Today's Quote

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Horse Slaughter on It's Way Back

On it's way back to the US that is. Currently there is legislation to reopen the slaughter facilities for horses in the United States that were closed about 10 or so years ago. There has been a lot of talk on the web on this subject and it is a highly heated and controversial subject. So I thought I would discuss my thoughts and views here. First let's go back in time to when this issue was first rearing its ugly head. There were several schools of thought years ago when this issue of closing the plants came up. The first school of thought was that horses should not be slaughtered...period. The second school of thought was that the conditions that horses were subjected too were horrendous and if they were to be slaughtered then regulations needed to be in place to ensure that they were treated humanely. The third school of thought didn't care. First let me make this clear, horses are not slaughtered for pet food. The meat is extraordinarily valuable. In the 80s, horse meat was bringing close to 18.00 a pound sold mostly to the European market. Those that argued that horse slaughter should be terminated in this country were typically hobby horse owners. They considered their horses as pets and family members. This is noble, but one thing they didn't see was that being able to send horses to slaughter that were unfit for anything else kept the market at an even keel and prevented many badly bred, ill fit horses out of the market. I particularly remember one horse that my trainer sent on down the road with the kill buyer. This was a beautiful animal...purebred Arabian with impeccable bloodlines. This horse was also dangerous. Upon arrival we decided to see what the horse could do so he was saddled and I put my foot in the stirrup to mount. At that moment the horse threw himself (with my foot in the stirrup)over backwards. He did this several times and I still have shoulder problems from where I was slammed into a nearby tree trying to escape the 1000 lbs. crashing over onto me. Each time my foot hit the stirrup the horse flung himself over onto his back. We put him up and the next day tried again with a different rider. He did the same to her. He was loaded onto the kill buyers trailer that afternoon. Had there been no kill buyer, he would have been shipped down the road and eventually would have killed some unsuspecting soul. Now, those types of horses have flooded the market because there is no where to send them. The horse market has all but died out. Free and super cheap horses abound in the classified ads. People wake up with horses in there pasture that weren't there the night before. Horses are being taken out in the country and the wild areas to be turned loose and starve, or owners are just letting them starve in their pastures because they don't have a way to move them. Shutting down the slaughter plants has done nothing but bring about misery and an uncertain future for a glorious animal. Horses are livestock. They are no more knowing or sentient than a cow or a pig. And in reality all that happened by banning horse slaughter here in the states is that horses now travel further since they are shipped to Canada or Mexico. So their plight was worsened by far. What needs to happen is that the slaughter houses need to be re-opened, but regulations need to be set in place that horses cannot arrive in double decker cattle trucks and that they must be in sound condition. With regulations in place then the animals will be treated humanely and they will no longer be starved or dumped to fend for themselves. Slaughter with a captive bolt gun is a quick death...starvation is a slow painful death. Eating a horse is no different than eating a cattle, but the perceptions in this country are quite screwed up. Horses are livestock, same as any livestock. Horses have been eaten for millenia by humans and they will continue to be eaten. However, the one thing that we can guarantee is that they meet a humane and quick death. With an economy that is making it difficult at best to feed one's family there are many that can no longer afford their horses. Horses are costly to keep. I know my feed bill would drop by over half if I didn't have my horses. There are so many horses on the market because of the down economy that people can't give them away. Believe me, I see free horses advertised all the time. How many of them are going to wind up starving or being eaten by predators in the national parks because their owners had no other recourse than to dump them out to fend for themselves. Horse slaughter is necessary, we've seen the results without it and it isn't a pretty sight. Blessings, Kat


Fiddler's Green said...

Thank you for this piece of sanity! We've been talking a lot about this in our stables and I have heard some pretty strange and unrealistic thoughts on this subject. What if we applied the same overbearing rules to Holsteins (meant for milk, not for meat)? We'd be up to our eyeballs in dried up old cows in no time! Finally, some common sense from our government.

Willows Edge Farm said...

Thank you! You're right - so many people have negative opinions about horse slaughter. Problem is, most have never owned a horse in their lives. Or tried to buy one of those crazies.
I think that rules like this, need to be left up to the people who really, truly understand ALL the ramifications of eliminating a marketplace.
I've heard the horrible stories of way too many folks who went to see a "great horse" and then brought it home and went cookoo. Drugged? Probably. Just to get rid of it and pass it on to someone else.
This will give an option for those less than desirably temperament horses and will ensure they do not continue to reproduce.

Rick said...

What a well put together piece on this topic Kat. Thanks for doing that. I agree with you 100%, eating horses is no different than cattle or hogs. If a hobby horse owner chooses to eat something else then fine. No reason that others should not. Will be interesting to see how our major media markets portray this whole story.

teekaroo said...

That is good news. I do view horses as being above cattle and I have been riding since before I can remember. As a horse producer, I can certainly agree that shutting down horse slaughter has all but killed the horse market. We need an outlet to keep the market balanced. Well written post.