Summit of the Horse

At least the USA is discussing the horse issue. The Summit of the Horse is an open forum, and the invitation is open to anyone to attend. I won’t be going because I don’t have $50 dollars, which is the cheap rate for one night’s hotel accommodation at the venue. I certainly can’t afford the flight, registration, etc. But the chance to see, and talk to Temple Grandin would make it a bargain, that is assuming I had the money……….. see above.

I think the agenda is flawed, and I have been careful to include the blurb for all the sessions, unedited, so that you can all form your own opinions and agree whole heartedly with me. You see, I also understand the principles of democracy.

I will now go through the program.

9:30 am – Opening Keynote: The Politics of Land and Horses

In theory this is the issue, but as the subsequent sections demonstrate, this is more complex than it sounds.

10:00 am – The Horsemen’s Forum – Necessary Steps to Restore Lost Value and Normal Markets

A wide ranging discussion that includes a broad range of horse industry spokespersons representing horse marketing, top trainers in various disciplines, breeders, breed registries, and event organizations—all responding to the question, “What are the most important things that need to be done to restore the horse industry in the United States?”

Right away the agenda is about turning the clock back, to go back to a probably mythical golden age when horse people were making money. But the problem we face today is the result of that Value from Normal markets. This conference is billed as

A gathering of men and women who make their living with horses, and those who care deeply about ecological balance on healthy lands. A summit of concerned citizens who understand what is necessary to keep the land, the horses, the people, the cultures, and the economies vibrant and healthy.

Since the previous system has demonstrably failed, resurrecting it is not the solution.

Afternoon Sessions: Healthy lands/Healthy Horses—Restoring ecological balance to federal lands, controlling excess and unwanted feral horses on state, tribal, and private lands.

1:30 pm – Sustainable & Realistic Solutions to Wild Horse & Burro Program problems

2:15 pm – presentation on wild horse gathers and issues regarding horse welfare

3:00 pm – The BLM situation

A forum of land management agencies, range specialists, equine specialists, wildlife conservationists, Western state policy makers, and domestic horse industry representatives discussing the current situation on the land, and effects on other users of federal lands, as well as market effects on the horse industry of BLM policies.

To have credibility, the discussion needs to tackle the two moral issues, ecological balance and horse welfare, and come to a rational, defendable solution on these contradictory issues. This is a judgement of Solomon and a half. The horses clearly affect the ecology of fragile ecosystems, and are not the only species to be considered. Any control system is going to have damaging consequences on the horses controlled. Not controlling them is going to damage fragile ecosystems. This is lose/lose. The least worst alternative needs to be found.

Then considering the market effects on the horse industry would be reasonable. To make incredibly difficult decisions between the advocates of horse welfare and the advocates of ecological balance is going to be a nightmare, but it needs to be done. To even think of preserving the life style of those whose industry has created the problem, at the same time, is stupid. I can think of so many words to describe the idea, but stupid is good enough. And publishable.

4:15 pm – Unintended consequences on state, tribal, and private lands

Tribal leaders join with private land owners and state land managers to discuss the breadth and scope of devastation wrought by uncontrolled populations of feral horses not under the jurisdiction of the federal government. This forum includes a discussion of the unintended consequences that have resulted in the alarming increase of abandoned, neglected, and starving horses.

I think this is an attack on the ban on horse slaughter in the US. “unintended consequences” is in the title of the Animal Welfare Council’s document  THE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF A BAN ON THE HUMANE SLAUGHTER (PROCESSING) OF HORSES IN THE UNITED STATES.

While the Animal Welfare Council document was a balanced assessment of the issue, the agenda here is to discuss “the breadth and scope of devastation wrought by uncontrolled”. This is emotive language, not the start of a balanced discussion. There may be devastation, in which case why bounce us into accepting the fact, why not present the evidence to the Summit and let them decide.

6:00 pm – Evening Reception – The Equine Market Report

An informal discussion with horse marketing professionals.

Not horse welfare, not ecology, not land use, not politics.

January 5th – Wednesday

Morning Sessions: The U.S. Horse Industry—Protecting our horseback cultures and livelihoods.

9 am – Dennis Foster, Executive Director, Master of Fox Hounds Assn, and international expert on countering animal rights

9:45-10:00 am – Break

10:00 am – Protecting ourselves from the animal rights agenda

A group of experts who have been on the front lines, along with horse owners who have been attacked by animal rights groups come together to provide practical, hands-on advice and training in how to protect yourself and your way of life from radical extremist agendas.

So the Summit of the Horse is open to those who want to see everything carry on as before, yet doing that last time, led to the situation that requires the Summit. This is getting circular. This is also not about ecology, land use, horse welfare, it is about preserving the status quo, and keeping an elite activity where it belongs, with the elite and not letting any of the rabble anywhere near.

But the Summit of the Horse isn’t advertised as defending the rights of the elite, it is promoted to discuss the future of horses, their welfare, in the wild and in captivity. A very different subject it seems from the topics on offer on the second morning.

10:45 – 11:00 am – Break 11:00 am – Protecting our grazing & other rights

A practical, hands-on workshop designed to help those of us in the horse industry, and in public lands ranching to protect our rights. This session exposes the egregious abuse of the Equal Access to Justice Act by environmental and animal rights organizations which uses taxpayer dollars to attack the property rights of animal owners and public land users.

I am tempted to digress on linguistic issues, and like Wilde I can resist eveything except temptation, so here goes.

Uncertain whether the horsey types the Summit wishes to attract are literary, they took the precaution of pairing egregious with abuse, so even the horsiest person would realise that this was NOT GOOD. Tax payers dollars used on Public Land issues. How appalling. Actually i would have thought that was a rather appropriate use of taxpayer’s dollars, since it is their land, and to fund the views of the public about public land isn’t an entirely evil concept. But by pairing egregious with abuse, they have fallen into a double negative. Egregious is considered to mean “outstandingly bad” and abuse is “improper usage” so we now have these people who manage to commit “outstandingly bad, improper usage of the Equal access to Justice Act”. So they probably use it to get Equal Access to Justice.

Alternatively, the archaic usage of egregious, was simply extraordinary, with no connotation of evil. The derivation from grex, a flock, therefore e- grex, outside the flock, outstanding. Then we get the meaning the summit, I suspect, wanted, but they have been unneccessarily verbose, and have to rely on a detailed knowledge of archaic word forms.

Actually I believe they were just trying to load the dice again, and persuade us that anyone who is against rich rural horse owners, ranchers etc, is a bomb throwing anarchist, adn that waterboarding is probably too good for him. You see this is what it looks like when you start using loaded emotive language to set the agenda.

12:00 Noon – Lunch Break

OK we have had lunch, le’s all calm down, and start again.

Afternoon Sessions: Efforts underway to provide humane and economically viable options.

1:30 pm – Dr. Temple Grandin – Humane Handling of Horses

Sponsor: Rhodes River Ranch

This has to be the high point of the conference. Temple Grandin has the stature to make this Summit worthwhile. There is an excess of horses, nobody is denying that. We need an affordable solution, ditto. Slaughter, while unattractive as an option, is effective, and can be humane. Temple Grandin is the person with the stature to ensure this option is viable, and viable because it is seen to be humane, and trusted to be humane.

Economically viable is totally legitimate in the agenda . The world is in recession, spare cash isn’t spare. Economically viable does not mean that it needs to prop up the existing horse breeders. It means an affordable method to reduce the problem of excess horses, which is costing everyone money while the horses are suffering.

Slaughter is the least worst solution in the present financial crisis with a massive surplus of horses.

2:30 pm – Efforts underway to provide humane and economically viable options

In spite of the economic devastation of the horse industry, efforts around the country are underway to bring humane and regulated horse processing back to the U.S. This forum will include those involved in enterprises already underway to build plants in Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Wyoming and elsewhere

And we are back to the loaded language, and a bit of disinformation. “In spite of the economic devastation” would more accurately read, “because of”. This isn’t a bunch of do gooders, digging into their pockets in the hard times. This is an industry that let the excess horse population build up, because they were all making good money and nobody wanted to derail the gravy train. So they promote the idea that horses are pets, that they are special because they are a special breed with really important parents, “with papers”. That they are high class, pure bred, aristocratic. Now if you tried that sort of stuff about people who are Homo sapiens, you would be called a racist snob. say it about Equus caballus and you are a horse breeder.

If horses are just livestock, slaughter isn’t a problem. How many livestock are slaughtered in the USA every day. But the breeders have fostered this mythical status, and tied it to a healthy cash price, but now with an excess, they can’t just slaughter them, because to the public who bought all this breed nonsense, they are special.

Actually, I think horses and ponies are special. Obama particularly, who is just the best, but he came to me as a worthless, rescue reject, who couldn’t even make the grade as a kids pony. To me, because I work with him and respect him, he is magic. But he is just another Equus caballus. I am just another Homo sapiens. He’s my friend, I don’t expect you to respect him, you don’t know him. I do.

So this proposal to set up slaughter houses is fine, but I thought this Summit was here to discuss the ideas, yet the plans are under way, the welfare systems are written.

and you are all ready to start selling the meat. So what is the Summit for? Is there going to be a tasting session, give us a chance to place our meat orders. And if Temple Grandin makes suggestions that contradict the Equine assurance program, do you follow her advice or ignore it?

In other words are we invited to bring pom poms as cheer leaders, or is this actually a chance to discuss the future of the horse industry.

3:30 pm – Setting the high standard for humane processing of horses

Representatives from U.S. and Canadian animal science and humane livestock handling organizations, as well as federal and state livestock processing regulatory agencies discuss what is necessary for the humane processing of horses. This will include a presentation of the Equine Humane Handling and Assessment Project of the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada which has been rolled out in Canadian processing facilities.

If this is open debate, it will be massively useful, but if it is just a runbber stamp, then this whole Summit will reinforce the idea of an industry that only listens to itself. The problem is too big, and involves too many people to be stitched up behind closed doors. I hoped this was a breath of fresh air, but it looks like the old smoke filled rooms of yesteryear, where the usual suspects divided the spoils.

4:30 pm – The international perspective

How the U.S. situation is affecting the Canadian horse industry, global impacts on meat markets, as well as import and export of live horses.

This looks even more like a stitch up. Mentioning Canada and Australia without mentioning Mexico which produces over 10% of the total world horsemeat is stupid. Firstly I ask why you aren’t mentioning Mexico, even a European knows Mexico is closer to the US than Australia, and I also know that about half the animals destined for slaughter, hauled out of the US, go to Mexico.

You should be thanking these guys. Look at the scale of your problem if Mexico wasn’t taking some of the surplus. There is no point having a Summit and not facing facts. Mexico has been helping you, acknowledge the fact.

But if you are trying to pretend this is all going to be sorted out by nice WASP horsey types, you have a major problem.

Roundup – Closing Assembly and Resolution Adoption – Mobilization of the Horse Industry

Horse people unite to drive forward a comprehensive agenda developed by horse people, for horse people.

We take back the reins and make sure that Congress and the U.S. citizenry understands what is truly in the best interests of horses, and in the best interests of people who seek to continue basing their lives and livelihoods on an economically thriving equine industry that is environmentally, ethically, and morally sound.

Ah, so right from the start, you know all the answers, the people who got us into this mess are the perfect people to get us out, and all you have to do is persuade everyone you were right all along.

Well, I’ll tell you one thing, with tiny adjustments, this package will sell globally to the “horsey set”. They know the only people who understand horses are people with the right breeding, the right background, the natural aristocrats, the ones who ride roughshod over the peasants.

Oh yes, the Summit of the Horse will sell, England will lap it up, and the Scots and the Welsh and the Irish can play the role of tribal people.

And then you go and spoil it all with the last sentence.

This effort will include specific recommendations to policy makers in regards to sustainable management of wild horses and burros on federal lands.

This is just a bit crude. We know you want to be paid to clear horses off the BLM land, I’d have left this for quiet discussion, but I’m a Brit, I don’t know how things work in the US of A.

But at least you are talking, and maybe I am too cynical, and this Summit will produce discussion between all those who care about horses, and sadly, that does include a few of us, who think slightly differently, and think that a few changes may be necessary.

I hope, for the horse’s sake, that some intelligent discussions are held, because things can’t go on the way they are.


6 Responses to Summit of the Horse

  1. Amy Cirincione says:

    *In 2007 Horse slaughter became illegal to practice in the United States of America. However a loophole in the law allows more then 100,000 American horses to cross the border to Canada and Mexico to be inhumanely slaughtered for human consumption. If it was banned in the USA for being inhumane, one would think the government would find it just as inhumane to perform across the border.
    * Each year more then 100,000 American horses are inhumanly transported and then inhumanly slaughtered in Mexico and Canada for human consumption.
    * USDA Statistics state that more then 92% of horses slaughtered are young healthy and sound horses between the ages of 5-12.
    *Horse Meat is Toxic when it comes from horses once pets, show ponies, camp horses, or race horses. Vaccines, de-wormers, and phenylbutazone are commonly given to pet horses and race horses. Phenylbutazone causes liver failure, birth defects, Bone marrow dysplasia, and different types of cancer in Humans if ingested in even small doses. Death occurs if ingested in larger quantities.
    * Horses can not be slaughtered in a humane way due to there neck set up and genetic makeover. Horses unlike any other hooved animal have a flight or fight response. mostly they flee. therefore not standing still in the shoot makes it near impossible to shoot the healthy horse in the head and kill him. trying to restrain the horses head will result in a broken neck as the horse will try to free his head from being restricted. Mostly every horse shot in Canada are butchered alive! Mexico stabs the horse in the spine til he is paralyzed and then butchers the horse alive!!! Therefore. there is NO humane way to slaughter a horse.

  2. Nancy Meehan says:

    I along with most Americans, am completely against horse slaughter. It is not the answer.

    • Against killing horses? Against killing horses inhumanely, against killing horses and then letting people eat the meat, against killing horses and then letting worms eat the meat? These are all slaughter. Which are you against?
      I am not FOR slaughter, is just appears at the moment it is the “least worst” option.

  3. Monika Courtney says:

    The serious public health threat of horse meat is evident, to all but Wallis and Duquette who is nothing but a meatpacker. Horses are not raised for human food consumption and the presence of toxic drugs makes horse meat even dangerous enough to be banned from dog food. The ignorance and greed of Wallis add only more bad taste to the national disdain that is looming over her proposed plan, which will affect the health and welfare of her state with a public health risk. Bute, Clenbuterol, PBZ (horse aspirin, widely used for Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds) Stereoids and Banamine… are not a cocktail to be fed to unsuspecting humans. Also the risk of a potential Trichinosis outbreak is unsconscionable. People do not eat horses in America, period.
    If Wallis’ bloody lust for horse flesh would indeed be initiated by a concern for the “welfare” of horses…, one can wonder why the country so vehemently opposes such ideas. There are alternative solutions, horses need no slaughter plant, only a second chance.
    Hay banks, special programs within rescues, cost-reduced humane euthanasia (administered by a licensed vet) or programs such as the Arizona Dept of Agriculture’s Equine Rescue Registry –
    are available. Wallis is nothing but a self-appointed, grotesque entrepreneur, who is using people’s naivete and economic pressures for personal gain.
    It is the strong position of VEW members that absent any formal regulation or structure by the United States with regard to medications and food safety withdrawal schedules for equines entering the food chain, horsemeat derived from any U.S. horse can never be regarded as safe for human consumption.
    Furthermore, VEW member veterinarians strongly object to the AVMA and AAEP position in favor of horse slaughter for human consumption. For the AVMA and AAEP to condone the human consumption of meat derived from equines that have not been raised or medicated in a manner consistent with food safety regulations is, in our opinion, unethical, disingenuous, and dangerous.

    So Wyoming is on America’s map for national outrage, tourist boycotts, contamination and sanitary hazards, ignominy and shame, brainwashing a new diet of horse carcass/meat/product which is unfit for human food, misbranded or adulterated (laced w. ingredients not approved for food safety standards) and Wallis’ view on wholesomeness a total insult to our intelligence and health, so join the rest of us with sane minds and say no, hell no !!

  4. Elaine Nash says:

    Horse meat is useless in any market. It contains all the medications that the horse has been given, including wormers- and that tainted meat sickens or kills whatever eats it. Are you aware that rural dumps will accept the nastiest garbage you can imagine, but they will not take dead horses? The reason is that birds and other wild animals feed on the dead horse and then die from the tainted meat. Now, tell me…. what is a good industrial use for meat that sickens or kills when eaten? Pet food? No. Human consumption? No. Feeding to zoo animals? No. What in the world is the market for meat that kills? When ANY horse needs to die, it should be enthanized, not slaughtered. Slaughtering is about money, and is not about being humane. It’s about killing animals with high emotional intelligence in a heartless, barbaric way. Why?

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