Saturday, May 30, 2009

Breeders Worry About "UnWanted" Horses but Keep Right On Breeding Them

Not many options for unwanted horses

By J.D. STETSON The Gillette News-Record

While people may joke that they're going to send an unruly horse to the "glue factory," it's a threat that now has little bite.

In November, Lacy Schwend saved one lucky horse from a fate on the chopping block when she was contacted by a horse rescue organization in Colorado.

Her horse, Red, has spent the past few months living at Stage Coach Stables, and he is fed about four flakes of hay a day, which is about a one-third of a bale of hay.

Before, he spent his days on a Colorado "Dude" ranch where he was fed a flake of hay a day. The owners said he couldn't do what was required of him on the ranch and he would go to a kill-buyer if no one was found to take him.

She paid $300 for the 16-year-old horse and now she wouldn't dream of selling him.

Instead, she would rather give the horse to the 10-year-old girl who rides him each day. There is only one condition — the horse is returned if the girl ever decides she doesn't want him.

Many more horses aren't as lucky as Red.

Hundreds of unwanted horses are shipped across borders to Canada and Mexico to undergo slaughter to feed people in countries that eat horse meat.

Schwend isn't an advocate for the horses. She admits that she wouldn't have taken the horse if it had been 30 years old. She believes that a horse that has poor quality of life should be put down — so long as it is in a humane way.

But she believes that every animal needs to have a chance to find a place for itself other than death, if possible.

"Horses have jobs just like people have jobs. They all can't do the same thing and do good at the same thing," she said.

Since 2007, the horse market has taken a hit because of the closure of several horse slaughter plants in the United States.

Horses sold for slaughter set the base price for horses across a wide spectrum — from young quarter horses to stallions with pedigrees. When it stopped, the price of horses plummeted, said Rep. Sue Wallis, R-Recluse.

There are now more horses than demand warrants, which is causing deflation in the cost for young, unbroken horses.

In the past two years, there have been more complaints of horse neglect than in the past, said Cody Cunningham, a brand inspector for the Wyoming Livestock Board.

He's seen many instances where a horse owner will skimp on feeding the horses in the winter and hope they gain back the weight in the summer. Many times it doesn't work.

He's also seen instances of horse abandonment, where someone would leave a horse at a sale.

There aren't many options left for people who want to get rid of a horse.

He pointed out instances where people have started refuges, but couldn't afford to keep them operational because of the costs involved with maintaining a horse.

"If a horse isn't broke to ride or bred well, it's worth close to nothing," Cunningham said.

Many states have taken up legislation to address the issue.

The Wyoming Legislature recently passed a resolution asking the U.S. Congress not to pass the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2009 that would prohibit the transportation of horse meat, or live horses for slaughter.

Montana legislators passed a law in May that allows a horse slaughter plant within the state, and also has provisions to stop frivolous lawsuits by animal activist organizations to stop a plant from being built.

Jennifer Cook had 20 quarter horses earlier in the year, most of them were 1 to 10 years old. She had 10 left in mid-May after selling the others.

Most of the horses went for a cost lower than what she wanted. Her prices have ranged from $75 to $400. She has about four horses that won't be sold because they are family pets and are used for breeding. The fate of the others is uncertain.

In the past, she has sold horses to a "kill-buyer," or someone who bought the horse to take to a processing facility.

"You can't expect a goodhearted person to always come along," she said.

At one time she raised, sold and broke horses, a job that used to bring in about $10,000 a year. But because of health problems and the downturn in the market, she'll be out of the business for a while.

"A ton of hay costs about what the horse costs," Cook said.

Cook has worked for a veterinarian's office in the past and has seen firsthand how horses are put down there and at the slaughterhouse.

In her opinion, the horse suffers less at the slaughterhouse because it is knocked out before being killed. At the veterinarian clinic, she's seen horses jump and thrash after receiving the killing injection during euthanasia.

"They get hit, and they don't know what hit them," she said.

Eating horse meat isn't a very welcome prospect to Cook. But she thinks the slaughter needs to happen because there are too many horses that need saving, and not enough places to take them in.

She has taken in horses from friends and strangers in the past that are handed over to her because they can no longer afford to take care of them.

She's also heard the stories of abandonment. For example, one person attended a sale and forgot to lock their trailer, only to find someone had loaded a horse in it.

"There's just a point where people don't want them anymore," she said.

For Schwend, it's a labor of love.

Her horse was by no means a "perfect" horse when she bought him.

He had sores on his back and needed to be wormed three times before he would gain weight.

But even though it was hard work to get him back to health, she believed it was her responsibility rather than trading him in for a new one.

She thinks of him like one of her children. The responsibility she feels for the children is the same as she feels for her horses — she has another horse, Jedi, that was rescued when she was younger. Jedi has a stall right next to Red. She smiles when the horses whinny because they're happy to see her — and they also know she has food for them.

"People shouldn't be able to pay for convenience," she said. "Pets and kids aren't convenient, you have to be responsible."

On the Net:

United Organizations of the Horse:


Information from: The Gillette News Record - Gillette,

MS MANY NAMES RESPONDS to a moronic statement made above;

I absolutely could NOT believe when I read this:

Excerpt from article above;

"...In her opinion, the horse suffers less at the slaughterhouse because it is knocked out before being killed. At the veterinarian clinic, she's seen horses jump and thrash after receiving the killing injection during euthansia."

My reply: I would have to say the vet was doing something very wrong, didnt know what he was doing as far as the right drug or dosage, or missed a vein or something. Please dont form your opinion on horse slaughter just because you vet didnt know what he was doing.

In the link below you can watch a vid to see how "real" humane euthansia works, of course, when the vet knows what he is doing.

Thanks to the good folks at HORSEKILLERS.COM and SHARK, in the link below you can see actual footage of horses meeting their end in an American $laughterhouse (now closed) ...this is what supporters of horse $laughter describe as 'humane euthansia." WARNING, THESE VIDEOS ARE GRAPHIC and may be disturbing. Once you access the site, page down to where it says: THE HORRORS OF HORSE $LAUGHTER to see the American $laughterhouse videos, and just below that, where it says HUMANE EQUINE EUTHANSIA, there is a link where you can compare and watch a video showing what HUMANE EUTHANSIA really is. The "Humane" video shows two "beloved" horses, good buddies, that are HUMANELY EUTHANISED together by their owners & a veterinan in a field at home. View both these videos, death in a $laughterhouse and death at home by lethal injection, and YOU be the judge as to which method is or is not "less traumatic." Slaughter IS NOT humane. Slaughter IS NOT euthansia. Slaughter CAN NEVER be is by its very nature violent and traumatic for the animal EVERYTIME.

1 comment:

padance08 said...

I write for horse magazines and talk to many horse rescue groups. An interesting statistic (I was told -- I didn't independently verify)is that horse thefts went down 30% in California after the slaughter houses closed. Also, I talk to the local sheriff's office here (a major US city)every month. They are not seeing an uptick in abandoned/abused horses...dogs, cats, but not horses