If you don't know what the headline means, you already are in trouble. But it's not too late to prepare for the Year 2000. The first thing you should do is go out immediately and buy a bottle of champagne (or sparkling non-alcoholic grape juice) for your New Year's Eve party. Reports are that this will be a dear commodity as the new millennium approaches. Having gotten the celebration thing out of the way, now it's time to get down to business.

You can spend hours on the World Wide Web researching the possible problems associated with turning our calendars from the 1900s to 2000. Business magazines devote articles to it every month. Newspapers already are running as many potential Y2K horror stories as they are covering events that actually are happening in the world.

Widespread power outages lasting from a couple of days to a couple of weeks because power companies can't replace all the computer microchips in every machine connected to their systems are the main worry. And that worry stems from the companies themselves.

Will you get a late notice from a company saying your bill is past due because its computer thinks the payment was supposed to be in by the year 1900 instead of 2000?

Will the computer chips in your car go on the fritz? No one seems to know at this point.

Why can't the computer wizards just see what the chips have programmed? Reports are that many microchips were created 30 or more years ago and no one is left around who remembers what they can or can't do. It'll take time to test them. And the countdown has started.

Aren't I safe because I live in a pretty sophisticated city/county/area of the state? According to some news items, because of the interaction and interconnection among computers in all sectors (from banking to your feed store), if one component puts out a bad "signal," it could affect the whole system.

"Isn't that all a computer thing?" You might ask. "My little computer here on the farm shouldn't have any problems, should it? And I'm pretty self-reliant here. Pond for water. Alternative transportation and energy source available (horsepower). Stocked for winter weather (firewood or kerosene)."

Don't know. You need to ask someone who is a computer support person about your own potential problems. You also might want to talk to your banker, mortgage holder, insurance broker, power and water companies, cable television provider (if the electricity is still on), and so on, and so on, and so on.

Am I going to contact all those people and jump through all those hoops? Nope. Probably be like the rest of you and check out the computer with some friend who knows more than I do. Maybe ask the bank people sometime in the next few months if I need to keep all my paper transaction re-ceipts just in case (a suggestion by one bank's personnel). Maybe get the kerosene container full (as I usually do) before winter in case of power outages and keep the gas cans a little more stocked (gas station pumps work on electricity). My cupboard usually resembles a small store anyway. Critter food is bought in bulk. Guess I'm set to welcome 2000, technology glitches and all.

Maybe not.

We might be ready to face the outages, but are we ready to face the issues?

  • What will we do with unwanted horses in the next millennium?
  • Can we ensure humane transportation to slaughter?
  • Will there be an end to slaughter?
  • How will we pay for rescue/rehabilitation programs?
  • How do we educate horse people to take better care of their animals?
  • Will animal activists legislate away our rights to own and compete our horses?
  • Can we do a better job in feeding our horses?
  • Who will lead our industries into the new millennium?
  • What role will you (I) play in helping horse owners answer these questions?

Some questions have no answers. Others have too many answers, many of which don't agree.

Following are ways to look into the Y2K problem.

If on-line research isn't your style, you can also find reading material at bookstores. Or, check out http://www.amazon.com  for a listing of books available on Y2K.

To check whether your home PC is Y2K compliant, go to the manufacturer's web site. For example, if you have a Dell computer go to www.dell.com and you will find a section that addresses Y2K concerns.

Thank You!

I want to thank all of the people who wrote, e-mailed, and faxed me concerning the Viewpoints I have written about slaughter of horses, transportation to slaughter, and Proposition 6 in California. I don't have time to answer all the mail I receive, but that doesn't mean I don't read them all.

Thank you especially to those of you who wrote to say you disagree with me. Good! This column is supposed to encourage thought and debate. Whether we agree or not, at least you are clarifying your opinion to yourself, and probably your friends. And perhaps that emotion or frustration will bring about change for the betterment of horses. Who knows, you might even change my mind!

Older Horses

In the October 1998 issue of The Horse, we devoted nearly the entire magazine to geriatric horses. What we didn't tell you was that a veterinarian who has a special interest in older horses was writing a book for our Understanding series. It's here! Not only does he have a special interest in geriatrics, he maintained his childhood friend into the horse's 40s. So, for those of you who have a teenage horse or oldster, this is a book you need on your reference shelf. To order, call 800/582-5604 or see www.exclusivelyequine.com.

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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