Totilas and PETA vs the Horses and Donkeys of Gambia
Ok, the whole PETA-Toto thing really has me
I can't even explain myself, I'm so freakin disgusted, but I'm sure many of you get it. So here's my answer to PETA and their heartfelt concern for horse welfare in the German dressage arena:
The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust 333 Club
The 333 Club is our new initiative to fund the opening of a second Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust centre in The Gambia. The new centre will be based closer to the coastal areas, and will benefit urban working animals as well as those in more rural areas. Our existing centre has had fantastic results and has resulted in a great improvement in the welfare of working animals and we feel that it is now time for our work to reach further afield.
In order to open the new centre to the desired standard we need to raise roughly £100,000 and of course this requires some serious fundraising! So, after much deliberation and a long walk with the dogs, Heather devised the idea of the 333 Club. What this means is that we need 333 people (or clubs, groups, organisations) to raise just £333 each to reach our target. £333 is a feasible amount of money for anyone to raise with one or two small scale fundraising events or challenges, so we just need to find 333 people who are willing to accept the challenge!
Members of the 333 Club will be presented with a certificate of membership, will be welcome to visit our new centre when it is opened, and we are working on being able to provide members with other benefits and bonuses, particularly if they visit The Gambia. All members will also have their names (or name of their organisation, school, college, place of work) engraved on a plaque which will be on display at the new centre.
COTH is the top online horse forum in the US. Together we're a group of the most educated and experienced horse owners in the world. We truly CARE about the welfare of horses, donkeys and all equines. We live with them and love them every day, unlike many members of the public who are misled by the PR machines of wealthy "animal rights" organizations with political agendas.
We know what kind of care and attention horses and other equines need. We support many horse-related charities and rescues in our own country. We want to make a REAL difference in equine welfare, not just blow hot air about it.
I had never heard of this charity before, so I took a look at their website and I am impressed! They really do good work, helping both equines and their people.
My donation is in. I think this is a great idea.
Wow, just had a chance to check back on this thread and the page! Thanks so much, great start!
I'll admit, I threw this together last night in something of a miff, I happened to read about the PETA lawsuit at the same time I came across the articles about the Horse and Donkey Trust. The irony and hypocrisy of the PETA/Totilas thing just sickened me when I think of what actual good they might be doing for equines with all that effort and money.
But I've had a lovely email from Heather Armstrong, founder, thanking us for taking an interest. She sent me a link to their latest newsletter.
I'll urge everyone to read it. Frankly, it will put some things in perspective. I'm a dressage rider, and against rollkur, certainly--I don't see a need for it and I'm disappointed that one of my favorite riders, Matthias, has ended up going to Sjef for training.
But then I go to the GHDT page and see photos like this:
The local version of rollkur, shall we say--horses' and donkeys' tongues cut in half and deformed by Senegalese bits and ropes tied around the jaw, because the owners don't have anything else to use...
I'm committed now. Forget PETA, if they have to waste their time trying to do whatever the heck it is they're trying to do. The GHDT has been getting donated bits, as described on the page above, but in the newsletter, there's a description of a new bit initiative which will help both working equines and local youth:
Since we opened our centre we have been very grateful for the bits that people have donated to us, to exchange for the harsh Senegalese bits that cause horrific injuries to animal’s tongues and lips. We have always been aware that this is not the most sustainable option and have been actively looking for an alternative.
We are very excited to announce that we could have found just that! The President’s International Award is an educational programme for Gambian youths, enabling them to develop a range of skills, including metal work and fabrication. We approached them to enquire about working together to develop a kinder alternative to the widely available Senegalese bits. They were delighted with the idea and immediately set to creating straight bar snaffles.
After some initial tweaks to the original prototypes we now feel that the bits are acceptable for use and the first batch of locally made straight bar snaffles are now being issued by our mobile veterinary team. We are eagerly awaiting the response from the farmers themselves.
Collaborating with other organisations is, we believe, one of the keys to success, especially if everyone involved is able to benefit. This project means that youngsters gain valuable training in creating more humane bits, the project can earn an income, more humane bits will become more widely available throughout the country at a price easily affordable to Gambian farmers, and of course the animals and their owners will also benefit hugely. The majority of equine owners in The Gambia would gladly use a more humane bit but they have just never been widely available............ until now!
I would so love to harness the power of COTH to really help out work like this. I know we have our own groups to support, like Bluebonnet, and I would never want to take away from that, but as Alagirl said, just a small amount from many of our active members will add up fast. The sad fact is, there's so much to be done for horses, it's endless, which is just another reason why I'm so steamed at a criminal waste of energy and resources like this PETA lawsuit.
Nice initiative! My pony is in a mechanical hackamore precisely because folks here have never ridden in bits, just rough rope halters. He's to be a work pony and I'm afraid what a staffer with no concept of a bit might do by accident to his mouth with even a snaffle.
What I'm working on now is ordering in an improved packsaddle design the carpenters can see and examine, so they can try to reproduce it. The saddle sores here are awful because the saddles and pads are so poorly designed.
They were supposed to be designed to be used both as a riding saddle and a pack saddle, but the horse's back was considered the most important aspect of this design.
Model after it. Maybe smaller for donkeys. Considered a great saddle for the horse, although hard as a rock for the rider. I've ridden in one though, over long distances and they aren't bad. Add a blanket over or under and it really is useful.
Oliverreed's donation can buy a swingletree, which will improve things for horses and people both:
The majority of carts in The Gambia do not have swingle trees on them. A swingle tree can prevent a horses shoulders from becoming rubbed whilst they are pulling the cart, because it allows for the movement of the horse or donkey.
Local black smiths have been taught how to make swingle trees to enable them to boost their business, so not only are swingle trees helping the working animals, but they are also helping the Gambian black smiths.
Ok I couldn't find this thread the usual way, so I'm bumping after scrolling!
Continuing an overview of the work GHDT is doing with small donations:
PAIN RELIEF KIT - £10.00
Many of the animals seen at our mobile veterinary clinics are suffering from pain and we are able to provide them with essential, immediate pain relief as well as providing a full health check, follow up treatments and much needed advice to the owners.
Through providing pain relief we are able to immediately reduce the suffering of individual animals - an absolutely essential service to provide.
This world is just insane. Someone rides their horse deep and keeps it in a stall (managed I am sure to include hand walking, grazing, grooming, massage ect ect every day) and they are "abusive" while millions of the worlds working horses and donkeys suffer terrible cruelties and are desperately in need of help (along with their impoverished owners). I can't even begin to understand this...
Anyways I have a whole bunch of bits I will send...what a super idea!! Will donate too.
Thanks SO much, Donella! The more I study history, the more I see that there would be no western civilization, no internet, none of what we have today if we hadn't had horses and donkeys working for us and alongside us. They continue to perform much needed work today, and they DESERVE the simple care and equipment that we take for granted for our horses.