Thursday, February 09, 2006

Misha Appreciation Day

This is my precious Misha, aka "Bolshoi Mikhail." I've had him since he was born, and he's 15 years old this month. Still beautiful, still amazing. As I was bringing him and Bella's pony over from the old place last night, I had occasion to appreciate him anew. After Ana had refused the trailer (it was dark, and she couldn't see inside it--can't say I blame her for not getting into the black box), I went for my reliable Misha, got him within 8 feet of the trailer, tossed the lead-rope over his back, and pointed. After he self-loaded, he called the pony in after him, which made things much simpler.

This horse spooks at nothing, is afraid of nothing, and has never refused me anything. When it was time to start him under saddle, it was simply a matter of getting on and riding. Period. He supported me when I was recuperating from surgery. When I went to fetch him from the pasture on my crutches, he came when I called, and he learned to walk like a bridesmaid to accomodate my crutch-gait: step, two, pause. Step, two, pause. He then became my crutch. He adapted to my weakened right side afterward, and made me look great in the saddle, to the point that if a whole-bodied person rode him, it got him all discombobulated!He won his first class at his first show, where he was both the youngest entrant and the only Arabian, competing against bigger, older horses--in a baby green hunter class. He was state high-point in the Arabian club twice in a row for Hunter Pleasure, and state high-point at training level in open dressage, all his first year shown. He is a Class 'A' Champion in working hunter, hunter pleasure, and hunter pleasure jr. horse and amateur rider divisions. He has taken me foxhunting, and kept up gallantly with all the Irish imports, Thoroughbreds, and warmbloods, fording chest-high streams and jumping every coop without hesitation.In short, Misha was my best friend for many years. Things have changed now, and I have a husband and family. My single years are behind me, and with them the uninterrupted hours I could spend with my equine companion. He is still the best horse I have ever known, or will ever know. He still reads my mind, and every cue I give him, no matter how subtle. He still comes when I call. He still regards all other people with an air of arrogant suspicion, especially men. He begrudgingly accepts Alex, and tries to pretend not to like him, while watching him out of the corner of his eye.Misha, and horses like him everywhere, would like to enlist your help in the following cause. We thought we already had it licked, but (big surprise) we've been betrayed by the government. Bigger surprise--it's profit motivated.

Horse Slaughter to Continue Despite Action
Published: February 7, 2006
Filed at 2:03 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Horse slaughter for meat will continue in the United States, despite votes in Congress to halt the practice, the Agriculture Department announced Tuesday.

American horse meat is sold mostly for human consumption in Europe and Asia, although some goes to U.S. zoos.

Congress didn't ban horse slaughter outright. Instead, lawmakers used a tactic that is common in spending legislation. Horses must pass inspection by department veterinarians before they are slaughtered, so lawmakers voted to yank the salaries and expenses of those inspectors.

Department officials maintain the law requires inspections regardless. They announced Tuesday they will pay for live horse inspections by charging fees to slaughter plants.

Rep. John Sweeney, R-N.Y., denounced the decision, saying that ''commerce and greed have ruled the day.''

''To end this practice, Congress, with widespread public support, passed this amendment by a landslide vote in both the House and the Senate,'' said Sweeney, who serves on the House Appropriations Committee. ''This action is a direct defiance of congressional intent.''

The department acted on requests from slaughter plants, two in Texas and one in Illinois, which said their communities could be facing $41 million in losses.

Compared to the huge beef, pork and poultry industries, horse meat is a tiny business: Plants slaughtered about 88,000 horses, mules and other equines in 2005, according to the department.

In letters to Sweeney and other lawmakers last month, department lawyer James Michael Kelly pointed out Congress did not address other elements of the inspection system.

After live animals are examined and slaughtered, the Federal Meat Inspection Act requires separate inspections of carcasses and of meat. Lawmakers did not prohibit those inspections, Kelly said. He added that a separate law allows fee-for-service inspections for more exotic animals, such as bison, deer, elk or rabbits.

The new fee system will go into effect on March 10, the department's Food Safety and Inspection Service said Tuesday. The agency will accept public comments on the system through March 9.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that it is ignoring Congress and thumbing its nose at all of your hard work to save American horses from slaughter for human consumption. In light of today's outrageous action, the horses need you now, more than ever.

As you know, we had a remarkable year for horses during 2005, winning two bipartisan, landslide votes in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate to prevent the use of tax dollars to fund horse slaughter inspections. President Bush signed the final ban on November 10, 2005, and it is scheduled to take effect on March 10, just a short month away. This was a huge victory for America's horses and those of us who want to protect them from cruelty and abuse. The law meant that horse slaughter would be prohibited for the rest of the year.

People like you across the nation were with us each step of the way during this legislative battle. Your hard work carried the day for horses, and the will of the people prevailed in Congress. Unbelievably, the USDA, with its ties to the livestock industry, says it will not implement this Congressional mandate. These bureaucrats are hell-bent on allowing the slaughter of America's horses!

Tell the USDA to respect the will of Congress and enforce the horse slaughter ban.

It's not every day that animal advocates win a landslide vote in Congress to stop a cruel practice. We are disgusted that this victory is being stolen. This new development means that the tens of thousands of horses -- who were to be spared from slaughter -- may face a grim and bitter passage to slaughter this year, despite Congress's efforts to save them. Take action today to stop the USDA from betraying the horses and subverting the will of Congress and the American people.

1. Take action. Contact the USDA and urge the agency to shut down this illegal and undemocratic scheme to slaughter horses. We need a permanent ban now more than ever. After you contact USDA, you will be prompted to contact your lawmakers so they know we have no time to waste -- we must pass permanent legislation to protect our horses from slaughter. Members of Congress should be as angry as we are that the USDA is circumventing their clear directive. Click here to contact USDA and Congress now.

2. Spread the word. Congress needs to hear about USDA's outrageous actions from as many Americans as possible. Ask your friends and family to contact their elected lawmakers as well. Click here to tell five friends to take action now.

Americans don't eat horsemeat -- there is no domestic demand for it. But last year, more than 90,000 American horses were either killed in one of three foreign-owned slaughterhouses in the United States or shipped to Canada or Mexico for slaughter. Our thoroughbreds, show horses, mustangs, carriage horses, and family ponies are shipped in inhumane conditions and butchered.
Knowing that hundreds of thousands of our loyal companions have already been slaughtered is simply devastating. Please stand with us and do everything you can to spare the lives of our horses. Together, we will stop this horrible practice. I know we can prevail, but all of us must take action.

Misha thanks you, and must now take a nap due to all this exertion.


  1. Now I'm wondering what laws are in place in Canada for this type of thing...

    Where did you get Misha? Was he the offspring of amare of yours? How/when did you know he was "the one"?

  2. I have to say that I am honored to have been with belinda when Misha was still in foal from Emily. I was a child at best but thought that misha was SUCH a great kid. He started my love affair with horses and I had four of my own after him. I think he was just a couple years old when he won me my first horse ribbons (of which I still have). We took first in Halter and beat one of the Oraha twins in Equitation 13-. WOW, what a long time ago. I can't believe that he is 15. GIVE him a big hug for me B.

  3. Oh, wow, that's one purty horse.

    Thanks for the update on the slaughter stuff. I worked for the Horse Protection Society ( for info, and if you've got any spare dimes, they'll take 'em off your hands!) and saw some of the horrible things humans do to horses. This is one of the lowest.

    Thanks for the info and the pretty horse pix.

  4. andrea--it's Canadian slaughterhouses which are the biggest destinations, I would imagine because of French influence? Just guessing. I bought him in utero, he was my first horse. I had fallen in love with his sire, who my Dad bought for me years later, so now I have them both.

    He was a good 'un, wasn't he, Britt? I think you were 10 the last time you showed him, which would have made him 4 or 5. Oh, and I still have pictures. Should get around to posting those! Heh, heh, heh....

  5. you there, I am currently working my BUTT off to get the 125 credits to rent your blog. You got the expense. WHew

  6. Belinda the photos of Misha are magnificent, absolutely breath taking. (He and Rocky are the same age!)

    I had no idea horsemeat was sold for human consumption in the US. I have heard of it being sold for dog food (raw).

    I am appalled at what I read here. Thanks for letting us know about this.

  7. Stef and celena, thanks. It's ALMOST as good as complimenting my child, to compliment my animals. Hee.

    britt, I got the expense, and I bring the results, baby! What I am noticing is that about 10% of my unique hits are clicking through to renters. So, if my hits are down or up, so will the renters'. Celena only got around 55 uniques, which is a LOT compared to other BE stats, but not as much as I've had in the past. But my overall numbers were down while she was renting, too (darn the luck!) and the percentage stayed the same. So you people that are not visiting the renters--for shame!

    Judy--horsemeat isn't sold for human consumption to Americans, but to foreign countries, particularly in Europe (France). I remember my parents being surprised that it was served in restaurants in France, and if you didn't want horsemeat, you had to specify "boef" steak. The biggest problem with horses for slaughter is the horrific way in which they are transported to the Canadian and Mexican slaughterhouses. VERY inhumane, especially for very sensitive prey animals. Write your congressman!

  8. Horses are some of the best creatures we have the ability to have in our lives...

  9. I have always been creeped out by horses, but even I can appreciate the absolute beauty of your Misha. She sounds like a wonderful friend. I'll never understand how people can treat animals so harshly.

  10. Is that a Rusky name Misha has? I ask because Nikster (his Blog name) is Russian in origin and name. Also has the distinction of having a one-name, registered name, which is the name he goes by.

    Some days I wish Nik was like your Misha.

    But...OTOH, I respect Nik for being a challenging, "you're not the boss of me" horse. We're so alike, it's funny. He's taught me a lot about patience and compromise. Made me more human, as it were.

    Thanks for spreading the word about the horse slaughter issue.

  11. Misha is beautiful and I totally understand how your first horse reads you and becomes your partner. I have had Toby for 18 years now, he will be 25 April 1st, and we have accompished a lot together over the years. I hope Misha gets to spend another 15 or 20 years with you.

  12. dan--yeah, they have this wonderful dichotomy of being big, powerful, strong...and yet they are so fragile, and they so easily bend to our will, when we could never, ever rule them by force, one-on-one.

    schmutzie--say it ain't so! Actually, my mother is terrified of them, having been nearly killed (and that is still an understatement) by a draft horse as a child. Now ask me who they all, especially Misha, adore and gravitate toward? Yup, like she has carrots in her pockets.

    pat--yeah, his sire, Montrachet, is straight Russian, out of imported parents (*Muscat x *Nega [x Kilimandscharo]). His dam is Russian/Polish/domestic. The Russian influence definitely came through in Misha--he bears a striking resemblance to Aswan. He's really the only one of my horses who is rock-solid. I had a half-Arab mare once that was, and sold her, like an idiot. I am going to wind up giving a couple away this year just to get them in good homes, since I have less space now.

    Kim...awwww! Toby is the same age as Montrachet. Rosa is even older, and I'm rather worried about her right now. She doesn't seem to be doing well.

  13. Oh my gosh! He is too gorgeous!
    I had an Arabian when I was a teenager -- not fancy like Misha, but I loved him. I remember that for a while I got an Arabian horse magazine that was Very thick and just loaded with photos of horses that looked like Misha. I wish I could remember the name of the magazine, but it's been about 25 years. I'm sure I remember seeing Aswan and Muscat in that magazine. Anyway, he is wonderful, and the pictures bring back good memories.
    I'll be re-reading the parts of your post about slaughter houses (Misha's beauty distracted me from your main point!) & sending a note to my representatives, if it will be useful.

  14. I remember the first time I rode Misha. He had to of been only a few years old. It was at Lucky Acres and I was specialcause I got to ride him during one of my lessons (taught by Pam) while the other girls had to ride lazy old school horses. It pays to have the "hookups!"

    You said that Misha never spooks...well I happen to remember ONE time where he did and lucky me, I was the one on him! I don't know what got him so riled up, but he ended up bucking a little, and on my way to the ground, my foot got caught in the stirrup and needless to say I ate dirt. And I *thought* I broke my poor nose and had to go the ER. Remember that?

  15. I've been following this story in the newspaper & must say, it sickens me. Our gov't. can't or won't do ANYTHING right. Especially not to help the little guy.
    Misha is such a beautiful & loyal horse, my gosh the relationship you have with him. It reminds me of my relationship with Cheeta. It's definately a spiritual one, wouldnt you say? On a completely different plane.
    I tend to shy away from problems like this because I get too depressed from them. I will give this thought & see if I will get involved. Thank you for writing about this.