Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Good News in the "Unwanted" Horse Problem

My previous post generated a few emotionally charged comments. I wasn't surprised, and I feel that a few of those comments reinforced my point that making decisions based solely on emotions tends to result lack of education and unintended consequences.

I do want to reinforce my stance on this issue. I am very reluctantly in favor of it, but only as a last resort, when all other options have been exhausted. Once a better alternative is available, I will turn anti-slaughter without a moment's hesitation. However, now that all such facilities in the U.S. have been closed, I am not in favor of shipping them to Canada or Mexico. The conditions in the shipping trailers are horrifying, and only make a bad situation worse.

When I first learned that slaughter facilities existed for horses, I was repulsed. In my opinion, no other animal, save the Eagle, symbolizes the United States of America more than the horse. Although they were imported from Europe, they are part and parcel of the history of this great country. How could we actually continue to slaughter them in this day and age?

Not being one to form opinions without researching the facts first, I learned why they exist, and reluctantly accepted it as a necessary evil.

I found a copy of the May 2009 issue of Horse Illustrated laying around yesterday (apparently Che Buckskin has a subscription). To my surprise, I discovered an article entitled "Unwanted Horse Solutions". It is part 2 of a series. I searched about for the April issue, which contains the first article, "The Unwanted Horse Problem". The article regarding the solutions was of the most to me.

While the closure of these facilities as led to a glut of neglected and abandoned horses, there is a silver lining in the cloud. According to Horse Illustrated, many of the breed associations are actively addressing the problem head on. The American Quarter Horse Association is working to educate members on the problems with irresponsible breeding. The Jockey Club, the breed registry for Thoroughbreds in the U.S. is allowing rescue and adoption agencies free access to racing tattoo information, to allow them to better assess the horses they have.

Many animal welfare organizations are working to reduce the number of unwanted horses, through education and support of the many equine rescues in existence. From Horse Illustrated, "Another example of organizations working together to help rescues is a proposal drafted by a faculty organization at the University of California, Davis. Under the proposal, a template outlines how communities across the nation could create shelters for horse in much the same way as small-animal shelter have done".

It has taken years for this situation to be created. It will take years to correct it. But, at least, the equestrian community is beginning to tackle the problem.


Anonymous said...

The issue of "unwanted" horses needs to be addrssed at the elemental level. For starters, the demand for US horsemeat in Europe - toxic substances such as i=onece-a-month wirmers be dam#4ed, drives the dirty, dirty bird of US horse slaughter.

I thnik the elemantal question is this: Are you OK with horses being bled, cut up, de-hoofed while they are still feeling the pain?

No?? Please, please me: Log on as a visitor and take a stand for the horses. You will feel - and be - the inscrutable other side.

Anonymous said...

You've got to be kidding! The AQHA is the biggest promoter of slaughter around! Why? Because every foal on the ground is another registration fee for their coffers. In the 2008 convention speech by AQHA Exec VP Bill Brewer, he says that the AQHA needs MORE QH's! Don't take my word for it - Google it!

Horse slaughter proponents have used the same tired arguments for years - old and sick horses, abandoned horses, unwanted horses, the conspiracy by animal rights groups to turn everyone into vegans, on and on. The arguments are plausible because they come from "experts" in the horse field. Think again and follow the money. Breeders and others have every thing to gain and nothing to lose if horse slaughter becomes legal once more. The auction ring is a discount store for "seconds", if you will. Horses that are not quite the right color, or have less than perfect conformation can be sold for $100 - and when you do the math, it's a hefty amount for someone who's sending 99% of his colts to slaughter and keeping the one diamond in the bunch. No matter that there are dozens of emeralds and pearls in the pasture...all but the diamonds have only "salvage" value. Without a slaughter market, the breeder won't be as inclined to do an embryo transfer of a championship mare and sire into hundreds of brood mares. With a ready market for the excess industry, there is no incentive to keep breeding to a reasonable level. Follow the money. Why does the AMVA support slaughter? All you have to do is know that large breeders have much higher vet bills than the average Joe with a horse. Again, follow the money.

I strongly encourage you to do some more research into this issue and to question the veracity of some of the largest proponents of slaughter in the country.

This site has proven consistenly reliable, fact-based and unemotional. Give them a try.

There are many other organizations who care more about horses than their value as a palate pleaser. You'll find them all over the country and from every walk of life.

Please take this opportunity to give the other side a chance to counter the irresponsible claims by groups who truly know better, but are putting profit ahead of integrity.

My email si if you would care to follow up with me.

Thank you,
Maeve :)

Buckskins Rule said...

Maeve, thank you for visiting and commenting. I have done more research on this than you realize. My posts here are only intended to scratch the surface of this problem, as opposed to write an in depth expose.

Yes, the breed organizations are not clean in this matter. But they are taking the first steps towards correcting their wrongs. It's not reasonable to think this situation will be fixed overnight.

The problem with this issue is that it is emotion driven. Emotions do not lend themselves toward solving problems.

blueprints said...

Buckskins Rule,
I'm sure that you came across the medication issue in American horses in your research then, yes? In case you hadn't I'll just recap that American horses are not raised or medicated as food animals. Over 70% of currently legal horse medications are NOT LEGAL in food animals or have never been tested for side effects in people as they were never intended to be ingested. Therein lies the issue -- 1% of American horses ARE being slaughtered for human consumption abroad. This is ILLEGAL according to our own and EU food laws. Please do not just take my word for it -- look it up. The violations are clear in the USDA Red Books! The US has no way of tracking which horses receive which medications throughout their lifetime. (I'm sure you've seen that Congress had to get involved with the racing industry last summer because the industry couldn't regulate medications.) Other countries have had to implement costly tracking systems for this very medication issue (note GB, EU and Australia as examples). Canada is now concerned about all of the American horses being slaughtered there now breaking down their equine slaughter system because the US has no tracking. Did you know that a horse slaughterhouse in Canada has just been closed because of food safety concerns? This was one that slaughtered mainly US horses. Again, please look it up. It's all there. Would you be in favor of implementing a tracking system (about $100 per horse for ALL 9.2 million horses in the US) just so 1% can be slaughtered overseas for fancy European dinners?

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