The Persecution of Ben Street

Recently, barefoot trimmer Ben Street was convicted under the British Animal Welfare Act for causing unnecessary suffering to a horse.

According to the prosecution, Street had over-rasped and bevelled the hoofs causing pain.
The prosecution was brought by the FRC (the Farriers’ Registration Council) and the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Both these organisations are well financed and both had a personal interest in pursuing this prosecution: the FRC would obviously like to see the obliteration of all things barefoot since they feel it is a major challenge to their status and their traditions; the RSPCA is no longer particularly active in true animal welfare charity but has degenerated into an organisation that is trying to maintain a high profile and thereby maintain a sizeable income from donations.

Apparently the prosecution pivots around a lack of record-keeping and photographic evidence – but most notable is 1) the original complaint was by a farrier and it was investigated by an RSPCA officer who himself is a farrier, and 2) the judge decided to ignore the advice of both an equine veterinary surgeon and an equine podiatrist.

Although Street did overstep the mark and technically broke the law by applying glue-on boots (a legal prerogative of the farrier), the shoddy evidence should never have led to this sort of prosecution. And I would defy almost any farrier to provide records of their work similar to those that were requested of Street.

More information can be found on the Fighting for the Barefoot Horse website

The Sky Cried For You

Cira

*28 February 1993 †21 November 2013

IMG_1400With great sadness in our hearts but with the knowledge that the right moment has come, we said farewell to a wonderful companion this morning.

Cira came from the race track completely broken at three years old. Trained and raced from 18 months, she was “retired” injured. Happily, that was not the end; she was bought by a farmer and spent a further 16 years on his farm, being ridden by Hetty in the style that most suited her – free in the woods, unfettered by dressage or other rules.

It was here that I also got to know Cira and was lucky enough to ride her too. And honoured I was, too – Cira has never been a great fan of men but somehow, we managed to hit it off 🙂

It took some doing, but finally, her owner was convinced that she should come off shoes and go barefoot – sadly too late. Ten years earlier and the story could have been different; but the damage was already done. Her hooves took beautifully to barefoot and right up to the last trim, she was the most helpful and gentle horse I have trimmed. But arthritis is no respecter of beauty and Cira’s front knees were steadily turning to gross caricatures of what they should be.

But full of fire and spirit, she carried on, adapting to her disability in a way that many a human could learn from. Until it was time.

And as we all said our final farewells, the sky cried for her…