Ontario to prohibit the sale, movement and shipment of horses for the purpose of slaughter.  This would stop the sale of horsemeat at markets and restaurants, as well as ban the shipment of horses through Ontario, which is a major avenue for transport from the U.S. to Quebec slaughter plants.  The sale of horses to kill buyers at OLEX and other livestock auctions would end.  It would also provide the impetus for other provinces to follow suit, thus implementing the ban province by province.
We can now tell you that Toronto City Council has passed her Motion!
Thank you to Councilor Beradinetti and all supporters who emailed Toronto Councillors with their letters of support.
The Motion (MM36.14) calls upon both the Ontario provincial and (Canadian) federal governments to adopt Bill C-322.
Below are links to Councillor’s Beradinetti’s Motion.  The report.  The report in PDF format.
The CHDC is once again requesting your help in persuading both levels of government the need for adopting Canada’s anti horse slaughter bill.
PROVINCIALLY, your letters of support for Bill C-322 can be directed to your Ontario MPP and/or all MPPs who can be found here.
Please do include the Premier of Ontario and Ontario’s Minster of Agriculture, the Hon. Kathleen Wynne (minister.omaf@ontario.ca) in your emails and letters.
FEDERALLY, your letters of support can be directed to your MP and/or all MPs here.
Contact for federal officials as well:
Hon. Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Email: ritz.g@parl.gc.ca
WebsiteTel:  613-995-7080
Fax: 613-996-8472
Mr. George Da Pont, President, Canadian Food Inspection Agency 1400 Merivale Rd., Tower 1, Floor 6, Ottawa, ON K1A 0Y9
Email: george.dapont@inspction.gc.ca
Tel: 613-773-6000
Fax: 613-773-6060

Dr. Ian Alexander, Chief Veterinary Officer for Canada, CFIA
Email: ian.alexander@inspection.gc.ca
Tel: 613-773-7472
Fax: 613-228-6637
Dr. Martine Dubuc, Chief Food Safety Officer, CFIA
Email: martine.dubuc@inspection.gc.ca
Tel: 613-773-5722
Fax: 613-773-5797
The CHDC would like to thank you all for your continued support of Bill C-322.
If you would like to thank Councillor Beradinetti for bringing forth her Motion to Toronto Council, please email her here. (councillor_berardinetti@toronto.ca)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Time to stop the madness NOW!

With Oklahoma and New Mexico heading towards bringing horse slaughter for fun and profit back to the US, the European hidden horse meat insanity and some of my fellow Pagans apparently joining the call to bring killing horses back, it's long past time we get this stopped once and for all.
I was almost someone's dinner!

There are steps being taken. Recently Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA) has noted the need to get the USDA inspection ban back.  Today,Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC); Representatives Patrick Meehan (R-PA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) have issued the new S. 541/H.R. 1094—The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act.  Like the expired American Horse Slaughter Prevention Acts, this will ban the slaughter of horses for food in this country and their export to other countries for slaughter.

There are already two options to easily let your Senators and Representatives know you want them to cosponsor this bill, the ASPCA page and the HSUS page. Please use these today to let them know you want this! We need to keep pushing, no more bill dying in committee so that more horses die too!

ETA: I just got this link. It is for the Appropriations Committee, you can fax each member to let them know you want the defunding of horse slaughter inspection restored to the Agricultural Appropriations Bill. While we need a full ban that includes export, this will at least stop slaughter plants from starting in the US in the mean time. Faxing is free and online, no need for a fax machine. You can send five day, so it's three days to get through them all. But if you can do it, you can do all you want for $1.99 each. Or, of course, if you have a machine, you can use these numbers to do it the old fashion way.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

That Pagans Ate Horses Thing... Again!

In midst of the on going battle, the publicity of the European horse meat findings and the Oklahoma horse slaughter laws and following year which saw a new rise in US horses being slaughtered. Medievalist.net published a post about how Christians reviled horse meat as "pagan food."   This link has been going around the Pagan and Heathen social networks, often without real commentary from those posting it.

Fortunately, many comments I've seen (but it might have to do with the sort of people I choose to associate with and actually pay attention to) have been "well, yeah, whatever, I have plenty of reason to not eat horse meat all the same, thank you." (okay, not all are so politely put)  However, the people Lysippe has posted about before, well, eat this sort of thing up and are promoting this post as an excuse to start bringing up eating horse meat as a ancient Heathen practice and promote horse slaughter.Some others fall in between, mostly I think because for growing number of people horses are ideas, not animals. Maybe they even saw one once, but the fact that these are living beings who humans have had an interrelationships with for tens of thousands of years is just not real to them.

The Medieval.net post is, of course, specific to Anglo-Saxon England, of course. While I have some knowledge of Norse and Germanic practices, and there does seem to have been a good deal of horse eating there, I have a stronger background in the Celtic cultures. There is evidence of horse eating among the Pre-Christian Celts as well, although it is sparse and seems to have only been during specific rituals, not as part of the regular diet. It also is often in conjunction with ritual dog eating. (see for example, Miranda Green, Celtic Myths, University of Texas Press, 1993, pg. 61) I don't see a lot of people calling for the return of eating dogs to prove how Pagan they are.  Of course, our Pagan ancestors also did human sacrifice and took heads. There are just simply things we don't need to bring back.

There's a serious disconnect with the concept of eating horse meat as a sacred act and horse slaughter that those who are all happy about horse killing are not getting. Namely the sacred part. Our relationship with the horse has changed, we no longer depend on them, the way these people are thinking of killing them is far closer to Slaughterhouse Sue than the ancients would have. To kill a horse during the Iron Age would have meant killing a lifeline. It would not  have been taken lightly.

Even when these would be horse "sacrificers" talk about doing it themselves (because they don't understand the laws being discussed, to begin with) they show this great disconnect. In a friend's FB post awhile back one such person was going on about how "as soon as it was legal" he was going to buy a horse and kill "it." He actually made it quite clear, he wasn't going to have anything else to do with the horse. He'd just buy "it" and kill "it." Disassociated and cowardly.  But then others who know that the law is about slaughterhouses, about strangers running horses through chutes, cutting them up while they're still alive and awake, where they don't have too actually see it done, feel that that's just dandy way to get their "sacred meat." 

If you really want to honor the our ancestors' relationship with horses, you need to start with the actual relationship.  You need to start with caring for the animal, communicating with him or her. We need to start by creating the sacred relationship.Honor the Horse Goddesses by taking care of the horses. And there is no reason to move towards killing the animal to prove anything. But until an actual sacred bond is made, if you want to make an excuse to joyfully kill someone's pet that you bought with a lie, the remember that deep down some of us really want to bring back headhunting.

If eating someone's pet doesn't trigger any ethical response in you, do consider that you'll be eating a poisoned pet. We all routinely give medications which permanently make our horses unsafe for human consumption. Some of us who prefer to use more natural methods will at least sometimes opt for those poisons just for this reason. But most horse owners do not look for alternatives, anyway, the odds are high. You're looking at huge increase in cancer risk as well as an incurable blood disease. All so you can feel speshul.

Honestly, I wish I could be more eloquent on this, more persuasive, but the fact that there are people having a fucking happy dance over the idea of killing horses as some sort of proof of their Pagan status make me sick and furious beyond words. Literally beyond words. I'm not any happier seeing Christians use this ancient history to further revile us...and the two together are some sort of sick joke. So any Pagan posting on this and not taking a strong stand that we do not want to bring horse eating back is beneath contempt to me as well. Our horses are being tortured, if you don't stand against it, you're a part of their suffering.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Oklahoma slaughter bills and British Lasagna

I've been bad about maintaining this, so I assume that most of you have other, better sources, and know about the uproar in Britain and Ireland and then several other European countries with horse meat found in various "beef" products, including in fancy steakhouses, fast food restaurants, packaged products and more packaged products and schools. 'Bute tainted meat at that (face it, you eat horse meat you ARE eating the extremely dangerous drug).

Meanwhile, Oklahoma is well on it's way to bringing horse slaughter back to the US. To bring not only torture and hell for horses, not only 'bute tainted food to those who either deserve it or are unwittingly eating what they think is beef, but also crime, poverty and pollution to their neighborhoods.

I have been signing petitions, written letters and called the OK Gov's office.   I hope you are too.  You can find out more at Shut down Oklahoma Horse Slaughter Bills SB375 & HB1999.

Of course, we desperately need to get the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act going. But first, it appears, we need to get a new bill STARTED. Since the 2011 bill died this January, I have been unable to find anything about it. Write your Reps., tell them we want it and we want it DONE this time!  We can't keep fighting this a state at a time, we need to get this finished once and for all on the national level. Then there is no recourse, no way these money grubbing scumbags can push through.  And, yeah, if they do go ahead in OK, then I'll  rejoice at the financial disaster it will be for them because of their cruel shortsightedness.