Aug 20 2011

Happy trails, Fugly!

This post will interest few, if any, of you, but nevertheless it is my duty as a patriarchy-blaming gentleman farmer to publicly mourn the passing of my favorite horse blog, Fugly Horse of the Day. Fugly was written by an opinionated muckrakin’ horse chick who, okay, she sometimes made fun of hillbillies and pornulated women, but she actively advocated against patriarchal oppression of equines, so on balance I would say the overall effect was FAIRLY. EPIC. WIN!!!!1!

The horse industry, because the whole enterprise leeches off an enslaved and incarcerated population (the horses) while simultaneously preying upon a self-replenishing customer base of gullible horse-crazy romantics (the owners), is lousy with flim-flam, rip-offs, cruelty, deceit, abuse, ignorance, and murder. A code of silence is enforced among professionals and prominent breed and horse show associations alike, like it’s some kind of equestrian Cosa Nostra, which of course is how the abuse is perpetuated. Cathy of the Fugly blog, using equal parts shaming and humor, tirelessly outed the asshole trainers, the abusive subcultures, the dishonest horse traders, the hopeless hoarders, the con artists, and the irresponsible breeders. This was quite a public service, since speaking out against evil in the horse industry just isn’t done. As a result she endured shit of dudebros-against-radfems proportions: ridicule, lawsuits, death threats, etc.

Horribly, Cathy got too busy to blog and sold Fugly Horse of the Day for a reported $10K. I never knew you could sell a homemade blog for $10K! But I guess because so many horsey folks are fed up with the crapulent status quo, this one had gazillions of avid readers, making it a sort modest cash cow. Nobody knows who bought Fugly; it is suddenly being authored by someone whose identity has yet to be revealed. And who, by way of preparing the reader for the forthcoming onslaught of what she readily admits will be “bad grammar and awkward phrasing,” included this ominous statement in her introductory remarks:

For me blogging is about saying what I think, as I think it, a virtual barfing on the keys.

LE. SIGH. !!!11! .


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  1. Pinko Punko

    Does this mean we can rule Jill out as author, or perhaps it is an elaborate, what is the slang term for false horse blog personality designed to disguise the real owner? Also, what is the appropriate punctuation for interjection of a question about the nature of a word in position of sentence where that word would have been placed?

    Maybe saddle?

  2. Killerchick

    Please do not sell I Blame the Patriarchy for 10k!

  3. Jill

    Rest easy, Killerchick. Nobody would pay 10 cents for this blog. It’s worthless as a corporate shill because it ridicules everything commercial.

    Pinko, I think you have to hyphenate everything from “what” to “owner” so that it can function as a stand-in for the non-existent word itself.

    It’s irrelevant, by the way that it’s a question. Furthermore, your question isn’t an “interjection” in any sense of the word, either as a part of speech (e.g. “holy shit!”) or as a remark inserted between other remarks. JUST. SAYIN!!11!! .

  4. Jessie

    I read the fugly blog too and it’s too bad it was sold. It really is difficult to stand up against cruel practices in the horse world. I do ride and take lessons but I don’t see myself ever showing horses.

    This seems as good a spot as any to complain about this, but I’ve noticed that a lot of animal trainers project their own patriarchal ideals onto animals, even if it’s at a subconscious level. This is really bad among a certain subset of dog trainers (“dog whisperer” types and the “at the end of my leash” host). For example, they assume that wolves live in societies with very strict, rigid hierarchies, even though recent observations of wild wolves show that they don’t. They then assume dogs are like that too and that we must constantly show dogs that we are the dominant ones (the “alphas”) in order to interact with and train them. According to such trainers, we can’t let the dog walk in front of us, greet us, or make any decisions on its own.

    However, training techniques based on coercion and domination have actually been shown to be far more likely than positive reinforcement-based training to cause aggression and fear in animals. Yet so many people cling to coercive methods and I think it is because they just can’t imagine relating to others without some sort of undercurrent of dominance/submission, since our society works that way. I certainly know what to blame for that.

    I personally deal with a lot of parrots (I foster them for rescues and own five of them) and have actually trained very aggressive ones to stop trying to attack me using clicker training (reward-based training) and no coercion. I used clicker training with a badly abused dog to turn her around and it worked beautifully. I also used it to teach my Maltese not to bark at everything on walks. Animals can be trained without using hard, domineering, coercive techniques and people just need to be open to learning about them.

  5. shopstewardess

    The state of horse[man]ship in the USA, as depicted by Fugly, is pretty damn shocking.

    I leant about horses working for a patriarchal horse dealer in the UK. I saw enough of what went on in horse dealing to decide never to buy a second-hand car: I bought mine new, have kept it for 22 years, and plan to keep it until the oil supply runs out.

    For the first time ever, I am a position where I am home enough to give a dog a reasonable life. I moseyed on down to the local library to check out some dog-training manuals in preparation, only to be stymied by finding on an attentive perusal that they all flat-out contradict each other. What should a novice potential rescued-dog keeper (border collies, oh my ears and whiskers) do next?

  6. Polythremian

    So true. Nobody should be permitted to speak or write unless they do so not only in a manner approved of by High Culture, but in the aesthetic style that you, personally, find most appealing. That insulting, humiliating, silencing, or otherwise marginalizing people because they don’t communicate in the High Culture-approved manner is a longstanding oppression tactic doesn’t ever seem to *register* on you, does it?

  7. Carpenter

    My folk live very near to a pace where people raise racing horses. They have all kinds of crazy stories about abuses in that sector of the horse-biz, including the major inbreeding and health problem the horses have. My brother saw a horse drop dead just because it ate new grass.

  8. Comrade PhysioProf

    For me blogging is about saying what I think, as I think it, a virtual barfing on the keys.

    This sentence causes me physical pain. ELEVAN!!!111!!!111!!

  9. speedbudget

    Jessie, is there an online resource for clicker training? I have a dog whom I got at 1.5 years, and I am pretty sure she was neglected, if not abused. She certainly wasn’t properly socialized. I would love to be able to take her for walks without her going bonkers at other dogs or being terrified of the people who want to pet her because she is so fricking adorable.

    She does blame the patriarchy though. You all would be proud. There is not a man in the world whom she doesn’t dislike on sight.

  10. Jill

    That insulting, humiliating, silencing, or otherwise marginalizing people because they don’t communicate in the High Culture-approved manner is a longstanding oppression tactic doesn’t ever seem to *register* on you, does it?

    It’s true! I wish everyone who isn’t cla$$y would just drop dead.

  11. Jill

    speedbudget, this Karen Pryor person has been clickering forever. She wants to sell you a bunch of training manuals and other crap, but she also has free basics info on her website. I bet there’s a Yahoo group, too.

    I would suggest shelling out for professional help, though, if you’re dealing with an abuse case.

    I love clicker training. Aside from basic stuff, I’ve used it to train my golden retriever Bert to turn light switches on and off. I also taught my semi-feral pet Arabian mare Pearl to dribble a soccer ball with her nose, a highly marketable skill no pasture puff should be without. My 2-year-old yella lab Franny responds less well, unfortunately. Too wiggly.

  12. Frumious B.

    For me blogging is about saying what I think, as I think it, a virtual barfing on the keys.

    It is her blogging, which belongs to her, she owns it, and the blogging is hers. I actually got no problems with her sentence and kind of hope she has some good quality barf.

  13. Jill

    Well, more power to her if barf-blogging is her young life’s dream, but it’s not like I’ll be racing to the computer every morning to read this spontaneous puke. I prefer to read writing that has been thought through a bit first. Life’s too short to spend it writhing in vomit, you know?

  14. Comrade PhysioProf

    For me, the missing comma is like a red hot poker, Chaucer style.

  15. Unree

    Don’t know one end of a horse from another, but I loved Fugly’s comments on another late lamented blog, Why Women Hate Men.

  16. speedbudget

    Misplaced and misused commas are the bane of my existence.

  17. Zrusilla

    “Life’s too short to spend it writhing in vomit, you know?” Oh, speak for yourself.

  18. Amrit

    Speedbudget: If that’s true, and I hope it is, you are among the luckiest of women.

    If we can’t dismantle the Master’s house with the Master’s tools, then why not take a more critical look at the Master’s control and dominion over grammar, usage, and style? If not, then I suspect Savage Death Island might not really be that welcoming to women who for reasons of economic or social class, or race, lack the requisite “command” of the language. If you think women are not silenced by the recent comments about grammar and usage on this blog, you are in deep, deep denial.

  19. Ruby Lou

    Thanks, Twisty, for posting about the Fugly horse blog. Never would have known about it otherwise, and in checking it out learned of the prevailing practices of horse slaughtering in this country. Absolutely appalling. And also learned of the prevailing practices of horse rescuing. This is useful to me, as I just fired my favorite charity for sleazy behavior. In one not-small corner of my heart, I’m still a horse-crazy 9-year-old who cries when a horse takes a bad fall in a cowboy show.

  20. Jill

    Amrit, I don’t disagree that grammar policing for the sake of gratuitous one-upswomanship is a tool of the patriarchy.

    Once again, I have never thrown anyone off the blog for making up her own grammar. All levels of education are represented in the Blametariat. We have commenters whose first language is not English. We have commenters who dropped out of high school. We have auto-didacts. The target audience for the discussion is, as is noted in the sidebar, advanced blamers, not PhDs.

    The only thing I really give a crap about is that the comments exhibit sufficient appreciation of the whole radical feminist dealio. That’s why I ask for advanced blamerosity with a focus on analysis rather than autobiography — I want a space where the discussion is centered on theory and social criticism, not one that is constantly mired in Feminism 101 or morphing into a support group.

    In other words, gimme actual ideas, unencumbered by hackneyed clichés and cliquey internet-speak, not a free-for-all of self-indulgent, lazy, emoticon-infested keyboard-barfing.

    This can be done in pig Latin for all I care. No good ideas are turned away.

  21. AlienNumber

    “I myself have never been able to find out what feminism is; I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat. Or LOLZ cats. Or a 17 y.o., like, ring-leader.”

    Fair enough!

  22. buttercup

    Ixnay on the igpay atinlay, huh? Not everyone understands it.

  23. buttercup

    But seriously folks. Those talking about grammar policing being oppressive (it is) are missing Jill’s point (she had one) about not using certain tired internet cliches, eleventy, as shortcuts for actual discourse. OMGWTFBBQ. It gets old, and it tends to be increasingly acceptable, even sneaking into commercials and newsprint. In my (H) opinion, it reduces the level of discourse. Nobody was talking about misplaced commas, “it’s, its, and itis”, apostrophe’s gone wild, those who bring it up do so under their own recognizance. Or something.

  24. Lovepug

    A lot of horse training suffers from a longstanding cowpoke tradition of breaking horses. I just got back from a week in Idaho where I got to ride my sister’s walker mare. The horse is a dream, but had the misfortune of a short but traumatic stint with some old cowboy before my sister got her. She dislikes men (like speedbudget’s dog), and she’s very twitchy about her head being touched. My sister has worked with her a lot though.

    After riding her, I can see how some tool would be annoyed with her. Riding her going like this: Me: we’re heading out of the pasture onto the canal road now. Horse: No, I’ve got an area of the pasture I haven’t grazed yet. Me: No, we’re riding this way now (turns horse again). Horse: Dangit! I really need to go the other way now. Me: (one more turn) We’re going the canal road now. Horse: Well, fine, but I will be snagging tall grass at each and every opportunity. Me: Deal.

    She tests you, but eventually she’ll settle in and one ends up with an awesome ride (I love these walkers – they trot like a hovercraft!). She’s actually quite a people oriented horse. But I’m sure when she gave the aforementioned cowboy the whatfor, she got a whack on the head for her trouble. I’m no horse trainer, but even I know it’s a bad idea to try to physically dominate a critter who could easily kill you with a well placed kick.

  25. yttik

    “Life’s too short to spend it writhing in vomit, you know?”

    No, I really don’t know. I can’t think of a more appropriate response to patriarchy than to writhe in vomit. I’m actually grateful so many women chose to do this virtually with a keyboard, rather than in real life.

  26. Jill

    I can’t think of a more appropriate response to patriarchy than to writhe in vomit. I’m actually grateful so many women chose to do this virtually with a keyboard, rather than in real life.

    A chacun son goût.

  27. Blind Horse

    Breaking News on the Fugly front – longtime horse-training blogger Mugwump of Mugwump Chronicles has been hired to write the Fugly blog by it’s new owners. Mugwump may barf on the keys at Fugly, but she puts a lot of thought into her own training philosophies, and conveys her ideas and training logic concisely. She shares how her philosophies have evolved over time as well. My favorite part of her blog has always been how she considers things, is constantly learning and revising, and freely admits when even long-held opinions have changed.


  28. Jill

    Good to know. I will follow her future career with great interest.

  29. speedbudget

    Hey, Amrit, I bet you have no idea what I do for a living, and that it requires lots of attention to grammatical details. But thanks for asking!

  30. Jessie

    speedbudget: Karen Pryor’s site is the one I suggest, but I see that’s been done! There’s a lot of stuff for sale on that site, but a lot of the books are quite cheap. Plus, there are lots of free articles. The book about clicker training parrots on that site really helped me when I decided to foster a male cockatoo that would attack me.

    I agree that it may also be helpful to seek out a professional trainer. They do differ dramatically in quality, so try to find one that uses a largely reward-based approach. Some behaviorists will come to your home if your dog is too fearful to initially come to a structured obedience class.

    Introducing your dog to the greater world may take some time as well. You will probably have to start with very short outings where there are few people around and gradually increase the length of outings and the amount of distractions there are.

  31. Helen

    Damnit! Blind horse, you beat me to it!
    I’ve been a Mugwump reader for a long time and I was overjoyed to find she’s the new Fugly writer.

    Here’s a sample of her writing.


  32. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Chez Niebieszczanski we’ve had good luck with the clicker. Like anything worthwhile, it takes time and patience. Try http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog. This fella’s usage and grammar will make your brain explode, but he’s good with doggies. I haven’t yet been able to discourage Sophie from wanting to frolic with the cats next door, but otherwise his methods have proven effective. Bonne chance!

  33. veganrampage

    When people make mistakes typing they may have trouble seeing. They might have a problem with their hands. Possibly, the person may be disabled, or perhaps might be using an old computer with a few keys that don’t work any more. It could be that person doesn’t have the cash on hand to replace those keys, and still feels the desire to comment. There is a possibility that person is not the dumb-phuck of all time, missing comma or not, CCP. What a risotto stirrin’ snob!

  34. Helen

    Oh for heaven’s sake Veganrampage, Mugs is an awesome horse trainer, she’s unlikely to be in the category you mention. More likely she’s overworked and heading to the barn to feed and muck out multiple horses, and lacking time for proofreading. Happens to us all. It’s perfectly legitimate to critique writing as… writing. We can distinguish between a comment and a post and an article and an essay. It’s possible to write well or badly, even the same person at different times. Did you throw a tanty when the English teacher put red pen on your writing?

    That said, I know Fugly’s writing can make the hairs stand up on the back of my neck and I know Twisty’s going to enjoy it. (Search on “Mort stories”, Twisty!)

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