Its All A Matter of Perspective

The altimeter reading indicates we are miles above the Pacific Ocean. We just passed the International Date Line, heading toward Sydney, Australia. Exotic places like Pago Pago slip under our wings in the darkness while the moon plays peek-a-boo through the high clouds.

All around are people I don’t know, and will never see again. Probably wouldn’t know it if our paths did cross again. But for now, we share the same space, the same destination, even if not for the same purposes. Around the world horse people are going through their days in much the same way. Mucking stalls, feeding their animals, competing, dreaming, working, taking pleasure in the simple joys of being around horses. They are talking of the latest problems, which horses are sick or lame, and the latest gimmick or "cure" to hit the gossip lines—whether the discussion be in person, by phone, or by e-mail.

No matter the breed or discipline, we all have the physical animal in common—the horse. We all face lameness and layoffs with our animals. We all know the cost of maintenance and upkeep on our partners. We all know the pain and sorrow when we lose a friend.

Horse owners are much like my companions on this plane. We go the same direction, even share some common ground, but the end result for each of us is based on our own needs, wants, and plans. None is better than the other, because each is unique and proper in its place.

The Thoroughbred breeder doesn’t long for rides along mountain streams with his horses, just as the back country packers don’t want the hustle and bustle of the racetrack. Both are right for their horses, and their purposes. It could be, however, that their paths cross at some point, whether the racehorse owner is stealing away a few days to enjoy the wilderness, or the back country rider is taking a trip to the excitement and fast pace of the track.

Horse owners have common ground and some common purposes. While we might revel in our differences, we also need to bond in our similarities, especially when it comes to the good of our horses.

We asked our readers, both print and on our Internet site The Horse Interactive (, to suggest articles on topics of importance to them. The response was tremendous, and we appreciate all of your input. We incorporated your suggestions into our 2000 Editorial Calendar, so you will be seeing your suggestions appear in future editions.

One of the things I realized in looking over those suggestions was that I couldn’t tell the breed or discipline of the sender. Was it an Arabian halter person who was concerned about laminitis, or the cutting horse person? Was that a hunt seat rider who wanted more information about colic, or an endurance rider? And did those questions about vaccination come from someone who raises million-dollar babies, or a person who has one mare? You see, we are all tied together by the animal that we love. It is the same beast that carried our ancestors through war and territorial conquest, delivering mail, doctors, and ammunition throughout the ages.

Let us applaud our brothers and sisters who rein their horses to victory the same as we put garlands around the necks of the champions of the ovals. Let us work to keep trails and federal lands open for those who find pleasure in the back country, and preserve farmlands in urban areas for those who reside closer to the bustle of the city.

Join your local or state horse groups, for united voices will help us preserve what we have, and keep it for future generations. Band with national groups that convince our government that we as horse owners deserve consideration for our livelihoods and pastimes. Support research institutions and veterinary schools that give us the future cures and healers for our animals.

Enjoy your horses, and your time alone with them, but don’t block out the greater view of our industry. Fight for what you believe in, but keep an open mind about the realities of the world.

We can’t have everything we want, but we can fight to get everything we need.

The View From Down Under

The convention that I’m attending in Australia is a gathering of equine educators from across this continent. They are like horse people anywhere in that when they disagree, it’s best not to get in the middle, but when they agree, they can move mountains.

Australia has a unique, country-wide system of training people for jobs, especially jobs in the horse industry. Whether someone wants to go into a stable as a strapper (groom) or an apprentice trainer, there are certain steps that must be accomplished first. It’s a good system that, from the discussions, only needs a little fine-tuning to be a model program for any other country.

Wouldn’t it be great here in the United States if a farm or ranch owner could know if a young person had specific horse skills, i.e., could catch, halter, and lead a horse safely, clean a stall professionally and quickly, and groom a horse properly? Then the skills could advance from there to someone who knows how to ride, train, or foal mares.

There are a few programs in the United States that are trying to do just that. The Kentucky Equine Management Internship program will take animal science students from colleges across the country, and perhaps the world (there certainly has been interest in the program here in Australia), for an entire college semester to work on horse farms. Not only will they have a job that will be closely supervised and geared for the maximum learning in the short time allocated, but the students will attend classes on veterinary and practical topics throughout the semester.

Through this structured learning process, students will be given valuable practical experience on some of the top Thoroughbred farms in the world, and farms will be given the opportunity not only to provide students with experience, but possibly train their own future entry-level management people.

It’s a win-win situation.

If you are interested in the KEMI program and you are a college student, contact your adviser and ask for a brochure (the first class starts with the January 2000 semester), or call KEMI at 877/644-5364 or 606/971-8265. Visit the web site at

About the Author

Kimberly S. Brown

Kimberly S. Brown was the Publisher/Editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care from June 2008 to March 2010, and she served in various positions at Blood-Horse Publications since 1980.

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