Hello fellow horse folks, how are ya? These few weeks leading up to the holiday shenanigans are always pretty stressful. Well don't worry, I've got a little comedic relief for you before we get to the news:
OK, let's get down to it.
BIG news: The European Commission will no longer allow any imports of Mexican horse meat into the European Union! That's right, Mexican slaughter plants just lost a huge market for horse meat.
The European Union (EU) is made of up of 28 countries, including Spain, Portugal, Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (that's England + Scotland + part of Ireland + Wales). Some of the world's biggest consumers of horse meat live in the EU (we're looking at you, France and Belgium).
The Commission decided to halt all imports of Mexican horse meat after March 1st 2015, largely due to food safety concerns. In most EU countries, horses have to be free from veterinary drugs for at least 180 days prior to slaughter. In Mexico however, horses often end up in the food supply only a couple days after leaving the local racetrack, riding stable, or breeding barn. Needless to say, there's a lot of bute, steroids, hormones, and other toxins in those horses. And the Mexican authorities just don't care. The Commission found that the records kept by Mexican feedlots, slaughter plants, veterinary drug dispenseries, and vets themselves are incredibly inadequate, or missing entirely.
The Commission also noted that horses transported to the Mexican slaughter plants faced awful, inhumane conditions. Many dead or dying horses, lame horses, sick horses, and stallions are put on to trucks for long journeys and then taken to pens where they are held without food, water, shade, or vet care. (To read the full report, go to this link and click on the "Mexican" button at the bottom of the page.)
You probably already knew about all that, but here's something you may not know: Mexico is one of the top three producers of horse meat in the world, but most of the horses slaughtered come from the USA. Shame on us. Some of these horses are oldies, thrown away by piece-of-crap owners who couldn't seem to scrounge up a few bucks or bullets to give their faithful servants a decent death. Some of these horses are products of the racing industry, which rarely makes any kind of provision for the care of the horses it breeds, chews up, and spits out. But the majority of the horses that go to slaughter are young, healthy, unbroke, grade horses produced en mass by irresponsible breeders.
Some people are going to argue that the EU's decision will be harmful to horses in general, because with fewer meat buyers, Mexican slaughter plants won't process as many "unwanted" horses. These unwanted horses will end up starving to death. And the horse market will get even worse, because it will be hard to even get slaughter price for a horse on the auction block.
It's not true that lack of slaughter = more neglected horses. There was still a huge amount of horse neglect in America pre-2007, when USA slaughter plants were still open. And there's plenty of horse neglect in Mexico now, despite the presence of slaughter there. People who neglect horses don't do it because they don't have slaughter as an alternative, they do it because they are sick pieces of shit. Rapists don't rape because they can't get a prostitute.
It may be true that Mexican demand for American horses has helped keep the horse market from bottoming out entirely. But you know what? Well-trained horses will always sell for a couple of thousand dollars, and as for grade, unbroke horses, well... Screw it. Let the sucker bottom out. We're so far down in the hole, we might as well come out the other side of the earth. Maybe when you can't even get $10 for a yearling at auction, maybe when every last backyard breeder is surrounded by ponies she can't give away, maybe when even the auctioneers see there's no profit, maybe then this country will wake up. Maybe then people will stop breeding crap, and horses will become slightly scarce, and the market will rebound.
Speaking of healthy horses in desperate need of homes, Beyond the Fence Line horse rescue in Redgranite, WI seems to be stretched to the very limit. They have umpteen horses up for adoption on their website, and are now listing some more on craigslist:
18 year old Welsh/Shetland mare, leads, loads, ties, not sure if broke. $50
18 year old draft cross pony, leads, loads, ties, probably not broke, free to good home.
12 year old grey grade QH mare, 14.2 h, 90 days training, been on trails, leads, loads, ties, $500
If you want to help out BtFL but can't adopt, check out their online charity auction.
Midwest Horse Welfare is also having a charity auction, and Amazing Grace Equine Rescue is selling beautiful photo calendars. You can visit their website for instructions on how to pay via paypal or by credit card, OR you can mail $20 to A.G.E.S W4985 County Road FF Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin 53020.
There, I've helped you decide where to do your Christmas shopping! Oh, one more item on the list for Santa: Gorgeous 5 year old red chestnut gelding, 15.3h, greenbroke, sound. Up to date on vaccines, jumps, knows tricks. Has a bucking issue sometimes. Free to good home.
One last thing, and then I have to go: Feist's Horse Neglect Trial Delayed Until March
Stay tuned for more North Horse!
In the midst of all these horses needing homes and going to slaughter, one group is putting out a plea for funds to breed more: the Wild Horses of Abaco Preservation Society. Should you donate money? It's up to you...
In line with their tighter restriction on horse meat, the EU Commission is also tightening restrictions on horse passports.
Read more about my position on horse slaughter here and here and here.