December 1, 2011

The Ubiquitous Horse Slaughter Discussions

Like so many things, my opinion on horse slaughter has changed entirely between pre-college and post-college.  I never felt strongly about it before college, but always felt sort of negatively toward horse slaughter, because we're generally conditioned to see fuzzy animals dying in a negative light.  It was during a Dr. Marks lecture my first semester of college that my opinion really solidified.

1. I am in favor of horse slaughter.*
   - *As long as current market conditions persist.
2. I am not opposed to the eating of horse meat by others, though I wouldn't eat it myself.  It's the reverse of the situation with cows and the Hindu religion, so I don't see that we have the right to tell others what they should and shouldn't do, based on our own ideas.

Those "current market conditions" are irresponsible breeding: too many people are breeding too many low-quality horses.  The line isn't drawn between small breeders and large commercial breeders either, because there are people like Lisa who turn out 2-5 extremely high quality foals each year, and there are people who turn out 2-5 poorly built foals without much of a future each year.  I'd love to see horse slaughter go away permanently - if people stopped saturating the marketing with poorly-bred horses.

In dogs and in horses, I wholeheartedly believe in responsible breeders.  I foster Huskies for a rescue, but you won't see me get on my soapbox and tell you people who buy from breeders and don't rescue are bad people.  I believe so strongly in what Lisa is doing, and in what Dr. Marks does with her corgis, and in what Allyn does with her Belgian Warmbloods, and I want to see those people succeed.  For them to succeed, there has to be a market for their horses, and when the market is flooded with poor quality horses, not only do their businesses suffer, but those poorly built horses suffer, and the good, higher-priced horses suffer waiting longer to be purchased.

There are other, disputable, points that support horse slaughter, such as poorly done home euth's and cases of equine abandonment rise when slaughter is banned, and the theory that horses bound for slaughter are bound for it one way or another, if not in the US than in Mexico or Canada, and then they're just suffering more: on a trailer for longer, and possibly being killed in a plant with lower euthanasia standards.

Finally, especially after living in Italy, I am okay with other people eating horsemeat.  Food scarcity is only going to get worse, and we can't afford to turn down such an available source of protein, for those that want it.  After becoming best friends with a Japanese girl while living abroad, I understand more fully the role horsemeat plays in their culture - that it's just like cow or pig here.  It makes sense to me, and I support it, because I'm personally against telling others what to do based on my own morals.

For what it's worth, for the most personal effect horse slaughter has had on me, my college used to take field trips to DeKalb for anatomy lessons.  My professor would also use those trips to collect forelimbs and hooves for the farrier science classes to practice on, legs for the lameness class to dissect, and other body parts for other classes to see.  Now, she has to scrape and scramble for dissection samples, beg for stillborn mini foals to use for anatomy lessons, and the classes are just generally less rich than they were.

Like it or not, if you're a responsible horse person, it's important to understand that this is one of those, "You've made your bed, now lie in it," situations.  Dealing with horse slaughter is only dealing with the band-aid, and it won't cease to exist until people take responsibility for their own actions.


  1. Thank you for presenting a well-worded, well-founded, and well-everything argument! People are always so shocked to hear horse-lovers supporting slaughter, yet with current trends and mind-sets, it really is necessary.

  2. Very well stated! I think those who know me would be surprised on my view of this topic also. Especially since our first OTTB was saved from a kill buyer by Friends of Ferdinand.

  3. Thanks, Hannah and Kelly! I feel very strongly and passionately about horse slaughter. I can't understand how you could be an equine professional in the current market and not be in favor of it.