Spring! Finally!

Spanky

Today, we have a nice gentle breeze, bright sunshine and temperatures well into the “not horrific” range. Spring is finally on its way! But Holy Toledo, what a rough winter! The past couple of months have been an unusually harsh one with more rain than we have ever seen and more mud as a result. It was cold, too. One morning, I saw MINUS 2 degrees on the thermometer. While our northern colleagues probably yawn over those kinds of temperatures, they are unusual for this part of Virginia. In addition to the added workload that the weather has placed on us, our long radio silence has been due to the demise of our trusty, Dell computer, which served us faithfully for over nine years. It had apparently been trying to do a slow exit for months, but when it finally crashed, it did so completely. We were able to save our twelve year’s worth of files largely due to the expert assistance of Travis and Maria Siegel, who rescued them from the smoking remains of the hard drive.

Speaking of twelve years, White Bird’s status as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization became effective on March 6, 2003, so this was a birthday of sorts. Since then, we have seen a lot of changes. Unfortunately, one of them has not been a reduction in the need for equine rescue organizations. In the early 2000’s, the northern Virginia economy was booming. Horses that required our assistance were fewer and these were generally rehomed without too much effort, even to companion homes. Today, we face a much different environment. People have been under financial stress for the last ten years. The Baby Boom generation is retiring, and many have health or financial problems that have made it difficult for them to care for their horses. Available homes are fewer and there is greater competition for them. These factors have generated an enormous number of horses and owners who need assistance. Conversely, donations are harder to come by as donors must try to balance their own needs with their desire to help others. Horses continue to be slaughtered in Mexico and Canada, though the recent EU ban on American horsemeat may yet reduce the demand for slaughtered horses. At this time, it’s hard to tell. One day though, we hope that equine rescues will become obsolete and unnecessary. Until they are, we appreciate the many donors, volunteers and supporters who have helped us reach these horses over the last twelve years.

On the legislative front, this past session of Virgina’s General Assembly contained two Bills that specifically addressed equine welfare. The first was Senate Bill 1081, introduced by Senator Jill Holzman Vogel. The Bill prohibits the intentional tripping of horses for entertainment. This is a no-brainer, right? Apparently, it was for members of both the House and Senate, who passed it with an overwhelming majority. However: there appear to be nine members of the GA (with one member abstaining) who did not agree. A big, fat raspberry to those few elected officials who still think that tormenting animals is entertainment. The second piece of legislation was House Bill 1464, proposed by Delegate Sam Rasoul, which proposed the reporting of equine cruelty statistics by localities to the Virginia State Veterinarian. Its purpose was to provide a mechanism for the collection of factual information on which to base equine welfare policy. The Bill had a short life and was tabled in committee. But we appreciate the support of these legislators on issues affecting equine welfare.

The little gelding above is “Spanky” and this boy needs a home. He was originally rescued by his owner, who rehomed him to an adopter who can no longer keep him. He is a pleasant 11 year-old, 15H guy who needs a little confidence and to be taught a job. His ideal new home will be one that can provide a solid training foundation. If you are that special person, please contact Janet at: hharg55@aol.com. Remember that he is not here at the rescue. He is located in northern Virginia.

Our sincere congratulations to Tyra Johnson, who has added “Murphy” to her family. Murphy was the Sparky Project stallion-turned-gelding who was such a favorite of the White Bird volunteers. Thank you for giving this wonderful pony such a great home!

Now that the weather has improved, we are actively seeking horse handlers to help out with this past year’s arrivals. These ponies are sweet and learn quickly, but need continuous handling to reinforce what they have learned. If you are in the Farmville area and can get here regularly, please contact us at: whitebirdapps@gmail.com.

Happy Spring!

 

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