“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, August 29, 2009

Say WHAT????

I was truly amazed by how fast the comments in the recent, now infamous, slaughter debate escalated past rational or sensible. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre script writers were called to arms. They even borrowed a couple from the Poltergeist and Exorcist writers. We even had raw sewage in the form of blood coming from shower heads and faucets. I was left to ponder the nagging question of which is the sickest puppy? The person thinking this crap up or the one paying attention to it, until now this only came to mind when watching the trailers reality TV show or a particularly bloody “action” movie.
We had one particularly eloquent poster with no “facts” documented, imagined, or otherwise contrived but plenty of name calling and the narcissist idea we made this all up to get back at Kathy Atkinson. It’s not a secret I think Fugly is nothing more than a foul mouthed megaphone for everything wrong with the new age horse mentality culture but that isn’t the point. It appears I am not alone. I ran across this the other day http://uenduphere.blogspot.com/ . Not super informative but funny in a “just desserts” sort of way…
Those responding lead me to believe the American public truly thinks their food comes from the green plastic grass garnishing the coolers at Wal-Mart. Just springs up like little meat flavored mushrooms. It’s assumed when I compare horses to cattle I am lowering my horses to “slabs of beef”. Quite the opposite, I am trying bring these rabid humanitarians an awareness they should already have about cattle and other “food” animals. The process so barbaric when happening to a horse is done 390 times an hour in high speed cattle slaughtering plants, every day of the year. The beef industry, both packers and producers, have worked extensively to make this process better for all. http://www.grandin.com/USDA.FSIS.humane.slaughter.act.enforcement.html The main interest of the packers may be more black ink but better is still better no matter the reason. I suspect allowing traditional meat animals the identity to think, feel, and react to stress and pain would alter the perception of their little worlds. The study of how these animals react to their world is explained very well in this study of handling techniques http://www.grandin.com/references/new.corral.html . No it is not about horses.
The verbal brawl following the horse market opinion column raised a lot of pertinent issues for me. I will be unable to combine them all in one blog post so have decided to address the issues one subject at time. Even the correct term with which to describe the horses in question is hotly debated. Our anti-slaughter friends claim the unwanted horse title was dreamed up by pro-slaughter people. Why does it matter?
First topic, the overwhelming impression anti-slaughter legislation is supported by all educated and humane thinking persons involved in the horse industry leaving only breeders, breed associations and those with some hidden agendas to fabricate tales of pro-slaughter propaganda. The increase in abuse and abandonment are all figments of this same propaganda.
Information is linked to the website from which it is quoted and is available in its entirety on those sites. I feel it is important to back up all information being passed on as factual. “Because I said so”, is not a good reason to believe everything you are told anywhere outside the land of “MOM”.
The AAEP membership. When polled, 85 percent of our membership voiced their support for maintaining humane slaughter as option for horse owners, to be used when horse owners are unable to select one of the other alternatives such as adoption.
The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) is the world’s largest professional organization dedicated to equine veterinary medicine and is a leading medical authority on the health and welfare of the horse. The AAEP is comprised of nearly 10,000 veterinarians and veterinary medical students who dedicate their life's work to caring for the horse. The AAEP brings together all of its assets from veterinary medical practice, academia, regulatory medicine and research in the pursuit of one mission – to protect the health and welfare of the horse.
The AAEP believes that horse processing is not the ideal solution for addressing the large number of unwanted horses in the U.S. However, if a horse owner is unable or unwilling to provide humane care and no one is able to assume the responsibility, euthanasia at a processing facility in a manner designated as humane by the American Veterinary Medical Association is an acceptable alternative to a life of suffering, inadequate care or abandonment.
H.R. 503/S. 727 and its supporters are well intentioned, but passage of this legislation without adequate funding or infrastructure in place to care for unwanted horses will create a series of negative and harmful consequences. Therefore, the AAEP opposes H.R. 503 and S. 727.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that 102,260 horses were euthanized for processing in this country alone in 2006, the last year that the U.S. horse processing plants were open for an entire fiscal year. The total number of U.S. origin horses processed in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, increased from 138,206 in 2006 to 140,911 in 2007. Presently the processing plants are closed in the U.S. and the only option for many of today’s unwanted horses remains processing at a facility in Mexico or Canada. Since the 2007 U.S. plant closures, the number of horses being abused, neglected and abandoned, according to many reports, has increased. In the state of Colorado alone, equine cruelty investigations increased by 40 percent in 2007, according to the Colorado Unwanted Horse Alliance’s “Colorado Unwanted Horse Environmental Assessment” of 2008.
U.S. horse trade has experienced a significant shift since the closure of the domestic horse processing facilities. USDA estimates that U.S. exports of horses to Mexico for processing increased from 11,080 head in 2006 to 58,731 in 2008, a 430 percent increase, and exports to Canada rose from 24,866 head in 2006 to 49,895 head in 2008, a 100 percent increase.
This a from an article in the Draft Horse Journal again, please feel free to follow the link to read the entire article. http://www.drafthorsejournal.com/summer2009/lawandhorses.htm
Since the closing of the processing plant in DeKalb in 2007, the Illinois Department of Agriculture has received 730 reports of neglect and abuse in 2008, compared to 461 in 2006. In 2007, the year the plant closed, the number of neglect and abuse complaints rose to 681.
Dr. Temple Grandin, an associate professor of animal science at Colorado State University, called the conditions at horse slaughtering plants in Mexico, “hideous” where horses are many times stabbed in the neck. Grandin stated, “I’m not saying that our horse slaughter plants are problem-free, but even a poorly-run slaughter plant in the U.S. would be preferable to horses going down to Mexico.”
This is an interesting interview with Temple Grandin on the web site http://discuss.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/zforum/01/nation_meat041001_riley.htm . it is primarily about humane slaughter for the traditional meat animals it does make references to horse slaughter such as:
Bronx, NY: What are the differences in slaughter methods for horses and cows? Does a slaughter house that processes both species use the same equipment on them? If not, what are the differences?
Dr. Temple Grandin: First of all, horse slaughter is covered by the Humane Slaughter Act. They use the same methods as cattle. In the U.S., horse slaughter is performed in separate plants, and horse slaughter, when it's done correctly, can be done really well -- just as with cattle. Horse slaughter uses captive bolt stunning, and the plants are very similar to cattle plants.
New York, NY: Are more horses showing up in the slaughter houses, now that mad cow and hoof-and-mouth hit Europe?
Dr. Temple Grandin: Horse slaughter is a controversial area. If all horse slaughter plants were shut down, there would be more neglect of old horses, and many old horses would end up going to Mexico, where their welfare would be much worse than going to a U.S. horse slaughter plant.
Obviously, this interview was quoted before 2007 but the point is still valid. Maybe even more so now.
According to a USDA quote I read recently, there are 815 fixed auctions operating in the country. Throughout the year, and especially coming into fall as we are now, these auctions will sell many thousands of horses and literally millions of cattle (I haven’t taken time to research the exact counts). The HSUS is doing an impressive job of smearing them all with claims against less than ten. Counting the Sugarcreek scandal with horses and four downer cattle claims the total I have been seeing in my Google searches is five. Considering the number of animals handled and Murphy’s law as it applies to livestock, these businesses are doing an excellent job.
written by RH1

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Poll Results

I recently ran a poll about the slaughter issue. The answers were (1) No horse should ever go to slaughter in USA, no matter what. (2) The slaughter plants we had were humane and well regulated. (3) The plants in the US need to be open with better regulations and enforcement and plants built to accommodate the equine mentally and physically.
The poll was created because of several comments in one of our recent blog posts. Some of our anti-slaughter friends made statements claiming all slaughter supporters are trying to get the new transport bill stopped. We all think the system we had was humane, well regulated and the meat was perfectly safe. I said there must be more than two sides to this, because back at the ranch, we don’t feel that way. So certainly not all pro horse people are making the statements the anti slaughter side claims we are.
After I posted the poll I was told how stupid it was to have 3 choices, how unscientific it is. Well, I never claimed to be a scientist so it’s OK for me to be unscientific. Yes, I did have a couple miss spelled words but the only way to correct them was to delete the poll since it received a few votes almost immediately after I posted it. I didn’t think two missing L’s were a big deal. Apparently they were to the folks on the AB forum.
I used three questions to throw off people wanting to vote just to force the results to be the opposite of the point I was trying to make. Question number 1 was unnecessary but there only to keep people from stacking the poll. My true point was to show very few people truly believed the system we had in place was perfect. Sorry to those of you who worked creating several accounts just to vote anti slaughter several times, sorry to those of you who emailed all of your unknowledgeable friends, told them to come vote, and pick #1. Sorry your vote stacking didn’t really pay off this time because it wasn’t the point of this poll at all. I knew the “No horse should go to slaughter in the USA no matter what” would win. I know there are people on the anti slaughter side who do nothing all day long other than think of ways to sway the polls and solicit voters for said polls.
The real questions were numbers 2 and 3. Of the total 219 votes, number 3 got 77 and number 2 got 10. Yes, a whopping 4% of the voters felt our slaughter system was always humane and well regulated. I don’t know about the other 86 people who voted for slaughter in the US but I know I did not email or pander for votes to support my way of thinking. I most certainly didn’t create several Google accounts so I could vote more than once...
So many anti-slaughter supporters make blanket statements and present them as facts. They make wild accusations with no factual accreditations what so ever. In fact when asked to back up those so called facts more than once with some sort of accreditation and it was never done. Not one time was a publication linked or a research credited. Not one single “fact” given could actually be backed up with any information by any credible source anywhere.
So, we do agree on one thing. The system was not perfect. Now what we SHOULD be doing is working together for a better system for the American horse. We should all be working together for new plants, better regulations with a higher standard of enforcement. The way the no slaughter in the US is working now is pretty miserable for the horses. It may feel all warm and fuzzy to the anti slaughter folks but the horses just aren’t feeling it.
Poll Results
(1) No horse should ever go to slaughter in USA any matter what -132 - 60%
(2) The slaughter plants we had were humane and well regulated - 10 - 4%
(3) The plants in the US need to be open with better regulations and enforcement and plants built to accommodate the equine mentally and physically - 77 - 35%
219 total votes

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Showing Support

I have been a subscriber to Equus magazine for about 10 years now. In fact, I would say it's my favorite Horse Magazine.

So, I felt a little sad about not renewing my subscription. But I made a decision awhile ago that I would not support any part of the Equine Industry that did not support me, or at least treat me fairly.

In the September issue of Equus, there is an article by Craig DiBenedictis. It is on the subject of Slaughter, which is nothing new, and says nothing new. I don't object to anyone stating their opinion, but I do have problems with those with ulterior motives, and those who support them.

Mr. DiBenedictis is a Reverend, which is fine with me, although some of his ideas are a little different. But, to each his or her own.


What I really object to is the fact that Mr. DiBenedictus has another agenda, which was not mentioned in the magazine.

And, as a horse owner, I get a little tired of hearing from those who do not themselves own horses. Mr. DiBenedictis, to his credit, does sponsor a horse. I think that's great. However, I don't think that gives him even the slightest grasp of what we, as horse owners deal with on a daily basis.

If I'm a little short on cash at the end of the week, I can't choose to withdraw my funds, or send a little less. If my horse gets sick, it's me who does the all night walking, and it's me who pays for all of the care. I'm the one who puts in all of the time, and does all of the care.

And to tell you the truth, I'm a little insulted that a publication like Equus would give any page space to someone like Mr. DiBenedictis without at least checking into his background to see just who he is, and what his agenda is.

Those of us who own horses are the ones who will support the Equine industry. I doubt very much that those who do not would have much use for magazines, so I'm a little at a loss as to why any of the publications would buckle under their pressure, or pander to them. One other popular publication discontinued their Breeders issue because of pressure from the Anti side, and I canceled my subscription to that magazine, also. Why discontinue something that was educational and informative? Did they think these people were the bulk of their subscribers? And what about the subscribers who were still interested in the Breeding issue? Or wasn't their money as good somehow?

Sooner or later, there are some factions of the Equine Industry that will have to take a stand and decide whether or not they will bow to the pressure that is being placed upon them. I understand it is very difficult. After all, many of these people do not own horses, so they have nothing but time on their hands to write letters, and keep the pressure on.

But if those who make their living from those of us who own horses wish to continue to do so, perhaps they should at the very least do some research on the articles they print.

Not all of us accept everything at face value, or believe that what is printed is the whole story.

In the case of Craig DiBenedictis, there's a lot more to his cause than a simple love for horses.

And in the case of Equus, I expected a lot more from a magazine I always considered top of the line.

written by RH2