The American Horse Christmas Tree

IMG_9411The Celebration didn’t happen. There is no star shining brightly on the top of the tree.

Many supporters may remember the first lighting of the American Horse Christmas Tree, which took place Dec 6, 2003 in Santa Fe, Texas. The tree was erected as a symbol for the wishes of the world to keep horses safe and protected from harm. The many ornaments and decorations on it were sent from around the world with hopes that in the coming year of 2004, horse slaughter in America would be abolished forever. Absent from the tree was the final decoration, a star which would not be placed on the top of the tree until slaughter was over, and the horses were safe. “Until the last horse is safe, we will not rest,” became our vow.

But the year 2004 would not grant those hopes, as the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act was held up in the Agriculture Committee by one man. Representative Bob Goodlatte refused to let the legislation go forth to the Congress floor, even to be heard for a vote. The year came to an end with the realization that the hopes and wishes for the horses would not be met. The tree without a star would stand quiet and alone in Hitchcock Texas, with 2,500 tiny lights blazing on it to symbolize the memories of the thousands of horses that were lost due to slaughter.

In 2006, we momentarily thought we had won a great victory with the passage of legislation that stopped our government from paying for the inspection of meat from horses that had nothing to do with the US market. When the US slaughterhouses shut down in 2006, we knew that the industry would simply move their operations to Mexico and Canada.

While the propaganda machines of the pro-slaughter forces whined that the slaughter option was taken away from them, they quietly went about their business. They told lies, put stories in the newspapers about thousands of “unwanted horses” wandering the streets, convinced ranchers to scream with them about starving, neglected horse that needed to be slaughtered, yet proceeded to take more horses that ever before to their end just outside the borders.IMG_3831

Every year since them, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, a bill to stop the transportation of horses to slaughter, was introduced, sent to a committee and died with the end of the legislative session. This year is no different. A few Representatives and Senators actually stood up and tried to support the bill, but the end remains the same – the pro-slaughter lobby efforts of the AQHA buried the bill under the stack of donated money.

This year, 2012, more horses than ever before have and will meet their end because of the demand from foreign meat companies for products.

Last year, 133,241 equine were slaughtered. This year’s total will pass 160,000.IMG_1779

The American Horse Christmas Tree stands silently at the ranch. The 2,500 lights and ornaments still reflect the hopes and dreams of 80% of the US population that the killing will end. Another year passes without a light at the top of the tree, a sad testament to the failure of our government to listen to us.

The tree looks worn, the colors faded, but the ornaments still shine in the reflection of the tiny lights. The fight for this year is over, but the battle continues, and we are stronger and more committed than ever. We will win this battle.

The American Christmas Tree of 2013 will look far different, topped by a star that shines with the glory of the spirit of millions of horses.

We will not rest, Mary Nash, until this is over, until they are all safe. That remains our promise.

  • Arlene

    Our Promise to the Horses will not be Broken !!!!!! Their Importance to us is undisputed , let our New Years resolution be to pull out all the stops and not rest and give to the horses the peace and freedom , that we Promised at all costs !!!!!

    December 24, 2012
  • Morgan Griffith

    Although our fight has not resulted in the victory we pray for I know of no one who will turn their backs on the horses. Some day soon Congress will realize that America does not want their horses slaughtered. When will legislators vote the will of the people and not the hands dropping dollars in their pockets?

    December 24, 2012
  • BlessUsAll

    I remember two Christmas celebrations — one at the ranch and one at the feed store. I’m not sure which was in 2003. They were both solemn occasions in which participants were filled with hope that sparkled as bright as the lights on the tree.

    Just as the solitary star traversed the dark night and stopped when it reached Bethlehem, pointing down at the herald of peace on earth, so can a new star glide across our country and halt over the little town of Hitchcock, land lightly on our patiently waiting tree — signifying our dreams for and promises to the horses — and signal an end to their slaughter. For good.

    Perhaps it is no coincidence that the woman who, early on, conceived of the life-affirming idea of ending the killing of horses — and who labored mightily for that idea to be born — is named, fittingly, Mary.

    December 25, 2012
  • Jeanne/Jade

    I think my wish for tomorrow, and for the new year, is that all the horse advocate finally come together as ONE and make this happen! As I read (on Facebook, or other horse advocate sites and there are many!)the endless insinuations to outright accusations about other groups or the people in them, or even individuals and what they are doing/not doing, or who they are associated with, or possibly being “investigated by the feds,” ad naseum (!), I find myself thinking the old “divide and conquer method stills works well – especially in a war. And that’s what this has always been – “we the people” against “our government” these past years. I don’t know who started this crap about others, but I know others have picked it up and continued to spread it around till I hear people I’ve known for years and stood shoulder to shoulder with at rallies, protests, etc. suddenly saying, “You need to be careful – we don’t know who we can TRUST anymore….” and it makes me want to scream or cry! The time has come to get personal opinions, rumors, doubt, insinuations, etc out of the way and come together for the reason we all became involved to start with: STOP THE SLAUGHTER AND ROUNDUP OF OUR WILD HORSES – THE SYMBOL OF OUR VERY COUNTRY!!! My wish on Christmas Eve and for the next 7 days is that we stop fighting each other and fight as ONE for the horses! Please put aside petty disagreements, opinions, lies, inuendos, and sheer nasty ugly crap and by 1/1/13 let us be a mighty force that takes back our horses and our government by showing them WE THE PEOPLE at mad, fed up, and not going to support their lies and destruction of these animals anymore! That’s my wish to Santa tonight and for the new year. Please remember WE ARE ALL ONE! Blessed Be!

    December 25, 2012
  • sherriey

    we will win! we will not falter. we will not turn our backs and walk away in defeat. we will fight until there isn’t anything to fight about and we can celebrate our win. our horses look down upon us knowing we are their spokesmen. they know we will never stop until we succeed. i myself promised my old gelding that i will never give up or stop until slaughter is abolished for good. i will never break my promise.
    until they are all safe.
    God bless the horses.

    December 25, 2012
  • Mary Nash still remains our shining light, showing the way for all of us that care so much about America’s horses. Our elected representatives have failed us again and again. My faith lies in those that have stood on the front lines fighting for our horses all these years.

    December 25, 2012
  • Gayle-Suzanne Barron

    God Bless ALL Of Us Earthlings, His Precious Creations (Which Are His Gifts And Blessings To Us, Especially ALL Equines And Animals) , With His Loving Gracious Love, Mercy, Grace, Protection, Provision, Hope, Freedom, Joy And Peace As We Celebrate The True Meaning Of CHRISTmas EVERY Day! 😉 ♥
    In Jesus Precious Holy Name,
    I Pray,
    AMEN! 😉 ♥

    MERRY BLESSED CHRISTmas, My Dear Loving Friends! 😉 ♥

    December 26, 2012