01-27-2013, 08:34 PM
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'Horse Processing' or 'harvesting' are the terminologies most often used by those in the business.
But, if I wanted to shape opinion, I would write the article from an entirely different standpoint. I would title the article along the line of 'Unwanted horses - what to do about the dilemma TODAY?'. All of the people I have changed from 'anti' to 'pro' I have talked to from that standpoint. I explain how a market works on supply and demand. It is a fact that they are never in line with each other because production drops only AFTER the demand has dropped. Then, at some point there is a shortage of prospects and it again takes several years for the supply to catch up. No matter how many horses are bred, there are always going to be 150,000 to 300,000 horses per year that are not wanted by anyone for the purpose that they were originally bred. They are going to be too mean, ugly, unsound, sour, slow, poor movers, unwilling, no longer breed, (you fill in about another 50 reasons that no one wants them). The auction market is the only true test of who wants a horse (or not). There are always traders, trainers, bargain hunters, families etc there to look at the horses. Most race horses come through one of the big TB sales. Many cutters go through the big sales at Fort Worth. If the horses are 'wanted', 2 or more people are going to try to bid on them and get them bought. If no one wants them, there are always the slaughter buyers (you hope) there to set them in (establish a floor price) and take one if no one else wants one.
We all cuss and most people hate the slaughter buyers, but if they were not there to pick up these unwanted horses, what do YOU think would happen to them? Since floor prices fell when horses had to be shipped thousands instead of hundreds of miles, neglect and starvation are at all-time highs. Rescues are over-flowing. [And face it. Rescues just further depress the prices of well bred 'good' prospects.] Are YOU going to buy them and feed them? Are YOU going to support programs to kill (euthanize) otherwise healthy horses so they are not starved or turned loose in some State Park or National Forest to starve in the winter?
I have found that when you present the problem realistically and ask people what THEY want to do with unwanted horses -- the ones that are out there here and today? If 100 horses go through a cheap sale and there are bids from individuals for only 60 of them, where are the other 40 going to go? Ask people how many THEY are willing to take? Be sure they know that an unwanted horse may live another 15 or more years and will require at least $2000.00 a year in feed and care for health and hooves -- that is if nothing serious goes wrong. Then, it could cost several thousand dollars more.
Then ask people if the only place a horse can go is to a meat processor or be chemically killed rendering the the meat to be poison and hazardous waste, do you really think the horse cares? Would YOU rather see good, clean meat used to feed hungry people that cannot afford beef? Would that not be better than poisoning and totally wasting the meat? When you ask people to answer the hard questions like "What would YOU do today if 40 horses were in front of you that no one wanted for free or for any price?" When you go at it like this, you do not get the instant negative response that people just keep trying to defend. You get thoughtfulness instead of a knee-jerk reaction. I have personally changed the minds of dozens of horse lovers when you approach them with these questions. The problem is already there today and no matter what we do, it will always be there.
Just to give you something to think about.