“The greatest deterrent
to freedom are men and women of zeal, well-meaning, but
without knowledge or understanding.”
~Justice Louis Brandeis~

"People are so quick to defend their own agendas, but they so often fail to realize we must protect the rights of all if we are to continue to have any rights of our own."

Ranch meaning, in general, any real world dwelling probably not involving full care board. Kind of a rural voice of real horse owners, trainers, traders, auction owners, rodeo contractors, etc.. all of us who have taken a verbal beating and called greedy ass hats. Back at the Ranch contributors, moderators, subjects, and so on, are pro-horse, pro-owner, and pro-slaughter.
Back at the Ranch was formed by a group of like minded horse / livestock owners. It is a place for us to try to educate, a place to vent our frustrations with the current equine industry, a place to share humor and snark, and in general try to open the eyes of the public who seem to be anti-agriculture.We do have a section for comments of course, and if you would like to email us you can do so directly or through the contact us form. We like to hear from our readers. I hope you enjoy reading our blog as much as I enjoy managing it.
Ranch Manager

Saturday, July 11, 2009

What to do with the unwanted horses?

What to do with "unwanted" horses? And we thought they didn’t have any answers??? First they have to agree they actually exist…..
If we are able to determine that there are unwanted horses and estimate the numbers, we are then in a better position to develop solutions for this problem that allow us to think beyond slaughter. Slaughter accounts for one in eight horses that die each year. Thus we need to increase our capacity to humanely end our horses' lives by less than 15%.
If they have yet been unable to agree on the actual existence or numbers of unwanted horses, how did they arrive at that figure? But it does sound good doesn’t it?
If and when slaughter is ended, there can be no doubt that the price of horses sold at "loose horse" and low-end auctions will at least temporarily adjust downward. It will adjust to 0 and this adjustment will be permanent. This in turn will increase the afford ability to some buyers and will provide a disincentive to over breeding. Does this mean everyone can have a horse so no one will want to raise them anymore? Or does this mean we can all breed them so there will be no need for anyone to buy one? Really, what does that sentence mean? So the supply of "unwanted" horses will diminish as it did in the 1990s.
What?????? The largest numbers of horses slaughtered in this country statistically were killed in the late 80s and very early 90s. The supply of unwanted horses dwindled in the 90s because of this massive liquidation not because everyone could have 6 of them for free. I also have a hunch .90 butcher horses also had something to do with it.
A four-pronged approach appears appropriate. First we need to develop a robust humane euthanasia and disposal solution on a state-by-state basis. Humane euthanasia programs can be in place at horse auctions as well as horse rescues. Hmmm, horses being destroyed in a public place (strange place to a horse) by people they don’t know, most likely in a restrained situation, and by someone who would rather not be doing it. Does that somehow sound familiar to you in anyway? Second, we need to identify additional resources to create incentives for horse rescues to absorb more horses that can either be retired or rehabilitated. Can you say taxpayer funded??!! Third, we need to attack the demand for horse meat with a marketing campaign that illustrates that horses are not fit for human consumption, according to the drugs that each horse has been administered over its lifetime (you can simply read the label on a commonly used worming product).
I doubt we will change the eating habits of other countries with even the most aggressive program.
Finally, we need to create an educational program for breeders and horse owners for more responsible horse management. This is the biggest oxymoron of the whole anti-slaughter debate. The breeders in this thing to produce good horses at a profit are the ones you need to get your education from. Again it is always someone else causing the problem….Of course, these solutions require funding. Sources of funding can include:

  • Breed programs can attach a surcharge when a horse is registered to the breed. This would not be unique to the horse industry. Another industry with a disposal problem, the tire industry, adds a surcharge for each new tire sold in order to pay for recycling the tire when it is not longer useful. Now I have to admit this is a reach that impressed me. Junk tires/unwanted horses, not a connection I would have made. Who knew???Such a program will be economically insignificant compared to the $US39 billion a year ($US102 billion indirectly) that the horse industry generates. Funny how a lot of little insignificant things add up isn’t it??
  • A surcharge can be applied each time a horse changes ownership and this change is registered with the horse's breed registry. Racehorses that are claimed are more likely to be at risk of slaughter, but can generate more revenue for retirement under this scenario. What this really means is the further a horse is run into the ground, the further he drops in class, the more times he changes hands, the more revenue for the “cause” this also ran is worth. Kind of heartwarming picture isn’t it????
  • Racetracks can develop programs that support their athletes. There are already examples of this occurring (Fingerlakes, Philadelphia Park and Woodbine). Racinos which have additional revenue via their Casino contracts are in an even better position to support their athletes. Racing at most of the “racinos” I am familiar with is hanging on by thin thread anyway. I am in the mid-west so we are probably a bit behind progressively. The greater return on the gambling dollar is in pulling the handle and the casinos are getting tired of footing the bill to keep racing in the black. I don’t think one more black eye for the racing industry is going make them all that happy to anti up.
  • Racing jurisdictions can develop programs for the retirement of horses that ran within their state. California is an example - .3% of purses distributed in California are earmarked for horse retirement and rehabilitation. This money is distributed by California Retirement Management Account (CARMA). Yes, California, the land of milk and honey. California has been used as an example of how well this would work all along. There has been mention of “black market slaughter trade in California”. The trade isn’t really all that black market horses leave California with health papers and a non-slaughter destination, change hands or purpose across the border, nothing black market nothing illegal and come to think of it did work out that way for a national level too…Wait a minute we’re working on a new law……..

The infrastructure is already in place to deal with a horse industry without slaughter. Another if it was working already we wouldn’t have a problem hmmm…..Horses can still go to auction houses whose business included horses going to slaughter. Rather than being bid on by kill buyers, rescues and private buyers, the horses will be bid on by rescues and private buyers. If they were being bid on by rescues and private buyers they wouldn’t be “unwanted” in the first place now would they??? Only those horses with no bids can then be humanely euthanized or returned to their current owner. Again who is going to foot the bill? Do we expect the auction owner to become the grim reaper? Ain’t their ball game…..Who is going to pay for the prosecution of the abandonment by “current owners” remember this animal has ceased to be an asset in any form and is now a definite liability? Do you see his loving owner jumping up to take him back????
As we move to this scenario, it will be important that auction houses and horse dealers receive the same compensation as they do now in order to incentivise them to participate in a post slaughter era. What the f***** does that mean or is it even a word? Assuming it is a word who is going to pay for, regulate, and distribute this incentivising???? Horses are increasingly being sold on Internet sites; those with no bids can be shipped to their local rescue or horse auction for humane euthanasia.
Can’t sell Flicka over the Internet, ship her to the local auction and then to the humane euthanasia station. Did I mention I see a strong resemblance between euthanasia station and slaughterhouse in both purpose and situation????? Oh yeah, I did didn’t I???
Funds that are raised can be redistributed to auction houses for each horse that is euthanized. Money raised to support horse rescues can be redistributed via grants based on the number of horses rescued, the number of horses adopted out and the number of horses humanely euthanized.
Yet another similarity between the rescue/euthanasia stations, death at profit…..the more you kill the bigger your grant. Grant and redistribute are also synonyms for Tax dollar and Donation dollar skimming…..I’m sorry the politically correct term is administrator’s salary…..
It should also be noted that a marketplace without slaughter will enable rescues to be more aggressive with adopting out the horses they rehabilitate. One of the significant risks of adopting out a horse, and therefore losing direct control over the horse, is that the horse will return to the slaughter supply chain. This risk will be eliminated.
It’s not all that well monitored now so I assume this means nothing will change there. Whew, I was getting tired of all that change!!!!
Ease of adoption will allow rescues to expand their adopter pools. This is fundamentally important to the expansion of the rescue industry. This really means since they know you can’t sell the thing anymore if you can walk in the door chances are you’re a new horse owner. That is if you can pay more than the per head value the grant allow them to charge to kill him..

In conclusion, compassionate horse people do not want horse slaughter, but many have been convinced that it is necessary. No argument there. So let’s believe it’s not necessary and set up a system with loopholes big enough for a con artist, true ass hat to drive a semi-truck through.

"I would never send my horses to slaughter, of course not. But we do need slaughter as an option." This common response among horsemen indicates a personal distaste for slaughter as an option, and while the personal conviction of not selling horses for slaughter has merit, it only helps the person's horses until those horses are sold to another owner. Did it ever occur to you people ANYONE can keep his horse if he wants, he can euthanize him, if he wants, or you can market one worth more alive than dead. Now there’s a novel thought, it’s not worth more alive than dead keep it yourself. Educate yourself on the market. Following the automotive theme, you have to pass a test to drive why should you own an animal whose market value and system you know nothing about? Sorry the “I didn’t realize that mean ole killer buyer was bidding on Sporty” doesn’t get it in the excuse department for me.

The evidence clearly shows that horse slaughter is not necessary and has thrived as a function of the demand for horse meat in Europe and Asia. If it were not necessary we wouldn’t need to come up with a funding plan to take its place now would we??? People would just keep on practicing the options already available to them.

The horse industry has become lazy and has come to rely on slaughter as a convenient means to dispose of excess horses. But that is not why horse slaughter exists and we slaughter far more horses than those that are simply unwanted. Don’t know about lazy there, it has made me try one more time on many a nasty rat. In my personal program it has KEPT me from being lazy or giving up on a less than stellar prospect. I knew if I couldn’t get him to ride what would happen to him. Crap on a cracker that must mean I don’t like to kill horses……what the heck????

We need to change the mindset that slaughter is necessary. No we need to produce a better product with a future. Good horsemanship and stewardship of the horse, and good stewardship of the horse industry, is necessary. I believe that’s what producing a better horse (product) with a future means????
Read this article and others like it at
On a personal note, I truly believe the thoroughbred industry distancing itself from slaughter is slightly reminiscent of an elephant trying to hide behind a flag pole. Of course there is lots of room to point fingers around either side of said pole.

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