Top Five Horse Stories of 2013
 By Winniefield Park   •   19th Dec 2013   •   2,841 views   •   0 comments

War Horse
The stage play War Horse continues to wow audiences around the world. War Horse, if you haven't already read the book by Michael Mopurgo, or watched the movie, is about a farm horse who survived World War 1. The horse, Joey, is portrayed by a puppet made of mesh and tubing. Three puppeteers control the action, that is described as wonderfully subtle and realistic—from heaving sides to twitching ears. War Horse won a Tony Award for best play in 2011, and still makes headlines wherever it plays.

Horse Meat Scandals
Perhaps the biggest 'horse' story to hit the media in 2013 was the meat adulteration scandal. In several European countries meatballs to Shepherd's Pie labeled as containing beef, were discovered to contain horse meat. Some products were found to be 100% horse meat. Authorities traced the source to a slaughter house in Romania. The meat was correctly labeled as it left the plant, but somewhere in the supply chain, the labeling was changed to 100% beef. While eating horse meat is acceptable in many European countries, concerns about the meat containing Phenylbutazone and the EIA virus were raised, although health officers stated that neither was a danger. More recently, French authorities have made arrests after the discovery that horses used for scientific research were then sold for slaughter and human consumption.

Time's Most Surprising Photos
Taken on the dock at Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia this shocking photo shows two horses high in the air, suspended from a crane. It appears they are held only by a rope that loops tightly behind the belly area. The horses, not surprisingly, look distraught, with their legs flailing in mid-air. According to various news sources, hundreds of cattle and horses were moved in a similar manner from West Timor, to be distributed throughout the main island of Java. This moment was caught on camera only weeks after Indonesia had been globally criticized for its treatment of cattle imported from Australia.

Horse Slaughter Lobby Continues
A small, but persistent lobby to allow horse slaughter for meat continues in the US. Two plants attempted to re-open, but were shut down by a temporary injunction that forbids federal inspectors from providing inspection services to plants that would process horses. As of December 18, one plant is poised to reopen after a temporary injunction was lifted because "animal-rights groups failed to meet the burden needed for an injunction."

Mustangs and the BLM
The controversies about the management of feral horses by the Bureau of Land Management continue. Most recently wild horse advocacy groups voiced protests regarding the maintenance of almost 700 Mustangs rounded up by the BLM and kept in a short term holding facility which they claim does not provide adequate shelter from winter weather. Disputes over Mustangs running on public lands, grazing rights that cattle and sheep ranchers feel they must protect, and population control also continue.

New Fossil Species of Horse Discovered
Eurygnathohippus woldegabrieli may have roamed eastern Africa about 4.4 million years ago. Basing their theories on recently discovered fossil remains, scientists speculate that this horse ancestor may have been the size of a small zebra. It may also “fill a gap in the evolutionary history of horses.” The first portions of the skeleton were unearthed in 2001. In 2011, portions of leg bones were discovered, leading scientists to theorize that this animal was longer legged and were adept at outrunning predators. Teeth remnants suggest that these horses were grazers.
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