With the exception of Canada, Great Britain and The United States of America, horse meat is a preferred and relished meat choice in the world. It is estimated that over 4.7 million horses a year are eaten by human consumers, yet primarily in North America humane groups have instituted an emotional blackmail campaign against the North American suppliers of this meat. Both American and Canadian governments classify the horse as a non-food animal based on the historical usage of the horse in North America. Within American groups such as the “Equine Protection Network” the supporters have gone as far as to say that horses are a non-food animal, and that slaughtering houses is immoral for these animals should be buried or cremated.
It is just the way of life that all animals on the Earth are meat. They either kill or are killed, unless a percentage of the population decides that a particular species is no longer a food product. The Canadian Humane Society and the American counterpart have taken issue with the idea of horses producing an acceptable meat for human consumption. They have become a loud voice against those who harvest and sell horses to meet the world’s demand for horse meat. In the United States, these groups were highly successful in not only getting state legislation but some federal legislation passed banning the slaughter of horses for consumption. American horse producers are forced to send their animals either to Canadian or Mexican slaughter houses in order to get their horses ready for the large consuming markets over seas. This has created a larger problem: Canadian and Mexican slaughter houses have their own national producers and cannot readily accommodate the American ‘overflow’, leaving American horse producers with far too many horses with no where to go.
American humane societies, in their narrow one tracked thinking and actions, have created untold suffering for horses, yet they do not talk about this part, only boast that they were able to get the American slaughter houses shut down. Over two hundred thousand horses a year were raised specifically as consumer products; what has happened to those horses? There has been no significant rise in professional horse riding events, there are no commercials on television for “Crazy Mel’s Used Horse lot” where prices have been slashed and everything has to go. How many of those horses now are suffering through starvation, being let loose only to be killed or just shot and left to rot as the result of ‘humane’ societies?
When the proponents of shutting down the horse slaughter operations speak, first they speak of the horse as a noble friend, a companion to man and then about how wrong it is to consume this animal’s meat. They speak of the horror of the methodology used to terminate the life of the horse; how cruel it is to put a bullet to the head, then leave the animal to bleed out. Slaughter houses kill using the methods of guns and blood letting because this yields the meat fit for the human sensativities of digestion. If one uses chemicals, those chemicals may quickly run through the horse’s system and end up poisoning the human consumer that buys the meat; therefore chemical death can not be used. Any method that is slow to work on an animal that is to be used for human consumption runs the risk of ‘alerting’ the animal to its demise, which releases hormones that ruin the meat’s taste. There is no ‘humane’ way of doing this to make a product fit for human consumption because we have become spoilt consumers that demand certain requirements for our goods before we will pay for them
There is also the matter of the animal’s age. Tough meat is not valued in our cultures; tender is. The older the animal, the tougher the meat. Nor is man a carrion eater so the cutting up of horses that died of natural causes cannot be sold.. Groups like the Canadian Humane Society do not dwell on the issue of marketability because they have no interest in that market other than their own preferences.
How humane are these groups? The bottom line is that there are a large percentage of horses bred and raised specifically for the consumption of their meat. The ranchers that have invested their lives into this business are experiencing devastating losses not only in the fiscal sense but in their own standard of living and quality of life issues. Families are losing their farms, rural areas are suffering economic spirals as those ranchers who used to purchase supplies no longer have the means available. How humane is it to vilify people who are supplying a food product that; while not popular in Canada, Great Britain, and the United States; is a multi-million dollar business in most of the rest of the world? Perhaps it has become time to use similar tactics as the Canadian Humane Society and their ilk in counteracting the message of brutality that they are attempting to portray.
The American Revolution produced a motto, “Give me liberty or give me death”. If humane societies truly are sincere in their belief that the slaughter of horses is wrong by giving ‘human’ characteristics to horses then would it not be rational to assume that these societies, much like pre-American revolutionary America, are the slave owning plantation owners? The horses may be treated well, groomed, fed, exercised, but for whose benefit? Slaves who are treated well perform better; but the condition for them will always be the same – their well being is not one of self-determination but the will of their masters. Horses are not free; they are kept in pens or barns, they do not choose when they are ridden or by whom. Horses do not choose when they eat, they do not choose what they will eat. Horses are bound and tressed, broken tame in order to do their owner’s bidding. Horses are bought and sold in a market, their prices based on health, lineage, age and trainability. When the Humane societies speak of friendship, one has to wonder if they treat their human friends similarly.
It is time for groups like the Canadian Humane Society to acknowledge that their attacks on the slaughter houses are not as black and white as they would like to portray the issue, but based on a point of view that is being forced to be accepted by using emotional flogs on the backs of the consuming market. Horses are not equal to man in the eyes of the Canadian Humane Society – far from the image of respect and love the Society prefers to portray themselves is the truth of the matter. It is time for society to ask this question back: Are the neighs of a horse as a rider gets on it, pulling on the reins to steer the animal in the direction they wish to go equine speak for ,”I’s a goin’, massa, I sure am, massa”?