Do you want our beloved horses to be treated as this... ...or this?
Rep. John E. Sweeney (R-NY) introduced a new bill, H.R. 857, that would seek to prevent the slaughter of horses in and from the United States for human consumption. I personally urge you all to give your full support to this bill.
Although I am no longer involved on a day to day basis with either the IGHA or HorseAid, my long-time friend Roberta Stone asked me to lend a voice in support of H.R. 857. Roberta and I fought many hard battles against horse abuse and the entire slaughter issue side by side, and I can tell you, the horses have no better friend.
The following was originally written by me in 1999 for the "Star Memorial Ride", a cross country "horse slaughter awareness" ride that Roberta chaired and HorseAid sponsored. It is as relevant today as it was then, perhaps more so, as in the interim five years, very little has changed. With your help, Roberta will not have to ask me to lend a voice again to this same issue in another five years...
For many years I have been troubled by what seems to be an ever-increasing preponderance to treat horses as a disposable commodity to be used (and sometimes abused) at will, and when no longer wanted or needed, disposed of at auction -- to live out its last few days and hours in the confines of an overcrowded truck, with a meathook as its final reward. Can you imagine the horror? Unfortunately, we humans can't -- for if we could, we would never put another horse through such a horrible and inhumane experience.
I have often heard the argument that horses have "no unalienable rights". This, fellow horse lovers, is not true. All living things are endowed with those unalienable rights we as humans grant to them. These rights are not granted by a piece of paper or even by proclamation; these rights are granted because we as a compassionate species have the capacity to grant them.
Too many of us blind ourselves to the horrors of what eventually happens to our beloved horses when they are no longer one of our main interests. "Take it to auction" seems so benign, "Oh, it will find a good home" so comforting. The benign auction will (in most cases) be the start of a hell trip that is beyond our comprehension. The "good home" it will find will be serving it for dinner.
Do you eat horses? Do you personally know anyone that does? Even in my travels throughout Europe I rarely find anybody that can answer those two questions affirmatively. So why do we subject our horses to the indignities of slaughter to produce a product we don't consume and that most of us find abhorrent and repugnant? Even the USDA discovered this when they tried to promote the eating of horsemeat in the U.S. (the site was pulled down in a matter of days because of all the adverse mail they received).
I am asking all of you to make a commitment to the horses we so profess to love. Let's not cast any more horses away for use as someone else's dinner. Let's not turn away when we see injustices and abuses heaped upon horses, and when our equine companion is at the end of his trail, let's walk those last few miles with him, for he has certainly walked enough of them with us.
In his travels out of Italy as a very young man, my paternal grandfather (and namesake), upon witnessing a horse about to be slaughtered in a town square in the south of France, watched as a butcher walked up to the horse and with a knife hidden behind his back, petted and caressed the horse with his free hand.
Once the horse became calm and trusting, the butcher, looking the horse straight in the eye, quickly slit the horse's throat...deep and wide. Then he and his helper restrained the horse until it collapsed, and quickly placed a bucket under the horse's slit throat to gather its rapidly gushing life's blood.
My grandfather, very upset at what he had just seen, walked up to the other horse that was tied up out of sight a short distance away...awaiting its turn at the "boucherie", and whispered to the horse, "Trust no man in whose eye you don't see yourself reflected as an equal", and then set the horse free (to join one of the many feral horse bands roaming the French countryside). He goes on to write that he confronted the butcher with what he had done, and paid for the "lost" horse.
am not asking you to do any more than my grandfather did. I am asking all
of you, from this day on, to be "reflected as an equal" in the
eye of every horse in the world, nothing else will do, and any less would
not be compassionate or honorable.
Co-founder of HorseAid