Sunday, May 21, 2006

Barbaro's Break down...

I saw the Barbaro win the Kentucky Derby but didn't watch the Preakness... I just came online to find news that Barbaro broke down early in the race, and there were plenty of pictures of him limping badly on his right rear leg.

I really thought that we might see a triple crown winner this year with his large lead in the derby... but that's gone now. He might recover to be used as a stud, but his injuries seem pretty bad. I found a few news stories but they all said he 'fractured his ankle' (not written by a horse person...) but I finally came across one that described his injuries in more detail:

"Barbaro sustained a broken cannon bone above the ankle, a broken sesamoid bone behind the ankle and a broken long pastern bone below the ankle. The fetlock joint - the ankle - was dislocated. " http://www.forbes.com/business/energy/feeds/ap/2006/05/21/ap2761948.html

Wow, he's really lucky to still be alive. Any other horse would probably just have been euthanized immediately. They mention that he was placed in a pool so he could awaken from the anesthesia without stressing out the leg, but how will they keep the weight off the leg for the long months it will take to heal? Slings? I have heard of keeping horses suspended while legs heal but have never actually known someone who has done that with a horse.

Horses that dig wells...

Huh, I've never heard of this before... Wild horses off North Carolina live on Shackleford banks, a small 9-mile long island, and they will dig themselves watering holes. I didn't know horses would do that. According to the website, http://www.shacklefordhorses.org/about.htm these horses have very unique territorial behavior... but it doesn't explain exactly what those behaviors are.

There seem to be a lot of wild horses off the Eastern coast, there is an island off Georgia that has them, and of course Asseteague and Chincoteague islands... and I'm sure there are others. But these horses don't seem to be managed by BLM like mustangs are.

The pic on this page, of the "flaxen" stallion http://www.shacklefordhorses.org/stories/colors.htm is actually a bay silver dapple... rare color and he is a GORGEOUS example of one, one of the most striking silver bays I've seen.

Random stuff from today...

Today was a beautiful day, I took a break from writing my horse research paper (see below; yes, I will probably publish it on the site when it's done) and I went out to till our arena and work with my young stallion, Blaze. He just turned two and he is a well-mannered boy (and if he stays that way I'll probably keep him a stallion). I plan to maybe start light riding him in the summer, for now I was just doing ground work with him-- getting him to turn, back up, etc. He's very good (especially since I haven't worked with him for months) but the only problem he has is he tends to want to follow and turn into you when leading-- I really like horses to stay out of my space and he tends to bring his shoulder in too close when leading.

Our arena is situated up on a hill, so it's surrounded by trees on one side and an open view of the surrounding hills on the other. It's a beautiful spot to work with horses in the summer time (in winter it's a swamp...). I love living out on a ranch and seeing wildlife-- the other day my sister saw a cougar, and today an eagle flew over our arena and I could hear the soft whooshing of its wings. There are also frogs and salamanders on the edge of the arena where water seeps out of the hillside, and today I saw several tiny frogs that would fit on my fingernail. I should take and post some pics soon... but I don't have a digital camera (any kind person want to buy me one?) otherwise I would.

Wild Horses as Native Wildlife

I'm writing a college research paper on wild horses in North America, and I'm arguing that they should be reclassified as reintroduced native wildlife because 1) Horses originally evolved here 2) Humans may have caused the extinction of the horse 3) the Native horses were the same species as domestic horses 4) Horses have been in N. America for several hundred years and have become a part of the ecosystem

. If anyone has any websites or print articles with research regarding this, I'd appreciate it if you left a comment or sent an email. So far I have started the paper and am going into the evolution of the horse in North America, from eohippus up through Equus in the pleistocene epoch. I am looking at the various theories of the extinction-- there appear to be two major theories, the "overkill" hypothesis that states early humans hunted large mammals to extinction, and the "climate" hypothesis in which the animals were unable to adapt to a change in weather and vegetation. The most popular theory appears to be a combo of the two.

I also heard about a third less popular "surviving horses" theory that states that some horses may have survived and may have interbred with introduced horses. But there is no fossil evidence. I'm curious as to why anyone seriously considers this theory as possible. I can't find any scholarly articles on this theory, other than a reference to "Clutton-Brock 1981" but I'm unable to locate this source.

I also heard of some small horses that live on the Pima indian reservation in Az... actually when I was down there I met a young Indian woman who said her brother captured some to train them. I checked with the BLM and there are no herd management areas there, so who owns these "wild" horses? Are they property of the tribe? Are they spanish mustangs? If anyone has any info on this I'd really appreciate it.

I was able to locate Weinstock's mitochondrial DNA research that claims there were two species of equine in N. America-- the Stilt-legged horse and the caballine (true) horse that is the same species as the modern horse.

It's interesting to see how we humans define "nature" and "natural". If the horse had "naturally" been reintroduced to North America, or had been hunted to the brink of extinction but later experienced population expansion, it would be considered native. But if it was released by humans, it no longer is considered native. The truth is that there is really little-- if any-- nature left, and when we set up these goals to preserve something as natural, or to manage things to keep them 'natural', by our very interference we are making things unnatural... I could turn this essay into a commentary on our society and how we view ourselves as separate from nature, but how we really aren't.