Monthly Archives: February 2016

Heart Of Darkness


bludgeoned heartWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

Is eating out in trendy restaurants in Toronto supposed to be enjoyable any more? Or has it just become another display of gluttony and disordered behaviour, where people obsess over the hunt for the perfect dish of raw meat and take pictures of their food rather than who they are dining with? Pop culture is now overrun with the fetishization of food; cooking shows, celebrity chefs and blogs. In a piece by Rebecca Fleming, whose Valentine’s Day Special is rife with foodie-related nose-to-tail misery for animals, Toronto Life ensures that dining has never been more joyless to read about.

The article, entitled Eight Ways To Eat Heart In Toronto On Valentine’s Day must surely have been written by someone gunning for a PhD in grand master trolling. The premise of this pretentious article is that trendy hipsters should be eating animal hearts on V-Day, because, according to the author, it’s far more romantic than Orville Redenbacher’s and a rom-com.” It’s an article where eating prioritizes cachet above humanity.

On the menu at these restos (The Black Hoof, Bar Buca, Zakkushi, and Antler Kitchen Bar),  are chicken hearts, bison hearts, raw kitchen bitcheshorse hearts, and duck hearts – heart-shaped or “skewered just like Cupid would do!” If I could say one thing to consumers of these foods is “please think about what you’re looking at for a moment. “ Each of these animals used the heart to pump blood through their bodies. The heart (also a symbol of romantic or courtly love) is a hard-working muscle, and as with all organs, they have “weird” shapes, textures, and colours, and perhaps to a greater extent than skeletal muscle, it should remind you that this was once a living creature.

No matter what they themselves may say, people who patronize restaurants offering such gruesome fare are not, IMO animal lovers. They may profess to love individual species, such as dogs, cats, and other domesticated animals, but they don’t mind participating in the torture of the “less cute” animals. Not only are they meat-eaters, but they’re unethical meat-eaters. They patronize these restaurants for the sake of trendiness, so they support a system that exacts unnecessary cruelty on animals – breeding them to be weak and sickly, giving them a miserable life, and then delivering the low-quality product to their table.

And sorry (not sorry) restaurateurs, but most of the entrées depicted in the article are utterly indistinguishable from something that comes out of a hospital vending machine or a McCain’s Tasti-Taters bag. Not exactly consistent with my stock image of Valentine’s Day realness.

Jen Agg, proprietor of The Black Hoof, tweets that her customers are douches. The tweet represents a growing "culture war" between restaurant owners and their patrons. Of course they are douches - if they think it's cool to eat these tiny little heart as some sort of celebration of Valentine's Day, they certainly don't care about your staff...

Jen Agg, proprietor of The Black Hoof, tweets that her customers are douches.  Of course they are douches – they’re eating raw meat in your restaurant,  maybe it’s a primal thing?  They certainly don’t care about your staff…

Let Us Make Horses Relevant Again…

Photo collage by Tink Photography - Morgan horse Hylee's Rhizzon with Kaleigh Tink

Photo collage by Tink Photography – Morgan horse Hylee’s Rhizzon with Kaleigh Tink

Written by Catherine Sampson/trainer/owner/clinician at Trillium Equine Complex/Trillium Morgan Horse Farm, Orono, Ontario

LET US MAKE HORSES RELEVANT AGAIN to a whole new generation that is lost to organized sports, technology gadgets, peer pressure and unhealthy lifestyles and choices.

There is NOTHING more gratifying than to give trustingly of one’s self both emotionally and physically than when you work with horses. They can be an enlightened path in a world of torment and temptation. They make for a strong mane to cry into when no one else seems to notice. They will challenge you and reward you in ways you never thought possible. They will also stand by you and listen to your words in whatever language you speak. They will unload the mind of its troubles of the day by simply allowing the person to focus on them and not themselves. They are the perfect stress fighter and best friend who never judges or belittles.

Many of my generation knows the value and life lessons horses teach. They are incredible mentors in a child’s life. They represent physical strength, strong emotional bonds, the importance of respect, trust, giving and sharing. They are not a hockey stick, basketball, football, dirt bike, tennis racket or any other inanimate object. They are a living animal with moral values to teach us and lessons to be learned. They are partners.

As riding and driving companions, horses demand physical effort and strength. They demand we have courage, sound thinking, awareness, sensitivity and above all confidence in ourselves. They make us look deep within and learn about who we are and discover how capable we truly can be. This is such a fragile comparison between size and strength, yet the minds of both bodies intertwine as strong as any steel when trust binds them together. I can think of no other sport or animal that defines us so strongly as humans because of this emotional link between a horse and its rider.

The horse has been with us for such a long time. I’m sad to see its numbers steadily decline and its popularity wane in a world that so desperately needs to find itself again. For those of us who still live passionately through our horses, we owe it to the horse to educate and promote their benefits to an unknowing public.

Reach out to the youth and people in our communities. Promote the horse and all the wonderful attributes it contributes to society from physical activity to emotional support and beyond. The horse can be a life changer and a game changer for so many people waiting to discover its magic.”

~ Catherine Sampson



Dalrahza RIP

Photo by Robin Burkimsher

*post script* I’m a former client of Catherine Sampson.  When I wanted to learn how to drive a carriage, all other clinicians told me my horse Dalrahza was, at 15, “too old to learn anything new” (she was a former working cow horse who competed in the US Nationals, and later my lower level dressage and trail horse) But Catherine knew that horses (and their people) can always learn new things, and Dalrahza embarked on yet another career as a competitive carriage driving horse.

Life is short. Be brave. Love horses. Take some chances and learn new things. I might be too old to take up competitive cheer-leading, but learning itself never gets old.