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Slaughter - Equiraptor's Journal
Thanks to decibel45 for showing me the links and encouraging me to post, and to drfardook for posting his thoughts on the matter, with the NYT link.

"Horses Spared in U.S. Face Death Across the Border"

Once upon a time, I rode horses. I started riding when I was nine. The place I rode was pretty low budget. They didn't have a stable or permanent stalls. They had a tack shed... And a round pen... And temporary stalls that they could set up if a horse was ill or injured and needed to be isolated. But the horses spent most of their time out in the pastures. There were a few pastures... Texas land, so not the best, but the horses received both grain and hay, so they weren't dependent upon the pastures for food. They were able to live in a herd with a social structure, pecking order, etc. The way horses would live in the wild (well, kinda. Geldings don't exist in the wild, but close enough).

Most of the horses were essentially "retired." They'd lived their first lives, mostly as farm and ranch horses, but sometimes as a person's horse (pet/competition animal), sometimes as school horses for a different stable. A few of the horses were born and raised on-site. They worked hard in the summer when they were used for the summer camps, and spent the school year mostly lazing around, with a few lessons. For a horse, it was a relatively good life. Not really any hard work, just long work in the summer, and lots of time to just be a horse.

If I'm remembering what I heard correctly, and what I heard was correct in the first place, most of this place's horses were purchased for $800 to $1000. They were given whatever re-training they may need to become the kind of school horses we needed, and then they lived this life. Some only had a couple of years, but many had around a decade with us. Once they were no longer able to work as school horses for us, they were sent to auction. A horse that could no longer be a school horse for this stable was, truly, a horse in poor condition. Most of the horses this place sent to auction were bought for slaughter. They tended to fetch $300 to $400.

I knew that this was the fate of the horses I'd ridden. No one tried to hide this from me. Knowing the horses were to be killed to be pet food, glue, maybe even people food, etc. did not bother me. At least they would continue to serve a purpose, even in their death. And most of these horses were in poor shape - at least their suffering would come to an end.

The NYT link talks a bit about the value of these horses. A working horse - whether it be a ranch horse, school horse, competition horse, or a child's riding companion - has more value than the meat and bones it's made of. Horses that still have a use, a purpose, horses that are wanted do not go to slaughter. I knew one such horse. Her name was Holly. She was a beautiful dapple palomino Quarter Horse. She had those large Quarter Horse hindquarters, that bulky body. And she had the most kind disposition. You couldn't upset that horse no matter what you tried. She wasn't young, but she wasn't "ancient" - somewhere around 18-23 years - when she foundered. The place I rode didn't have the resources to treat her so they sent her to auction, assuming she'd be bought by a slaughter house, and that would be that. She didn't. She was bought by a Quarter Horse breeder who recognized her potential as a broodmare. He had the resources to try to heal her, and he did. Around a year after she was sent to auction, this man came back and requested her papers - she was healthy and it was time to breed her.

No, the wanted horses do not go to slaughter. It's the unwanted ones who do. We should leave them this avenue of escape. If you're concerned about cruelty, support legislation that controls the methods of transportation, keeping, and slaughter of these animals. But making their slaughter illegal only increases their suffering in a myriad of ways.
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decibel45 From: decibel45 Date: January 17th, 2008 09:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Clearly there's only one rational solution...

Ban horses!
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