Horse Connection Magazine
An American Tragedy
Anastasia A. Ealey
They [horses] are slightly below the American Bald Eagle in terms of the
reverence Americans have for them,” stated US Congressman John E. Sweeney of
Horses are an integral part of our lives, whether
we realize it or not, summer camp horses, parade horses, show horses, plow
horses, therapeutic riding horses, police horses – even that first pony you
begged to ride at the summer fair. Horses
According to Congressman Sweeney,
40,000 [horses] were believed to have been slaughtered 3 years ago, and 50,000 this past year. There was an 18% increase. We have seen over the past decade something of a decline, but then we saw it spike back up.”
Why is the government allowing horse
“The only reason the slaughter houses are running is that the owners say it’s a federal, not a state’s rights, issue.”
Currently, there are two slaughterhouses
in operation in
So why do Americans put up with this practice?
Because most of us are unaware that it is going on. Amidst all the coverage of the war in
Why are we shipping our horsemeat overseas anyway?
It is being sold overseas as delicacy items…not just as horsemeat, but as American horses.” Kind of like Russian caviar or French truffles, American horsemeat has become something that foreign chefs search for by name. “If the French and Europeans decide that this [horsemeat] is their culture and what they like, let them eat their own horses,” Sweeney says.
But why don’t they eat their own horses? Why must they buy their meat directly from
BECAUSE we pamper and love them! American horses are renowned for being well fed and exercised. Plus, they eat lots of herbs and grass. This sort of diet makes their meat prime eating material for foreign horsemeat connoisseurs. Regardless of whether Americans eat horsemeat or not, there’s still a market for it, and unless we do something, it’s going to grow.
The American Horse Slaughter Prevention
Act is now making its way through the House of Representatives.
Congressman Sweeney is its creator.
“It is a piece of legislation intended to ban the slaughter of American horses for the purposes of human consumption.”
Is there hope that this bill will pass?
“Yes, very much so. A substantial majority of the American people, in any poll that’s ever been done, are in the 70% and higher numbers [opposing] the slaughter of horses for human consumption. Also, a majority of members in Congress have signed onto the bill. 217 ‘yes’ votes pass a bill. We may be over 230…will it pass? I believe that in the end, you can’t circumvent the will of the people, or the will of a majority of members in Congress.”
But that’s not to say that everyone is
“There’s resistance from the agricultural committee, specifically the committee chairman.”
Why would anyone oppose such a humane
“Their inference is that there will be an ‘overpopulation’ of horses. But there has been a huge growth in the numbers of farms and people that takes horses in for rescue purposes. We believe the argument that there’s nowhere for these horses to go is frivolous.”
True, but does the opposition have a
“The question is, can one person hold up the will of the majority of members? I think that in the end, if enough people weigh in on this, that won’t be the case.”
But how do we know if this will make a difference?
Sweeney says to look at the example of
Will this act affect cattlemen and cows?
How about people with horses too lame or ill to live?
“I narrowly drafted this piece of legislation so it is just about horses. It has no impact on people who need to put their horses down for health or other reasons. The regular rules and laws still abide.”
Lastly, what can we horse people do to
“Write, write write. Write your Congressman. Write, in particular, the agricultural committee. Ask them to hold a hearing on this issue, and to put the legislation up to vote. The more you write, the better it is.”
people know the deep bond that is shared between owner and horse.
It is a quiet link, almost invisible, except to the two of them.
In the words of “Ode to the Horse,” “The world’s past has been
born on his back. We are his heirs.
He is our inheritance.” Let’s
not squander this beautiful, valued inheritance by sitting back and doing
nothing. Write for your horses’