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You don't need to know much about Hackney stud horses to know what pain looks like. And some trainers in South Africa know they are causing great pain to these innocent animals.
Responding to a complaint in Northern Cape, Lesotho's Highveld Horse Care Unit (HHCU) investigated and took several photos (one pictured here), documenting this appalling practice of binding the horse's mouth to his neck with nylon bailing twine.
On questioning the groomers, HHCU learned the horses stand bound like this, repeatedly, for two hours at a time.
It's bad enough what other trainers do to create the look, obtained by unnatural means, which gives this popular breed its marketable and appealing (to some) arched neck and higher walking gait. But this company has turned a bad practice into outright cruelty.
This is an outrage and must be stopped!
Tell South Africa to Put an End Hackney Stud Abuse NOW!
We, the undersigned, are appalled by the photos HHCU brought back from its investigation of one of your horse facilities.
It is not surprising to learn that horses, with traits like those that are apparently being cruelly forced upon these Hackney horses, were popular among plantation owners and slave overseers in the American South, people looking for showy horses and apparently not particularly concerned about what it took to get them that way.
These plantations owners had a lot in common with English aristocrats who also favored the looks of the Hackney as a carriage horse.
Based on information found online, the arched neck of the Hackney horse is essential to its value. One site says the horse "should" have a "refined look about it with a short strong back and a well arched neck and tail."
And apparently, if they don't have this trait naturally, those raising these horses to sell or show will make sure they get it, one way or another.
This practice is reminiscent of the foot-binding of women that went on in China for a thousand years. Until this cruelty was exposed and ended, women who didn't have the tiny feet, created through repeated bone-breaking pain, were not considered attractive or valuable.
Is this what's going on with the Hackney Horse? If so, then the buyers are responsible as well.
There is some discussion among the public on the web about whether the neck arch is natural to the breed or not, one saying there is medical evidence of continued discomfort to these horses caused by the "head and neck being tightly held in an arched position that puts constant pressure on the horse's parotid glands."
Otherwise there seems to be little information being released on exactly what is going on and whether this neck-binding is common or rare, perhaps because this breed is especially prized by the wealthy.
Rare or not, there can be no excuse for any of this torture, whether it be done legally or more cruelly as with this case in South Africa. All neck binding and other cruel practices to make horses more showy should end.
But for now, we insist you investigate and stop this extraordinarily cruel practice, using nylon bailing twine, in at least one facility in South Africa.
Thank you for your immediate efforts to stop this abuse.