What is wild? what should stay wild? Ethically and morally what is the right thing to do regarding wild animals? Should they be domesticated? Shouldn't they ? Is it kinder to kill them than to subject them to domestic life after a free and untouched upbringing?? Is it saving them or torturing them to try and domesticate a wild animal? Are we doing what is best for them or what is easiest for us?Not just horses but all animals born free and wild?
There is some debate over these issues.I have found from looking on the Internet regarding other wild horse preservation and adoption programmes the world over, that opinions can be quite polarized. Also from hearing peoples opinions here in New Zealand, there is some very strong debate. My moral compass is neither black nor white on the issue. obviously i am for adopting and domesticating an animal,if it can help preserve a breed or species, and saves a few animals from being culled. Yes i am against taking an animal from the wild and plonking it in a cage for the rest of its life.
So one argument i keep hearing is that, trying to domesticate a horse born in the wild is cruel to the animals spirit and it free nature. One girl who was actually promoting wild horses in NZ and trying to gain donations and support. Felt that it was against nature to break a previously wild horse to saddle or for it to be trained to domestic purposes. She felt that the horses needed to retain their wild dignity and spirit. She went on to state that even though she had a horse born in captivity, but with parents that had been mustered from the wild, it would never have a saddle on its back....but said that it was OK however to to ride it bareback.....hmmmm???? I have spoken to a few people who thought it was cruel to domesticate a wild animal. But most were defiantly for adopting and domesticating if this saved them.
In all the arguments against training and breaking in wild horses words like 'preserving its wild spirit' , 'dignity', 'freedom' and 'respect' for the horse are thrown around.....but i haven't found a convincing argument to show these actual qualities and how horses are striped of them in captivity.
What i think is that barring places where horses actually evolved, like Mongolia, most wild horses are actually more feral horses. Brumbies in Australia, introduced by colonial settlers. Mustangs in America, introduced by the Spanish, or later released or escaped from ranches. Kaimanawas from new Zealand, released or escaped from farms and ended up running wild in the kaimanawa ranges. They are all descended from domestic stock. Not saying they are not now there own special and unique breeds, adapted to their specific environments. But they come from stock that was never truly wild, as in bred solely by mother nature. In some places still, but more commonly in the old day, horses were usually turned out on the back of a farm,ranch or station and allowed to breed similar to a wild herd, usually rounded up in the spring when they were three or four years old and broken to saddle and used as stock horses by cowboys and stockman. These would have not been much tamer than horses taken straight from the wild today. some horses now are still turned out to run wild over the range and fend for themselves in winter and mustered and brought back in every spring, even today. so in my thinking when we muster from these feral or wild herds, it is similar to methods used when they were first introduced, methods still used today.Though Today these wild horse herds have just had a couple generations in between being caught by man, so to speak.
Secondly horses are horses. unlike people they live only in the present, they do not reminisce about the past. i very much doubt my stallion is sitting in the paddock thinking about running free across the mountains. Nor does he look beaten and broken by domestic life. i would say he looks very happy, he still has 'spirit', all horses do, you cant say when you see a horse performing at Olympic level it doesn't have spirit and dignity, because it has never been wild. Horses have this 'spirit' and dignity no matter where they are born, that's why people love them. My little stallion loves his stable and his feed, hes waiting at the gate each evening to go to his stable, there no reluctance there. So i would assume hes happy. Every morning he pricks his ears and comes to the door as soon as i walk in the barn, during the day he grazes plays and behaves like any horse anywhere in the world, comfortably in his paddock. to me he looks like a happy horse, and a lot healthier than when he arrived to.
Also if your sitting on a horses back riding it.....it doesn't make a difference to the horse whether it has a saddle on, it wont have higher self esteem because you riding it bareback....If it going to be in a domestic environment you might as well domesticate it all the way, so it gets the perks of the life. regular feet maintenance, worming, feeding, shelter and exercise. Also so it is happy and confident in its environment,leaving them semi wild, i believe makes domestic life scarier for them, because they never get over the fear of humans.i think at least if it can be handled or ridden, it gets exercise and mental stimulation from being able to explore new environments and travel new places, whether trail riding or competing and learning new things.
there are so many success stories out there regarding wild horse that have gone on to thrive in a domestic environment. I know that the adoption agency in New Zealand does a fantastic job ensuring wild horses end up in safe, suitable homes, doing inspections prior to people receiving their wild horse and then check on them again a month after they are placed in their new, to make sure horses are not being neglected. Many have gone on to be great kids ponies etc. So surely this is a good solution?
hmmmm food for thought.....maybe il just state my views on the positive side of adoption today and tackle the negative another time...have to many thoughts rolling around me head today to type them all up.