Wednesday, February 25, 2009
My day was off to a rough start before I even left the house. I set my alarm for 5:00 am, but didn't sleep a wink, I was up all night tossing and turning, just dreading the day ahead of me.
I left for New Holland around 7am, when I was about three miles from the auction I saw the first nightmare of the day... an Amish buggy, being pulled by a horse that just couldn't do the job: (He was a Saddlebred very obviously, but about 300 lbs too thin, and the sweat pouring off this horse was so intense it looked like he has a water hose on him. He was trying his hardest to pull the weight, but could barely break a trot, and they were literally beating him with the whip to keep him moving forward, he had whip marks all over his rear an was bleeding in some spots.... When I saw this, I almost turned the car around and went home. It was awful.... My heart was pounding out of my chest when I arrived at new Holland minutes later. It was 8:30 am.... Most of the horses that were going to run through the auction that day were already there tied up and waiting…there weren't as many as I thought there would be this week... Maybe seventy-five at most.
I was anxious for [my friend] Rita to arrive, because it was all very hectic and confusing, and I needed someone in my corner for sure... While I was waiting for Rita (who by the way is one of the most amazing women I have yet to meet) I walked around asking about local transport, as Lorraine was full. I found it, in about 5 minutes or less... so now I knew it was time to buy... Obviously I was looking for an Arab, luckily for my new guy, there were none in sight... I walked the isles over and over again.... looking at all these poor horses... Some of them nice, some very neglected, too thin, cuts, scars, and a lot of draft horses....I saw a young filly, who was obviously scared to death with her eyes bugging out of her head, pull back on her tie, as something spooked her, she was pulling back and going crazy trying to break free, and some people came and took a cattle rod to her rear, and scared her even more, and she finally reared up and flipped over cutting her back up... I left the auction halls, and went to my car to sit for a moment and get myself together....I returned about ten minutes later and saw a few more horses had arrived, been tagged and were waiting for the auction to begin, so they could determine their fate...It wasn't long before the horse I was meant to save chose me to save him... His number was 388... he was a gorgeous 16.2 hand boy thoroughbred with black stockings, his face was so pretty, I thought there must have been a little Arab blood in there somewhere, he turned around as much as he could and starred at me, locked eyes, and held it for a good 30 seconds or more even, without reading too far into, his eyes most definitely were pleading for me help... He was so nice looking, I thought for sure he'd be out of my price range, he was the nicest horse at the auction, and the locked eye contact touched me, as all the other horses were either too busy biting and kicking each other or so scared the kept their faces buried in their hay... This one was special...
Rita arrives!!! YAY!! Someone to show me the ropes, someone to share my sorrows! Thank God she is here!!!! Rita and I walked around, as I told her excitedly that I found someone to ship and I think I had found my horse!!!! She said "well let’s go see him" and so we went.... It was around 9:30ish by then, five minutes earlier my boy starred me down and asked me to save him, five minutes later, with Rita by my side I go to show her him... and he is gone.... Never being to New Holland before, I am very confused... "Where could he have gone?" "The auction didn't even start yet?!" Rita new where he had gone...he was in the kill pen... purchased privately by a meat buyer before the start of the auction.... We found the broker who brought him to the sale and proceeded to find out which dealer bought him and if he was in fact in the "pen."
We met much resistance to say the least. I had five good ol' boys at once telling me "You don't want that crazy son of a bitch, that horse will hurt you, he is CRAZY!" "I'm not gonna sell you that horse, he deserves to be slaughtered, that crazy son a bitch got loose in here, and it took five of us to catch him, we had to rope that crazy a$% horse, you do not want that horse!" I politely asked and stated "what makes him so crazy?" "If I got lose at a scary auction like this, I would run too and you could bet no one would catch me!" I then asked "is this crazy horse broke to ride?" They said "yes, he's a real nice riding horse, BUT he's crazy as sin, real head shy won't let you touch his face, if the wind blows he'll rip our arms off, again lady, YOU DO NOT WANT THIS HORSE!"Rita and I then walked back to the kill pen, and there he was... with about 25 other horses, he was more scared than any horse I have ever seen in my life, he was bleeding slightly on the face by his left eye, and has been kicked in the cheek and was all puffy, his eyes were big and blood shot, he was so scared... I gave him a treat through the bars and he snatched it up... I walked away with Rita... we were very sad....as we were walking back to the barn... the reality set in and I realized, that I had given that horse his last treat... the last treat he'll ever have.... How can I let this happen to such a young, beautiful and so called "crazy" horse??? I couldn't..... We headed back to the barn to find the meat dealer who had his fate sealed... Rita was coaching me along the way.... I was scared to death to have to go head to head with the meat dealer trying to make a deal for a horse I know he didn't give a damn about.... Rita stood back, and I approach the man point out to me. He said "Your back? You till want that crazy horse don't you?" I said "What do you want for him?" He said "How much you really want him?" I said "it's not about how much I want him, it's about what he' worth, how much?" He said "500.00" I said "NO WAY 350.00", he laughed in my face, and said AND I QUOTE "Shit no, I'll get more to slaughter that SOB, they'll give me at least 700.00 for a horse that size, then he raised his voice, his face got really grim and mean and said "NO DEAL" I looked over to Rita, she was holding up three fingers as to say "No more than THREE HUNDRED" and I agreed...I walked away....
Rita and I looked at some other horses, but I couldn't get it out of my mind... The locked eyes earlier, the scared eyes in the kill pen, did I really feed this horse his last treat? I decided I would approach him (the meat guy) again.... He had a smirk on his face this time, but was still very mean....I told Rita my plan was to poke holes in what the horse was worth, by asking it's age, and is he registered, etc.... I walk up to the meat buyer who is standing with the broker who sold him the horse... He laughed at me and said "back so soon?" I said "How old is this horse?" Broker said "5" I asked if he was registered broker said "should be, he got a lip tattoo, he's off the track, they don't race sh*# horses, although this one's crazy, and that's why he's here." The meat dealer then said "You got cash? I said "yes, but not 500.00", he said 400.00" I said "350.00" he said "375.00, let me see it" I took the money out and put it in his hand and he said to me "now look, you gotta go get the horse out of that pen, I ain’t goin' in there with all those other crazy horses, and I ain’t touching your crazy ass horse, and when this horse hurts you, I don't want you comin' up to me next auction cryin' about it, it's buy at your own risk, and you just did, ( as he shoves the money in his pocket) now go get your horse out of my pen, and good luck to you, cause you're gonna need it!" I then heard him mumble under his breath as I was walking away “crazy ass broad."
I walked away, Rita was smart enough to find the guy who agreed to haul the horse for me, who also rides at the auction, she asked him to get the horse out of the kill pen, he was nice and agreed, he went an got the "crazy horse" out, and put him in his own pen directly behind the kill pen.... He was very stressed, but....he was SAFE! Rita was my strong hold, she told me how to do it better the next time, but said she was proud of me, I held my own and I did a good job, she then pointed out, that I was shaking like a leaf... and I wasn't cold... She was right, I had just gone head to head with my # 1 enemy in the world, I could see by speaking to this man that he thought of horses like most people think of rats.... it was heart breaking, he really didn't care... Maybe he played me, maybe not. But I saved my boy, and made sure he hadn't eaten his last treat. Rita and I went back numerous times to check on him to make sure some auction worked didn't throw him back in the pen, by accident... I eventually got so paranoid, I went back and made a sign that said "SOLD! DO NOT LOAD THIS HORSE" When I went back there to put the sign on his stall, I noticed three more kill pens, three total, all full.... There were such nice horses in the slaughter pen, some had brand new blankets on, new halters...I wonder if their owners new what happened that day at the auction, and where they were headed... It was hard... to say the very least. I slipped in my pen with the new "crazy" horse, that "won't let you touch his face" and in less than a minute, I was scratching inside his ears, took his halter off to adjust the size, put it BACK ON... The horse although still very stressed, was as good as could be, his eyes softened, he listened when I spoke to him, he let me rub his face, and feel the lump on his cheek where he was kicked, I brushed him with my hands, feed him treats.... Rita walked back and said "Yeah, he seems reallllllly crazy doesn't he?" We both laughed, he surely wasn't crazy....The kill buyers thought he was a "crazy SOB" because he escaped at the auction and was running for his life, he didn't want to be caught, because he has a will to live!! To me and Rita, that's a smart horse fighting for his life, not a dangerous one...
The auction is ending... I see dead animals everywhere, a lot of cows and baby cows didn't make it :( I saw 10 BIG horned bulls in the same pen stabbing each other to death. I saw a horse being beat because it wouldn't move out of the way in the kill pen, when the truth is, there was NO ROOM for the poor thing to move. I saw babies ripped away from their mothers, and Amish horses standing for hours and hours with no water. I saw a lot of sad eyes looking back at me, and I watched horses being punished for just being horses.... I said an almost tearful goodbye to Rita, because she was such an angel and so there for me, I was truly sad to say goodbye to her.... I confirmed my address with my shipper, and I waited until most of the kill pen horses were gone to make sure they didn't try to sneak mine back into the herd and take him! I headed home.....My new OTTB was about 45 minutes behind me... he arrived, safe and sound... The most defining moment for me was when he stepped off the trailer and was heading toward the barn, and I was leading him... he let out this huge **sigh** and his eyes became as soft as they possibly could... He relaxed almost instantly... I led him back past the barn to the QT round pen, and put him in there, I went and got a blanket, tied him which the meat buyer and broker who sold him said COULD NOT BE DONE, "YOU CANNOT TIE THAT HORSE HE'LL TAKE DOWN THE BARN" I tied him to the fence of the round pen, and brushed him and put his blanket on, and he was wonderful, I put medicine on the cut by his eye, wonderful....He didn't even threaten to drag me, pull me, spook at being tied up.. He is very certainly NOT a crazy horse. I have named him "Nic" short for "Nic of time" because I literally got there just in the nick of time to save him….
Monday, February 23, 2009
On Tuesday, February 24th, the Illinois General Assembly’s Agriculture and Conservation Committee will consider H.B. 583, a bill designed to overturn the state’s ban on horse slaughter. The ban, which went into effect in 2007, closed the country’s last remaining horse slaughter plant – Cavel International (based in DeKalb, IL) – which was foreign-owned, marking the end to an utterly cruel practice that the majority of Americans oppose.
The sponsor of the pro-slaughter bill, Representative Jim Sacia, has a long history of fighting to keep horse slaughter alive despite strong opposition from the majority of Illinois residents and the American public. Rep. Sacia is out of step with public opinion and his effort is in vain; having sat empty for almost two years the former Cavel plant recently opened to slaughter non-equine species. Further, the U.S. Congress is currently considering the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act, which is anticipated to move quickly, and will prohibit the slaughter of horses here as well as their export for slaughter abroad.
What You Can Do
If you are from Illinois please click on the links below and call each member of the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee, except for Rep. Sacia who also serves on the committee, and politely ask them to oppose H.B. 583. Contact information for committee members is shown below. Remind them that:
- You oppose H.B. 583 because horse slaughter is a cruel and unnecessary practice.
- The Illinois General Assembly banned horse slaughter by an overwhelming majority in 2007, and urge them to reject Representative Sacia’s bill, H.B. 583.
- There is no evidence to support Rep. Sacia’s claims that Cavel’s closure has led to an increase in horse abandonment.
- Ending horse slaughter stopped an overt form of animal cruelty and has only been good for the horses. The state ban is important.
- Rep. Sacia complained that closing Cavel would put local workers out of business despite the cruelty of the industry. The building that formerly housed Cavel has recently re-opened to slaughter non-equine species, thus bring jobs and income to the local economy. His argument is even more irrelevant given this development.
- Please also let them know that you support passage of the federal Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act, which is expected to move quickly this Congress. The bill will prohibit the slaughter of American horses throughout the United States as well as their export abroad for the same purpose.
Agriculture & Conservation Committee - Members 96th General Assembly
Chairperson: Brandon W. Phelps
Vice-Chairperson :Patrick J Verschoore
Republican Spokesperson: Jim Sacia
Member: John D. Cavaletto
Member: Shane Cultra
Member: Lisa M. Dugan
Member: Robert F. Flider
Member: Mary E. Flowers
Member: Julie Hamos
Member: Donald L. Moffitt
Member: Richard P. Myers
Member: David Reis
Member: Dan Reitz
The hearing for Rep. Sacia’s bill is scheduled for Tuesday, February 24th. Please call every committee member and make sure they are aware of the facts on each bill.
Be sure to bookmark http://www.awionline.org/legislation/horse_slaughter/whats_new.htm updates on this hearing and other horse slaughter campaign information.Please share this eAlert with friends, family and coworkers, and urge them to weigh in with the Illinois state legislature to ensure that horses continue to receive the protection they deserve. As always, thank you for your help!
Deputy Director of Government and Legal Affairs
Thursday, February 19, 2009
This decision is fiscally irresponsible. Legislation is pending in the House of Representatives that will ban slaughter of American horses in this country and ban the transport of them out of the country for the same. All over America, constituents are voicing their objection to this grisley practice. The average horse enthusiast views their horse as a companion animal, like a dog or cat, and certainly doesn't want it to end up in a slaughterhouse. Even the FDA calls horses companion animals. See the second paragraph at this FDA link:
Knowing that the legislation is pending, and that America as a majority is opposed to horses being slaughtered, why would you throw $50,000 out the window? Obviously, the public sentiment that this journalist refers to is not of importance to the legislation of North Dakota.
And isn't it interesting that the sponsor of the study, Representative Froelich, is a quarterhorse breeder. Check out his website:
Here's the dozens and dozens of horses he sold last September. Now where do you suppose all these horses went?
It will come as no surpise to you that the breed of horse most often found at the slaughterhouse is the Quarter horse. More Quarter horses are registered each year, keeping the The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) in business through registration fees. The AQHA is in favor of horse slaughter.
And now we have Quarter horse breeders in power, advocating for slaughter plants.
Study of Horse Slaughter Plant Gets ND House Nod
North Dakota lawmakers have agreed to set aside $50,000 for a possible study of a horse slaughter plant.
New laws and public sentiment against horse processing have resulted in the recent closure of U.S. plants.
Selfridge Rep. Rod Froelich says that makes it difficult for ranchers to dispose of horses that are old or injured. He says North Dakota should try to solve the problem.
Representatives voted 89-5 on Wednesday to set aside money for a study. The state`s Agricultural Products Utilization Commission would have to approve the project.
The bill says state money for the study would have to be matched by private industry.
The legislation now goes to the North Dakota Senate.
The bill is HB1496.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Horse Slaughter Promoted by State Representative Who Is Also an AQHA Breeder...Coincidence? I think not...
February 3, 2009 -- Loxahatchee, FL -- It hasn't even been two weeks since
the inauguration of President Obama, and it seems as if some of our elected
representatives have missed the forward movement of transparency and
accountability regarding lobbyists and ethics. Maybe that is where the rub is: it's
not a lobbyist who is attempting to steer taxpayers' dollars for a personal
agenda, it is a state representative who touts an elected seat.
North Dakota State Representative Rod Froelich and State Senator Joe Miller
have introduced a bill to the state's legislative assembly proposing to
spend $100,000 on a study to determine the feasibility of a horse slaughter house
in North Dakota. There are some startling coincidences worthy of mention.
Representative Froelich's family are longtime quarterhorse breeders, and
according to their website at www.froelichranch.com they specialize
in breeding horses of outstanding color and disposition.
Quote from the site: "Welcome to our 38th annual production sale. The five
Froelich brothers, along with our mother, Barbara, and our nephew, Lance, are
excited to again bring you a consistent group of foals with 'disposition,
color, & conformation ranch-raised in big country'."
Whether Representative Froelich has sent horses to slaughter is a question
only he can answer. Unfortunately, in our country, breeders send horses to
slaughter because of their color; yes, this does exist. For example, two QH
babies named Abercrombie and Fitch arrived at Pure Thoughts Horse & Foal Rescue.
They came with AQHA papers so we called the previous owner, a breeder in
Minnesota who selects for color: "palomino to be exact." According to the
breeder, the two babies were sold to Simon Horse Company in Minnesota owned by
Joe and Ryon Simon who are known killbuyers for horse slaughter. Both horses
were sold because they were red in color, and Fitch's mother was sent to
slaughter because that was her third red baby. This almost takes us back many
years ago to a situation which was referred to as "cleansing."
How many times are we going to look into the pro-slaughter bowl of cherries
and see that the pit is usually someone who stands to gain personally or
financially, whether on the sale of horsemeat or the act of slaughter itself?
Here is an idea for Rep. Froelich: rather than ask the taxpayers to pay for
a study on the feasibility of opening a slaughterhouse in North Dakota
(creating a dumping ground for quarterhorses that do not have the most perfect
conformation, sought after color or greatest disposition), ask the AQHA to
designate funds for genetic studies and education. Even the horse novice
understands the homozygous genes and the possibilities of perfecting color choices.
Another thought would be to take that $100,000 and donate it to a rescue that
saves slaughter-bound horses, and we will take all your not-so-perfect babies
and mares that do not produce foals of the "right" color and place them in
loving homes. It is so redundant to have yet another attempt at promoting
horse slaughter stem from the AQHA arena.
How unfortunate that the AQHA is one of the wealthiest equine organizations
in the US and yet continues to support horse slaughter. Even while the
thoroughbred associations are stepping up to develop solutions to help our equine
athletes retire safely and with dignity, the AQHA (with four times the annual
foal registration of the TB industry) refuses to present and incorporate a
plan for their horses. In addition, the AQHA allows for artificial
insemination, embryo transplant and cloning (their latest endeavor) while the
thoroughbred industry requires live cover. As stated earlier, a major consideration
should be researching methods of successfully producing the most sought-after
Consider these numbers related to the AQHA (2007 US data):
* Quarter horse population: 2,859,851 (Estimated 2007 all-breed
population: 9.2 million)
* AQHA new foals/registrations: 117,830
* AQHA membership: 305,000
* Total owners: 902,453
* AQHA total assets: $111,154,925
* Revenues from registrations, transfers, membership, breeding fees:
* AQHA 2008 new foals/registrations: 140,000 (this should be 140,000,
These revenues and assets are not comparable with any other breed
association, The AQHA charges owners for foal registrations and annual dues. The
majority of QH owners do register their horses as it adds market value to the
horse, and it's required in order to enter the horse in AQHA-sanctioned racing,
shows and events. More foals equal more revenue for the AQHA.
These figures show that annual breeding means huge financial gain for the
AQHA. Excess stock would negatively impact market values, so unsalable quarter
horses go to slaughter to make room on farms for next year's foals. The AQHA
also contributed $9,000 to Senator Larry Craig, who filed a notice of intent
to object on a federal bill aimed towards ending horse slaughter;
subsequently, the bill saw no action in the Senate.
No other breed of horse is sent more frequently to slaughter than the
American Quarterhorse, the real victims of greed in the American horse industry.
If we trace the historical path of this issue in the political arena, the
continuation of horse slaughter has always stemmed from personal agendas or
personal gain. This year, let's try to have humanity as the agenda, do what is
right, and represent the voice of the people.
Pure Thoughts Inc.
National Horse Welfare Organization
Monday, February 2, 2009
Guest Commentary: Lori Hackman
More Horses Left Behind: Blame the Economy
I see article after article pointing to “end of horse slaughter in the U.S.” as being the cause of neglected and abandoned horses. The problem is that is absolutely false. Not only is horse slaughter for human consumption alive and well, but even more American horses were slaughtered in 2008 than when the three foreign-owned horse slaughterhouses were operating in the U.S. So much for the “lack of horse slaughter” theory.
So what is causing the “horses to be left behind?” Well, like the article correctly states, it is the economy. Hay (if you can even find it) is at an all-time high price, diesel fuel, grain, shavings – are all significantly more expensive. On top of that people are losing their jobs and their homes. Horses are expensive to maintain to begin with, but add on all these other expenses and, yes, you’re going to have people who are unable to afford their horses. If you can’t afford to humanely euthanize your horse by a vet (which costs less than a month’s board) you can contact your local rescue. Many are setting up low cost/no cost euthanasia options. Some are also setting up low cost/no cost hay distribution for hardship situations.
So what is wrong with horse slaughter anyway?
Well, for one, horses are not raised nor regulated as food animals in the U.S. They routinely receive medications that are banned from food animals such as Phenybutazone or "bute,” the aspirin of the horse world. In fact, more than 70 percent of legal horse medications are either illegal in food animals or have never been tested for human consumption and are simply labeled, “Not intended for use in horses, intended for food.”
If you’ve read any of the articles about U.S. horse racing lately, you know how many drugs are in their systems. Steroids, lasix, etc. … With the slaughterhouses’ own slogan, “Seven days from stable to table,” you can see that no withdrawal times are being observed (note: there is no acceptable withdrawal time for “bute” according to U.S. and European Union laws).
Secondly, it is un-American. There are/were no American-owned horse slaughter houses. They are a predatory industry that feeds on our over breeding practices and cheap horses. There is no market for horse meat in America. Horse slaughter is in no way humane nor a "disposal" service. These foreign companies are in the business of producing meat for fancy European dinners. They are not a charity. They’ll take any horse with meat on its bones that is cheap enough for them to make money. They don’t want diseased horses, skinny horses, hurt horses that can’t make the trip, ill-tempered horses that will injure the others, etc. These foreign slaughterhouses are in it for one reason: money. And they’ll get our US horses to the slaughterhouse in any way they can (gouge their eyes out if the horse won’t go), using the cheapest methods (double-deckers). See for yourself: at http://www.kaufmanzoning.net (all 900+ pages).
American horsemeat is often marketed in foreign countries as if it were organic – free-range and grass-fed. In reality, the customers are getting quite the opposite – meat from horses that are traumatized, often inhumanely killed, ex-pets, ex-work horses, ex-race horses, all states of pregnancy, regardless of care, regardless of feeding practices (or lack thereof), regardless of health, regardless of transport practices, regardless of medications.
Horse slaughter for human consumption is against the morals of Americans. Contact your representative today and ask them to support HR 503, the bill that will ban horseslaughter for human consumption.
Lori Hackman lives in Geneva, Ill. She is a horse owner and advocates on behalf of horse welfare. She is not affiliated with any groups.
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