I am grabbing at topics to write about these days -- my time is consumed with antiques and gardening plus working at two shops, none of which has anything to do with horses. My writing is between approval of an outline for Sea Dog and waiting for the final, final draft of Finder Coal Mine Dog to so I can review it for the last time. I am giving myself a break before I plunge headlong into writing a first draft for Sea Dog and resuming my copious research on Magellan's journey (which included sodomy, orgies, be-headings . . . you get the picture).
So I am writing about statistics, horse statistics, that, of course, are not carved in stone, but are still interesting. A study in 2005 by the American Horse Council reveals that there are 9.2 million horses in the United States. Texas has by far the greatest population beating Kentucky and Virginia, two horsey states. The interesting fact is that 2 million people own horses. That means a hell of a lot of us own more than two, three even four horses.
Not surprising since horses are herd animals and at least need one companion, a buddy to bond with. My two, Belle and Relish, have settled into middle age happiness. There is little fretting or biting though Belle still rules the pasture despite her matronly age and physique, and even though I am not riding these days, I still want horses around. The other reason so many of use have more than one horse -- we are slightly obsessed and simply love them.
Which brings me to the other statistics: 3,906,923 horses (over a third) are used for recreation. This doesn't include showing, rodeo, farm, racing and ranch work. It means that we are just having fun with our horses or staring at them in their pastures. The United States has the land and the luxury for back yard horses, another reason there are so many hanging around doing little at home. And this is great unless they are hanging around doing little and no one is caring for them. Too often I pass pastures that are over-grazed by horses with chipped feet and tangled manes. I've called animal control on one neighbor. For awhile the threat of a fine got him feeding 'his daughter's' horse, but this week I noticed the horse looks poorly again.
So the United States does love its horses, but that doesn't always mean they are all well-cared for. I could not find a good source of abuse statistics, probably due to many factors, and the horse rescue websites have such horrible photos, I confess I can not look at them. But abuse is there, we see it all the time, and that is a sad fact indeed.