Monday, December 19, 2011

To ban or not to ban horse harvest... it's not even a question!

Now I know this is a VERY controversial topic. We've been hearing about this ban on "slaughtering" horses in the US for the past 5 years or so and it's hard, emotionally and mentally, to find what side of the proverbial fence you are going to stand on. 

But lets make sure we have at least a majority of our facts and feelings straight before the decision is made.  First of all, there has always been horse slaughter in the US. This wasn't something that Obama just created and implemented all in the last few months.  The difference is, these plants can now be considered harvesting plants because the horse meat will now be inspected and approved for human consumption.  Before, the horse meat was just used to go into dog and cat food and wasted.  In addition to the meat being inspected, having harvesting plants within the US ensures that the horses will be treated respectfully and humanely before and during the process which was impossible to ensure when we were shipping these hundreds of thousands of horses to Mexico and Canada. 

Why, you ask, is there even a need for these plants? Well, horses are iconic, they are the American dream. They are what every little girls wants when she's 5 years old and every little boys imagines riding as he's conquering the wild west.  People, unfortunately, are under the impression that horses just eat grass and can stand outside all day therefor the only real cost is purchasing them. This is so far from the truth it hurts. As many know there are routine vet bills, farrier bills, grain bills and more.  And in this time of economic downfall, these family pets are being abandoned, given away, left to founder and fester with worms and other common equine diseases that if not prevented are easily contracted. Most neighbors wont stand for this inhumane treatment and they call someone.  But where do the horses go after that?  Well, while the bill was in place that banned slaughter in the US these horses were being loaded up in semis, shipped across the borders and then only God knows what.

In addition to the humane aspect, we also have to consider the fact that our global population is on the rise with no end in sight.  Although the cattle, chicken and pork industries are doing everything they can to produce as much healthy, nutritious and safe meat as possible because that's what Americans and many Asians and Europeans prefer, there are plenty of starving people around the globe that would love this alternative.  Besides the fact that it's considered a delicacy in many countries across the pond, we have to be realistic.  If we are already harvesting this meat, why not take the extra step to inspect it, stamp it, export it and help millions of people beat starvation.  

Like I said, I know this is a hard battle. I have been a horse lover since I was a little tiny girl, I have been riding since I was 3 1/2 yrs old, I went to college to ride. I've had the same horse since I was 15 and he is the love of my life. I have done a lot of soul searching on this but to know that if an old horse or even a young horse can be used to save the children above ... I'd be proud of that.  There are a lot of crummy people out there and very few crummy horses.  Those are the circumstances we are in and its unfortunate for the horses. But making them suffer because we're too attached emotionally to let them go is more damaging then letting them go peacefully and humanely.  Just think about it.


  1. Natalie, this is a brave, new concept for you to ponder. Indeed, the very thought of slaughtering an animal, let alone a horse, is foreign to those of us who love and respect animals. However it needs to be addressed. Thank you for your informed, albiet difficult look at this process. As painful as it is, I agree with you. We need to attempt to turn a negative into a positive, if this is at all possible.

  2. I know this is a hard topic for me to think of, as well. I'm not so sure that I agree with them being treated humanely. I don't think the cattle, pigs etc that we are slaughtering now, are treated humanely. Why would they treat horses any differently?
    More and more I am leaning towards not eating meat at all-I don't agree with how the animals are treated while being "prepped" for slaughter... Now, I understand the people who mistreat etc are few and far between-and I don't like to sound like a bleeding heart. I have always been a meat eater, I have tried a few times to cut meat out completely-with no luck. I think the concrete idea of it, is what gets me-however, having a bit of meat every now and then has worked well.
    Knowing I can get protein in other food sources etc.
    Sorry, I didn't mean to go on a rant- this was a thought provoking blog, Natalie. It was nice to read another view on the topic, especially since I know how hard it was for you to think about.
    I won't be eating any horse meat, I can tell you that right now.

  3. great job natalie!

  4. party of five,
    its definitely a thin line to toe with people's definitions of humane treatement before harvest and I definitely respect your opinions. Humane, in this blog, is definitely in action when it comes to the animals being harvested in the states vs in Mexico and Canada. I know that it's difficult to understand but there are very strict rules and regulations in place as to how the animals must be treated pre and even post harvest.
    I definitely understand trying to cut out meat, as a one time vegetarian myself I realize how hard that can be. But, it's not a viable option for our nation and our world. We must do what we can to protect and feed our starving population.

    But, I'm with you. No horse meat in this house either. Thank you so much for your response.

  5. Take care of your horse because that is the right thing to do. A horse is not a truck that goes to scrap or maybe it does in your world. The mentality that an animals life is insignificant and can be thrown away is vain, self-righteous and narcissistic. I think you probably feel for your animals but the vegetarian thing is a cop out. If you honestly think the harvesting of animals and their bi-products is inhumane do something....anything...but don't blame it on a starving population. That is the mentality that has fueled the evils of the wold.