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Xtreme games

by Reid Folsom, Article donated by the mane points horse resource center.

Even today, post 9/11, it still doesn't seem as if horses and terrorism are words that could be used in the same sentence. But there are animal rights groups whose members may use extremist tactics to protest how you use your horses, how you operate your farm--even if you can host an event such as a rodeo, steeplechase or horse show.

Although harassment at horse events is not commonplace in the U.S., there have been incidents of spectators being hassled at shows, training being disrupted and trailers being blocked from hunt meets.

  • Make sure that your show or farm activity is humane and legal, featuring horses that are well cared for; don't give extremists situations to use against you. They are also trying to influence the general public, people who may not know much about appropriate horse care and use, thus easily swayed.
  • A little planning goes a long way. Coordinate with local law enforcement beforehand, and report anyone who appears suspicious, whether before or during the activity.
  • Select one cool-headed person to speak for the group or organization. Keep everyone else away, and, above all, avoid confrontation--all that does is attract press attention.
  • Keep the welfare of the horses in mind. How will you evacuate them if necessary? Can you isolate them from extremist behavior? Who's in charge if worse comes to worst?
  • Deal openly and fairly with the news media, but press your own message during interviews with short, to-the-point answers.

With a clear head and on-target planning, you can survive an incident--perhaps even turn it to your advantage.

Reid Folsom is an agriculture and forestry consultant specializing in horses.

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