Steeplechase Cancer Center at Somerset Medical Center, Somerset, NJ. If you want tickets, check the Far Hills Race organization website for locations where they'll be sold in advance, or buy them at a higher price at the gate. A better time or a better cause can't possibly exists on this plane of existence.
Moving right along....
The main focus of today's rant is the terrible, awful, ridiculous crap that's afoot in the horse world right now. I'd love to jump the gun and give names and numbers so that posses can be formed to stone the evildoers, but it's not time yet. Eventually, but not yet.
I can, however, talk in general terms about the fact that the horse world has stepped beyond its usual chaotic state (any sport involving farm animals is going to have its days of the totally bizarre) into lunacy. It was a long stride. We picked up our foot back in November of '09, and it's still hesitating in mid-air as I type, but the end appears to be in sight. Once the Kool Aid drinkers among us finally give up the ghost and shed their disbelief, we can once again stand firm on the shifting ground that will always underlie the horse industry.
We have among our cast of characters scam artists and frauds that would bring the Sopranos to their knees in amazement at their brazenness. We have liars and hoarders and cheats and flat-out evil people who have been using classic brain-washing techniques to sap money, time, energy and emotional currency from the weakest of us. Though some of these folks will be taken to task legally and with great flair by the Powers That Be (I can hear them champing at the bit from here thanks to a little birdie who whispers now and then), there has to be a broader approach to settling the horse industry's problems.
Let's start with the actual definition of Brain Washing and an explanation of Memetics.
One's thoughts can be controlled in several ways. Advertising is well aware of this. The most common method used is testimonials. Have a respected person talk publicly about how wonderful Company X's widgets are, and the next thing you know, the stores can't order them fast enough and the stock price goes through the roof. But guilt induction is a close second and a method in use throughout the horse world, especially in the Faux Rescue neighborhood. What? You don't want to SAVE THE BABIES? You won't send money to total strangers who have no intention of accounting for their use thereof or where they might be putting the horses they're pretending to rescue? Are you SICK? Are you the DEVIL? Can you SLEEP at night with images of emaciated, dead carcasses floating behind your eyeballs? Oh, you can? Sorry...wrong number.
Once the advertisers have had their way with our brains (and this includes all forms of adverts from Hanes underwear to the latest religious cult), the science of Memetics explains the next step. Memes, otherwise known as "thought contagion", are a flu-like disease of epic proportions. You can catch a meme from your kids, your neighbors, TV commentators...anyone you are likely to listen to. It can be (and often is) fatal. You don't need to believe. The meme takes on a life of its own and it will OWN your brain in a trice without any effort on your part.
The "you can never be too thin or own too many silk blouses" meme is one of my faves. It's the thought germ behind most eating disorders and the silly self-indulgence that got us into the economic straits we find ourselves in right now. Hear it often enough and from the right sources, and it becomes truth. This is what my main man, Stephen Colbert, calls "Truthiness". Say it with conviction, and it's true.
So there we sat, we Horse People, and watched the memes spring to life and eat our brains. We sent money to people we didn't know. We pretended to understand numbers, plans, and reports that actually made little or no sense in full Emperor's New Clothes style. And we got sucker-punched.
The punching isn't over yet. In the not-too-distant future the facts will be revealed and the horse biz will take a little spin on its axis. Oh, it's not going to change in any huge way. Horse dealers, horse thieves, and asshats trying to make a living at the expense of horses and the sense of joy and freedom they engender in the horse lover have and always will be a part of our society. And they're not limited to horses. But those are the ones I'm talking about.
Keep watching. The business needs a shakedown, and hopefully from the ashes will rise some saner approach to breeding, owning, caring for and seeing horses to a humane end.