Issues surrounding the welfare of horses are frustrating. We cannot legislate morality, concern, compassion or consciousness. Horses must rely on the support of many to curb the damage of a few. As society tends to the urban existance, people raised with the basic awareness of animal husbandry, is fast dwindling. Evidence of this is everywhere around us. The horse in his nobility, strength and beauty represents the grandest of human inspiration. Yet we are faced with an ever increasing model of disposability.
The cost of acquiring a horse is generally far outstripped by his maintenance over his 25+ year lifespan, a fact that somehow seems not to register until it is too late. I hear and read, with horror, stories of abandoned horses, turned loose in parks, farmer's fields and tied to stopped trailers. Everyone with sensibility recognizes the atrocity of horse slaughter in it’s heedless cruelty and horrific circumstances. Most North American animal lovers cannot imagine consuming the flesh of a horse, yet some societies consider it as palatable and customary. Economics justifies many atrocious acts against humans and animals alike.
As a society equipped with instant access to information we have witnessed shocking and cruel events. Proclamations of horror and outrage are only the beginning of a long process to correct the faults. I am a member of the Thoroughbred racing industry, as a breeder and an owner, and I can suggest we are perpetrators of crimes against horses and participants in the continuation of unwise and unconscious decisions regarding the welfare of horses. But the racing industry is NOT the only player on the field. The problems of the racing world are well documented because it has a high profile. Unfortunately, the same abuses are common in all areas of equine sport.
It is my belief that education on the welfare issues concerning horses is the most vital component to providing a solution. We cannot simply proclaim outrage at outdated practices, sign petitions and expect resolution. There needs to be a comprehensive plan devised to protect the horse from further harm. Generate concrete proposals to standardize care and provide assistance . Anti-slaughter campaigns have not had the desired effect when slaughter plant closures in one area force long-distance, unsafe, torturous trips to another area to achieve the same end. Much is written about the archaic slaughter process now employed and if we cannot stop the process, demands for legislated and regulated changes to the methodology and close government scrutiny could be a viable alternative.
I am definitely against the slaughter of horses but do recognize the economic motivation behind the establishment of such plants. No horse of mine will be sent while I draw breath, but I cannot demand the same from any other person. Their motivations are there own. My desire is to see more people, educated in horse welfare issues, stand up with an action plan and not rely on anti-anything campaigns as prevention of needless pain and suffering. Providing clarification on what we want and the plans of implementation, would provide a much clearer formula for change than simply indicating what we don’t want. Unification of plans and how to procede needs to be the first step on the long road to changing the perceptions of value in any sentient being.
Historically, advancements of consciousness have come about slowly and with great effort, initially by a few. As conscious and caring horsepeople unite, the foundation for recognizing the contributions of the horse to our evolution and his on-going value to human life can be protected and preserved.