Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Finally, a topical hot-button post.

First, cause I know yall care deeply about my wellbeing, it's just a cold and hopefully I'll sleep it off tonight.

I've been watching my horse related social media all day, and here's what I think (cause I know yall care deeply about my not very humble opinions):

Horse slaughter and consumption of horse meat are two separate issues that get conflated in almost everything I've read.

I am deeply opposed to inhumane horse slaughter, just like I'm deeply opposed to the inhumane death of any other living thing. I am also opposed to eating horsemeat - that shit ain't safe, yall. But I wouldn't mind a well-designed and run horse slaughter plant. (I think we should ship the humanely-slaughtered, bute and dewormer laden horse meat to China.)

If those rednecks in Wyoming or wherever actually build and run a truly humane slaughterhouse for horses, fine. If they don't, I'll rail against the deplorable conditions there, just like I rail against the deplorable conditions in Mexico, where all the unwanted horses get shipped today. (I am not sure if the conditions in Canadian slaughterhouses are deplorable, but I think the double-decker rides to get there are probably pretty hellish, so I don't like our northern friends' plants either.)

I still think you're an asshole if you take a horse to auction, especially if it's older, unsound, or not dead broke. I know that shit happens and sometimes you can't keep your animals, but if you can't find your horse a decent home, euthanize it. That's what credit cards are for: vet bills.


  1. I was reading about this at work, and it seems like everyone is hysterics at the wrong end of the issue. If the numerous surplus horses didn't exist, or if people took responsibility for the placement of their horses that they sell, then this wouldn't be an issue. I don't like horse slaughter, no, and as such I went veggie. Is it going to still happen? Yes. Has outlawing it stopped it? No, it made for longer trips in horrid conditions to unregulated ends.

    With all of the panic flying around on the internet, I feel like we're in the minority for saying that people letting horses get into this situation is the real crime, but at least the end can be marginally better for those that do end up in the pipeline.

    Hope ya feel better. :)

  2. Yeah, I agree. But I just don't know if I'm comfortable with regulating breeding. It's a classic slippery slope.

    There's a lot of assholes in the world, and animals always suffer by them. Buddha was right, life means suffering, but change has to come from within.

  3. Funder--I agree with everything you said there. And I think we should focus on humane slaughter for horses--I did a post on that one time--in the same sense that I try to give my grass fed beef a good life and a trauma free death. I hope there are a few intelligent souls who realize that by banning slaughter in America we actually INCREASED the amount slaughter bound horses suffer--they are hauled further, to die under arguably worse conditions. What we are doing isn't working. We need to look at different alternatives.

    And double amen to the fact that it is 100% irresponsible and downright cruel to take an older/crippled horse to the sale to get rid of him/her. Yes, you must pony up for euthanasia, or a competent person to shoot the horse. Closing your mind to what is going to happen to your horse when you drop him off at the auction makes you an asshole. Period.

  4. A tiny rant...

    Let's say the (minimum) average cost to properly feed and care for a horse is +/- $350 per month. Feed, hay, vet, farrier - board and extras not included. It's likely higher with the blasted hay shortage.

    If you can't afford humane euthanasia - you simply can't afford to own a horse, period. If you are a large scale horse operation, humane euthanasia is part of the cost of doing business.

    Also - bute, banamine, wormers and may other horse meds and supplements explicitly say on label, "not for use in horses meant for human consumption". The Europeans and Japanese buying this meat have been sold a bill of goods about it's healthiness and safety.

    The Ag lobby and American Quarter Horse Association have blocked the passage of the various anti slaughter bills for years. Money talks.

    I spent over four years as the NC coordinator of American's Against Horse Slaughter trying to get legislation passed. If you want to become cynical, try being an unpaid lobbyist...

  5. There is WAY too much that needs to be done/changed with horse slaughter before I could agree with it.

    If I had my way, there would be no such thing as a kill buyer. If you want to slaughter your horse, you need to take him there yourself, fill out paperwork proving he's yours, and then be there with him when it happens. Once it's done, sign on the dotted line and be on your merry way.

    Horses are prey animals and I can just imagine the kind of fear they experience before they die in the slaughterhouse. It sickens me.

  6. I remember that post, Laura. It wasn't as well received as it should've been!

    I agree that a gunshot can be just as "good" as death as chemical euthanasia. Yeah, it can go wrong, but so can the blue juice.

    It took us two years to pay off the $1500 bill for Champ's final illness. (Four hours of diagnostics only! Didn't even try to treat when I learned the extent of what was going wrong.) If you haven't been an asshole to your vet, they'll work out payments with you. There's no reason, except a truly messed-up fear of death, to auction your sick old fellow.

  7. i2p - Yeah, a truly humane slaughterhouse would be no worse than a gunshot or needle in the pasture. They can do it for cows - they wander calmly around the corner after their buddy and bam it's over. That's the kind of horse slaughter I support. I do not have high hopes that that's what we'll get. :(

  8. I don't like horse slaughter...but I recognize that when you've got too many large animals wandering around, you've got to do something with the excess. Preferably something sensible...

    It surely would be wonderful if folks would quit overbreeding. That would help a bunch. And with the existing economy, I think that many responsible breeders have cut way back. You know what that leaves, then: the non-responsible breeders. Sigh.

    It is my hope that by returning slaughterhouses to American soil, we can also enact AND ENFORCE basic regulations for humanitarian transport and killing, as well as basic regs for keeping the med-laden animals out of the foodchain. According to lytha at the horsecrazyamerican blog, the vets routinely ask owners (before vaccinating, etc) if the horse is intended for "wurst," because the available treatment options are distinctly different for an animal that is slated to become food. We don't do that here...unless we change the way we do things here.

    I think that's kind of the bottom line: what we did before didn't work. what we're doing now doesn't work. we need to do something else . With this legislation change, perhaps we will.

    I know, I know. Faith like this, I should be buying lotto tix. I still kinda believe in Santa, too.

  9. I, like you, am not opposed to humane slaughter of any animal, but people get all hysterical about the wrong stuff. Just because we don't eat horsemeat doesn't mean that we can forbid the rest of the world from doing so. I would actually prefer slaughter houses here in the US, where we can regulate them instead of shipping the horses God-knows-where.

  10. I agree with in2paints about how the slaughter plants should work.

    There should be no middleman in this network and I also think no $$ should be paid for horseflesh.

    I have no problem with the owner taking their horse to the plant personally and having it killed, and I actually think the rifle is a better method than the captive bolt for horses.

    I do think they should have to stay for the event however, and there should be a limit to how many animals you can have slaughtered- to prevent the kill buyers from running around scamming people out of their horses for a buck.

    I really do despise the system as it is now and as it was before the slaughter plants were closed here in the US.

    Personally, I'd shoot my own horses before sending them off to an uncertain fate at an auction.

  11. One, obviously biased, article kept trying to hit the point home that 70% of Americans oppose slaughter of horses. What I have tried to tell my non-horse friends is if you ask the questions "do you oppose horse slaughter in the US" without giving the person a chance to say "but" following their answer, I can agree with the 70%. BUT, do these people who oppose slaughter in the US even understand that although it is not legal in the US it is STILL legal to ship to Mexico and Canada and the understand that we do not regulate those countries. Do they understand how they are shipped to these places. Have they ever seen a pregnant mare, its foal, a two year old filly and 4 uncut stallions on the same truck and what happens to those horses on the truck? Would their answer still be the same to opposing US slaughter?

    Seriously, I made someone cry. I didn't mean to, but I was trying to drive home my point that just because the US banned slaughter, slaughter has NOT stopped and those opposed need to look at the big picture rather than putting their hands over their eyes and ears. MY horses will never go to slaughter. I will put a gun to their head and drop them myself before that happens. But those 70% need to know the ban has not stopped inhumane treatment of horses on the way to their death. It continues to happen in other ways.

  12. Well said, I'll pull up a chair next to you!

  13. This is a real hot topic here! As an ex Traffic Policeman, (used to check semi`s carrying animals to slaughter etc) A horse owner, and a confirmed anti horse meat eater!

    Here is my twopence worth:
    Italy imports thousands of horses from the Argentine, each year for horse meat.
    At our Horse sales/auctions here in the UK, there is always someone buying horses for fattening up, for export to our ("favourite" friends in France). All at the moment travel live across europe. eating Horse meat in the Uk is illegal. When an owner has a horse disposed of, the choice is Chemical or Bullet. One costs around £70 pounds the other over £300 pounds. Guess which one most choose. A horse shot, goes into the pet food chain. A Euthanased horse is cremated.
    As an ex Traffic cop, I and my colleagues stopped many vehicles carrying horses to France, over crowded, under fed, no water, and many ill, from varying diseases.

    Today, thankfully things have changed, there is still room for improvement, but the transportation is still an issue. We here would love to see the slaughter happen in the uk, before travelling. But the bloody French want the horses live?

    Why is that? Anyway, groups here are working hard to stop all this. Animal welfare laws here have been toughened up! But as always, human beings will find a way round them.

    My humble opinion, offered here is, for uk horse owners to be held responsible for any horse they breed, and produce from, they should be forced to euthanase any horse they own, in the presence of a vet, that is too ill, or too old, or too badly injured to carryon.

    Finally, would that we were perfect, perhaps we would think more of the end game of our horses lives, before we buy!

  14. Bravo! And to the other reasonable voices added here. So many message boards I read talk about "save all the horses!." I never get into that discussion, because many people truly do not think about the logistics. Would it be best if there were no unwanted horses and no slaughter? Of course.

    But most horse folk I know can't take on another, this luxury animal. I am doing the best I can with my one horse, will always do right by him.

    Most people would agree that a quick death is better than any suffering, so I hope we can figure out a way for that to happen, while we try to change the minds of people who think of any creature as a throwaway commodity.

  15. As a non-horse person who opposes inhumane slaughter of any animal but understands the need for humane euthanasia of some overpopulated breeds (feral cats in my geographic area, for example), I applaud your post and the comments that follow. It is good to 'meet' horsepeople who are actively discussing this issue and trying to find better ways. The real problem, as some have stated, is the overbreeding by some and irresponsible disposal by many - those who sell indiscriminately, wear rose-tinted glasses as they take their ill, old, crippled mare to auction, who view horses as a commodity instead of as sentient beings.
    Thank you for this post.

  16. I have the best readers, I really do.

    Chey - I've been wondering what the UK slaughter laws are like, thanks!

    Jean - oddly, I often think of you when I think about horse slaughter. Equestrians, in general, want horses to be friends not food, just like you want pigs to be. :)

  17. Funder--That post I wrote about horse slaughter? Most of the comments were very favorable. But we all got trapped by the logistics. How to get "clean" horse meat? And I did not know that the way I have my steers killed (shot while they are grazing--by a professional ranch killer--no hauling, no stress, no suffering) is not legal if you are going to sell the meat (I don't sell meat).

    But here's a point for you. People talk about the dewormers and bute in horse meat. Guess what? If you buy conventionally raised beef at the market, I can assure you that its been dewormed and given hormonal implants (and possibly antibiotics) within six months of slaughter. How do I know this? Conventionally raised beef only lives to be about 18 months old. Up until the last ninety days (or so) it is dewormed, given implants, treated with antibiotics for illness and given some pretty strong systemic meds to fight various bugs (flies, lice..etc). So if you think the beef you buy is a whole lot cleaner than horsemeat, think again. (This is one of the reasons I raise my own beef.)

  18. Hi Funder! A couple of years ago, a new Animal Welfare Act came into force. It has put the onus, squarely on the animal owner for welfare, abuse, and many other things. But most of all, it gives the Regulatory bodies the right to sieze, any animal, that appears badly treated, misused, or abandoned. It has been tested! I`m pleased to say, it remains in force!
    Before this act, it was exceedingly hard for the Agencies to prove harm, now its the owner who has to prove "no" harm. Things have changed.

  19. Can I just make one iddy biddy comment here?? A-FRICKING-MEN!!!! I am totally with ya...

  20. After seeing Temple Grandin's slide presentation last evening - I'm about ready to be a Vegan!

  21. Well said.

    I would love to live in a place where every animal - horse, cat, and dog in particular - are handled with dignity through out life and death.

    But we don't. We gas dogs and cats, ignore the plight of the unsound old horse, turn our head when the view gets uncomfortable.

    I hope they really do something to make these plants humane. I can only impact my animals, realistically, and will ensure that they are treated with the dignity befitting their spirit.

    And my own.


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