Is it time to ask why?

Go into a petshop and try buying a stick to hit your dog, cat, gerbil or goldfish, but be prepared to run. You might not need to because the staff would be checking their hearing aids, and trying to think what reasonable request sounds like "can I buy a stick to hit my pet with." or even "with which to hit my pet."

But any equestrian shop will be happy to discuss the product range, "we've got some really pretty pink ones for little girls, or our special range of fun whips which leave a pony shaped bruise on the pony, we've got swarovski crystal encrusted ones if it's for someone special,


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 and we've got lunge whips, driving whips, hunting crops, jumping bats............."

What has the horse done to deserve this special status?

Try kicking your dog in the ribs, in public, and staying out of gaol, or for those in the colonies, jail.. Tricky, you might manage it, but try going into a pet shop and buying some metal spikes for your boots so when you kick your dog in the ribs, it pays attention. The staff will call the RSPCA before you can finish the sentence.
But, strange though it may seem, you can go into an equestrian shop and they will discuss, not only the finer points of spurs, but much more importantly, the risk that the spurs may damage the delicate leather of your boots, and horror of horrors, even your ankle, but don't worry; there is a solution. Yes Sprenger make special spur protectors so there is no risk of the metal coming in contact with your boots and damaging them or your ankles. Relax, with Sprenger protectors, your spurs can only damage your horse.

Another unique attribute of the horse, I bet they are pleased to be the only animals you can use spurs on. (Sorry, on which you can use spurs.)

The third item is common to lots of animals. Jamming a piece of metal in an animals mouth and controlling its movement with a line is called fishing. Carp, tench, bream, pike, trout, marlin, salmon the list is endless. People with pet fish don't use fish hooks on them, but horses, well, go into your equestrian shop and it is full of bits of metal that attach to lines which you can stick in your horses face and control its movement.
I'm sure the horse is proud to be unique in three different, and rather painful ways, but maybe,  just maybe, we need a revolution that asks whether in 2010 this is acceptable behaviour.
And if it isn't acceptable behaviour, what do we do about it?

 A number of horsemen have been quietly suggetsing that kindness is an acceptable, and totally effective way of training, but the whip enthusiasts get perfectly vitriolic when anyone questions their methods, which is why I am sticking this up as MY idea. Here is a nice simple target called Simon Mulholland.
Challenging the equestrian establishment has already cost me everything I care about. Since I have nothing left to lose I am the obvious person to front this campaign. Someone is going to get attacked, I am used to it, and effectively untouchable, so it might as well be me.

Here is a picture from January 2010, Horse and Hound with the caption, "Ben Vestey of the winning Cotswold Hunt team, giving it some welly."

And here is a typical forum response to one of my blog comments on whips and their use.

I can't get over how that man is angered by whips which he thinks are weapons of torture.

My little horse likes the whip. When he has been good, I use it to reach and scratch his butt. He loves that!

Why, I really love my little driving horse dearly. I'd never whip him out of anger or just being mean. Doesn't the man know it helps to direct the horse - not to beat them?

So when Ben Vestey is "giving it some welly" what do Horse and Hound think he is doing? Scratching his butt?

To be continued in ever increasing detail until the use of whips becomes optional, and a lot rarer.

And just to prove the point that I'm not the only person with this opinion, try this link
http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=15813
and to show you don't need whips or bits or any of that nonsense, here is a video of Obama's second visit to a beach
just click on the image to watch the video. I get off the chariot in the middle of the video because a larger dog wanted to play


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