The people who own a horse farm were inside, it being a winter day well after chores. Someone drove by and stopped to look at their horses in the field. It was around 1PM and all the horses were laying down on areas of piled up hay from round bales, on their sides, enjoying the winter sun, having a nap on the dry hay. The farmers saw the woman get out of her car and expected her to take a picture. A lot of people stop by their road and take pictures of their magnificent draft horses, so they shrugged and went back to their tasks. An hour later they looked outside and the woman was still there, watching the horses. So the farmer inside shook his head, put on a hat and coat, and walked down to greet their new voyeur.
"Can I help you?" He asked.
The woman looked at him with concern. "I'm worried about your horses. They have been lying down for a long time. I have been watching them. They might be dead." She pointed to the napping animals.
The farmer smiled and whistled, then yelled to the "dead horses" by their names. A few heads of annoyed equines looked up for a moment, blinked, and then laid back down. "See!" He told her. "They aren't dead or sick, they're just sleeping. They always sleep around this time of day after a morning of eating."
The woman crossed her arms and said, "Well, I have horses too and if I ever see one of mine lay down in the pastures I walk right over to it and get it up."
The farmer replied. "They must be exhausted."
A funny story, I suppose, if it didn't show the absolute ignorance well meaning people have about animals and their care. So many people see another species and assume if that animal, be it a chicken, deer, dog, or horse - anything! — that if it isn't living in conditions that would make a human being content it is an act of cruelty, or at the very least - incorrect. It's not.
Pigs out on pasture or in the woods spend hours and hours with their noses in the dirt and mud rooting through it, looking for bugs and acorns and other goodies you might not like to eat. Then they waddle right over to their water stations and don't even wipe the mud off their faces before they plunge in for a long drink. Unless you are at my farm for the ten seconds after the twice-daily water refills you will find muddy drinking water. It isn't abuse. It isn't neglect. Pigs root with the same part of the body that drinks.
Chickens have a pack mentality, a literal pecking order. If you go to a friend's house with cooped chickens in a pen you might see backs void of feathers, some with scabs even. This is because they peck each other for dominance in confined spaces. Roosters mount, remount, and remount some more on the same ten hens. Back feathers only exist in birds either entirely void of community or void of fencing. They are not abused, neglected, or being beaten by their owners - they are just governing themselves. The fence is to keep them safe from predators and that is a price fenced birds pay in vanity.
People with barn cats lose their cats. They die all the time. They get ran over. They get killed by coyotes and foxes and bobcats. They get sick and die alone under the stairs. They are working animals living a life outdoors and while some of us get very attached to our barn cats (in this case my "barn cats" are spayed and neutered house cats who get regular vet care and share my bed at night when they feel like it) but they go outside every day, kill vermin, climb trees, cross roads. I know they might die any day. It's not cruel or neglect to let a farm cat live the life of a farm cat. It's just the reality of living on a farm with working cats.
Goats shed in the spring and it isn't pretty. Their hair comes off in clumps and they rub against barns. In the spring Bonita looks like a homeless woman who just came out from under a bridge. Ida doesn't look much better. They are also dairy animals, who always have prominent hip bones and concave sides behind their ribs in the prime of their health. Click here to see a picture of a prize winning Alpine dairy goat. A champion goat - the picture of perfection - has jutting hip bones and a concave area behind the ribs. This is okay. The animal is not abused or starving or injured.
I was accused in the same week of Gibson being too thin and too fat. A customer at the hardware store told me I wasn't feeding him right and he was far too thin. At a sheepdog trial a trainer pinched his side and grabbed a pile of fat from the ribs and said it could slow him down or even injure him in the field. The man at the store had no idea what a working dog looked like. They are so rare these days and obese dogs are so normal, a healthy animal looks sick to us...
These are just some examples of other "dead horses". The ignorance about livestock is massive, and only matched by the arrogance and righteousness of those out there kind enough to save them from us awful farmers.
Do you guys have any dead horse stories? Let's get some education out there!