A Day Dedicated To Horses Everywhere

December 13, 2013


A dog may be man’s best friend, but the horse wrote history. ~Author Unknown

There seems to be a national day for everything, and today is one day of recognition that I wanted to bring light to and celebrate with you!  Today is the National Day of the Horse.

Horses have been thundering across the Earth’s landscape for more than 55 million years — much longer than the human species has existed.  Once man and horse met, our two species became powerfully linked. Throughout history man has depended on the horse.  The horse profoundly changed the ways we travel, work, fight wars and play.

Humans domesticated horses some 6,000 years ago, and over time, we have created more than 200 breeds, from the powerful Clydesdale to the graceful Arabian. As we have shaped horses to suit our needs on battlefields, farms, and elsewhere, these animals have shaped human history. They have also captured our imagination and hearts. Millions of people rely on horses as their spirited, dedicated, much adored companions. ~ American Museum of Natural History

Not only have we utilized horses for what they have to offer, but humanity has learned to appreciate horses for what they embody: freedom, spirit, adventure, perseverance, independence and drive.  Horses are gentle and loyal, but fierce and strong.  They are friends and companions to many humans and animals. They can be the ultimate travel companion for guardians who are willing to go the distance with them.

For all of these reasons and more, Congress designated December 13 as National Day of the Horse.  The text of the resolution states:

Encouraging citizens to be mindful of the contribution of horses to the economy, history, and character of the United States and expressing the sense of Congress that a National Day of the Horse should be established.

Whereas the horse is a living link to the history of the United States;

Whereas, without horses, the economy, history, and character of the United States would be profoundly different;

Whereas horses continue to permeate the society of the United States, as witnessed on movie screens, on open land, and in our own backyards;

Whereas horses are a vital part of the collective experience of the United States and deserve protection and compassion;

Whereas, because of increasing pressure from modern society, wild and domestic horses rely on humans for adequate food, water, and shelter; and

Whereas the Congressional Horse Caucus estimates that the horse industry contributes well over $100,000,000,000 each year to the economy of the United States: Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress–

(1) encourages all citizens to be mindful of the contribution of horses to the economy, history, and character of the United States;

(2) expresses its sense that a National Day of the Horse should be established in recognition of the importance of horses to the Nation’s security, economy, recreation, and heritage; and

(3) urges the President to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States and interested organizations to observe National Day of the Horse with appropriate programs and activities.


The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and fire.  ~Sharon Ralls Lemon

According to the American Horse Council:

  • There are 9.2 million horses in the United States.
  • 4.6 million Americans are involved in the industry as horse owners, service providers, employees and volunteers.
  • 2 million people are horse guardians.
  • The horse industry has an economic effect on the U.S.of $39 billion annually.
  • The industry has a $102 billion impact on the U.S.economy when spending by industry suppliers and employees is factored in.
  • The horse industry provides 460,000 full-time jobs.

No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle. 

~Winston Churchill

national horse day day of the horse

Equine Facts

  • The horse evolved 55 million years ago.
  • A close, early relative of the horse is Hyracotherium, also known as an eohippus. It was the size of a large fox. Hyracotherium stood 10 inches high at its shoulders and had four toes on its front feet and three on its back.
  • The only surviving branch of the horse family is the genus Equus, which includes zebras, asses, and donkeys along with the horse.
    Perissodactyla means “odd toed” and rhinos and tapirs belong to this order as well as horses.
  • The Equidae family consists of horses, asses and zebras and there are 9 species within this genus and the domestic horse or pony is “Equus caballus”.
  • The Equidae family have a mane, 40-42 teeth, and skulls with long nasal bones. They are herd animals and fast runners preferring to flee from danger rather than face it. The Equidae family are herbivores.
  • Rhinoceroses and tapirs are the horse’s closest living relatives.


  • Science shows us that the first domesticated horses were probably kept primarily as a source of food, rather than for work or for riding.
  • A horse can rest and even doze while standing. A horse will lock one of its hind legs at the stifle joint (it’s basically the knee). A group of ligaments and tendons called the stay apparatus holds the leg in place with minimal muscle involvement. Horses will switch from leg to leg to prevent fatigue in the leg that is locked.
  • A female horse is called a mare. A male horse is called a stallion. In the wild, the mare decides when the herd moves on and usually only one stallion will stay with a herd.
  • Horses live in well-structured groups with clear followers and leaders. Without any human training, horses will line up behind a lead mare according to their rank in the herd, usually with a stallion guarding the rear.
  • The famous mustangs of the American West, like many other “wild” populations, are actually considered feral, descended from escaped domesticated horses. The only truly wild horses live in Mongolia. They are called the Przewalski.
  • The Przewalski horse went extinct in the wild but was reintroduced at the Seer Horse Reserve in Gobi Desert, Mongolia. These horses have managed to make an impressive comeback and their success is due in large part to the social structure of their herd. You can view some of their story in this video:  The Wild Horses That Beat Extinction

You can discover more about these incredible Equines here: Equus “Story of the Horse”


A dog looks up to a man, A cat looks down on a man,  But a patient horse looks a man in the eye and sees him as an equal. 
– Unknown


American Museum of Natural History





Learn more fascinating facts about horses here!

Graphics created by Conscious Companion.

Fighting Dogs Being Trained to Love Instead of Kill

When this little puppy was found, he wore a heavy chain typical of dog fighting victims.
When this puppy was found, he wore a heavy chain typical of dog fighting victims.

The 8-week-old puppy above weighed less than five pounds and had been left in the scorching sun, wearing a chain around his neck that weighed four times as much as he did.   He is one of 371 dogs seized by federal and state authorities last month in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas in what authorities say was the second largest dog fighting ring in the United States. Normally, dogfighters wait until the canines are at least half a year old before they chain them and expose them to extreme heat or cold as part of a brutal program to transform the dogs into fighters, according to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals CEO Matt Bershadker.

  • Authorities broke up the nation’s second largest dog fighting ring
  • 371 dogs were transferred to animal welfare groups
  • One of those groups, the ASPCA, is rehabilitating the dogs, both physically and mentally

We’re happy to report that these dogs are undergoing veterinary care and behavioral assessments, and for the first time, will begin to experience life without being forced to fight. -ASPCA

367 Pitbulls Rescued in Multi-State Dog Fighting Bust: hundreds of dogs rescued in Alabama and Georgia

At the request of the United States Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the HSUS and ASPCA assisted in a multi-state, federal dog fighting raid across the southern U.S. Hundreds of dogs were seized in the case along with suspected dog fighting paraphernalia

After a three-year investigation initiated by the Auburn Police, 13 search warrants were executed August 23, throughout AlabamaMississippiGeorgia and Texas.

This puppy was one of 372 dogs rescued in what authorities say was the second largest dog fighting ring in the United States. It was a multistate raid that took place in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas and led to the arrest of 12 people.
This puppy was one of 372 dogs rescued in what authorities say was the second largest dog fighting ring in the United States. It was a multistate raid that took place in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas and led to the arrest of 12 people.

Ten suspects were arrested and indicted on felony dog fighting charges.  Federal and local officials also seized firearms and drugs, as well as more than $500,000 in cash from dog fighting gambling activities that took place over the course of the investigation.

The dogs, ranging in age from just several days to 10-12 years had been left to suffer in extreme heat with no visible fresh water or food.  Many are emaciated with scars and wounds consistent with dog fighting, and some were tethered by chains and cables that were attached to cinder blocks and car tires.

ASPCA responders and responders from The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) helped manage the removal and transport of the dogs to temporary emergency shelters in undisclosed locations, where responders are providing veterinary care and behavior enrichment.  Responders also assisted authorities with collecting forensic evidence to be submitted for prosecution.

Images of the rescue: 

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The goal is to turn these fighting dogs into animals that can be pets or work as rescue and rehabilitation animals.

Hope endures for hundreds of brutalized dogs that have been rescued and cared for in a secret warehouse by ASPCA. Watch the video here: 

Not only are the dogs getting medical treatment for malnourishment and injuries sustained in fighting, but the canines also are getting “a personal behavior modification enrichment plan to maximize each dog’s opportunity to be placed in a home.”   “What we will do is go to each dog individually and assess their strengths and their weaknesses,” said Bershadker.  Read the full story here.

Before and After: One Puppy’s Escape from Dog Fighting

PicMonkey Collage
Five days later after being rescued, the same puppy plays with a ball and receives human affection for the first time.

“He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.”
        —Immanuel Kant





No Boots, No Helmet, No Armor

… Only a Sense of Duty and Devotion

When the World Trade Center collapsed on September 11, 2001, nearly 10,000 emergency rescue workers joined in the efforts to help.  300 of those heroes were dogs.  These dogs were trained for search and rescue, dogs trained to sniff bombs, and dogs trained to help comfort and heal — they dutifully set about the task of helping out their human friends.

Every day across the world dogs protect, comfort, and give their unconditional friendship and affection to the ill, the infirm, the wounded veteran, and the frightened child.   It’s time to recognize the contributions of man’s best friends and celebrate the heroic feats they have performed for us every day.” ~ Robin Ganzert, President and CEO of the American Humane Association

The dogs worked tirelessly to search for anyone trapped alive in the rubble, along with countless emergency service workers and members of the public.  Traveling across nine states in the U.S. from Texas to Maryland, Dutch photographer Charlotte Dumas captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from 9/11.

Their stories have now been compiled in a book, called Retrieved.

Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted ‘Retrieved’ to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs.  ‘I felt this was a turning point, especially for the dogs, who although are not forgotten, are not as prominent as the human stories involved.’

Only 12 of the 300 brave and devoted dogs remain today.  These are their faces and a small glimpse into how they served so willingly.


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The thing about a hero, is even when it doesn’t look like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, he’s going to keep digging.  He’s going to keep trying to do right and make up for what’s gone wrong.  Just because that’s who he is.  – Joss Whedon

Paying It Forward, One Canine at a Time

Kiddie Pool for Pets and dogs

Across the United States the high temperatures of summer have forced many people and animals to find creative ways to stay cool from the oppressive heat. Thanks to a local café owner in Virginia, keeping cool is now easier for dogs!

When Megan Brockman, owner of Café Mojo, read the story of a pair of dogs that died from heatstroke during Virginia’s recent hot spell, she decided to make sure that it never happens again!

Megan got creative. She bought out the town’s supply of kiddie pools. As Megan explains, she did this to keep all dogs hydrated and cooled:

“I saw a story about a couple of dogs who died of heat stroke because they were chained up in their owner’s backyard. It was during that hot spell in Virginia when the heat index got up to about 110 [degrees] so I thought, ‘What can I do?’ A friend of mine has a kiddie pool for her dog and I thought, ‘There you go,’”

Megan purchased 11 kiddie pools from the local Dollar Store and put them in front of her restaurant with a sign that read, “If Your Dog Has To Be Outside…Please Take a Pool To Help Keep Them Cool. If the kiddie pools are gone, I’ll replace them as soon as I can. Thanks, Megan.”

Pools Places Outside Megan's Cafe with a Sign to Please Take A Pool to Keep Your Canine Cool!
Pools Placed Outside Megan’s Cafe with a Sign that asks People to Please Take A Pool to Keep Your Canine Cool! Photo credit: Brittany Magill via Reddit

Since she first placed the pools outside her cafe a few weeks ago, 30 pools have been used. Megan is now relying on her family and friends to bring her more kiddie pools when they come to visit her in her small town. They are also helping her to search for more pools in other towns near Urbana, Virginia.

Megan Brockman hopes the attention that her act of kindness has received will inspire others to keep paying it forward. A kiddie pool is a very inexpensive, easy way to keep your dog cool and hydrated in the summer heat. For those that can’t afford one, or don’t understand how dangerous the heat can be for dogs, Megan hopes that others will see her sign and stack of pools and be inspired to do the same.

“If we can spread awareness and have people care more about all the living creatures then that would be amazing,” she said. “People aren’t the only creatures on the planet. Dogs can’t help themselves. People have to do it.”

To start a similar doggie pool giveaway in your own town, visit your local garden supply, ACE Hardware Store, or Dollar Tree store for the inexpensive pools. Then reach out to your friends and neighbors for donations, and be a part of the movement to save dogs’ lives! Together we can make a difference in the lives of so many!




Heroes Come In Many Forms

Heroes Come In Many Forms

Memorial Day, May 2013

Humble Heroes

In every military conflict in our nation’s history, there are stories of heroes.  Many of these heroes walk on four legs.  Some had wings.  For decades, dogs and horses have served our nation by playing vital roles as mascots, guards, trackers and even mine detectors, saving thousands of human lives. 

Other species of animals served, too.  Along with dogs and horses, donkeys, mules, and camels carried food, water, ammunition, and medical supplies to soldiers on the frontlines. While both dogs and pigeons carried messages.  Canaries were used to detect poisonous gas, and both cats and canines were trained to hunt rats who infested in the trenches. 

Thankfully we are not reliant on these outdated methods these days.  And gratefully, there are laws to protect animals from these harsh conditions. Companion animals who serve along side soldiers are completely deserving of the respect and honor we give to human soldiers of both sexes.  In fact, all of the dogs I have seen/worked with who are trained for service in wartime are loved like a family member.  They are considered royalty. 

But this was not always the case. 

After you read this short post, google “animals who fought in war” and then fine tune your search for “images”.  It’s mind-boggling and disturbing seeing what we have done over the centuries.  -All of these animals deserved better.  May we learn from history and not repeat it.   This short post serves to highlight just a few of the species who were forced to serve, and to see how far our nation has come with regards to compassion for companion animals. 

Sending animals to war seems, today, somehow even more awful than sending people to war.  But in 1914, there was little room for that sentiment.  Animals were considered absolutely essential to the war effort, and they had to be sent – millions and millions of them, by the time the war was over.  Most were horses and mules, though dogs, pigeons, camels, and even water buffalo and elephants were also found in some theatres of the war.

Horses have served in many wars, but the staggering number of equine companions killed in WWI was unparalleled; over eight million horses, and countless mules, and donkeys were lost in the war. The horses suffered terrible conditions, and were killed most often on the front lines by machine gun fire and gas attacks.


Horses and their counterparts also helped carry food, water, ammunition, gas masks and medical supplies in supply wagons over long distances and rough terrain to the allied forces on the front lines.

war horse_memorial day_animals who serve
650 soldiers are standing in a formation that resembles a cavalry horse’s head, neck, and bridle — a tribute from the soldiers to the many horses who fought, and often died, by their side in the Great War.

Medals of Honor for Humble Heros

“For Gallantry. We Also Serve,” reads the Dickin Medal, a medallion awarded to animals the work of animals in wartime.  The medallion was created by Maria Dickin in 1943 to honor the work and often, sacrifice, of animals in World War II.



Canines have also been awarded medals of honor.  Our family and USMC command team had the honor of awarding this incredible soul with her first medal at her retirement ceremony.   You can see more of Lady and get a sneak peak into the window of her world HERE.


Lady was awarded a medal at our unit’s USMC Canine Retirement Ceremony

Great as has been the success of the American gun horse, still greater, though perhaps less appreciated, have been the war qualities of the American mule … probably the most serviceable and satisfactory animal used in the war.

The central focus of the Brooke USA Horse Heroes are the animals themselves – the horses and mules who lived and died on the battlefield.  You can see why these animals will live forever, as we remember and honor them by appreciating how much their sacrifices meant to the outcome of the war. You can learning about them here.

Famous Felines of War

Cats are often overlooked when it comes to military animals, but our feline friends have always been by man’s side.  During WWI and WWII cats were very much a part of the naval service – both here in the States and abroad.

New mascot ‘Saipan’ of the USS New Mexico settling into her cat hammock.  – The New Mexico provided support during the U.S. Marine invasion of Saipan in 1944, so it’s likely this cat was rescued after the battle.
Meet “Miss Hap”, a two-week old Korean kitten, who was an orphan of war in 1953.  Marine Sergeant Frank Praytor is feeding her milk here.  This Marine adopted the kitten after her mother was killed by a mortar barrage near Bunker Hill.  The name, Miss Hap, was given because she was born at the wrong place at the wrong time.

  • Meet canine companions in war here.

  • Met the indomitable, Seargent Reckless here

Remember ALL who Serve.

This Memorial Day weekend, please remember to honor the men and women who have selflessly and courageously served, and the animal heroes who served their side. 🐴🐾🐈🐕

Thank you ALL for your service! 🎖🏅

While we honor the ones who died so we can live, let’s commit in our hearts to the creation of a world in which war is no more.

“We must challenge the belief that war is inevitable.” – D.Kucinich

Conscious Companion


Celebrate Biodiversity! Make Every Day Endangered Species Day

Humpback Whale Breeching

May 17 is one day out of the year when endangered species from around the globe are celebrated and given the spotlight that they deserve.  Over the span of my career I  have been honored and blessed to have bred, cared for, and learned from some of the most incredible and critically endangered species on the planet – Moluccan cockatoos, Mississippi gopher frogs, Cayman Island blue iguanas, Louisiana pine snakes, St. Croix sheep, Eastern indigo snakes, and gopher tortoises – just to name a few.  My passion for educating others about how we can help animals grew after caring for these precious and amazing species.  Even with all of the work being done in captivity and in the wild, their numbers are still declining exponentially.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as of February 2013, there are 448 animal species and 667 plant species listed as endangered. There are 171 animal species and 150 plant species listed as threatened.  But why should we care and why should we take steps to protect them every day?

Why is biodiversity important? 

No matter how small an individual species is, they have an important role to play in the larger ecosystem.  As a society we rely on these species for various aspects of our own existence.  More importantly, every species on the planet has the right to be here, just as much as humans do.

Did you know?  At least 40 percent of the world’s economy and 80 percent of the needs of the poor are derived from the biological resources.  In addition, the richer the diversity of life, the greater the opportunity for medical discoveries, sustainable economic development, and adaptive responses to such new challenges as climate change. ~ Convention on Biodiversity

The Animals in This Slideshow are Just a Handful of the Endangered Species Living In Our Backyards Here in North America!

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8 Easy Steps That You Can Take To Ensure the Survival of Species:

  • Learn about endangered and threatened species in your area.  We don’t have to look far across the globe to find endangered species.  Hundreds live in our backyards!  The first step to protecting endangered species is learning about how interesting and important they are.  We have an obligation to protect them, as we continue to encroach upon their habitats.   Check out this cool, interactive map where you can click on your state to learn about endangered species in your area and what is being done to help conserve them.
  •  Connect to the natural world. Visit wildlife refuges, parks, or other open spaces! Get outside!  Appreciate the beauty of nature and the species that live there.  Some of your closest neighbors are animals!  The best way to protect endangered species is to protect where they live.  Learn about volunteer opportunities at local nature centers, parks, and wildlife refuges, and AZA accredited zoos, aquariums and insectariums.

                                 Wildlife Refuges Near You

                                 National Parks Near You 

                                 Zoos & aquariums Near You

  • Make your home, neighborhood, and school wildlife friendly.  Place decals on windows to reduce the number of bird collisions.  Reduce your use of water in your home and garden so that animals that live in or near water can have a better chance of survival.  Disinfect bird baths often to avoid disease transmission.  Learn more here
  • Create a Certified Wildlife Habitat!  Provide food, water, cover, and a place for species to thrive and raise their offspring.  You can also plant native flowers, trees, and other vegetation. Native plants attract and sustain native animals.  Attracting native insects like bees and butterflies can help pollinate your plants.  The spread of non-native species has greatly impacted native populations around the world. Invasive species compete with native species for resources and habitat.

                                How to create a wildlife habitat at HOME

                                How to create a wildlife habitat at SCHOOL

  • Minimize or eliminate pesticides and herbicides.  Herbicides and pesticides may keep yards looking nice but they are in fact hazardous pollutants that affect wildlife at many levels.  Many herbicides and pesticides take a long time to degrade and build up in the soils or throughout the food chain.  Predators such as hawks, owls, and coyotes are harmed when they eat poisoned animals.  Amphibians (frog, toads and salamanders) are particularly vulnerable to these chemical pollutants and suffer greatly as a result of the high levels of herbicides and pesticides that spread into their habitat from our yards, golf courses and businesses.  For more information, check out Beyond Pesticides.
  • Never purchase products made from threatened or endangered species.  When on vacation, be sure you are not purchasing products that are made from local flora and fauna.  Instead of buying an exotic animal, find a rescue group – Many exotic animals are wild caught.  Make sure that you know exactly where the animal came from, or adopt one from a rescue group that needs a loving, forever home.
  • While traveling to and from school or work, or running errands SLOW DOWN and keep an eye out for wildlife!!  Many animals live in developed areas and this means they must navigate a landscape full of human hazards.  One of the biggest obstacles to wildlife living in developed areas is roads.  Roads divide habitat and present a constant hazard to any animal attempting to cross from one side to the other.  Keep your eyes on the road to look for the animals that live there too!

Check out the Endangered Species Pod Casts.

Learn more from World Wildlife Fund about species that need protection around the world.

humpback whale and human