March 1st is National Horse Protection Day. I ask only two things of you. If you have a horse, love them extra today and remember horses not as fortunate as yours. Remember those who won’t be getting a hug today, but will end up abandoned, abused, or purchased by a kill buyer. Don’t tune out to the problem, take a step forward by at least acknowledging there is a problem.
Second, don’t just assert an opinion based on strong emotions. Being for or against horse slaughter in the US (or anywhere in the world) should come from understanding the process and by thinking through if how we deal with excess horses is humane, or if we are doing the best we can for them.
Educating the Public and Our Officials is Key to Winning the Fight Against the Legalization of Equine Slaughter in the US
Horse slaughter is a heated topic right up there with gun control and abortion because any decisions involved require putting value on a life. But little is accomplished when people just shout out hostile, strong opinions based on emotion.
Education, understanding, and patience is required when trying to persuade someone to see things your way. So rather than call people awful names if they support slaughter, try educating them, point them to valid data and statistics — not horrible pictures. It is easy for someone to dismiss a horrific image as an isolated incident, or being sensationalized to prove a point. Begin by sharing the “old” horses sent to slaughter are really 4-8 year olds who comprise an overwhelming percentage of horses slaughtered each year. Quarter horses, an American icon top the list, followed by thoroughbreds and standardbreds. Few of the horses killed at slaughter are someone’s backyard pony too lame to stand.
Discuss those who are killed each year and are never sent to slaughter — the tens of thousands of foals each year who are taking from their mommas and killed for their “pony” leather. The mothers are then leased out to breeders to raise more “valuable” foals. When those “valued” foals grow into young horses and don’t cut it in their industry, the majority of those too are sent to slaughter.
We don’t want irresponsible horse owners abandoning their horses when they cannot care for them or no longer want them, that too, is not humane. We need to be tougher on abusers and neglecters, but should we be punishing the victims (horses)?
Be The Best Voice You Can Be For Horses
Being the best voice requires listening. To help horses in the big picture, we all need to be willing to listen to ideas that may not appeal to us. We learn by listening to others. Maybe you will stand steadfast on your opinions no matter what someone else says, but the key to finding a better solution to deal with end of the line horses is by building communication bridges that can lead to changes in attitudes, industries, and the law.
And finally, don’t take everything you read on the Internet as Gospel. Stick with reliable sources for information and take time to research topics. The more you educate yourself, the better equipped you will be to educate others.
Reliable Information About Horse Slaughter
- The Facts on Horse Slaughter (The Humane Society of the United States)
- What You Can Do to Fight Horse Slaughter
- 10 Ways To Help Equines
- Veterinarians for Equine Welfare – Although older now (published in 2002) this 55 page report, offers great talking points that remain current in 2013. While its purpose and position are clear, the paper uses layman’s language, sound rationale, statistics, and studies to support an anti-slaughter platform. Despite its age, this white paper still rings true.
- Mary Nash’s Horse Slaughter Information Website – Talking points and scroll down to find a number of great links to additional resources, information, and reports.