oes it do any good signing petitions against various horrors, retweeting and reposting them, donating to them, until you are blue in the face? Sometimes, temporarily swamped and defeated by the volume of horror – wars, famines, refugees, heartless government decisions, dying bees, polluted seas, tortured this that and the other, and mass extinctions – I give up on them in despair, and delete them without looking properly. So I missed the recent one about horrid horse-blood farms, but Olivia didn’t.
She rang, outraged, wondering why on earth pharmaceutical companies need to nastily extract pregnant mares’ blood – no regulations, no inspections – for a particular hormone, which is then pumped into pigs to make them reproduce more. Why? We already slaughter three pigs a second in the UK.
Why horses, you may ask, with humans being blown to hell and starving? What’s so special about horses? Because they are on my mind. Equines have been in the news lately. Author Meg Rosoff explained perfectly on Radio 4 why they’re so special, and why girls and women love riding. Now Norwegian scientists from the Department of the Bleeding Obvious have found that horses can learn to communicate with humans. How come they didn’t know already? Any 10-year old who has looked after a pony for five minutes could have told them that.
Reports suggest China has been buying up the world’s supply of donkeys, having used up most of its own, to boil the skins to make “a key ingredient in the traditional Chinese remedy ejiao – believed to improve blood circulation”. They’ve scooped up so many African donkeys that Burkina Faso and Niger are having to stop the trade. Over in the US, some states are keen to get rid of the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act, so they can do a bit of “mass removal and slaughter”. If we don’t watch out, we’ll be on the way to an equine wipe out.
“I’m a bit worried about you these days,” says Fielding. “D’you think you’ve gone mad?” In this world? Probably. Is he surprised?