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.

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)