Happy Saint Patty's Day!
The national horse of Ireland is, of course, the handsome, heavy-boned Irish Draft (or, in more local parlance, the Irish Draught Horse). But did you know that the breed was developed from the now-extinct Irish Hobby horse?
And from the Hobby horse arose the expression, "to ride one's hobby horse," meaning to follow one's passion. The term was then shortened to just having or enjoying a "hobby." So the English language owes the word "hobby" to an Irish horse breed!
The term "hobby horse" also applies to a primitive form of bicycle with no pedals, the stick horses we all rode as kids, and ghost-like horse skull puppets used in creepy traditions like the Welsh "Mari Lwyd," which date back to pagan times and are supposed to bring good luck. The Christmas bulbs as eyes are really what freak me out the most.
I'm afraid we must now continue with slightly more depressing news.
Over and over again, the following cycle happens here in America, and over and over again the process fails to solve the problem of unwanted horses. This is the latest version of the cycle:
Horse slaughter advocates decide to open some new horse slaughter plants. Of the several who have applied for permission recently, this one in New Mexico is the closest to opening (in 3 weeks, they claim). However, once again they fail to address concerns about sanitation and the cruelty of sending horses, which do NOT react like cattle, through the traditional slaughter process. In addition, absolutely no mention is made of how they will ensure veterinary drugs won't wind up in the human food chain, a concern that has led to many European countries to consider banning the import of American horse meat.
Anti-slaughter advocates see the horse slaughterers getting busy, so they get busy, and propose legislation like this bill, hoping to make horse slaughter for food illegal in America once and for all. However, once again these advocates fail to address the question, "what else do we do with these horses?" No legislation about low-cost euthanasia or gelding clinics is proposed, no restrictions on breeding, no proposal to fund horse rescues, no nothing that might address the root of the problem.
Meanwhile, over-burdened, under-funded agencies are left to deal with the actual horses. Private horse rescuers, who receive no government funding, struggle to pay the hay bills and turn away horses by the dozen. Even the Federal BLM struggles to find cheaper and cheaper land to warehouse mustangs on. Thousands of these mustangs, which cannot legally be slaughtered (some of which wind up slaughtered anyway), nonetheless have to be rounded up periodically, lest they overpopulate. So they spend their entire lives in huge corrals, neither wild and free, nor owned and well-cared-for. Even while American taxpayers shell out millions every year to warehouse these mustangs, the horses receive only the bare-minimum care necessary to keep them alive, often in bleak conditions and with no vet care. Untreated injuries, overgrown hooves and fighting are rampant.
Hellloooooo?! This is NOT WORKING. This inconsistent, inefficient system hasn't worked since the 60s and it continues to fail!
Unwanted horses continue to suffer because we humans can't work together to find a middle ground.