Saturday, July 09, 2011

The Clueless Media, the Clueless Sheryl Crow, and Wild Horses

[Photo: Wild horse rodeo event in Wyoming]

As a horseman, I always brace myself when I see another media story on horses in general, and wild horses in particular.

This particular story in the Washington Post, about the alleged "wild horses" of Assateague Island in Maryland, is one case in point. It's not inaccurate, or anything, and it's certainly interesting. But it's clueless about what a wild horse actually is.

For years, the kinds of cosy-moments newspaper travel editors who think the Cotswolds are the height of splendor published regular breathless stories on these famous "wild horses" of Assateague Island.

Now it seems the world famous Assateague "wild horses" are not only not wild (I coulda told you that a very long time ago), but they also behave like bears at Yellowstone, or like sideshow monkeys. That's because all the tourists keep flocking in and feeding them.

These horses not only are not wild -- they are not even normal like domesticated horses.

Time to put the kibosh on this particular tourist attraction, I say.

Meanwhile, out West, the media love romanticized stories about wild horses and the alleged need to accommodate them in their purportedly totally wild state -- heedless of the reality that for a horse, a life in the pure wild (assuming there is such a thing anymore) is usually short and brutish.

The performer Sheryl (I Never Met a Gig I Wouldn't Take the Dough For) Crow is currently one of the celebrity hucksters crusading against sensible federal policies regarding wild horses in the not-any-longer-very-wild West. These are generally people who do not know anything about horses, about how horses behave naturally, and about what horses require to thrive in safety and security (like vet care and adequate nutrition, for example.).

Still, Ms. Crow will be performing at the controversial rodeo at the Cheyenne Frontier Days festival in Wyoming later this month. Have a look at how that goes down, horsewise.

That rodeo also includes the notorious "wild horse race" in which horses are often injured, all part of the horseplay fun.

Responsible rodeos--and rodeoers--do not condone such spectacles.

But Sheryl Crow, the wild-horse crusader, evidently has no problem with it, and after horse people began complaining, her "people" said she would make a "generous donation" to the wild-horse cause. Long as the check clears.


1 comment:

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mr. Sharkey:

The world is full of well-intentioned, 5-watt celebrities who believe that a raw emotional response is a more than adequate substitute for factual research. And as long as 144 characters on FaceBook is regarded as the new basis for "in-depth" communication, these celebrities will be heralded as the authorities on just about anything — from wld horses to global warming.

Fondest regards,
Jack Riepe
West Chester, Pa