Good News for the Horse, But the Fight Goes on

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headshotHuffington Post, Michael D’Antonio (Author, ‘Mortal Sins, Sex, Crime, and the Era of Catholic Scandal’}, April 11, 2013

The news is getting better for horses.

The Obama Administration is getting behind a proposed ban on the slaughter of horses for meat, adding to the growing opposition to a plan for resuming the practice in New Mexico. Also, as reported by Joe Drape in The New York Times, California state officials are conducting a serious investigation into the sudden deaths of more than two dozen racing horses. And in Great Britain the terrible spectacle of horse deaths at the Grand National steeplechase has renewed public criticism of an event that has become too dangerous for both riders and their mounts.

As much as we might romanticize the steeplechase (think young Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet) and racetracks as Damon Runyon did, the truth about the welfare of horses used for sport is mixed at best. In steeplechase and other ‘eventing” disciplines horses and riders too often face unsafe courses. Polo poniesare often drugged to improve their performance (sometimes with deadly consequences). And anyone who has spent time in the “backside” sheds at a typical track will tell you that the treatment afforded horses ranges from the ideal to the unconscionable.

At racetracks, much depends on the integrity of trainers who too often regard their equine athletes as expendable machines that can be worked to the point of breakdown and then discarded. Add-in the financial pressure and the many marginal characters who gravitate to tracks and you have condition ripe for abuse.

So far, California racing authorities have not found a common cause for the spike in racehorse fatalities. However they are alarmed because these animal are, literally, strong as horses, and sudden, mysterious deaths from apparent heart failure are extremely rare. Not surprisingly, they are focusing intently on the problem of drugs in the sport.

U.S. authorities permit much more drug use than officials in other major racing countries, and it’s no coincidence that the death rate for American racers is much higher. Here, too many trainers and others with access to horses operate much like baseball players and cyclists scheming to stay one step ahead of anti-doping regimes. Clandestine “designer drugs” of the sort taken by human athletes circulate in the shadows of the sport and many are difficult, if not impossible to trace with the technology now used by monitors.

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AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
9 Comments
  • Judy Wendt

    Thank you Jerry. I’d like to suggest that along with posting here, people post directly into the Huff Post article. They have a very large readership that needs the perspectives of horse people. We are winning the battle right now, but this war is far from over(until the SAFE Act passes). There are so many would be supporters that are just not aware. The articles help, but having a lot of posters brings the subject to the forefront. 🙂

    April 12, 2013
      • Judy Wendt

        Well they certainly got me all excited as evidenced by my replies. I live in the same county as Duquette and we have mutual acquaintances. I’ve written letters to our local newspaper editor and had some face-to-face arguments against pro-slaughterers. Usually we just have to agree to disagree, but honestly, some of these people have really “drunk the (bloody) kool aid.”

        April 12, 2013
  • Daryl

    I will belive it when it happens not before, he has nothing he’s done up to this fara nd he knew what was going on .

    April 12, 2013
  • Nancy b

    Omg! Ok so everyone is thinking it and a few are starting to say it out loud… But I just read the rest of this article and the comments that followed provide proof that Horse Meat is in the United States food chain! Below is the comment I just read that includes a link to the Canadian Meat Council. Following that link I found the United States 6th on the list of Canadian Horse Meat Exports! In 2012 the United States imported 785,978 kilos, each kilo = 2.2 lbs., so that means we imported 1,729,151.6 lbs. of Horse Meat in 2012. So where has all that horse meat gone?! The graph on the Canadian Meat Council website shows all meat exports from 2009-2012 and we, the United States, have been importing Horse Meat each of those years!

    So where has it gone? Looks like Americans been eating Horse Meat unknowingly for years?!

    Here is the post with the link:

    comedyflyer
    Commented 4 hours ago in Green
    “Meanwhile back at the Canadian ranch….packaged horse meat is being shipped back to the USA from Canada & Mexico. Where is it going & who is buying it? If you read this report you will see why everyone wants a piece of this revolting industry…..so much money to be made slaughtering horses….http://www.cmc-cvc.com/en/about-us/industry-statistics/veal-lamb-horse-poultry hope this link works…yup the fight is not over!”

    April 12, 2013
    • Nancy B

      Perhaps I should not have said that the United States importing 1,729,151.6 lbs. of Horse Meat from Canada during 2012 is actually “Proof that Horse Meat is in the United States food chain!” I suppose we don’t know for sure, right? Hmmm… Sure do wonder where all that meat went though.

      April 12, 2013
      • Judy Wendt

        Nancy – very interesting information. I believe individual people can order and buy horse meat or any other substance (like prescription drugs) from Canada and have it mailed to them. Creepy to think there are so many horse eaters among us. I don’t know. I sure wouldn’t eat any of those cheap tacos!!! As with most things these days, the buyer must be aware – very aware.

        April 13, 2013
        • Nancy B

          Judy – Yes I found it interesting information too. I had not been aware of Horse Meat being imported back to the US. On the Canadian Meat Council’s website there is a graph that states the “Average Warm Carcass Wieght” (which I don’t know for sure but seems to be the actual meat from each horse) as being 296 Kilos or 651.2 lbs. per horse. This would mean that the US imported the meat from 2,655.3 horses in 2012 alone. That’s a lot of meat! A lot of horses! I’m sure it’s possible it could be individuals purchasing the meat. Just seems that with so many other countries blending it with their beef… and our US Beef industry backing horse slaughter.. well, who knows huh?

          Personally I haven’t eaten beef, or any meat, for years now. Just can’t stomach it anymore because of the cruelty involved, not to mention the rampant contamination (on many levels) that is so prevelant in factory farmed animals. I’ve been encouraging my family and friends that eat meat to please only buy it from smaller, private, organic farms. It’s more expensive, yes, but safer for human consumption. And, perhaps the animals don’t suffer quite as much, well up to being slaughtered anyway.

          April 13, 2013
  • I was able to go to the link showing the amount of horse meat shipped from Canada to the USA. Where did the horsemeat go?? There has been thousands of lbs. of horsemeat shipped to USA. This news strenthens my resolve to become a vegatarian.

    April 13, 2013