Horses: Romance, Reality, Responsibility

horse in sand

Photo courtesy of Vicjor Fotografia

Written by Stacey DiTata Editor of Sown Seeds.

Horses are common sights in Baja as casual a presence as cactus flowers in bloom. In the mountains. In the streets. In backyards.  At the beach. I feel comfortable with them. A little Old World Spain and a lot Wild West, they evoke charming images of caballeros and cowboys.  Romantic. Dreamy. Adventurous.  Bold. They complete my idea of Baja.

And then there are images that don’t seem right.  On the highway from Ensenada to Rosarito, they graze in fields, not foregrounds to expansive, romantic mountain sunrises, but barren space adjoined to industrial parks alongside Highway 1. Awkwardly alone. Hungry? Collapsed. I am not comfortable.

The discussion on the disparity between what is protected and what is neglected touches all humanity and can embrace all forms of life in all cultures and nations. For me, it extends to animals. And today, I wonder about the condition of horses in Baja California.

Skilled life-time horse handlers have varied perspectives to this question. Some emphasize that there is no difference between Californian and Mexican horse culture.  The issue has always been between the”schooled and the unschooled” and the issue trails past the border.  A horse handler makes a compelling statement: “Animal care and respect in Mexico is as varied as it is in the United States. There are good people and bad people every where. There is respect and honor as well as disregard and neglect.”

Others perceive horse handling in Mexico as too macho.  They have witnessed the bloody breaking of horses and feel that it is unnecessary and wrong.  These lovers of horses  also offer “Una Doma Diferente”, a different form of training that maintains the dignity of the animal with no violence.  Famous Argentinean trainers—Martin Ochoteco and Cristobal Scarpati– are renowned for their successful use of these natural non-violent techniques that utilize their human sensitivity and patience with animals.

This query offers a variance of perspectives—a  variety that poses questions about our true power;  our human need for dominance; the importance of human and animal dignity. Woven into every culture is an acceptance of nature’s beauty and a human habit to take for granted its gifts. We need to be reminded of the inherent interrelationship of animal and man.  Its romance. Its reality. And its responsibility.

Join other dedicated horse advocates and support horse rescue in Rosarito,BC,MX by visiting

To board and keep horses as well as learn about the building of an equestrian center in San Felipe, BC,MX visit

The techniques of Doma India Scarpati are available online at

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Categories: Animal Welfare, People Planet


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