Ask any educated equine enthusiast in the industry currently, and you will receive unanimous agreement that one of the most prominent problems in the equine industry is in fact, the rapidly increasing horse population in the United States. This issue has been a constant one over recent years. The skyrocketing population of horses is second to various factors, but there are solutions available. Unfortunately, the option that many are looking towards right now is slaughter. Horse slaughter is not the answer for various reasons, and until these problems are resolved, breeders, horse brokers, owners, trainers and more will live with the constant fear of their beloved equines being slaughtered for someone's meal.
As uninfluential as it may seem for the equestrian community, the economy plays a massive role in this tragic mass murder. Unfortunately, horse ownership has become a luxury only available to people with enough money to sustain the cost of maintaining a horse. Horses require grains, pellets, vitamins, hay, and additional supplements and cannot be sustained purely off of grass from a field. Recently, the prices of grain and hay have increased, primarily because the cost of the diesel fuel used to harvest and then transport the grain and hay has increased at an alarming rate. Anothering cost people have to consider is the boarding of their horse. Depending on the quality and resources provided by a barn, boarding costs can be anywhere from $400 dollars to $2,500 dollars per month, and because all of these major expenses add up so drastically, many people have decided that financially, they cannot handle the burden of their beloved horses. Unfortunately, selling a horse, or even giving a horse away is not at all easy and the trading of horses, barely exists at all. People are breeding more horses that there are homes available for, and arrogantly discarding horses that are born in the wrong color or the don’t have the desired markings. Horse breeding has become a well known and relatively popular hobby for many involved in the equine industry. And many farms that breed, produce anywhere from five to twenty more foals each year. Larger breeding companies produce an even more alarming number around 100 foals each year. The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), is one of the biggest horse registries in the world. Around 150,000 new foals are registered each year in that registry alone. There are approximately three hundred equine registries in the United States. Each one of these registries has breeders who produce new foals each year. Taking all of these registries into consideration, as well as private individual breeders, there are nearly one million foals being born each year.
One of the more controversial solutions that are being considered to halt the immense overpopulation is horse slaughter. Often dubbed, “Euthanasia,” this cruel treatment is nothing near the humane painless death that is defined as euthanasia. In 2007, the last few equine slaughter plants in the U.S. where shut down. The reasoning was that funding was too low to pay USDA to inspect and clear the meat for consumption. While, this step was a crucial move towards the end of this inhumane practice, as a country, we still have a long way to go.
Many who are supporters of this market being revived in the United States, feel that giving the funding back to this program, unwanted, crippled, old, sick, and some dangerous horses, could be disposed of with little struggle and the equine market itself will quickly regrow into a healthier market.. Unfortunately however, following the end of this meats production in the U.S., thousands of horse from our country are being shipped around the world to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered for meat.
Many argue, what’s the difference between the slaughter of other farm animals, such as cows, chicken, pigs and sheep, and the slaughter of horses. It is also a common misconception that slaughter is a humane and painless way to rid of the excessive equine population. It is us who bred all of these animals, and therefore, it is our responsibility to keep them from suffering right? And their slaughter would prevent much of that suffering? While there are some horses who are slaughtered who are injured, elderly, or ill, hundreds of horses are healthy, fit, and perfectly rideable, are slaughtered. A study done by USDA/APHIS showed that 92 percent of American horses that were slaughtered in American slaughter plants, were perfectly healthy. The plants prefer a horse that is of a healthy weight, over a horse who is underweight because they are priced by the pound.
The actual process of slaughter itself is immensely cruel and inhumane. Unlike many people believe, euthanasia, and slaughter, are two extremely different practices. The process of slaughtering these innocent creatures begins typically at a horse auction. Often, families who can no longer care for their beloved equine bring them to a horse auction, oblivious to the horrifying destiny that awaits most horses that are sold off at auction. “Killer-buyers,” the messengers between the slaughter plants and auctions, bid on the horses, purchasing them. From there on out, the horse will endure painful and cruel treatment. Usually transportation consists of 24 or more hours crammed into an over populated trailer, with no water, food, or rest. Often this process is enough to critically injure, or even kill the horses. If a horse is lucky enough, or maybe unlucky enough, to survive to transit to the slaughter house, their torture will continue unabated. With brutal force, the horses are herded through the plant while workers ruthlessly beat the horses with fiberglass rods, focusing on the horse's faces, necks, backs, and legs. In many plants in Mexico, the horses are also stabbed along their spine in order to paralyze them. These forms of abuse are merely the ones that are considered, “normal,” but various horses have been rescued from these plants with dismembered limbs and their eyeballs hanging from a thread of skin. Horses by nature, as animals of prey, often have a flighty nature, making this entire process more unbearable for them.
Overall, Mr. or Mrs. President. This issue is obviously a very prominent one that need to be addressed as soon as possible. The sooner it is addressed the more innocent lives we can save. We need to direct people to the proper resources which often are available for them and in places that they are not available currently we need to make sure that they are available and easily accessible. This inhumane practice needs to end our nation needs to stop fueling it. Please, for the sake of these beautiful creatures, stop this murder.