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2015 Best of HN #24: 4 Internet Horse Myths

Spoiler alert: we’re about to crush your hopes, dreams and favorite Facebook shares. You have been warned.

I am not a very fun Facebook friend. (I’d like to think I’m a SUPER FUN real-life friend though.)

But really, I’m probably the Facebook friend that people love to hate: when I see people sharing headlines and stories that sound just too good to be true, I head on over to Snopes, the internet clearinghouse for myths, urban legends and total bull. When the headline proves inevitably to be false, I comment on said friend’s link with the news. Petty? Maybe, but since I make a living encouraging people to educate themselves by reading, I consider it my civic duty.

Which is why we’re raining all over your parade today by debunking these four incredibly Facebook-pervasive email-forward-friendly horse stories that, sadly for horse lovers everywhere, are totally untrue.

Table and Chairs Horse Shelter

table and chairs

Now how totally cute is this? What an ingenious farmer to come up with a creative way to buck the system and get what he needs for his horses. In this case, the photo is totally 100% real … but the caption is fake.

The true story is that this farm owner in Germany is also a wood merchant: these enormous pieces of furniture were constructed to advertise his business. They do happen to double as a source of shade for the horses in the pasture, but they were not built as some sort of wily work-around for a building permit. (They wouldn’t do a very good job blocking wind, anyway.) We’ll give the creators of the fake story some credit, though — it’s a pretty cute idea.

Mule Kills Mountain Lion

“A couple from Montana were out riding on the range, he with his rifle and she (fortunately) with her camera. Their dogs always followed them, but on this occasion a Mountain Lion decided that he wanted to stalk the dogs (you’ll see the dogs in the background watching). Very, very bad decision… The hunter got off the mule with his rifle and decided to shoot in the air to scare away the lion, but before he could get off a shot the lion charged in and decided he wanted a piece of those dogs. With that, the mule took off and decided he wanted a piece of that lion. That’s when all hell broke loose … for the lion. As the lion approached the dogs the mule snatched him up by the tail and started whirling him around. Banging its head on the ground on every pass. Then he dropped it, stomped on it and held it to the ground by the throat. The mule then got down on his knees and bit the thing all over a couple of dozen times to make sure it was dead, than whipped it into the air again, walked back over to the couple (that were stunned in silence) and stood there ready to continue his ride… as if nothing had just happened. Fortunately even though the hunter didn’t get off a shot, his wife got off these 4 …”

mulelion01
mulelion02
mulelion03
mulelion04

Phew! Don’t mess with a territorial mule! … sort of. Like the tables and chairs described above, the photos are real but the story is not. While the first photo indeed looks like the mule has grabbed a live and angry lion by the tail, the mountain lion is in fact already dead — the mule’s owner had shot and killed it. The owner reported to Western Mule Magazine that “Berry” had been aggressively interested in dead mountain lions ever since he bought the animal, and with each subsequent lion kill got more and more aggressive, flinging and shaking the dead lions all about.

52 Thoroughbreds Need Homes

Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 10.34.57 AM

(See what I mean? I am the wet-blanket Facebook friend.)

Note that this post was shared to my Facebook page in February of this year. When I searched Facebook for “52 thoroughbreds” I found posts that were shared as recently as this morning. While these 52 thoroughbreds were in fact in need of homes back in January and February of 2011, they were all successfully rehomed within four days (our sister site Eventing Nation covered the story.)

The “52 thoroughbreds” story demonstrates the double-edged sword that is social media: it’s so easy to simply click and share instantly that stories and photos can spread in a matter of minutes. While this can be incredibly useful for spreading the word about a worthy cause, it can also be a problem when the actual story or photo doesn’t include some kind of time stamp. Hence, people still believe today, four and a half years later, that 52 thoroughbreds are destined for slaughter, this week, in Ohio, and frantically share and share and encourage their friends to go save these animals that have long since started enjoying new lives.

That Moment You Realize It Spells Horse

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The jury is still out on how many of my Facebook friends share this because they think it’s real, as opposed to the ones who share it because they think it’s cool. (Judging by the number of over-the-top reactions, I’m afraid a lot of them think it’s real.) Sorry, folks, this is simply a picture of the rare and elusive Photoshop Pinto. This image was the second-place winner in a Worth1000.com photo effects contest.

Here’s the original, unaltered photo with the altered photo shown below for comparison:

Snopes.com

Hey, as far as photo editing goes, they did a pretty good job.

If you’re now silently weeping at your computer, I’m terribly sorry … but now you know the truth! And you can now scroll through Facebook with a new sense of superiority over your less-informed friends.

What other horsey “internet legends” have you seen that simply aren’t true? Share them in the comments section!

Go riding!

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