Just when I thought I was about to finally drag myself away from the topic of TB racing/Chuckers, a couple of days ago I was forwarded a scan of the cover of the latest Equine Canada Magazine by someone who concluded it was a ‘must see’ for me, especially considering my recent posts. Guess what graces the cover of the June/July issue of our National Equestrian Federation’s perennially-slightly-late-with-the-news publication. Come on. Just try. I’ll give you three chances. I already gave you a hint. Can’t guess? Well then let me end the suspense. It’s a racehorse. Yes, the winner of the 2011 Queen’s Plate, a filly named Inglorious, is on the cover of the official publication of an organization that professes to represent all things equine in Canada…that is, all things other than racing. I’m going to refrain from my usual indignant rants as an EC member. I’ve already bored everyone more than enough with that sort of thing. But can someone please tell me why a horse from an industry that is in no way supporting or supported by EC gains the cover of the latest issue of its magazine?(Oh I know the racing industries, both TB and Standardbred, have been tied up with a big bow into the re-branded “Industry Division” of EC, but I’d love to know how many racehorse breeders, trainers and jockeys are paying members of EC, unless they are in the cross-over group of people who also do something with horses other than racing.) It’s not like it was slim pickings for a cover girl or boy just now, either. Captain L’Amazing was second at the WC Final, Jessica Phoenix and Rebecca Howard were in the top ten at Rolex, Rebecca won at Jersey Fresh and Bromont – both of them Pan Am observation trials – Canadian contenders for the Pan Am dressage team have been pulling off 70+ scores on both sides of the border, Waylon Roberts finished 13th at the London Olympic test event….Look. A cover photo of a donkey winning a halter class would be a better representation of EC’s members and interests. For their choice of cover photos I give EC my July Raspberry award.
Since I’m already re-establishing my love-hate relationship with EC after a long dry period of leaving them alone, I might as well keep right on digging in the dirt. Yesterday I received a post-orgasmic EC press release with the following catchy headline: “Canadian Equestrian Ambassadors Complete Endurance Race During Trade Mission to China’s Zhaosu County”. Zhao’s who? A trade mission to a region of Northwestern China so obscure that Wikipedia’s entry for it contains a single sentence? The press release includes a teaser for an article to appear in the next issue of the afore-mentioned EC publication, which is to be titled “Path to China – Endurance in Zhaosu”. Given the complete lack of disease control for livestock in China, I would like to propose that the article be retitled “One Way Path to China”, since any horse exported there from Canada will never be allowed to return to Canada, or to any other self-respecting horse-friendly nation on Earth. Why are we conducting trade missions to remote corners of countries guilty of grotesque human rights violations (never mind that Man’s Best Friend is a regular item on restaurant menus)? And what could people in Zhaosu possibly want with a Quarter Horse or a Canadian Warmblood? Here’s a photo of the Canadian Endurance riders competing on borrowed local horses in China:
These hardy little specimens are exactly what you’d expect from a region that is closer to Kazakhstan and Mongolia than to Beijing. These folks don’t need our horses. They already have their own breed, a large-of-head and short-of-neck model called the Yili Horse that can no doubt thrive in the sparse conditions of the region. Never mind a new Rambo under the Christmas tree. Horses in that part of the world have probably never passed beneath a roof.
Desperate for answers as to the wisdom of this EC-funded foray into the wild west of China, I ventured into the netherworld of Facebook in order to read the blog posts (whose author is unnamed) about the trip. There are a lot of photos of people doing politico-style schmoozy things like wearing silly cultural headgear and visiting sites like the Great Wall. There are not very many photos of horses, except, except…a bunch of snaps of race horses taken at a racing stable. Oh and look at that – many of those race horses are imported! I’m starting to detect a summer theme at EC this year: all race horses, all the time. I’m not going to make any new pen pals at EC over this but I’m going to say it anyway. I do not believe sending a trade mission to a region of the world where horses are still members of the work force – a place where I have no doubt that after their useful careers are over they become dinner for higher members of the food chain – is not the best use of EC’s breeds and industry dollars. I’m sure it was an awesome field trip. Hell, if they had come to me and asked if I wanted to go on an all-expenses-paid adventure to one of the world’s remotest places (and one of China’s least populated regions) I would have had a hard time declining on the moral argument of poorly spent resources. But as someone who has defended EC against some pretty powerful criticism vis-à-vis the Battle of the Provinces, I am feeling a bit of a schmuck right now. Because you know who’s paying for this and the magazine cover of the race horse, right? Every EC single member and sport license holder, including myself.