Guest Author - Susan Hopf
Horse slaughter - the term itself makes me shiver but when the cold reality sets in (of just what this ugly phrase really means) it chills my very soul.
We as a species have crowned ourselves as supreme leader. We attempt to arrange the world according to our own needs and desires. Through such activities we have accomplished much and the reasons have mostly to do with survival for we are, after all, animals at our core. But beyond the mammalian classification of homosapien we have been granted, by mother nature, or the gods, or the one God, or by some monumental cosmic accident, the ability to reason, emote, create, nurture and act as more than just instinct driven survivors in the rat race called life.
So why is it, that such marvelous creatures as us, cannot conceive of the simple concept of responsibility for the lack thereof is the essence of the cruel practice of slaughtering horses.
The connection between people and horses is thousands of years old. Horses have allowed humans to advance their territories spreading the population far and wide by carrying our belongings and us on their backs. Some cultures eat horsemeat and some milk mares to make cheese and for drinking. However the most usual use for horses in this century is for recreation and sport. Horses are no longer required to serve humans in their practical day-to-day lives. Since these grand and generous animals have and continue to give us so much how can we then betray them by sending them to slaughter? A long process rife with abuse, fear and greed it is the most heinous end to a life given in service to their human counterparts. The short answer is that those people that took on the life of a horse have failed to commit to this animal for its lifetime – a selfish act that needs to be critically examined in this day and age.
Many horses find their way to the slaughterhouse. Ex- race and show horses that can no longer perform, pleasure horses that outlive their usefulness, horses that display dangerous behaviors (often through no fault of their own) and sadly animals whose owners can no longer afford to care for them can all find their way to this ignoble and terrifying end. The realization that these horses are no longer wanted or affordable and that they are in such big numbers is highly indicative of our society as a whole – a “throw away society” that tosses out its animals as freely as it does its used up toys.
This need not be the case. There are many people out there looking for pasture companions, quiet horses for their children, horses for therapeutic riding facilities, a nice old horse to take them on quiet rides down the trails and so many other re-homing situations. If you take on the responsibility of another life you must see it through to the end. If you are not prepared to do so think again before acquiring that new horse. And if you find yourself overwhelmed with the care of a horse contact your local humane society for help.
When all else fails euthanasia performed in the comfort of a home they have known is a far better end than a long haul on a crowded trailer with no food, water, medical assistance or kindness. This is a very tough decision but with care taking comes responsibility and sometimes this means that to best serve those with whose care you are entrusted you must make such decisions. My heart and my respect go out to all that have made these end of life decisions – may you know peace from the realization that you have served your equine wards well and I thank you for being there.
There are many bills currently in Congress that are dealing with the subject of horse slaughter. I urge you to check in with the Humane Society of the United States and Equine Advocates (both websites are linked below) and make your voice heard that this practice should be a thing of the past.