The Unwanted
 By Barbwire Stables   •   30th Jan 2011   •   3,691 views   •   15 comments
Horse SlaughterWith the closing of the Slaughterhouses in 2007 many say that it is one of the best things that could have happened while others claim that it has caused a serious rise in the number of unwanted, abused and neglected horses, as well as the drop in horse prices in the United States. While I believe that the closing of these houses may have helped the issue I also don't believe that it was the only cause for these issues or the only options for these unwanted horses. Several States want to reopen these houses but I believe, as do many others, that it is not going to fix the problems already at hand, but it might help to alleviate some of the strain on the rescue centers and law enforcement that can't keep up. The slaughter houses should be allowed to be reopened as a last resort as there are lots of options available to help with the unwanted horses.

Over 105,000 horses are now being exported to either Canada or to Mexico to the slaughter houses in those countries (Einhorn, 2008). With these numbers so high it shows that the animals are still heading to those facilities even with them closed. At most of the auction houses, including one in Shipshewana Indiana, the “Kill Pens” still exist but have been renamed so that the public doesn't realize they still exist. By closing the Slaughter Houses it hasn't stopped the exportation of these animals and they now have hundreds of miles to travel in large trailers. Now according to Timothy Cordes, Senior Veterinarian with the Agriculture Department,

“It's difficult for them to keep their balance, they're often crowded, they have no access to food and water while en route.” (Einhorn, 2008)

As well as the longer travels these horses are now enduring they are also being subjected to meeting a crueler and far less humane end, especially those that are traveling to Mexico. Here in America the horses were killed quickly with steel pins being driven into their brain, which was approved as humane by the American Veterinary medical Association. The horses that were shipped to Mexico are typically stabbed to sever their spinal cords and left to bleed out. (Einhorn, 2008). Personally I'd much rather see these animals more humanely put down here in the U.S.A. than to know how much they are suffering before finally passing away.

The topic of the Slaughter Houses is very controversial for many horse owners as they have come to look at their animals as pets and only pets. Congress has actually been considering a bill that would ban the sale of horses for human consumption due to the amount of horses exported each year to the slaughter houses. (Zezima, 2009). Horses used to be considered as livestock and many other countries including Japan, Belgium, Italy, and France horse meat is considered a delicacy. (Einhorn, 2008). For many the consumption of horse meat is as common as us eating beef, pork, chicken, or even venison. While I myself don't want to eat horse meat who would I be to tell somebody they can't eat it. It would be just like telling a hunter that they can't hunt anymore, or someone telling me I can't enjoy the steak that I love so much.

Having been raised on a farm I understand that livestock is for consumption of some kind and that is why we have them, they aren't pets. According to Representative Edward B. Butcher, a republican, he states “Bottom line is you have to separate the animal from the pet.”, he also goes on to state that “Nobody has to send a horse to a processing plant; It's just an option for horses that are unusable. And it's much more humane than leaving them there to starve to death”. (Zizema, 2009). This is such a true statement but one that is hard for so many people to do as people love and attachment to the horse and what it represents for them is so very strong. For anyone who has visited, helped out, or just seen pictures of some of the horses that are brought into the Rescue Facilities, it is amazing how cruelly some of these animals have been treated and how emaciated and abused they have been. It really leaves you wondering if it really wouldn't have been better off for these poor creatures to have been sent to the slaughter for a quick death instead of a long drawn out one with not knowing if there was a hope for rescue.

One cause of the closing of the slaughter houses is the rise in the abandonment or mistreatment of animals is causing a strain on law enforcement. In Nevada alone 63 horses were abandoned on state land, and in Wyoming 20 were found. In Texas there was one of the largest livestock seizures they have ever had in their history with over 170 horses taken from one ranch. It was thought that the owner bought them before the market turned and was only feeding them the bare minimum to keep them alive. (Zizema, 2009) So is it crueler to send these animals to the slaughter houses or is it better to have them abandoned and struggling to survive. Some owners feel that if they let the horse go it will be able to take care of itself but the problem is when an animal is brought up being taken care of it really doesn't fully know how or where to go to take care of itself in the wild. Placing the animal out in the wild where it doesn't know where to go for shelter, find water or food. It only leaves the animal subject to starvation during the winter months or even the summer if there is a drought.

The number one reason for a horse to become unwanted is the owner could no longer support it. Other reasons were the horse was too old or sick, person lost interest, the owner lost or changed their job, or that the horse was unmanageable. (Unwanted Horse Coalition, 2009, pg12)

So many people decide to get a horse and then find out that it actually costs to care for them. They don't look into how much they will have to pay for hay, grain, or farrier and vet. Some people went out and bought an unbroken horse with the idea that they not knowing what they were doing would break it out and have this great horse only to find out that it took more to do so and they are left with an unruly ride able horse and have to call in someone who knows with an added cost. To avoid this I feel some people should really go through an education program to learn what it is going to take to care of and manage that horse they bought. I feel education is a key factor in keeping down the amount of unwanted horses that are out there especially as more and more people who have no clue want to get their first horse and have it home with them.

While the reopening for the slaughter houses might do some good for the horses that are being left to die by their owners I also do believe there should be some rules as to what horses are allowed to be sent there. For those horses that are fully usable I think that they shouldn't be sent to the slaughter houses or for the wild horses that the BLM just wants to get rid of because they don't want to care for them they should not be allowed to send a part of the American History to the slaughter houses. Those wild horses have helped to shape the way America is today and played a huge role in how the west was shaped. Rules need to apply for everything to ensure that this option isn't being abused by people.

Horse Rescue

What other options are available for these unwanted horses? Is sending them to theses slaughter houses the only option? No its not. People need to look into the prevention of having so many horses with nowhere to go. How about castration of the stallions that don't need to be breeding? Dr. Alison M. LaCarrubba, from the University of Missouri-Columbia College of Veterinary Medicine, states that “It is still expensive to feed and keep a horse, however, and there aren't a lot of options when that cost becomes too great. We're seeing more and more horses that are not getting enough to eat, and we have been looking for solutions to the problem.” One of these solutions is the low- or no-cost castration clinics that she has hosted. Horse owners are given incentives and education at these clinics about turning their stallions into geldings. Those that participate in the program are given a voucher that covers the costs of the surgery (Larkin, 2010).

Several of these types of clinics are starting to pop up across the country. The Unwanted Horse Coalition announced the creation of Operation Gelding. As a stallion owner who wants to get him gelded one of these clinics would be well worth the time to attend. The costs to geld isn't a great amount but in these times with the way the economy is it can be hard coming up with that much money at once when there are so many other places it needs to be. I feel that if more veterinarians or veterinarian schools would be willing to hold these clinics and if the government would be willing to fund the vouchers it would help with the number of unwanted horses that are out there today. There would be far less “back yard” breeding and not so many “surprise” foals, as people don't keep their mares and stallions separate and think that the foal is cute until it grows up.

Another cause of the slaughter houses closing is that horse prices have taken a dramatic turn downward and aren't showing signs of recovery just yet. Horses are going for next to nothing and are very hard to sell for any kind of a profit. With the over breeding of these animals it is leaving it impossible sometimes to sell a good horse as the market is flooded. Some auctioneers are actually turning down horses they don't feel will sell and are worthless to them. One auctioneer actually admitted to shooting 28 horses that failed to get a bid on them. (Einhorn, 2008).

So if you can't send your horse to auction, sell it outright, or send it to slaughter what's the other option?

How about a horse rescue? I have worked in many horse rescues that are constantly taking in unwanted horses every day. Some of these facilities are filled to the max and sadly have to turn away some of these horses. They just can't keep up with the demand and financially it's a hardship on them as well. They have seen a rise in the amount of abused horses since the slaughter houses have closed as well as with the down turn of the economy. One problem that I have seen with the horse rescues sites is when you go to adopt there are so many rules that stop some people from deciding to adopt the animals. Some make it so you have no choice but to bring back the animal to the facility if you no longer want it leaving you no option to sell it, and some make it so you have to jump through a lot of hoops to get the animals. I feel if some of the restrictions were dropped or if more emphasis was given to adopt these animals it might make it much easier for these places to find homes for some of these animals.

Most of these facilities are nonprofits and don't have the land, staff, or finances to be able to handle all of the unwanted horses. They are always in the need of horse knowledgeable volunteers, and are funded fully on the donations, personal funds, and any fundraisers they can come up with (Rosenthal, 2010). I feel that there are several ways that the government could step in more to assist these facilities now that there is no slaughter house option and the weight of the unwanted horses has been placed on the rescue facilities. One way would be to give a dollar out of every License plate registered, or to mandate for breed registries to dedicate a small fee from membership dues, or other registry fees to donate to equine rescue programs. The Thoroughbred racing industry has a program set up that other horse breed registries could learn from. (Rosenthal, 2010)

While the closing of the Horse Slaughter Houses isn't the only reason that there has been a rise in the unwanted horses it is still a part of the issue. With reopening them it does give owners another option to take an animal that they can no longer care for if they have tried all of the other options out there. No matter what laws have been passed the slaughter of these beautiful creatures hasn't stopped nor will it with the ability to ship these animals out of country for the same purpose. I would much rather see it legalized again then to know that some of these animals are going to be smuggled out of the country and treated far worse. I feel that a lot of options are available to horse owners who take the time to look into them but not all horses are able to be sold and sometimes the horse rescues have no choice but to turn away horses that they either have no room for or have a horse who needs the space worse, and they need someplace to go as well.

Works Cited:
Einhorn, Catrin. “horses Spared in U.S. Face Death Accross the Boarder.”
Larkin, Melinda. “Castration clinics fight unwanted horse problem.” Americal Veterinary Medical Assosiation Journal (Oct. 2010): n. pag. Web. 8 Oct. 2010.
Rosenthal, Marie, MS. “Unwanted Horses: Rescue and Sanctuary Organizations Unable to Keep Up.” Blood Horse Publications, 7 Oct. 2010. Web. 8 Oct. 2010.
Unwanted Horse Coalition. 2009 Unwanted Horse Survey Unwanted Horse Coalition, 2010. Web. 8 Oct. 2010.
Zezima, Katie. “Surge in Abandoned Horses Renews Debate Over Slaughterhouses .” New Your times, 7 Apr. 2009. Web. 9 Oct. 2010.
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Dark Star  
I know all about the kill pens, there is one called Killer Charlie's not far from where we live, they allow you to buy the horses for a little over meat price.

“Nobody has to send a horse to a processing plant It's just an option for horses that are unusable. And it's much more humane than leaving them there to starve to death”. (Zizema, 2009).
-He hit the bull on the nose here, its true. No matter what people think, no matter what slaughter they get, its more humane then leaving them to starve.

Very nice Article
  Jan 30, 2011  •  2,745 views
I think the education system would be a great idea to bring down the amount of unwanted horses but our family did buy a horrible horse. We didn't realise at the time that it had been drugged to be a bit dopey but it turned out to be a deadly horse to anyone so it was sent away for slaughter.
  Jan 30, 2011  •  2,774 views
T E M P E S T  
You're right, it's better for them to be humanely killed in the US than forced to suffer in Mexico.
  Jan 30, 2011  •  2,789 views
Slaughter houses are horrible, I've been to quite a few to rescue with my mom, it's cruel how thin and dirty they are, not to mention the stink is horrible!
  Jan 30, 2011  •  2,770 views
Barbwire Stables  MOD 
glad you all like this article It was a research paper that i did for class. I I ended up with an A+ on it and educated my teacher on this subject who didnt know anything about this topic surprisingly. I feel that is a big part of the problem that people arent educated enough about this and about all of the options that are out there. Some people have no idea what it takes to own that horse or care of it or to even pick out a proper horse for themselves or their kids when they are first getting into horses and others take advantage of this fact and see them something that is well above their experience level leaving the person unsure of what to do next or where or who to turn to.
  Jan 30, 2011  •  2,769 views
Barbwire Stables  MOD 
And every horse in those photos was a rescue horse in some way or fashion. This paper actually took me a few weeks to right with all the research and revision, etc.. that went into it
  Jan 30, 2011  •  2,773 views
PonyBox  MOD 
Very well done! You can tell you did a lot of research on this project.
  Jan 30, 2011  •  2,826 views
That's so sad!!!!
  Jan 30, 2011  •  2,803 views
Padfoot Designs  
Very well writen.. I agree :)
  Jan 30, 2011  •  2,783 views
Slaughterhouses are horrible ): Great article, I can tell how much you care about this topic by the way you wrote this paper. (:
  Jan 30, 2011  •  2,780 views
Great article, it's great that you did so much research! Some people just shouldn't own horses in the first place! I definitely think that people should have to have some sort of license before they take on the responsibility of breeding their horse, or even owning one! Or at least take a class or something. Some people are clueless, then they end up with a horse they don't want or can't do anything with. It's more understandable when people can't afford their horses anymore because of losing a job etc., or it's drugged, like Milly said. Everyone considering getting a horse should do the amount of research you did. :)
  Jan 30, 2011  •  2,746 views
Excellent article. Well written and researched. I agree about the education class for new horse owners. There are two more reasons why horses are sent to slaughter that your paper did not cover and these two can also be aleviated with new regulations. Firstly, over breeding of numerous breeds. I live in Walking Horse country and you see large pastures filled with mares with foals on the sides and already bred back (usually bred back by 8-10 days after foaling). I know this also happens in the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse industries. In the 1980s, the Arabian industry send several hundred thousand horses to slaughter due to over breeding. It pains me to think of such a fine creature as the Arabian being slaughtered, but what else was there to do with so many horses. Secondly, the cost of euthanasia and burial is very high. In many states it is also illegal to bury a horse that has been euthanized. This is due to the drugs leeking from the horse's body and into the soil and eventually
  Jan 31, 2011  •  2,828 views
Heaven Sent Creatures  MOD 
good article, as a Canadian it has raised some questions in my mind about what is happening
  Feb 2, 2011  •  2,777 views
Great Article.
good job
  Feb 3, 2011  •  2,851 views
Little Bitty Farm  
Great article!
  Feb 13, 2011  •  2,789 views
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