Guest blogger Carolyn Press-McKenzie is the founder and CEO of HUHA (Helping You Help Animals), New Zealand’s leading ‘no kill’ shelter. HUHA actively works every day to find homes and foster care for a multitude of homeless, abandoned, seized and abused animals.
Quinn is just one of thousands of animals that have suffered in a New Zealand rodeo… for the sake of thrills and entertainment. Horses, calves, bulls, they all get used and abused in rodeos around New Zealand every summer. We hate to think what happens to most of them when they can no longer perform, but we do know what happened to Quinn. She was one of the few lucky ones to leave the rodeo for a new life, and never go back.
Quinn enjoying her new home at HUHA
When we brought Quinn to her new home at HUHA Kaitoke around 13 years ago, she was struggling. She had lived a life of pressure and abuse and the scars ran deeper than the one apparent on her face.
Quinn’s owner bred horses for rodeo. He had his bag of tricks to make his horses perform for him. He used an electric cattle prod to drive Quinn forward and encourage speed… then bailing twine was threaded across her bit, to stop her fast, and make her turn quick.
This was all done to train her for the barrel racing event. Barrel racing isn’t normally an event that receives a lot of criticism for cruelty. Calf roping and bucking events that use a flank strap get more attention. Barrel racing, though, can look quite benign; it’s just a horse and rider running around some obstacles, right? But injuries can, and do, occur during the event. It might not seem as obviously cruel as calf roping. There’s no chasing and throwing around young, confused, and terrified calves. It can, though, harm and scar the animals.
Barrel racing at Warkworth rodeo, 2013.
What we don’t see at the rodeo events is the training that goes on with no spectators. That’s where the damage had been done to Quinn. The damage we had to fix so that she could have a life without fear, and without pain.
When Quinn arrived in our care she was a hot mess of fear and confusion. She exploded at the slightest bit of pressure. It was so upsetting to see that such a beautiful animal had been treated in a way that made her like this. But we knew we could help her, and give her some happiness finally. Happiness and space to roam and explore where, and when, she wanted; and at the speed she wanted!
So we took off her shoes, threw away her bit and encouraged her to enjoy her new family and herd, and just be a horse. Quinn took to it like a duck to water, or rather, a horse to an open pasture! She has a new lease on life, and this is what we love to do here at HUHA. We aim to make a positive difference for animals and change lives.
Thirteen years on Quinn still hates her damaged face to be touched and we respect that. But she loves her life, and is relaxed, calm and full of joy as she runs the hills with her herd. And most importantly, she trusts again. She is gentle and clam with the people who love her…and boy do we love her xx.
Although we are not all in the position to physically rescue animals from rodeos, we can all help them. One major thing is to never go to a rodeo and encourage your friends and family to boycott them too. SAFE is also trying to prevent rodeos by encouraging sponsors to stop giving them money. For the sake of the horses still in rodeo, please join them.