Articles on this Page
- 02/08/13--03:20: _50 Shades of Black ...
- 11/28/13--09:51: _CFIA Finally Metes ...
- 01/19/14--03:31: _A Comprehensive Res...
- 02/05/14--21:06: _Bill C-571 – Betwee...
- 02/08/14--12:27: _Full Monty or Foolh...
- 04/24/14--21:22: _The Fancy Hat Veneer
- 06/29/14--12:46: _Gotcha – Tackling T...
- 06/29/14--21:40: _Backstreet Bully’s ...
- 08/03/14--09:16: _The Dirty, Low-Rent...
- 08/06/14--11:38: _Called-Out Comment:...
- 08/20/14--16:33: _To Market, To Marke...
- 10/22/14--00:53: _Slippery Is The Slo...
- 11/16/14--09:33: _Horse Slaughter Tre...
- 12/16/14--20:33: _From Movie Set To D...
- 12/26/14--23:05: _Horse Welfare 2014 ...
- 01/23/15--00:21: _Important Action – ...
- 05/17/15--20:32: _Godbout Express Obs...
- 07/03/15--15:18: _AQHA Brazenly Promo...
- 07/30/15--13:44: _Godbout Express Acc...
- 08/04/15--18:03: _Horse Milk “Farmers...
- 02/08/13--03:20: 50 Shades of Black and Blue
- 11/28/13--09:51: CFIA Finally Metes Out (Some) Punishment to Horse Transport Firms
- 02/05/14--21:06: Bill C-571 – Between a Wedge and a Hard Place
- 02/08/14--12:27: Full Monty or Foolhardy?
- 04/24/14--21:22: The Fancy Hat Veneer
- 06/29/14--21:40: Backstreet Bully’s Revenge
- 08/03/14--09:16: The Dirty, Low-Rent Ethics of the “Big Lickers”
- Ed Whitfield, ( R-KY) is the lead sponsor of the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act, which would strengthen federal protections for TWH in order to make them step higher in competitions. Whitfield’s legislation would require that inspections of Tennessee Walking Horses for signs of soring be performed by USDA certified inspectors. Whitfield recently released a redacted document Tuesday showing how a complaint filed against him with the House Ethics Committee appeared to involve major players in the TWH industry, despite denials from some of them. Whitfield denied that his wife had lobbied him on the issue, saying his interest in curtailing soring predated her involvement with the Humane Society of the United States, Connie Whitfield is a “policy adviser” with the group.
- Congressmen Steve Cohen (D-TN), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Jim Moran (D-VA) who are co-sponsors of the Bill.
- Marty Irby, a reformed “Big Licker” who is now a evangelic “Flatter.” Marty was also 2 time president of the TWHBEA (2010 – 2012) and is presently the International Walking Horse Association Legislative Counsel advocating for passing of the PAST Act. His decision to become an anti-soring advocate cost him his marriage and his contracting business, His father, William Irby, a Tennessee Walking Horse trainer, no longer speaks to him. A former world champion TWH competitor, Irby said he finally grew disgusted with pretending that soring wasn’t an integral part of creating the “Big Lick.” Irby says the ongoing practice of soring is perpetuated by a system of “corrupt animal welfare inspections, corrupt judging, corrupt training methods, corrupt business practices … corrupt horse shows, and corrupt titles.”
- Bill Harlin, a man The Tennessean describes as “synonymous with Tennessee Walking Horses,” and the owner of Harlinsdale Farm where some of the most famous grand champions in the breed originated. He acknowledges that
- Clay Harlin, son of Bill Harlin, who also acknowledges that the soring cult of the “Big Lick” are unwilling to stop the abuse of show horses. He, too, called on Congress to pass the bill.
- Veterinarian John C. Haffner, who recently related that his increasing exposure to ever more blatant abuse of horses compelled him to sell his veterinary practice. After years of witnessing trainers’ efforts to make sure their horses were in enough pain to perform the “Big Lick” but not so much that they’d fail inspections, he found the corruption to be unendurable.
- American Veterinary Medical Association Dr. Whitney Miller, assistant director for the AVMA, scoffed at Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s (R-TN-7) Bill, H.R. 4098 saying, “In fact (it) will do nothing to protect gaited horses and stop the egregious practice of soring. This legislation is nothing more than an attempt to maintain the status quo in an industry riddled with abuse and will ensure that the broken system of seeing horses sored at an alarming rate does not have to answer for its crimes.”
- American Association of Equine Practitioners
- National Sheriffs Association
- Association of Prosecuting Attorneys
- The American Horse Council, along with The American Quarter Horse Association, the American Paint Horse Association, the American Morgan Horse Association, the Pinto Horse Association of America, the Arabian Horse Association, the American Saddlebred Horse Association, the United Professional Horsemen’s Association, the Appaloosa Horse Club, Maryland Horse Council, and other groups.
- The more than 300 co-sponsors of the PAST Act – a majority of the Congress (45 Senators and 264 House members at the time of writing)
- The Veterinary Medical Associations from 50 states that have helped create vast support for this Bill
- The Performance Show Horse Association that brought the complaint against Whitfield. The printed names of the following 13 individuals appear on the bottom of the document (these individuals have a cumulative total of 53 violations of the Horse Protection Act (HPA), and a number of those have occurred this year following the filing of the complaint) The PSHA and its lobbyist Jeff Speaks developed the strategy of filing an ethics complaint as an effort to stop passage of H.R. 1518, because ethics complaints take time to respond to:
- Jim Cortner
- Jamie Hankins
- Mike Inman (CEO of The Celebration)
- Doyle Meadows (Former CEO of The Celebration)
- Duke Thorson
- Terry Dotson (Former Chairman of the Performance Show Horse Association)
- Gayle Holcomb
- Bruce MacDonald
- Mickey McCormick (President of the Walking Horse Trainers Association)
- James Linton Griffith
- Jeffrey Howard (Editor of the Walking Horse Report)
- Lee Wall McGartland
- and Buddy Stasney
- Chip Weddington, a TWH trainer who threatened Marty Irby less than 24 hours after Irby testified on Capitol Hill about the horrifying abuse of championship Tennessee Walking Horses. Irby received threatening message which came from the Facebook account of Weddington, who wrote, “I don’t associate myself with bitch made mother fuckers who sing like little fucking birds to the fucking [Humane Society of the United States] and everybody else … I hope your gay ass gets what’s coming to you soon!!!” If Irby ever approached him, Weddington said he would “knock ur ass smooth out!!!” According to USDA animal welfare reports, in 2011 Weddington was suspended from Walking Horse shows for a year after inspectors cited him for violating the Horse Protection Act.
- The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association who canned Marty Irby and selected soring proponent Stephen B. Smith to replace him. The group also sent a letter to Congress detailing its opposition to the PAST Act. Signed by current president Rob Cornelius, the letter states that due to “budgetary costs and resulting economic damage, the PAST Act is simply not something our country needs at this time.”
- Stephen Smith, the newly minted TWHBEA President, is an avid “Big Licker” enthusiast and a powerful Republican political donor. According to forms listing violators of the Horse Protection Act, Smith was cited numerous times for soring violations at a TWH show in the late 1980’s. Smith and his family are major donors to GOP lawmakers in Tennessee, including Rep. Blackburn, the chief opponent of the PAST Act. Since 1989, Smith, his wife Denise, and their son Stephen B. Smith, Jr., have donated more than $270,000 to Republican political campaigns, most of them in Tennessee.
- The discreditable crowd who are desperately trying to halt a national effort to eradicate horse abuse of TWH horses with their own Bill. Not shockingly, 7 of the 10 are from Tennessee, the epi-center of this sadistic method of “training.” Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-7) recently introduced an alternative bill, HR 4098, that would greatly reduce the measures being sought by Whitfield’s PAST Act. Blackburn’s Bill would not only allow the grotesque stacks but would also virtually eliminate inspection efforts called for in the PAST Act that are necessary to stop this torture.
- The rest of the ethically challenged co-sponsors of Blackburn’s Bill are:
- Diane Black (R-TN-6)
- Scott DesJarlais (R-TN-4)
- John “Jimmy” Duncan (R-TN-2)
- Stephen Fincher (R-TN-8)
- Charles “Chuck” Fleischmann (R-TN-3)
- David “Phil” Roe (R-TN-1)
- The three others who have endorsed Blackburn’s bill are Garland “Andy” Barr (R-KY-6)
- Nick Rahall (D-WV-3)
- and Harold “Hal” Rogers (R-KY-5)
- Virgina TWHBEA Director Pam McKinney who was escorted from the Capitol Hill’s Walk on Washington by U.S. Capitol Police for improper conduct, which included the utterance of F-bombs and flipping the middle-finger salute.
- The misguided attempt by random pro-slaughters, urban carriage people, and puppymillers, who had to get on the “ethics complaint bandwagon” against Whitfield with their own Change.org petition that has garnered only 244 signatures.
- And finally, Speaker of the House, John Boehner, currently refuses to bring the PAST Act to the floor for a vote. His decision is inconsistent with leadership’s stated preference for adhering to regular order. Furthermore, it is too late in the year to resort to a discharge petition according to House rules.
- 08/06/14--11:38: Called-Out Comment: Is William Ty Irby Trolling Me?
- 08/20/14--16:33: To Market, To Market…..
- 11/16/14--09:33: Horse Slaughter Trends Across Borders – Google Trends Analysis
- House votes on horse slaughter in the US (2006)
- Anti-horse slaughter bills advancing in Congress (2007)
- The US “ban” on domestic horse slaughter being lifted when Congress passed, when Obama signed into law a USDA spending bill that reinstated federal funding for inspection of horse meat intended for human consumption
- Developing interest in Rick De Los Santos horse slaughter plant in New Mexico
- Valley Meats first application for a grant of inspection with the USDA in December
- The CHDC releasing footage and photos obtained by an anonymous source at Les Viandes de la Petite-Nation in St. Andre-Avellin Quebec (Pasture to Plate)
- 12/26/14--23:05: Horse Welfare 2014 – The Year In Review
- Only residents of Canada (anyone who has lived in Canada for 6 months or more) may sign this petition.
- The petition form should be printed one-sided only to prevent “bleed” of ink from one side of the paper to the other.
- Please do not write anything (such as comments) in addition to what is requested on the petition form.
- Please PRINT the FULL NAME OF THE TOWN OR CITY in which you reside (NO ABBREVIATIONS ARE PERMITTED); Provinces MAY be abbreviated.
- Before mailing the petition to the address below, please ensure the following:
- All required information (name, address, signature) is provided on the petition form.
- Your return address is on the envelope in case it needs to be returned to you for any reason such as insufficient postage.
- Please mail ORIGINAL signed petitions (PHOTOCOPIES ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE) to:
The Government Accountability Office reported that about 138,000 unwanted horses were transported to processing facilities in 2010.
The United States Department of Agriculture reports that 144,000 horses were transported to processing facilities in 2014.
USDA reports that there are nearly 50,000 wild horses and burros on Bureau of Land Management land, which is 22,500 more than what that land can naturally support.
USDA also reports that there are more than 47,000 wild horses and burros in short- and long-term holding facilities.
The cost of the wild horse and burro program – $77,245,000 in fiscal year 2014 – is coming out of U.S. taxpayers’ pockets.
- May 15th @ 5:00 AM – horses loaded in Larue, Ohio
- May 15th – border crossing to Canada at Sarnia, Ontario entry point
- May 15th @7:00 PM – two trailers of horses documented by animal activist Rob Boisvert in Marysville, Ontario, approximately 5 hours (with traffic) away from Richelieu slaughterhouse
- May 16th – paperwork completed for Access-To-Information request and mailed to the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada*
- May 16th @8:15 AM – horses were unloaded at Richelieu slaughterhouse in Massueville, QC on – 27+ hours later (the regulation limit for transit time in Canada is 36 hours).
- May 19th – as soon as the plant opened for operations on the Tuesday following the statutory holiday – Boom! – all 56 horses from the two trailer loads were fastracked to the express lane for slaughter
- July 28th – ATI Request completed & returned to originator – USDA Form 10-13 lists horses as mostly quarter horses and standardbreds, with the occasional appy or paint; no non-compliance orders indicated
- Anyone involved with a horse takes over responsibility for the living creature entrusted to him.
- The horse must be kept in a way that is in keeping with its natural living requirements.
- Highest priority must be accorded to the physical as well as psychological health of the horse, irrespective of the purpose for which it is used.
- Man must respect every horse alike, regardless of its breed, age and sex and its use for breeding, for recreation or in sporting competition.
- Knowledge of the history of the horse, its needs, and how to handle it are part of our historical-cultural heritage. This information must be cherished and safeguarded in order to be passed on to the next generation.
- Contact and dealings with horses are character-building experiences and of valuable significance to the development of the human being – in particular, the young person. This aspect must always be respected and promoted.
- The human who participates in equestrian sport with his horse must subject himself, as well his horse, to training. The goal of any training is to bring about the best possible harmony between rider and horse.
- The use of the horse in competition as well as in general riding, driving and vaulting must be geared toward the horse’s ability, temperament and willingness to perform. Manipulating a horses’ capacity to work by means of medication or other “horse-unfriendly” influences should be rejected by all and people engaged in such practices should be prosecuted.
- The responsibility a human has for the horse entrusted to him includes the end of the horse’s life. The human must always assume this responsibility and implement any decisions in the best interest of the horse.
- 08/04/15--18:03: Horse Milk “Farmers” Censored by Advertising Standards Canada
The discovery of Farida Khan, a notoriously abusive equestrian from Bangladesh, has surprised and disgusted the internet equestrian community. Several videos from her Facebook page went viral and prompted new pages calling for investigation into her animal handling practices. She’s been reported to just about every agency imaginable, including Stop-Crush. While at first many of us were dismayed by her apparent lack of riding skills and overt cruelty towards her horses, it was soon realized that there was a seedy subtext at hand. That’s because Farida deliberately whips her horses as sexual stimulation for a fetishistic audience, who urge her to “draw blood” and change the colour of her horse from “gray to red.” You can check out her YouTube channel (under a fake name) here. Caution – I would say that most scenes depicted here are NSFW!
“Oh yes it definitely hurts them a lot and I enjoy seeing them suffering for my pleasure. Whipping and kicking is the best thing I like when I am astride it gives me a nice feel and its such a wonderful feeling to control such a beast.”
With very little effort it’s possible for one to discover that there exists an entire subculture where horses are either beaten into compliance with whips and spurs or ridden and stroked provocatively. I knew about the “pony” fetish, where adults dress up as horses complete with bridles and saddles. But the pony fetish is hardly something to get bent over, since it’s enjoyed by consenting adults and apparently no animals are involved.
Several of Farida’s “hard riding” videos are featured on the Horse Women Facebook page and clips4all website which I reviewed, just so you don’t have to! There are the whipping and spurring videos that many of us have seen and condemned, as well as videos of adult women riding mini horses while jerking on the reins and hitting them with crops. The commentary that goes along reveals that the hitting of these small animals is designed to appeal to some sort of sadistic tendency in the viewer. Clearly, these videos make us uncomfortable, in part, because they are designed to arouse and remind their audience that beating an animal is titillating. But what’s also curious is that many of the people who favourited Farida’s horse abuse videos also have favourited classical dressage videos on YouTube as well. They seem particularly drawn to Piaffe training.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m utterly disgusted by the whipping and excessive spur usage even if there is no sexualization of the practice. But I also wonder what it is about regular dressage that attracts these same people to watch and favourite videos of Olympic, USEF, and WEG performances? Farida Khan attracts a niche audience, and she brags about her dislike of horses and cruel treatment towards them. She hits them multiple times for absolutely no reason, jerks on the bit, and turns them sharply as part of “training sessions.” But if you want to see “accepted” torture of horses you don’t have to watch fetish videos.
Most horse owners would never abuse their horses, even out of ignorance. But watch a few equestrian events and you can see whipping and spurring, along with horrendous combo bits or multiple apparatuses used on horses that are designed to force compliance or cause pain. What is often accepted as “horsemanship” is often abuse that should not be permissible.
Thanks in part to investigations by the Humane Society of the United States, the soring of Tennessee Walker horses —the intentional infliction of pain to their feet and legs to produce an exaggerated gait known as the “Big
Lick,” has received international attention. With H.R. 6388, the Horse Protection Act Amendments of 2012, it is hoped that we can end the failed system of industry self-policing, ban the use of certain devices associated with soring, strengthen penalties, and hold accountable all those involved in this cruel practice. An HSUS undercover investigation documented the prevalent use of caustic chemicals to sore horses and led to a 52-count indictment of Jackie McConnell, who pleaded guilty to one count of felony conspiracy to violate the Horse Protection Act, and three of his associates. In September, a federal court sentenced him to three years of probation and a $75,000 fine. McConnell also faces prosecution for violations of the Tennessee animal cruelty statute.
Thanks to the Olympics, two other forms of horse abuse have been getting attention. If you watched the 2012 Modern Pentathlon you know that competitors had to shoot, fence, run, swim, and ride a horse that they had never ridden before. Because they have to do so much, you know they aren’t going to be particularly great at any of these sports, even though the competition must be gruelling. These pentathletes certainly aren’t deliberately hurting their horses, but virtually every rider in the modern pentathlon displayed all the polish of someone who learned to ride three months ago in a crash
course – emphasis on “crash.” I recall seeing maybe one competent rider who could utilize aids other than the “Holy Shit Brakes,” or the “Save Me Jesus” seat. These riders choke up on the horse and give zero release – on one occasion causing the horse to flip over backwards – both riders and horses were lucky there were no serious injuries. Non-abuse is supposed to be a core tenet of riding, and the pentathlon was sheer abuse for many of these horses, who appeared quite competent on their own and should have been allowed to complete the course sans rider. So give me the ancient pentathlon of discus throwing, javelin, long jump, running, and wrestling over this torture. Riding a horse correctly with proper aids is not easy, as demonstrated by the fact that these fairly well-rounded, athletic competitors do not universally manage to achieve good results.
In the dressage world, Austrian FEI rider Ulrike Prunthaller has been given a nine month ban from competition and a 4,000 euro fine for the application of “painful and illegal training methods” to her horses. Her coach Friedrich Atschko is fined 5,000 euro for conscientiously supporting these methods. The pair was cleared of the charges that they injured their horses with screws, nails, stones and other unwanted artefacts, due to a lack of evidence. Such training methods are to be loathed, they give the horses significant pain, suffering and fear. It can hardly be said that these two were not aware that they were causing suffering.
Rollkur/hyperflexion is another form of abusive submission horses are being subjected to in dressage. Exaggerated flexion of a horse’s poll and neck became popularized in dressage in the 1980s when Nicole Uphoff of Germany used it as a training technique with her horse. The rider whose name has become most closely associated with the method is Anky van Grunsven. What makes this particularly abusive is that, at the Olympic level, the competitors UNDERSTAND the anatomy of the horse and they enforce rollkur (or “Low, Deep, Round”) anyway. And if they don’t do it in competition, they’ve been seen doing it in practice, away from the arena proper. Even some of the riders not using rollkur were seen digging in with spurs upon entering the arena for their tests and on through their rides. The FEI (Fédération Equestre Internationale) and all its associated federations enforce their own rules and standards when it comes to rollkur, or not!
German veterinarian Dr. Gerd Heuschmann, working with German Olympic dressage champion Klaus Balkenhol, created headlines when they publicized the findings of Heuschmann’s anatomical and biomechanical studies of hyperflexion. Heuschmann said that hyperflexion not only fails to develop the proper musculature for upper-level dressage, but the exaggerated flexion can also restrict the horse’s airway. Heuschmann published a book, Tug of War: Classical Versus “Modern” Dressage, detailing his findings and arguing against the practice of hyperflexion. Unfortunately it seems as though rollkur has made it’s way into the Western Pleasure world as well, where it’s still not humane.
What makes rollkur especially cruel is that it closely resembles, to me, images of
prisoner abuse and torture from the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in occupied Iraq and Guantanamo Bay. They demonstrate extreme examples of a technique broadly defined as “stress positions,” which are designed to “soften-up” prisoners prior to interrogation. Here, prisoners are being forced to artificially lower their heads and adopt unnatural positions of their spines, similar to horses in rollkur.
We must stop seeing a horse as an adversary that must be “broken.” It seems today lavish gaits,tricks and precision are what is rewarded in competition rather than the quality of the training, the willingness of the horse, or the dedication to the sport by the rider. Most of us have done something questionable or ill-advised with regard to our horses, or we may have seen a trainer do something that didn’t seem right but we didn’t know at the time why it was wrong. If anyone in any equestrian discipline uses some of these techniques on horses with the full knowledge that we are causing them pain or distress, then we are little better than sadist Farida Khan. Use of the whips, extreme bits, and harsh spurs are the surest indicators that all other training has either been neglected, rushed, or poorly executed. “Hard Riding” is just anther type of willful abuse – the reason for it hardly matters. The horse does not know why we abuse him or for what purpose, only that we do.
The video below is disturbing in that a mini-pony is being abused and exhausted. This video, produced by the Napoleon Riding Cult, resulted in 3 people being charged with animal abuse in the Netherlands.
heatherclemenceauhigh fashion hermesFarida Khan whippingFarida Khan Whipping 2Tennessee Walker Horse - Highly Artificial "Big Lick" MovementThe Modern Pentathlon "Couch Potato" SeatRollkur - Clearly the horse is not comfortable!Abusive training technique - horse's mouth open, clearly in painStress positions are designed to be exhaustingly uncomfortable without being clear "torture."rough handling
Auditor-General Kenneth Ferguson has been critical of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), and now that Health Minister Rona Ambrose has taken over responsibility from Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz for the CFIA’s food safety programs, she has promised swift action to correct the deficiencies Ferguson has identified.
A few days after the AG report, Ambrose announced that the CFIA would increase fines and expand the compliance program. This is probably a good thing, since, in my opinion, the Ministry of Agriculture has shown that they are only interested in promoting food and Big-AG interests, and are not tremendously interested in protecting public health, and it was therefore an obvious conflict of interest. Food safety obviously has to come first, otherwise there is no market. When it comes to meting out fines and jail terms, I don’t care who does the regulating and inspection, as long as the action is taken as quickly as possible and the results are available for public scrutiny.
One of the more useful things the CFIA have taken to doing in the last few years is posting the names of individuals and companies against whom a conviction has been obtained for non-compliance with the various Acts and Regulations. Anyone following horse slaughter issues knows that the transport trade is infested with people of low character who knowingly participate in the inhumane treatment of these animals.
The CFIA has had the power to dispense fines, which they call “administrative monetary penalties” for years. The penalties were used against truckers who failed to meet standards for humane treatment, or for farmers and feed mills who fail to meet other standards. The CFIA says “every person responsible for transporting animals in Canada must ensure that the entire transportation process including loading, transit and unloading, does not cause injury or undue suffering to the animals. The federal requirements for animal transport are set out in the Health of Animals Regulations, Part XII.”
In reviewing four years of fines levied as per the CFIA prosecution bulletins website, it becomes apparent that there are lots of smaller companies and individuals fined, varying from animal transport companies right down to olive oil producers. Fines range from low four figures right up to low 5 figures and occasionally the odd jail sentence, usually to be served on weekends. I saw only two horse transporters who were convicted for improper or dangerous transport conditions. Many violators may never be effectively penalized because the CFIA has no jurisdiction over transporters from the US.
In April 2010, veterinary inspectors of the CFIA conducted a routine inspection of a shipment of horses at the Windsor, Ontario port of entry. As a result, Loerzel Farm Transport Inc., operating as Ontario Corporation number 2023424, was inspected at the Windsor crossing. The inspection resulted in company fines totalling $40,000, while operations manager Manfred Loerzel was fined another total of $6,000 and received a six month conditional sentence. A conviction was finally entered on September 17th, 2013 at the Ontario Court of Justice in Windsor. Note that it took almost 3 ½ years to secure a conviction against this company after two horses died in transit and others were injured by the sharp interior of the company’s trailer, which they operated from April 2009 – May 2010.
Earlier in September 2012, another conviction was obtained in Manitoba Provincial Court against 5133831 Manitoba Ltd., (doing business as Shadow Creek Transport) which entered a guilty plea for one count of contravening Section 143.(1)(b) of the Health of Animals Regulations. In accepting a joint recommendation proposed by Crown and the Defence Counsel, the judge imposed a $7,000 fine on the company.
The incident that gave rise to the charge occurred on November 7th, 2007, when a livestock trailer carrying down or dead horses owned by 5133831 Manitoba Ltd. arrived at the Canadian port of entry at Emerson, Manitoba. Again, please note that it took almost 5 years to get a conviction against this company and the driver. What were they driving during those five years?
Upon examination of the load, numerous draft horses were found down or dead with blood observed inside and outside the trailer and numerous scrapes and abrasions also noted on the horses. Fourteen of the 22 draft horses either died during transport or were euthanized by CFIA veterinarians.
A related court case held in Manitoba Provincial Court on June 4th, 2010, resulted in the driver of the load, Geoffrey Giesbrecht, being found guilty of contravening Section 138(4) of the Health of Animals Regulations. This charge related to the transportation of animals that were injured or unfit for transport. Giesbrecht pled guilty and was sentenced to 30 days in jail – on weekends.
Both of the transport companies and their staff were/are Canadian, transporting horses from within Canada. Possibly some of these were American horses though. Sadly, we will probably never read about any convictions related to the full-term pregnant mare that delivered in a trailer enroute to slaughter at Les Viandes de la Petite Nation, in a consignment from Leroy Baker.
CFIA officials recommended action be taken against Baker or Sugar Creek auction for this gross transgression, which occurred in 2011, but it never appears in any CFIA prosecution bulletin, probably because CFIA authorities must rely on the USDA to initiate even more convictions and fines that Leroy Baker simply won’t pay. The ATI documentation received and translated by the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) indicates that the foal in this incident was euthanized shortly after his brief life began, and the mare was shot on schedule a few hours after giving birth, at LPN.
heatherclemenceaujudgeauditorthe clashLoerzel Transport CFIA fineLoerzel Farm CFIA fines2Shadow Creek Transport CFIA fines
This comprehensive body of work produced by equine advocate Linda Horn arose as a result of commentary by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who stated that Congress should come up with a better solution for unwanted horses. Instead of slaughtering non-food animals for human consumption, he said that there needs to be a “a third way” to deal with horse problems instead of killing. When Congress lifted the ban on horse slaughter for human consumption, five pending applications were filed. The USDA preferred that the ban be renewed instead.
Of course, Congressman Jim Moran, Northern Virginia Democrat and co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, appealed to Vilsack calling on the USDA to deny permit applications for horse slaughter facilities, citing concerns with the cost and safety of the practice. His letter highlighted the negative economic impact that horse slaughter could have on the meat industry, after the EU discovered that horsemeat had made its way into the beef supply. In the month following media reports of horsemeat laced products, sales of burgers and other meat products collapsed by as much as 40 percent.
“Horses are not raised as food animals and are routinely given substances that are banned by the FDA from administration to animals destined for human consumption. At a time when USDA’s budget is diminished by budget cuts and sequestration…every dollar spent at horse slaughter plants would divert necessary resources away from beef, chicken, and pork inspections – meat actually consumed by Americans. While I work to restore this ban, I strongly urge you to exercise all available options to prevent the resumption of this industry.”
Now that Congress’ latest 2014 budget bill has blocked the resumption of horse slaughter in the U.S. by cutting funding for inspections of the process, Linda’s documentation of alternatives to slaughter, emphasis on humane euthanasia, and alternatives for post-mortem disposal options in the United States is more important than ever.
The vast majority of pro-slaughter promoters will never accept that this is the decline and fall of horse slaughter. Slaughterhouse Sue is still flagellating her troops into believing that they have lots of options moving forward. But Linda has shown that anti-slaughter resources do exist, and groups and organizations in other states could be mobilized out of necessity. Inventiveness and ingenuity are stimulated by difficulty, as we are reminded by the well-known proverb “necessity is the mother of invention,” often ascribed to Greek philosopher Plato.
Compiled by Linda Horn – PDF version available here
USDA Secretary Vilsack’s “Third Way” can address the current horse situation better than slaughter. The vast majority of horses who end up at the borders come from somewhere else. To be successful, the situation must be addressed at the source. Several states already have solutions in place. When all states set up their own programs there will be positive, long-lasting progress nationwide.
I hope Members of Congress, state and local legislators will endorse and promote this document. We intend to fund it privately, with no contributions from government budgets.
Here are a few examples of existing programs. There are many, many more.
STATE PROGRAMS – A GOOD EXAMPLE
New Mexico Equine Protection Fund.
If every state set up something like this – with each handling its own excess population – it would go a long way toward solving the dilemma.
Information about other state programs is available online.
American Humane Association – Red Star Program – Disaster Relief
Help for the Leachman Horses. They helped with several other rescues involving horses
American Humane Association Second Chance Fund
Grants and Other Support
ASPCA “Hay It Forward”
UHC Partners with ACTHA to Help Unwanted Horses
Stamp Out Starvation of Horses – Georgia
Equine Safety Net – Kentucky Horse Council
Oregon Hay Bank
Sound Equine Options – NW Oregon & SW Washington State
BITS – Back In The Saddle Project – California – Butte, Glen & Yuba Counties
The USDA could provide subsidies to grow horse hay and establish a National Hay Registry that publishes hay available in each state.
The ASPCA Provided $1.8 Million in Grants to Equine Groups in 2012
TRAINING & SHOWCASING RESCUED AND SECOND CAREER HORSES
The Penn National Racetrack Model
UHC Member Addresses Rescue and Adoption: Rags to Riches Rescue Competition
‘Thoroughbreds for All” Event to be Held April 26
FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR RESCUES
State legislatures have the ability to create tax checkoffs to help rescues at no cost to taxpayers. It won’t solve the problem, but every little bit helps.
Colorado Unwanted Horse Alliance Tax Checkoff Information
In 2013, the New Mexico legislature passed a check off bill as well.
“THANK YOU to the New Mexico House for passing SB274 on a 62-0 vote! Sen George Munoz’s bill will create a tax check off to help fund licensed horse shelters to help more abused, abandoned, and neglected equines in New Mexico without raising taxes! Having passed the Senate, the bill awaits a signature from Governor Martinez to become law. SO MANY people came forward to support this bill.”
This is the Fact Sheet. The Text of the Bill is available online.
GELDING CLINICS & GELDING VOUCHERS
National Equine Resource Network (NERN)
NERN’s goal is to help set up clinics nation-wide based on their model.
The Unwanted Horse Coalition
New Mexico Equine Protection Fund – Voucher
Horse Plus Humane Society – California – Monthly Clinics Low-cost clinics
BITS – Back In The Saddle Project SNIP – California
FERTILITY CONTROL FOR MARES
PZP – Information from The Science and Conservation Center, ZooMontana
EMERGENCY VETERINARY CARE
Sound Equine Options – NW Oregon & SW Washington State
NETWORKING TO RESCUE HORSES
A Home for Every Horse
A Home for Every Horse – Participating Rescues
HSUS Safe Stalls Horse Rescue Network
There are so many Facebook groups that successfully network to re-home horses in need and help owners in difficulty it would be almost impossible to list them all here.
TRANSPORT FOR RESCUED HORSES
Reasonable transport is one of the biggest challenges to those rescuing horses.
The following Facebook groups and others are helping meet that challenge:
Fleet of Angels
Horse Rescue Transport Network
uShip Highways to Help. Rescue horse information is at the bottom.
Articles About the Value of Programs to Individuals and the Community
Grants Fund Research on Equine-Assisted Therapy and Veterans
Equine-assisted psychotherapy: a mental health promotion/intervention modality for children who have experienced intra-family violence
Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy: Healing Therapy or Just Hype?
Horse therapy helps youth deal with life issues
A few of many Equine-assisted Therapy Programs:
Many of the horses are donated by those who can no longer care for them.
Equine-assisted therapy for military veterans and families – General information and links to programs
Mini Horses as Therapists for Children
Equine Psychotherapy Associations
Care for the Troops
Equine Assisted Therapy – St. Louis
Equine Partners Unlimited – Ohio
Back in the Saddle Project
Horse Plus Humane Society – California
Medicine Horse Program – Colorado
HSUS Responsible Horse Breeders Council – 800 breeders had signed on as of January 2013.
TRULY HUMANE CHEMICAL EUTHANASIA
HSUS Humane Horse Remains Disposal – by State
Veterinarians for Equine Welfare List
New Mexico Equine Protection Fund – Voucher System
Horse Plus Humane Society – California
BITS – Back In The Saddle Project – California
HSUS Humane Horse Remains Disposal – by State
Veterinarians for Equine Welfare List
New Mexico Equine Protection Fund – Voucher System
DISPOSAL – RENDERING
National Renderers Association Members
DISPOSAL – BIODIGESTION – THE WAY OF THE FUTURE
Biodigestion holds promise for equine disposal. This option should satisfy those who argue the primary way equines can be beneficial to humans after death is as food. The technology is already being used for disposal of diseased livestock, chemically euthanized dogs and cats, and animals killed on roadways. Biodigesters can handle many types of biologic materials, including manure. In addition to a number of other useful by-products, units can be set up to generate electricity from the produced methane. The USDA has issued a number of Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Grants for both research and building plants. Much more information is available online.
USDA Secretary Vilsack’s Column: Energy Efficiency and the Food, Farm and Jobs Bill
USDA Funded Digester Reduces Pollution, Powers 1,500 Michigan Homes
Five good reasons to implement a biogas plant on your farm
Should I Consider Composting A Horse Carcass?
How To Compost A Dead Horse
Composting A Dead Horse: The Process
As you can see, there are many alternative to horse slaughter in the U.S. Sadly, it’s doubtful many will be explored or implemented if irresponsible horse owners continue to have the option of discarding their animals at will. Only Congress has the power to protect our food exports and save our horses, and the best way is to bring the SAFE Act to the floor for a vote. Thanks for your time and consideration.
heatherclemenceauThe_Thinker_Auguste_RodinResources for At Risk Horses by Linda Hornthank you
Written by: Heather Clemenceau
It’s no secret that anti-slaughter advocates are disappointed to hear that Bill C-322 does not have support in the House, nor did it have support at NDP caucus meetings. In addition, the new Safe Food for Canadians Act contains some wording that would not have been compatible with Bill C-322 moving forward.
The reality is that few Private Member Bills make their way up the ladder to become law. We are so fortunate that MP Alex Atamanenko chose this Bill to present to the House, but to have seen it fail would mean that we would have no hope that, in the foreseeable future, any MP would have picked up the cause. Alex Atamanenko is retiring in 2015, and at this time we have no other MP who has given us this much support to enact legislation to end horse slaughter.
Our many friends and allies who wrote to their MPs can attest to the fact that Conservatives (who hold the majority of seats in Parliament) did not stand in support of the Bill. So at the 11th hour, as we all know, Alex and his staff drafted a new Bill that was more likely to succeed in the House, yet it included concessions to the industry that no one wanted to see. The Bill does not allow anyone to “send or convey from one province to another, or import or export (a) a horse or other equine for slaughter for human consumption; or (b) horsemeat products – or meat products derived from any other equine – for human consumption.”
The biggest concession was that it allowed for the production of “meat” horses. From the Bill: “In addition to the other requirements of this Act and the Regulations made under this Act, no person shall send to a registered establishment a horse or other equine for slaughter for human consumption unless the horse or other equine was raised primarily for human consumption and unless they submit to the operator of the registered establishment a medical record for that horse or other equine that contains its standardized description and a complete lifetime record, in chronological order, of the medical treatments it has received.”
MP Alex Atamanenko states, “We do not have a system that has stringent regulations right now, and in the name of food safety, the bill fits in with the new Safe Food for Canadians Act. It is an expansion of Bill C-322. It conforms with trade regulations and it tightens up the whole aspect of food safety. I would urge all members of the House to support the bill, especially all of those hundreds of thousands of people who supported Bill C-322.”
With enactment of the new Bill C-571, horses would continue to cross the border but would NOT enter slaughter plants unless they have a vet-signed passport to accompany them. How many horses coming across the border would have such passports with them, if they’re coming for slaughter from the U.S.? Probably very few. There’s always the possibility of fraud, and that’s why the humane groups would continue to remain watchful in the field.
Privately, this development is hugely disappointing to so many of us, especially those who lobbied for support of Bill C-322 and collected so many signatures. But there are still reasons to support it publicly. Because the
effect of the Bill would have a negative effect on the economies of scale of the Canadian slaughter plants (by preventing privately owned pet and riding horses from entering the slaughter stream), it serves to act as a “wedge” that can be used to enact further restrictions on the horse slaughter industry. The “wedge” is a strategy most famously used as a manifesto by Discovery Institute, the hub of the intelligent design movement. You’re probably wondering what intelligent design has to do with horse slaughter, and the answer is “nothing.” But the wedge strategy as used by Bill C-571 is a political and social action plan meant to sway public policy makers and ultimately make slaughter for 90% of all horses totally unfeasible, essentially putting kill buyers out of action. So while privately we have great difficulty with the Bill, many of us can find a way to support it politically.
The Bill might be more palatable once we understand that not all animal protection initiatives launched by Canadian organizations have protected all species across the country either. Despite the work done by WSPA, Animal Alliance, Humane Society International, Mercy for Animals, and others, most results are made incrementally by lobbying. For example, some groups have achieved hunting or trapping bans in various municipalities but not others. Sometimes protecting animals in shelters has begun with a ban on the sale of lost pets for experimentation, but only in a select number of provinces. While protecting some animals, these actions don’t save all the pets, but it’s another example of a wedge that can be used to advance legislation in other provinces. How long have ethical people all over the world lobbied against the Canadian seal hunt? A recent campaign resulted in the European Union implementing a European-wide ban that began in 2010. And the boycott of Canadian seafood will continue until the Canadian government ends the commercial seal hunt. If you can shut down trade in bear galls by 50% by making concessions, is it better to do that than to make no concessions and achieve nothing? It takes a long time to get bans on spring bear hunts in Ontario, and they often aren’t permanent bans either – groups must continue to lobby for them. In many ways the new Bill C-571 can be viewed in the same manner.
Recently, the Canadian government announced a new program, seeded with $450,000, to “support animal welfare at slaughter.” Of course this is also an ethical dilemma for many people, especially since it appears that horse slaughterhouses may be able to qualify for funding to better “restrain animals at slaughter.” This program suggests that slaughterhouses already aren’t doing their jobs correctly or overseeing the slaughter process as well as they should. And improvement or not, perhaps this is an example of tossing money at a situation that cannot be made humane and should just be stopped outright Only the reader can judge as to whether “improving restraint for slaughter” is ethical. But it demonstrates that they are feeling the pressure.
It is easier (but not easy, as our American counterparts can attest) to keep an industry from restarting than it is to close an industry that has full government support. The Americans are somewhat fortunate in that there are at least a greater number of individuals and groups that can impact legislation more easily than can Canadians. Sadly, the Conservative Canadian government is a government that is beholden to big business, and one that makes every attempt to shape public policy to that end. It is a government that is more interested in keeping its corporate masters happy than in protecting animals or the food chain.
heatherclemenceauArt by Jody Bergsman - www.bergsma.comA log splitter is a "wedge" that ultimately fractures or splits the log apart.Art by Jody Bergsma - www.bergsma.com
First of all, let me give a hat tip to Denise, for finding this article. You gotta wonder what kind of Google Alerts she has set up for this……
It seems that a CFIA inspector-by-day has become the “superman of community theatre” by night, working in the St. Jacobs community near Waterloo Ontario. Graham Duench is a CFIA inspector who enjoys community theatre not for the money, but for the passion. Fair enough. To add to that passion, he’s about to reveal a whole new side of himself that, until now, has remained buried under his strict devotion to justice for animals and duty to maintaining the high standards of the Canadian agriculture industry.
Graham is about to add “stripper” to his resumé. He won’t however, reveal exactly how exposed he’s going to be in the upcoming K-W Musical Productions’ The Full Monty — The Musical, which opens at St. Jacobs Country Playhouse on February 13, 2014, running through to the 22nd.
The Full Monty — The Musical is based on the 1997 British film The Full Monty, where the protagonist and his misfit buddies decide the only way to make some quick money is stage a Chippendale’s type male strip show.
Talk about moonlighting. I realize that it’s not like he’s moonlighting as a male escort or entertaining at bachelorette parties, but you’ve got to wonder why someone who has a “professional” position with the government would want to risk that by taking on an evening job with nudity and lots of sexual innuendo.
Ironically, the playhouse is about 7km down the street from the Ontario Livestock Exchange (OLEX), where from time to time, CFIA inspectors can be found measuring the height of trailers over a horse’s withers, and checking to see whether kill buyers have loaded their trailers with shod horses. But more often than not, horses get transported in double-decker trailers under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s nose and with their blessing.
But the potential for conflict of interest gets interesting.
Mercedes Corp., is a property management company that developed a number of tourism attractions in the village of St. Jacobs, including the playhouse. The company also owns the St. Jacobs Farmers Market, Waterloo Farmers Market, The Ontario Livestock Exchange and St. Jacobs stockyards as well as seven other rental and retail properties in the village. That’s right – the same firm that owns the playhouse where Graham Duench is performing (albeit short term) also owns the very places that the CFIA is inspecting for compliance under the Health of Animals Regulations The same places that Animals’ Angels has also inspected in the past and found issues not only with OLEX but other Ontario auctions under the jurisdiction of the CFIA – problems that seem obvious to everyone except the people employed at the auctions.
Mercedes Corp. also owns retirement homes in the region and several other towns. Seriously, who the hell in their right mind would want to retire or place a family member at a facility that also owns livestock markets that supply slaughterhouses? The gross-out factor is just unavoidable.
I’m not sure that anything embarrasses the CFIA anymore. Certainly, it doesn’t seem to faze them when they’re caught “pants down” in a bare-faced lie. I’m wondering if we’re approaching the wrong people at the CFIA? Maybe we’d get better results if we paid $35 bucks to get a seat at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, and then rolled out a large protest sign requesting CFIA response to our outstanding issues?
Last year I was contacted by first time author Joyce Anderson, who was researching and compiling information for her first book on horse racing. “The Fancy Hat Veneer,” is the result of her research; it is a compilation of information proving the undeniable responsibility the racing industry and Thoroughbred breeders have for thousands of racehorses being sent to slaughter every year. Joyce chose the title because, for many horse racing fans, fancy hats have become a fashion statement by women attending famous races such as The Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. The fine clothing of the spectators is the biggest tradition in thoroughbred horse racing, while the brutality and horrors of the racing world are kept from the public….well hidden by “The Fancy Hat Veneer.” As we know, a “veneer” is a thin layer of wood that covers what is under it, so the actual commodity itself appears more refined and polished.
The book is a broad stroke collection of articles, blogs, reports, statistics, and personal stories from the world of Thoroughbreds, horse racing, and breeding. Selected articles take the reader behind the scenes to the world the racing public never has the opportunity to see and generally does not hear about – the underbelly of racing, breeding, and the journeys of racehorses before, during, and after their brief careers.
If you would like a bit more insight into the book please visit www.thefancyhatveneer.com where the book can also be purchased online.
Synopsis By Chapter
(as written by Joyce Anderson)
Chapter 1 – A Bit About Horses, A Bit About Thoroughbreds
Horses have been an integral part of our life and our survival since rehistory. They have been warriors, workers, allies, companions, protectors, explorers and even teachers and therapists.
Horses have died on battlefields, transported goods, carried our families, moved canal barges, couriered mail, pulled fire engines, provided transportation and plowed the fields.
They have performed every task we have asked of them. They have more than earned the right to a full life.
Chapter 2 - The Story of Two
Press Exclusive’s journey and photographs are reprinted with permission of Mindy Lovell of Transitions Thoroughbreds who intervened and pulled her from the gates of hell to safety and Susan Wagner of Equine Advocates who provided Press Exclusive with a safe forever home. Her story is not an unusual one for Thoroughbreds. However, the end of her story is unusual. She is one of the lucky ones. The particulars of how she was discarded and the severity of the injuries she sustained are an unforgivable occurance.
Philotimo’s journey from the race track to emaciation took just six short months. His glory days on the track were over and there was no place for him anywhere.He was “free to a good home”. He was given to a good home and starved at that “good home”. Then the “good home” tried to sell him for $2,500, which would be 100% profit. Rescued by Lynn Cross of Little Brook Farm, “Timo’s” story is reprinted with permission of Lynn Cross of Little Brook Farm, Old Chatham, NY
Chapter 3 – The Thoroughbred Breeding Industry
Individual Thoroughbred breeders can “produce” a few, a few dozen or few hundred foals each and every year. This is done with the full knowledge that approximately 70% +/- will not have the opportunity to live their full life, the majority will not survive past the age of 10 and only a small fraction will ever be “good enough” to race. This is of no concern to the breeder. Their job is to crank out as many as they can. In fact, the Thoroughbred breeders want to increase breeding numbers and also want more funding for that purpose. They have no conscience.
Chapter 4 – The Racing Industry
Remember Barbaro? He was euthanized at 3½ years old due to catastrophic injuries sustained while racing. Eight Belles was euthanized at 2½ years old due to catastrophic breakdown while racing.
Young thoroughbreds die every week on racetracks from injuries sustained while training and racing.
When Rachel Alexandra lost her last race she was shipped off to be a baby making machine. She suffered grave complications at the birth of her first foal.
Chapter 5 – Horse Racing Wrongs 2013
Horse Racing Wrongs is a blog by Patrick J. Battuello who meticulously documents deaths and injuries of thoroughbreds on America’s race tracks. The entries are not Mr. Battuello’s opinion; he is simply documenting what occurred. They are unalterable facts. Each death occurred on the race tracks while the crowds cheered.
This chapter contains just a few blog entries for the recent 2013 racing season. There are several hundred additional entries you can read for yourself on www.horseracingwrongs.com.
Patrick J Battuello has been writing on animal-related issues for several years now. His blog, “Animal Rights,” debuted in the Times Union (Albany NY area) in 2009. It was the first of its kind in a Capital Region mainstream publication. In addition, Patrick has written for both the Albany and National editions of the Examiner, and has maintained three separate independent sites.
Chapter 6 – Horse Slaughter
Before we even discuss slaughter you should know how horses are transported to the plants. Horses are usually transported in stock trailers, which are open without compartments. All types of horses are together; old, young, babies, sick, injured, pregnant and blind. Thoroughbreds, work horses and miniature breeds are loaded on the same trailer. Those that are injured, too small or too weak to withstand the long trip are trampled. When the trailer arrives at the slaughter plant those that have been trampled or are down are dragged out with a chain wrapped around their neck or a leg.
Horse slaughter is a savage, cruel, violent and barbaric solution to a man made problem. It is horrific, excruciating and brutal. Nothing about it is humane.
Chapter 7 – What About The Other Horses
In my opinion horses are the most brutalized, abused and mistreated animals. Maybe it’s their size or maybe it’s their beauty that makes men need to dominate, control, brutalize, harm and torture them. There is something very deep, very dark and very, very primitive still lingering in our un-evolved psyche.
We live in a society where people are emotionally dead. Perhaps it’s the internet or social media which has removed us from any personal sensitivity to horror, blood, guts and gore. Thanks to all the groups within the media industry (TV, films, computer games, etc) we have become immune to violence. We can witness the most appalling atrocities first hand and there is little or no reaction. It barely causes a ripple.
Chapter 8 – In The News
The “In the News” chapter could have been filled with a ton of recent horrific articles. Sadly there is no lack of appalling stories related to horses. If you are inclined to read more the internet puts every news agency in the world and their archives at your fingertips.
Written by: Heather Clemenceau
I have to confess that I’d have no reason to read the soporific New York Daily News if it weren’t for their coverage of the NYC carriage horse industry. For the past few months, the NYDN has been going into overdrive with a series of drama-loving, over-the-top articles promoting the carriage industry (when they aren’t also highlighting what Alex Rodriguez is doing in a Miami bathroom with a woman, or the various people who have gone missing while swimming in the East River). The NYDNs’ spokesperson, Ken Frydman, is also advising the carriage industry, so I understand that they will of course take the side of the carriage drivers. What I don’t understand is how the paper can call its coverage of the issue “journalism.” I’m not sure what you can call it honestly, because you can’t exactly tease any logic out of any of the articles I’ve referenced below, which set the bar nice and low as any standard for “journalism.”
The following articles are all strongly reminiscent of The Onion-style parodies wrapped in lukewarm sarcasm. Except that they’re not parodies. In May, the NYDN published an article claiming that, if the carriage industry in New York is abolished, the nation’s largest mushroom grower in Pennsylvania could go belly-up. This scare tactic fails the smell test however, since there’s certainly no shortage of manure in Pennsylvania of all places. What’s next from the NYDN? Will carrots become extinct if there are no urban horses available to eat them? Shortly afterwards, another article appeared, highly suggestive that, without the carriage trade in New York, the $7 billion dollar movie business will subsequently fail to thrive. Rounding out the trifecta of crazy, the paper followed up with an article on the 70′s mentalist The Amazing Kreskin’s prediction that New York City Mayor De Basio’s Bill will fail (I guess the Long Island Medium wasn’t available). Somewhat shockingly, the annual predictions of Cuban Santeria priests contained no mention of the carriage horses or of Bill De Blasio’s tenure in New York. I can only assume that the paper somehow overlooked the venerable opinions of those followers of santeria….nor did they approach Miss Cleo for her opinion either…
Just a few days ago, a really well-written article on the carriage horses and the new Liam Neeson narrated pro-carriage film crossed my path. The video is here if your eyes need it. Refreshingly, the article, written by Jason Hribal, makes no attempt to anthropomorphize the horses, nor does it rely on Uri Geller-style magic tricks, flawed arguments, or unproven premises. Also worthy of mention in the Neeson-narrated video are the warnings of imminent slaughter for deregulated carriage horses, which is highly ironic and hypocritical considering that many proponents of the urban carriage trade in NYC are uncloseted pro-slaughter advocates.
NYC Horse Carriages vs. Carriage Horses (originally published on Counterpunch.org)
by JASON HRIBAL
Thirty two million dollars is a conservative estimate. This would be the annual revenue produced by the approximate 220 registered carriage horses based in Manhattan. Rides start at $50 for a ¾ mile tour of Central Park. Reserved rides for 45 minutes begin at $165. During peak season with add-ons, expect to pay much more. Horses work nine hours a day on the line. There are 68 licensed carriages. When you do the math, you see exactly why the carriage owners desperately want to keep their horses working for them.
The organization, Save NYC Horse Carriages, recently released a short film narrated by the actor Liam Neeson. In full support of the carriage owners and operators, what emerges from the film are essentially four themes. Each of these themes is significant and deserving of some consideration.
Neeson starts out at the very beginning of the film telling us that horses helped build the modern world. As a carriage driver later states, it was horses who built New York City. This is true. In the 19th century alone, there were tens of millions of horses working in every city, on every farm, and in every mine. They were global, everywhere you looked, and in sheer numbers that are hard to even fathom. Their work created our society and produced a level of wealth that probably can’t even be measured.
The film then goes on to describe this historical bond between humans and horses as one of companionship. This is not true. For my dissertation, I researched a four hundred year period, roughly from 1600 to the present, examining the relationships between humans and working animals. For horses and those individuals who used them for their labor, it was very rare to find any sort of friendship or companionship. It was wonderful when I did come across such things but this was the exception to rule. Whether for farmers, loggers, wagon drivers, canal boaters, coal miners, or cotton millers, their primary relationship to horses was exploitative. The attitudes ranged from indifference to hostility to sadism. This was all about work and getting it done. These above individuals were the ones who oversaw that the horses did just that. This was the rule.
The Teamsters Union has just recently come out in vocal support of the NYC carriage drivers. This is most edifying because what you probably don’t not know is that “teamsters” originally referred the teams of horses who transported the goods across the United States. It was these teams who did the work and made the profit. The drivers were middle management and their job was to get the horses to work harder, longer, and faster. In fact, the drivers’ wages were dependent upon this arrangement. It is with a strong sense of irony that the drivers would eventually choose to take the name teamsters for themselves. Sure, two horse heads were featured on the union logo but the actual horses got nothing out of the deal. They continued to work until they could no longer be productive. Their final job was to be made into glue. Significantly, the current Teamsters’ website contains a few historical photos of horses pulling wagons and such, but their history, their labor, and the wealth that they created are completely absent from mention.
This primary relationship has not changed. The NYC carriage horses do the work by pulling the tourists through Central Park and Times Square. The drivers manage this work. Their job, indeed their wages, come from making the horses work harder, longer, and faster. More rides equal more money, both for themselves and the carriage owners. This is not about companionship.
In 2007, the New York City comptroller office audited the city’s policies concerning carriage horses. It found that the city had abandoned most of its oversight duties towards the horses thus allowing the owners and drivers to maintain “substandard conditions.” The department of health, which was supposed to review and inspect the health of every horse, had not done so for a period of no less than 21 months. The audit went on to state that the horses themselves were not being provided with enough water during working hours. At the Central Park South site, for instance, there were no designate water spigots, a general lack of shade, and no proper drainage. The horses were being forced to stand in their own waste. In addition, the audit found that the owners provided “lax veterinary care” and that they were actually falsifying certificates of health. In just over a one-year period, 57 of 135 certifications were incorrect. While the horses had the same license numbers, they differed “in age, color, breed, name, and in one instance, gender.” In other words, the owners were dumping worn-out horses furtively and switching them with fresh ones. This is exploitation. It is about keeping expenses at a minimum and production levels at a maximum in order to extract the largest profit possible.
Back to the film, it speaks of continuing a tradition. Neeson has said that horses are always “at their happiest and healthiest when working.” I have heard this a lot and from many quarters. For those of you who thought that the Protestant Ethic only applied to humans, you would be most mistaken. All working animals have to deal with this ideology. Horses, sheep, cows, and pigs have long since been domesticated. They could never survive on their own. Their very existence is predicated on them working for humans. But we have to ask, is this true?
The definition of domestication itself has undergone significant changes over the centuries. Originally it meant to make a member of a household. This would slowly over time become more defined as being attached to a home and duties. Our more modern meaning, to tame or bring under control, did not come about until 1641. Interestingly, it was first applied to the Irish people, as they were brought under British imperialist control, and only much later to sheep in 1805. None of these definitions, in fact, made any distinction between humans and other animals. All were included: men, women, children, horses, cows, and sheep. The division, wherein the word only applies to non-humans, occurred very recently.
But whatever definition we choose, none of them means the removal of agency. It has been the story of my life’s work to prove this: from discovering resistance to highlighting autonomy. It’s always been there. You just have to look for it. In the Appalachians of Kentucky, wild horses can be found. In Harlan County, they have been there for decades. More towards Pikeville, newer communities are beginning to be formed. All of these horses were domesticated and lived on farms, generation after generation. But at some point, they were let go or just left behind. After the most recent economic collapse, hundreds have been abandoned. The horses, though, figure it out. They, just like their far western counterparts once did, learn to survive. They form their own communities and develop their own culture. In the Danube delta of Romania, some 4000 horses live autonomously. When the communist regime collapsed, many farmers and villagers turned their horses loose. These working horses left their plows, wagons, and carriages behind and learned how to make it on their own. Without humans, they have thrived. Indeed, for every type of domesticated animal, there exists their counterpoint: maroon communities.
Neeson concludes the film by stating that there is honor at stake. I am not sure what he means. The carriage owners and drivers, for instance, like to point out the horses get five weeks of vacation per year, wherein they are sent out of the city to pasture. This certainly sounds decent enough but there are two major problems. First, these vacations were mandated by the city in 2010, after the scandal caused by the release of the comptroller’s audit. This decision did not come from the owners or drivers. Second, I doubt the horses are even getting such a vacation. Most of NYC carriage horses are former Amish draft horses. The Amish work them through their productive years, profiting greatly off their labor. Only then do the Amish sell, or possibly lease, them to the carriage industry. During these vacation periods, many of the horses end up being sent back to the Amish—who, I would bet, are either working them even more or subleasing them out. It has been observed that when the horses return from these supposed vacations they often look thinner and more worn out than they were before they left. When the horse’s carriage-pulling days have ended, most, if not it all, will eventually find their way to a kill buyer, who will sell them for slaughter. With an annual turnover rate at a steady 30%, this is quite a few horses per year. I don’t see any honor in this. There is only avarice.
Anthropomorphizing is a political act. We are always told not to do it and from all sorts of directions. In responding to the possible ban, Harry Werner, a former president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, warned that the critics of the carriage industry are guilt of anthropomorphizing. “They see a circumstance where they wouldn’t want to work in it, and think a horse wouldn’t work in it.” I can understand this fear, for it is from such actions that class relations can develop. Carriage owners have 32 million reasons to be afraid of such a development. So to New York City Mayor de Blasio, I say stand up to the industry and its supporters like Save NYC Horse Carriages. Tell them that carriages are just instruments of labor. Instead, you’ll take the side of those who actually do the work and pull those carriages. Horses have done enough for New York City. They built it. They suffered for it. They died for it. That’s enough. Each of the registered 220 carriage horses deserves a retirement to a carefully selected sanctuary. Who will pay for it? Let the carriage owners. The horses made that money anyway. This is the definition of honor.
Jason Hribal is a historian and author of Fear of the Animal Planet: the Hidden History of Animal Resistance (CounterPunch / AK Press). He can be reached at: email@example.com.
heatherclemenceauLiam NeesonBill MaherKeep on werking that middle finger!middle finger salute
Written by: Heather Clemenceau
“You can’t kill that horse,” said Stacie Clark, who works for the Adena Springs Retirement Program, as she pleaded with management at Les Viandes de la Petite Nation slaughterhouse, for the return of retired Stronach Farms racehorse Backstreet Bully. It wasn’t just small amounts of prohibited drugs that had been given to the horse and thus meant that he was prohibited from slaughter: 21 doses of nitrofurazone, according to Toronto Star journalists Mary Ormsby and Dale Brazao in their article – “Ottawa refuses to say whether drug-tainted horse meat entered food chain.”
Stacie Clark runs billionaire entrepreneur Frank Stronach’s racehorse retirement program in Aurora, Ontario, the town in which I live. In Aurora, it’s impossible to ignore the presence of Frank Stronach and Magna – as a philanthropist, he has funded many public buildings in this town, he hosts an annual hoedown on the front lawn of the Magna headquarters each year, and there are reminders of his influence everywhere. And the individual with whom Ms Clark was pleading with was Stephane Giguere, the then-Director of Les Viandes de la Petite Nation (LPN) in St. Andre-Avellin, Quebec. Bully was alive when she spoke to him too. Of course, LPN was temporarily closed after an investigation published by the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) in December 2011 entitled “Pasture to Plate: The True Cost of Canada’s Horsemeat Industry.” According to his LinkedIn profile, Giguere was the Director of the plant at that time as well.
Horsepeople, particularly those of us residing in York Region Ontario or those who are “hard core” rescuers of racehorses know exactly who Stronach is. But it’s a fair bet that the collective brain trust who are employed in horse slaughter itself have no clue who the influential people are, and wouldn’t attach any significance to the name of the man who is the 19th wealthiest Canadian even if it were he who called them up personally. So while the management at LPN may have savored a smug satisfaction by denying Stacie Clark (and her exceedingly wealthy employer), it was a temporary victory.
Stephane Giguere may have been the recipient of a little `quid pro quo`by Frank Stronach. At least, that’s what I prefer to think. He’s been vanquished for a while now, allegedly fired from LPN a few months after Bully was slaughtered. I`m sure many people at the plant including the owners and possibly even people at the CFIA had an “oh shit“ moment after they realized what happened, and especially after the Star article eventually appeared.
For those of us who believe in karma, or the principal that where the intent and actions of an individual influence the future of that individual, you may get particular satisfaction from believing that deferred justice was apparently visited upon Stephane Giguere. While I personally don’t believe in either karma or ghosts, the idea of “cosmic justice” gives me some peace of mind by imagining that the ghost of Backstreet Bully (perhaps aided and abetted by the Stronach empire) waited for the right moment to exact a little schadenfreudian revenge on Stephane. And that’s what I choose to believe. While the killing goes on, small victories like this give me strength and hope.
“Victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan.”
[News conference, April 21 1961]
― John F. Kennedy
heatherclemenceaubackstreetbullystephanefake papersMagna Headquarters in Aurora, OntarioAdena Springs Retirement Program Headquartered in Aurora, OntarioAdena Springs North behind the gated community in Aurora, Ontario
Written by: Heather Clemenceau
Passing a bill in the United States Congress is not exactly a walk in the park. The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act was introduced in response to a 2010 Report of the Inspector General at the United States Department of Agriculture. In that report, the Inspector General concluded that the current program for inspecting Tennessee Walking Horses (TWH) for soring abuse is not adequate because the inspectors are hired from participants in the shows and therefore have a conflict of interest.
The PAST Act seeks to ban any artificial devices aimed at changing a horse’s natural gait, including caustic chemicals, stacked shoes, and weights and chains, and is apparently stalled, despite widespread support. We can lay the blame for this directly at the feet of the scurrilous crowd trying to halt this national effort to eradicate the abuse of TWH horses. This abuse has been illegal under federal law for more than 40 years. It’s also illegal under the state laws of Kentucky and Tennessee to intentionally injure the hooves and legs of horses to cause them to exaggerate their gait during “Big Lick” horse shows, all for the purpose of winning ribbons. In the meantime, horses are still being subjected to stacked shoes, caustic chemicals, and chains while we wait for Congress.
Wayne Pacelle, (CEO) of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) recently compared horse sorers to cockfighters:
“ These people, like the cockfighters, are scofflaws. They are actively working in the political domain – in this case, lobbying against pending federal legislation, H.R. 1518 and S. 1406, the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act — to protect their criminal enterprise.”
Passing the Bill, which would eliminate the corrupt self-policing system while strengthening penalties for violators, is the only way to save the TWH breed. Americans need to demand that Congress pass this Bill, with its overwhelming support, and not let a minority of self-interested animal abusers block a vote.
For all the efforts of horse advocates, there is no shortage of crazily-unethical supporters of continued abuse….
Please contact your U.S. Senator and U.S. Representative today and urge them to co-sponsor the PAST Act, H.R. 1518/S.1406, and do all they can to get it enacted quickly.
heatherclemenceauStacksPart of the toe still remains attached to the shoelost-hoofsoring5TWH_with_StacksThe "Wheelon Bucket Stance"The antithesis of good riding - seriously overweight for horse and unbelievably unbalanced for a supposed "professional" eventVirgina TWHBEA Director Pam McKinney who was escorted from the Capitol Hill’s Walk on Washington by U.S. Capitol Police for improper conduct, which included the utterance of F-bombs and flipping the middle-finger saluteAnother "professional" who rides with all the form and style of a soup sandwich. We would all move the same as this poor horse if we strapped 100 lbs to our backs and ran uphill while wearing platform shoes.
Yesterday I received this response to my blog post on the Tennessee Walker Horses. It is purported to be from William Ty Irby, so for the sake of this blog post we’ll assume it is actually he, although I can’t prove it, but the IP addy of the person posting resolves to the appropriate place in Tennessee. Mr. Irby Sr. is the father of Marty Irby, who was discussed at length in that blog post as a reformed “Big Licker” who is now a evangelic “Flatter.”
So, “Mr. Irby” has taken issue with what I’ve written, and the suggestion is that I’ve fallen for HSUS propaganda and lies. He writes:
“Ms Clemenceau: Please do not “throw around” my name, especially when you have no clue about which you speak! It is apparent from your article that YOU ARE ANOTHER OF THE GULLIBLE IDIOTS FALLING FOR THE HSUS PROPAGANDA & LIES! My son does not speak to me & has purposefully withheld his cell # from me! Where were you 44 years ago when the HPA was passed? How many performance horse shows have you personally attended & observed today’s inspection process for you to become an expert? Send me your email address & maybe I can send you some FACTUAL information to help better educate you on the matter! This would include FACTS disclosing my son Marty’s personal vendetta against the TN Walking Horse Celebration & the Chairman of it’s Board. Please try to learn more about the subject so you won’t be broadcasting incorrect information!”
Clearly, this comment, which you can read in the blog comments section, deserves to be called-out….
For years, the fox has watched the hen house in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. The “Lickers” turned the Tennessee Walker Horse into a freak show to the
general public and other horse owners. I can hardly bear to watch that awful flailing “gait” in the show ring, and the quality of riding in the “Big Lick” classes is the poorest I’ve ever seen of any breed show. Have I attended any “performance shows?” No, the short answer is that we don’t have any such shows in my part of the world, so the sum total of my experience comes from watching videos. That’s more than enough for me – thank god the “Big Lick” is unheard of where I live.
TWHBEA has lost members in droves, and it is solely due to reputation. You have lost the public and turned cheating into high art. And now the TWHBEA has backed itself into a corner because many flat-shod TWH owners won’t join with you, and why would they? On Feb. 21, the Shelbyville Times-Gazette ran a story quoting Mike Inman, CEO of the Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration (Sore-abration?) saying that the cost of most seats at the 2014 11-day show has been cut to less than half the usual price. Boxes with six seats that normally cost $575 will run $200 this year. And better boxes that normally cost $625 will be discounted to $500.
You’re fixated on blaming the HSUS when numerous other organizations that I highlighted in the original blog post all agree that penalties for soring need to increase. Not only is the PAST act backed by HSUS, but it is endorsed by veterinary groups. There is no indoctrination by HSUS or any other group. This is an effort to end a series of brutal practices that have been condoned and celebrated at the highest levels in the industry.
If soring, pads, chains, elongated hooves, long shanked bits, and all the other action devices used to create the “Big Lick” and cripple the breed were to go away, then good riddance to them. The physics and equine biomechanics that occur as a result of attaching these giant pads to the hoof confirms for me that the process is never benign. Unshod, flat shot, light shod are the only way to go. In my opinion, the only way to stop soring is to eliminate the “Big Lick” overall. Why should your industry be given any more opportunities to clean itself up – the abuse has gone on for decades, culminating with the arrest of Larry Wheelon.
And why would I give you my email address? In order that I can become the recipient of cringeworthy messages like the masterpiece sent to your son by Chip Weddington? If you had actually wanted to refute anything in my blog you could easily have done it in the blog comments. But you didn’t. If your son won’t give you his contact information, I can certainly understand why. Friends and family who condone abuse are not worth it.
Not everything out of Tennessee is as good as this:
heatherclemenceauBucket StanceChip Weddington's Facebook message to Marty IrbyClown shoes
To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again, dancing a jig;
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog;
Home again, home again, jiggety-jog;
To market, to market, to buy a plum bun,
Home again, home again, market is done. ~Nursery Rhyme
Written by: Heather Clemenceau
The St. Jacob’s Market resides on the same premises as the Ontario Livestock Exchange (OLEX). The dichotomy between the ways of the Mennonite farmers (the market is in the middle of the largest Mennonite population in Ontario) and our modern lifestyle is evident everywhere in the market.
On the days that I’ve visited, there are always tourist buses in the parking lot. The market, and the Village of St. Jacob’s shops a short distance away are a popular tourist destination, especially for those wanting clothing, rustic crafts, summer sausage, apple fritters, and other prepared foods catering to food tourists. Tourists also enjoy photographing the locals in the long, plain dress of the Anabaptists.
Not only is the market a contrast between old and new, it’s a contrast in the modern versus biblical view that animals fall under the dominion of man for his exclusive use, and that they therefore don’t reason, they don’t feel, nor do they form social bonds. Anabaptists are traditionally pacifists and separatists, yet they often treat their animals as a cash crop, particularly in the example of puppy mills, which are common within Mennonite and Amish communities. Their buggy horses are often angular and very worn looking, and in October, OLEX will see many buggy horses at auction that the Mennonites don’t want to feed over winter. Clearly, arbitrarily assigning animals rights (or in this case, lack of) by citing religious traditions is flawed.
We think that the days when Rene Descartes saw animals as irrational beings lacking in consciousness are ancient history, but in the livestock area of the market, animals are still treated as having no physical, emotional , or social needs. The food and craft areas of the market are very busy and full of bright colours – vegetables, clothing, jams etc. but the livestock market building is deplorable and hopeless, filled with stressed farm animals and horses, many of them stereotypically pacing in their pens. Here many of the animals are often very overcrowded and placed with others who were not formerly part of their social group. It’s profoundly at odds with herd animals’ nature to be closely penned or penned with other strange animals with whom they have no social hierarchy. Close to the end of the day, before they are to be picked up by kill buyers, the cows and bulls are herded into one pen, and there they appear even more stressed – bulls mount cows and other disagreements ensue.
Most people from the market area or the Village of St. Jacob’s don’t venture anywhere near the livestock building, and they likely wouldn’t cross the “biosecurity” warnings on the doors, especially if they have their cherished family dog with them. Unlike in the tourist areas, pictures are not welcome here, because no one wants the outside world to see the dire conditions that exist for the animals. This is why activists and those with smartphones aren’t welcome in the OLEX building.
While the people bringing horses and other animals to the auction are to blame along with some of the handlers who occasionally hit the animals, the consumer is also to blame in this abysmal system. Yet the consumers don’t come into this building, because they don’t want to be made aware of the atrocities committed here and they certainly don’t want to be made to think about where the majority of these animals are going after the market closes for the day.
What the Tourists See…
The Livestock Market at OLEX…Out-Of-Sight and Out-Of-Mind For Most Everyone
And a Happy Epiloque for Two OLEX Mares…
Sold to a kill buyer, they landed at NYNE (Need You Now Equine). There are no words to describe groups like NYNE, who do not rescue horses in the orthodox sense, but sell them off kill buyer lots for a profit. Nevertheless, these two mares, bonded as you can see in the kill pen in a photograph taken in August, are shown in the second photo at NYNE being offered for sale for $1,200 apiece. Finally, they are depicted in their new home, having evaded slaughter.
heatherclemenceaupeaceable-kingdom-edward-hicksWhen the Cows Come HomeStreet artRustic crafts 2Rustic craftsMennonite horse at WalmartMennonite historyMennonite girl sells vegetablesMennonite girlMennonite boyLocal foodcrafts and foodstuffsColourful veggiesBroom factoryTourist trapNo water in pensMost horses will be slaughteredinside of trailerHealthy riding horsesCrowded pens and no waterBiosecurityWork HorseTwo poniesTwo Fjord maresThis looks sensibleThin horse in disgusting conditionsTwo Fjord maresOlex Fjords for saleFjord horses in new home
Once in a while I get a response to a blog post that really merits its own stand-alone blog. Lauren sent me a response to my blog addressing the ethics of horseback riding, and while she doesn’t agree with my conclusion, I think she raises some interesting points and introduces several new arguments. So I wanted to present her post, which she took a lot of time to compose, along with my rebuttal arguments.
“This is long so please bare with me:
Hi Heather, my name is Lauren and I came across your blog post today while doing some research. I am a soon-to-be graduate of Purdue University, am a vegetarian for multiple reasons, and rode horses for 15 years before changing my entire viewpoint on riding.
I have ridden in both English and Western disciplines and was once a rated member of the United States Pony Club. I have raced barrels, hacked Saddlebreds, ridden in Western pleasure classes, ridden trails, competed in dressage, and jumped cross-country. I have probably ridden over 100 horses (I am not joking) from ponies to ex-racehorses. I have also had many different riding instructors over the years including so-called professional riders. I used to attend the Rolex Three Day event in Kentucky every Spring and thought that somehow my poor (seriously) self would find an opportunity to become a professional eventer with some off-the-track-Thoroughbred I’d bought for $300. Then one day I literally walked away from it all and I have not looked back since.
Last September, I saw an article pop up on my Facebook about the organizers of a three day event changing part of a cross-country course half way through the order-of-go. Apparently many of the horses and riders had been having problems at particular jumps due to poor weather conditions. So I posted the article to my feed with a statement that this was unfair because most of the professional riders at the event were at the end of the running order and would now be riding a different if not easier course than the novice riders that went before them. I got some backlash from fellow riders who said the organizers were correct to look out for the “safety” of the other riders once they realized there were too many problems. I insisted that this still wasn’t fair because the riders at the end were more experienced and should know how to “handle” the poor conditions. Still, there were arguments that this change of course was proper for safety. A little angered, this time I pointed out that the whole sport of eventing is dangerous and horses can die. They do die. I was at Rolex just across the field in 2008 when Lainey Ashker’s Frodo Baggins went down over the now-infamous Flower Basket jump. Horses die in this sport all the time and yet we never once ask the horse if he’d rather not go out there and risk his neck for it.
So I began to think about this some more. I’m no physicist, but I realized that any time a mistake is made at a jump it is always the rider’s fault. This is due to the fact that the horse is in no way “designed” to carry a rider (living organisms do not have a defined purpose and neither do their parts; see Diamond v. Chakrabarty which alludes to this legally, and check out the NIH’s stance on this). Any minimal shift in the rider’s weight (which is going to happen), shift of the tack (which is also going to happen) or otherwise (a random act of nature, i.e. shifting of wind or terrain) can and will throw the horse off-balance. In addition, any perceived “wrong” move taken by the horse in response to the shifting of his balance or active response to shifts in the rider’s weight are often punished by use of the crop and/or spurs. Typically, what the horse is really doing is making an active judgment of the situation to account for rider error (i.e. the shifting of the rider’s weight). Again, I don’t have science to back me up here, but I would hypothesize that the movement the horse would make on a cross-country course, such as an approach to a jump, would almost always be different from the movements made by the horse with a rider on its back. To complete the example, if you have a horse and rider approach a jump and he suddenly refuses or lunges to the side to go around the jump, he has made a judgment call that he could not safely make the effort without injuring himself. And for this the horse often receives a whack with the whip, a jab of the rider’s spurs, and/or a nasty yank of the reins. The horse made an effort to protect himself – to survive – and he received punishment.
I don’t believe any horse on this planet would go out and run an XC course of his own accord in the absence of a rider. Horses can certainly jump, but I would like to think that they do so out of necessity rather than finding joy in it (I’m not talking about a horse jumping a random log in the middle of the field on his gallop back to the barn for evening chow, which is still technically necessity anyway – jumping the log might be the fastest way to the barn). I know horses a little bit and I had ridden them for many years – I just don’t think they would jump an entire cross-country course without the guidance of a rider for what humans call “fun.”
Further, if these event riders have such great partnerships with their horses, why exactly do they need whips, spurs, and/or bits? Some go “nice in a snaffle,” but I’ve seen gags, pelhams, and elevators on the cross-country horse, as well as different lengths of spurs on the rider’s boots and different types of crops in the rider’s hands. I have been to many upper level and lower level cross-country events and at least once I have seen a rider “get rough” with these “aids” in some manner. It isn’t acceptable. We could argue about “good” contact all day, but my question still stands: what are the spurs, whips/crops, and bits for if you have such a good partnership with your horse?
Why would you ever need those things to “communicate” “jump this massive fence at a gallop with me on your back?” Perhaps it’s because in the absence of these “aids” the horse would have a much easier time of saying “no” and there goes the “connection” between man and horse.
I watched the video and read the Tumblr entry you discussed in your post. Based on the definition of “vegan,” a person who follows this philosophy does not consume any animal products for any reason in any manner whether that is strictly for ethical, health, or other reasons. Hence, riding is not vegan because a human being would be taking something from the horse (energy, a place to sit, engaging the horse as a vehicle for transportation, etc.) and the horse rarely gets anything positive from the experience of being ridden. The viewpoint is clear and there isn’t anything inherently wrong with it either. If there is something inherently wrong with not riding a horse because it is unnecessary or unethical or whatever, please enlighten me.
I am not vegan and though I do not ride anymore for the reason that it is harmful to the horse’s well-being, believe me when I say I miss riding horses. I grew up riding and it is something that’s ingrained in my soul for better or for worse. But I have learned that to ride a horse is selfish on my part. I don’t need to ride a horse for any other reason than enjoyment. And when there is overwhelming research to show that riding can harm the horse physically, physiologically, emotionally, mentally, and/or psychologically what reason is there that justifies riding? I do not believe that the research snippets in the video are incorrect even if they may need some more fleshing-out and additional research.
I am vegetarian and I do not necessarily equate not eating meat with not riding. However, I think that equestrian competition is exploitation of the horse for human gain at the cost of prohibiting the horse from expressing free will to not participate (and not be punished for the refusal). Competition impacts the horse negatively in many respects and should not be supported. Absolutely any equestrian competition is harmful to the horse.
Let me take your pet or dog ownership thoughts into account as well. So we say our animals love us, yeah? So same thing as above with the spurs, whips and bits on horses, why do we need leashes and collars for dogs? (I would concede that typically the leash and collar aren’t used in the same manner as the bit and spurs, but that they can be used with severity.) If humans had true partnerships with their dogs (and some do) then we shouldn’t need leashes or collars. When you get down to the bare minimum of the uses for the items used on a horse and the items used on a dog they are each used in a manner consistent with control of the animal. The leash and collar keep the dog from running off and the bit, whip and spurs force the horse to do our bidding when we get on his back.
Further, just because horses could carry 25% of their bodyweight on their back (by what study by the way?) does not mean it is designed to do so. Again, living beings are not designed for a purpose. Do you even know exactly why you exist on earth? I can’t even pretend to know that. Studies have also shown that when a horse bares a rider on its back for more than 15 minutes of work this can cause the horse immediate soft tissue damage and pain. If you know of a study that cleanly refutes this please post it. Please refer to the Nevzorov Haute Ecole’s website for information on the study I noted here.
While “going for a trail ride” hardly sounds like abuse, if the horse doesn’t have a choice in the matter then this doesn’t make it ok. Just because you don’t think you’re harming the horse does not mean that you aren’t. If you love and cherish your horse why would you take this risk?
In the “death to carnism” blog, the author does not advocate turning horses loose in the wild. The author states that this would be irresponsible. That is another discussion for another time as well.
You’re right about humans harming other animals no matter what considering the world we live in, but this is not a free pass to just hop on a horse and ride it. That’s a hypocritical point of view. If you know you are harming the horse, why would you ride it? If you don’t know, you shouldn’t ride, and you should study-up.
Just because PETA thinks it’s ok to ride horses does not make it suddenly ok to do so. This organization has been discredited on many fronts for many different reasons. Take a look at this Huffington Post opinion piece from 2013 if you are certain you support them: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nathan-j-winograd/peta-kills-puppies-kittens_b_2979220.html. (I am not saying they are entirely horrible because I really just don’t know. But I’m willing to bet since the Huffington Post still has this up on their website they haven’t lost a lawsuit on facts.)
Finally, if we humans must abide by “consent,” as in, “no, means no,” but we do not afford this to other animals for one reason or another than as humans we are taking a step backwards. No one being is superior to others – they all need to exist for this planet to be whole. In addition, though I am not a representative for Alexander Nevzorov’s Haute Ecole, I understand that while he did ride horses for a while he did so without the use of any restraint of the horse’s head. Since that time he has expressed that he feels riding is unethical altogether and does not teach riding or condone it. Instead he teaches a way to have a meaningful relationship with the horse on the ground without pain or force at all.”
First I think we need to define what veganism is – the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products. Some vegans have taken to extending their philosophy in all manner of ways in which the originator cannot have foreseen. I can’t imagine how we can consider the “energy” of a horse as a product of that animal unless that is what one understands to be covered by “ethical veganism.” Vegetarians on the other hand, still consume some animals products, including dairy, eggs, cheese, gelatin, honey, etc. I have to say honestly that I am baffled as to why taking “energy” from a horse seems to be so objectionable to you while consuming dairy or eggs is apparently less so. The demand for dairy has very tangible effects on the cows and calves in that industry, and chickens suffer immensely to produce eggs, much more easily measurable and quantifiable than any presumptive abuse to horses resulting from conventional riding.
I do want to affirm a lot of what you’ve written about various horse sports being cruel or inhumane to horses. I do agree that the cross-country phase of eventing at both the international level or at Pony Club are highly dangerous, along with other “sports” such as racing, rodeo, chuckwagon races, jumps racing, and numerous cultural events are all either blatantly cruel to horses or stretch them beyond their reasonable capabilities. I wrote more about the broad abuses of horses in another blog post. Cross-country courses challenge horses with drop fences, where the horse can’t anticipate that he has to leap straight down, and water jumps compel horses to jump then while not knowing the depth. Until recently, obstacles did not break-away, causing serious falls and injuries (if not death) to both horse and rider. Courses are, IMO far too long and even when horses are matched to an ideal course, they can only run and jump for so long before they are exhausted or injured. Any event where you have significantly less than 100% of the participants fail to complete a course is too strenuous and risky.
We know that not all high-level riders in all disciplines ride with empathy, as shown in the following video:
I don’t agree with you that whenever a mistake is made on a course it is rider’s error. Even a correctly balanced rider’s weight causes the horse to strain to overcome gravity. The horse needs greater impulsion to clear the weight over the fence, possibly over-extending himself on the other side of the jump. A tired horse builds up lactic acid in his muscles and is more likely to sustain injury. Horses can also dehydrate and tie-up even with the most competent riders. I did actually link to a study in the original blog post that concluded that healthy, fit horses could comfortably carry up to 25% of their body weight (saddle and rider) which supports my contention that horses are not physically compromised by the weight of most riders. The ability of an animal to lift weight (whether ant, cockroach, or horse) is determined by the relationship between surface area and body mass. Ants can also lift 50 times their own weight even though they might not need to. Obviously, other factors to consider in matching the horse to the sport are size and weight, condition, fitness, conformation, attitude, ability of a saddle to distribute weight properly, ability and weight of the rider, distance travelled while riding, type of terrain, and temperature/weather conditions.
Whips, spurs and bits are not automatically torturous. I don’t use spurs and I don’t think most riders do either. I don’t use a whip except in driving where it must be carried in case the horse backs up into a hazard such as a car, child, or edge or a ravine. The driving whip is used to take the place of the leg aid and is used to signal that a bend is asked for or a change of direction is forthcoming. The floppy end of a driving whip taps the horse with the same pressure as flicking a shoelace on your arm. And if you’re going to have a bit there is a range that are considered good and humane by most riders and clinicians. I don’t believe that halters cause a horse any pain. Most higher level dressage riders use spurs subtly, but their use by less skilled riders is apt to be punitive or abusive.
You claim that there is overwhelming research that riding harms horses “physically, physiologically, emotionally, mentally, and/or psychologically?” You didn’t provide any evidence for this to prove your point. I have seen some vegan sites post a link to research that consisted of evaluating a horse’s back for Kissing Spine, otherwise known as impinging spinal processes in the back, which is largely congenital. One vegan blogger cited it as a condition she assumed was directly caused by riding. I tried to correct the assumption, but it seems she was too cowardly to moderate my post. Impinging spinal processes need to be evaluated to determine whether a horse can be ridden, and as you know, horses will absolutely tell you when they are in pain.
Humans are self-legislative, morally autonomous beings. It does not follow from this that we are morally free to do anything we please to animals. However, if we required permission from an animal to take any action on their behalf then we could not spay or neuter them, walk them on leashes for their own safety, nor could we anaesthetize them to clean their teeth, vaccinate them, keep them on leashes safe from traffic, trim their hooves, or euthanize them when terminally ill. If we choose not to do any of these things because we don’t have permission, then we’re missing the point of being ethical and compassionate human beings.
Alexander Nevzorov is simply another clinician, one who has attracted a cult following. Quite frankly, he makes my head explode. Because he has attracted extremists, he thrives in that environment and turns off people who are interested in his methods but not the extremist attitude. He and his followers won’t allow discussion of other methods. He is in favour of abolishing equine use (and equines) period. There are a number of other things that Nevzorov is also quite strident about that do not fit with my concept of good and ethical horse welfare. His videos depict all the worst aspects of riding that many horse people would like to abolish – racing, rollkur, over-horsed riders balancing themselves on the bit, sometimes with nervous, perhaps improperly trained horses, rodeo, etc. The videos imply that this is the norm.
Nevzorov and his wife are even opposed to improvements in horse sport because to them it means they won’t be able to abolish it as soon as they would like. This is rather comparable to being opposed to the discontinuation of gestation crates for pigs while waiting and hoping that people will stop eating meat. They are opposed to the use of the Dr. Cook bitless bridle. They also have no interest in rescuing horses, possibly since they feel that the sooner horses become extinct as a species, the better. They are opposed to any breeding of horses at all, which again means in their world the domesticated horse is an extinct horse.
You make the assumption that before he stopped riding horses he rode without confining the horse’s head with a bridle. This is not true. Nevzorov rode horses in the traditional manner with saddle and double bridle. There are numerous pictures of him on the web using traditional horse tack which often included whip and spurs. What most of his followers don’t know is that the horses you see him performing with were all trained traditionally under saddle and with a double bridle, whip, and spurs. If he can accomplish the same level of training with a totally green horse and without resorting to any other methods but what he’s condoning now, I’d be impressed. While I agree with many of his statements about whips, harsh bits, rough handling, etc. he claims to have taught his horses to understand Latin (which is really a written rather than spoken language). This is crackpottery of the highest order.
Few if any people will listen to him and quit riding horses to work exclusively in hand with them. No one will pay to board a horse only to walk it on a lead, thinking they can teach it Latin. No one is going to build an arena and house horses in it to watch them self-collect. Amazingly though, Nevzorov, his wife and their followers all believe that the equine industry would continue on and develop in the same way, but with non-ridden horses. He also claims that it is “legally acceptable to claim moral damage which is caused to children, who’s mental health is endangered while participating in “sport activities” which considers the cruel treatment of a living being to be normal.”
PeTA’s endorsement of horse riding is relevant since they are probably the most radical of the major animal rights/welfare groups (ASPCA/HSUS/MFA etc). Some of Nathan Winograd’s Huffington Post pieces have been shared over 100,000 times by many people who never question the veracity of his claims about PeTA. The “PeTA Kills Animals” phenomenon was a hoax perpetrated by the Center for Consumer Freedom, a deceitful outfit that protects the interests of animal enterprise industries. They created the hoax to mitigate PeTA’s impact on their meat and biomedical industry clients’ profit margins. Not so admirably, others have jumped on the “PeTA Kills Animals” bandwagon to mitigate that organization’s impact on their agendas. Nathan Winograd falls into this category. Rather than address head-on PeTA’s concerns about dangerous and ineffective “No Kill” initiatives, Winograd uses the “PeTA Kills Animals” meme to change the conversation. Unfortunately, for animals in many “No Kill” shelters and rescues, PeTA’s concerns that the “No Kill” movement is causing them harm appear to be valid.
The “Why PeTA Euthanizes” website has compiled detailed information on PeTA euthanization and exposes Nathan Winograd as someone who takes liberty with the truth. Indeed, Winograd spends far more time critiquing other animal welfare organizations than he does in promoting No Kill. It’s a fact that nearly every animal PeTA has euthanized was admitted into their care by their owner. Virginia (home of PeTA’s shelter) shelter stats are public information. PETA’s shelter reporting data is freely available online, despite Winograd’s classification of these records as “secret.” This shelter is one of last resort and they offer no-cost euthanasia in the impoverished area their shelter serves. This video, produced by PETA last year, goes into quite some detail about the animals they served in their shelter in 2013. Mary Tully, the curator of the “Why PeTA Euthanizes,” site, writes:
“The small, hands-on facility at PeTA’s Norfolk headquarters isn’t a traditional animal shelter, but by comparing it to one, PeTA’s detractors are able to make it seem like PeTA’s euthanasia “numbers” are very high and somehow very bad. PeTA’s shelter operates for the primary purpose of providing no-cost, humane, veterinarian-supervised, medical euthanasia to suffering community animals who require it. This service is offered on an emergency on-call basis only, and it’s not advertised in any way.
PeTA’s Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services animal reporting data and shelter inspection reports confirm that nearly every animal PeTA receives for euthanasia is received from his or her guardian for this service. There is no indication that these guardians aren’t acting in their animals’ best interests by requesting this service from PeTA’s shelter, or that it’s in any of their best interests not to be immediately euthanized.
Though Virginia veterinarians may offer the service of owner-requested euthanasia to the public, the fees are simply out of reach for many Hampton Roads citizens. The average cost of veterinarian-provided euthanasia in the area, as of this writing, is $25 per pound of animal body weight, not including additional costs for cremation services. Affordable Veterinarian Services of Virginia’s fees start at $295 for the procedure itself, with an additional fee of $132 for their cremation service.
Virginia’s State Veterinarian, Dr. Dan Kovich, DVM, MPH, acknowledged the gap, during our recent interview. “There are several communities that are underserved by veterinarians, or don’t have access to a veterinarian at all,” Kovich stated. “Shelters that offer owner-requested euthanasia are providing a valuable service to the community,” he further explained.
Most of PeTA’s community work involves helping to improve the quality of life for outdoor dogs and keeping community animals who are in good homes, in those good homes. PeTA served over 6,000 outdoor dogs last year in ways that were meaningful to them. Because PeTA never takes custody of those animals, they aren’t accounted for in their state animal reporting data. Neither are the over 11,000 community animals PeTA spayed and neutered last year in their free and low-cost mobile clinics. PeTA served over 17,000 animals in 2013 who went on to have happy, healthy lives, but because they don’t appear on the animal reporting summaries, they’re unfairly absent from conversations about the work PeTA does.”
Winograd was so deceptive in his HuffPo articles on PeTA, that he was served with a Cease and Desist letter. Similarly, another Huff Po Blogger who wrote extensively and critically of PeTA, Douglas Anthony Cooper, also acknowledges receiving a C&D. PeTA also took action against posters hiding behind anonymous profiles libelling them on HuffPo, which may have contributed to HuffPo’s decision to abandon anonymous commenting on their site in favour of the Facebook social plug-in. In short, there is little reliable information about PeTAs practices to be found on the Huffington Post at all.
So Lauren, my belief is that one should ride lightly, cue as lightly as possible, less is more, and critical thinking needs to be employed when reading these articles. When people specialize in extremism, they expend massive energy in conflict with other groups who are quite close to their ethical position: they are fighting over the little things, and losing the battle against the rest of the world. This is true for both Nevzorov and Winograd. I don’t know about Nevzorov, but try politely disagreeing with Winograd on his Facebook page and he will lecture and then ban you immediately. That’s one reason Parelli and Rashid and other clinicians are so successful – we may not like all of their teachings but they preach to the middle of the roadists. Whoever captures the middle ground will have the greatest support base and opportunity to improve conditions for horses. The extreme groups are left to fight over the margins. Nevzorov and Winograd both have valid points, but I’m not interested in personality cults.
heatherclemenceaudressageEventing extremesBritain Grand National Jumps Racingbounding out of the gateBritish Eventing HorsetrialsCavalia Odysseo HorseTack room for the lippizaners 2lipizzaner in stall with marble basinCavalia carouselHorse with RibbonsNezvorovPrince Harry excessive spur usegiant shire horses
As a result of their market domination, Google has become more of an institution than a search engine. Therefore, Google’s search data is incredibly indicative of public opinion and interests. Google Trends is an application that’s particularly useful as a timely, robust, and sensitive surveillance system. While it is useful to advertisers looking to create keywords to market their products, we can also use it to create charts that show how often horse slaughter issues and phrases are searched for over time by all Google users interested in acquiring more information on this subject.
An analysis of the term “horse slaughter” in Google Trends shows us how popular the search term is currently as well as in the recent past. I’ve compared the stats from 2004 to 2014 year-to-date for the United States (blue), Canada (gold), and the United Kingdom (red). Initially I compared these countries to France, Japan, Switzerland, Mexico and China, expecting to see some tangible increase over time yet Google Trends yielded no measurable activity.
From the chart we can see that horse slaughter in the US was trending long before the United Kingdom or Canada, which began trending mid-2007 and 2008 respectively. The uptick in slaughter keyword trending activity in Canada began a few years after the launch of the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition in 2004, and seems to be linked to that group’s 2008 publication of Black Beauty Betrayed, an Early Investigation at Natural Valley Farms, and the issue of Illegal Dumping of Horse Blood at Natural Valley Farms.
Key points in the graph also register the heightened activity in the US and Canada due to:
There was a huge spike in late 2011 likely due to:
Also note the increased interest in horse slaughter search terms as a result of the horse meat adulteration scandal in the EU (January – March 2013)
Currently we see that horse slaughter as a keyword search appears to be tapering off in 2013 and 2014 YTD, perhaps due to the cessation of slaughter in the US, the subsiding interest in the horse meat adulteration in Great Britain, and the failure of the anti-slaughter bills in Canada. At the present time, interest in “horse slaughter” as a keyword appears to be in decline relative to the heightened activity from 2006 – early 2013.
heatherclemenceauMagnifying Glasshorse slaughter stats
Written by: Heather Clemenceau
John Scott has had a year of highs and lows – since starting into the movie business in 1969, he has balanced his own cattle, horse and buffalo ranch with work on Academy Award winning movies such as Unforgiven, Lord of the Rings, Legends of the Fall and Days of Heaven, along with other films and series such as Hell on Wheels, the 13th Warrior, Klondike Gold, and the family TV series Heartland. Earlier in 2014, he was awarded a 75th anniversary ATB Agriculture buckle (awarded to farmers and ranchers), and soon afterwards it was rather abruptly announced in the July/August 2014 issue of Horse-Canada magazine that he was no longer wrangler for the TV show Heartland.
The Heartland show is a series chronicling the highs and lows of ranch life and it is filmed in Alberta – feedlot capital of Canada. The Facebook page is filled with perpetually optimistic fans pleading for better love lives for the characters, and it’s a place where “True Heartlanders” are never bored with reruns. As far as I know, the closest this series has come to treading on the topic of slaughter is an episode where a dozen wild horses are found in a “feedlot,” which the scriptwriters tell us is a “place where they keep cows before they kill them.”
In late 2012, Animals Angels photographed a stock trailer belonging to John Scott Productions at the Bouvry Slaughterhouse in Fort MacLeod Alberta. The feedlots nearby and the Bouvry slaughter plant were part of an investigation by Animals Angels; you can read the full report here. There is also additional footage of the various Alberta feedlots by the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition as part of “The True Faces of Horse Slaughter” investigation.
When I wrote my original Heartland blog in March 2013, speculating on whether JSP horses were being sent to slaughter on that day when Scott’s trailer was observed at Bouvry, we didn’t know and still don’t know what species of animal had been taken to the slaughterhouse. Previously, the Heartland show, via their Facebook page, denied that any horses featured in the show had ever gone to slaughter.
But since the announcement that Scott was no longer wrangler for Heartland, it was noticed that horses advertised as being from the series were showing up at various auctions throughout Alberta, in fairly close proximity to the Bouvry slaughterhouse, and usually where kill buyers were present. As well as being a supplier for movies, Scott is also regarded in Alberta as a horse trader.
In addition to the two auction sites mentioned, he also brings horses to the Innisfail auction north of Calgary, where kill buyers are also in attendance. In May and August of this year, John Scott Productions had two partial herd dispersals at Hebson Arena and Irvine Tack and Trailer. The owner of Irvine Tack & Trailer is Scott Irvine – a well known and very active kill buyer in the province. Having auctions of any animal on a kill buyer’s property puts money in their hands and enables them to slaughter more horses in the long run – it’s the same argument some people use for refusing to purchase brokered horses directly from kill buyers.
These two sales, which disposed of dozens of horses and mules, represented a large number of Scott’s usual 150 head of horses. Quarter horses, appys, paints, grade horses, and mules were variously described as having been used as as driving horses (2up, 4up and 6up) reining horses, bucking horses, and used in parades and blacksmith competitions, the Calgary Stampede, various movies including Heartland, and in ranch work. One horse was advertised as being an RCMP horse. Most were in their early to mid-teens, with others being described as “smooth mouth” horses who could no longer take heavy work.
Hebson Arena Sale, Okotoks, Alberta
Irvine Tack and Trailer Sale, Crossfield, Alberta
After what appears to have been a lot of hard use, most of these well-broke horses deserved a soft landing – to new lives as lightly-ridden trail horses for beginner and intermediate riders. Many of these horses should have been able to bring at least $1,000 each, but obviously Scott would have included some horses who didn’t work out for him or could no longer do heavy ranch work, and therefore aren’t as desirable on the market. Typically the horses described as “best for occasional trail use” don’t do well at auctions because they are often not completely sound. So it’s unknown how many of these horses went on to new homes and whether any may have been sent on that final trip to Bouvry, not far from either of the sites.
In any case, I think it’s wishful thinking to accept the statements of the TV show at face value – “No horse that has ever appeared on Heartland has ever been sent to a slaughterhouse.“
Fort McLeod is the capital of horse slaughter in Canada. In their white paper “Horse Slaughter – Its Ethical Impact and Subsequent Response of the Veterinary Profession,” the U.S.-based group Veterinarians for Equine Welfare denounces horse slaughter as inhumane and…
“an unacceptable way to end a horse’s life under any circumstance.”
Click to view slideshow.
heatherclemenceauKevin Rushworth High River Times QMI Agency photomap of albertatop hat tip to Loniheartland2
Written by: Heather Clemenceau
So we’re concluding the “Year of the Horse,” which technically ends on 02/18/2015, until the next YOTH, in 2026. Will we see the “end times” for horse slaughter before then? While on the subject of the Chinese zodiac, I’m reminded of the phrase “may you live in interesting times,” which according to Wikipedia, is an English expression purporting to be a translation of a traditional Chinese curse. The nearest related Chinese expression is “宁为太平犬，莫做乱世人” which conveys the sense that it is “better to live as a dog in an era of peace than a man (woman) in times of war.”
Each year spent fighting horse slaughter is proof enough that we live in a time of war – a constant struggle to maintain the de facto ban on domestic horse slaughter in the U.S. With the signing of the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill, the U.S. will continue to forbid the domestic slaughter of horses for human consumption. Horse slaughter was effectively blocked via an injunction in New Mexico, and after exhausting all legal avenues, Valley Meat owner Rick De Los Santos gives up. As a testament to the durability of the pro-slaughter mindset, a new owner is still expressing interest in slaughter in that state.
There is continued support for the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, which would ban both the slaughter and export of American horses for human consumption. Despite the support of 308 Representatives and 60 Senators behind the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act to stop the inhumane practice of “soring” show horses, a small group of obstructionists in Congress prevented a vote on the PAST Act, so this must be revisited in 2015. There is increased outrage against the drugging of horses in the racing industry and TWH soring and attendance at “Big Lick” shows is declining.
The mismanagement of wild horses and burros in the west continues to be predominant, as is the BLM continuing to conduct inhumane round-ups and removals while failing to move decisively toward humane on-the-ground population management strategies built around fertility control. Criticism of Premarin® and Prempro® and similar drugs derived from conjugated equine estrogens continues to be made in 2014.
Reverberations of the 2013 horsemeat adulteration scandal are still felt – we are occasionally hearing of instances whereby horsemeat has infiltrated the food supply. The EU is in the process of revising rules on horse passports, and horsemeat was withdrawn various markets in the EU, resulting in the loss of a contract that was of tremendous importance to Claude Bouvry in Alberta.
An unpopular wild horse capture goes ahead in Alberta, and the protest received a celebrity endorsement by singer Jann Arden. After months of uncertainty for the hardy protesters who were arrested near the capture site, the charges were later dismissed.
The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) and its supporters continue to ensure that bad press for the slaughter industry reaches the public. The Global News 16X9 investigation is made with the assistance of the CHDC and supporter/horse rescuer Mindy Lovell and others. The CHDC continues to publish the results of ATI (FOIA) requests, each one revealing grievous departures by the CFIA from established procedures..
Despite intense lobbying, press conferences and huge pushes for Bill C-571, Canadian anti-slaughter advocates were ultimately let down by the NDP party. As a result, the anti-slaughter Bills in Canada ultimately failed.
The poor economic results in the last 6 years helped ensure that all breed organizations experienced a decline in the number of foals, registrations and memberships. If fewer horses are being bred (and ultimately slaughtered), the prospect of turning around the problem of North American horse slaughter is on the horizon. This has not gone unnoticed by those with a vested interest in seeing horse populations increase and the convenience of slaughter continue. The Ontario Racing Commission recently announced that the province’s standardbred racing industry is about to get a substantial $12 million infusion to its program to encourage breeding, after the cancellation of the Slots at Racetracks Programs resulted in the slaughter of thousands of horses, including foals and broodmares. The declining number of horses (rightsizing?) continues to be a hot topic in the U.S as well, where the American Horse Council wondered aloud at their 45th annual meeting what they could do to increase registration (and breeding) from the various equestrian disciplines. The Jockey Club too, are concerned about the drop in racehorse starts. And lastly, the American Association of Equine Practitioners and the AVMA suddenly have a problem with the aspect that fewer horses mean less income for veterinarians and other equine practitioners. If these professional groups were more forward-thinking, they might have given greater consideration to building relationships with their clients rather than promoting slaughter at the expense of humane euthanasia…….
Perhaps the most promising news this year though comes in confirmation that the European Commission, after a recent audit, decided to suspend horsemeat imports from Mexico due to food safety concerns. If Canada is not far behind (indeed our slaughter industry presents the same concerns as Mexico), then the loss of these markets could prove devastating to the horse slaughter industry in Canada, preventing plants from achieving economies of scale and therefore continuing to thrive.
heatherclemenceau2014 seasons greetings graphicpossible impossiblethank you note
Written by: Heather Clemenceau
Animal abuse is typically due to the inadequate protection of animals, along with social and cultural factors. Many psychologists and anthro-zoologists argue that animal cruelty is a good predictor of later violence against humans. Therefore, we must address the important psychological and social/cultural issues and make cruelty to animals target of intervention so that we can learn more about the etiology of human cruelty.
While animals deserve their own Bill of Rights, many crimes against humans may well have been prevented had any animal cruelty incidents that preceded them been taken seriously. Animals, people, and communities will be safer if animal abuse is detected early and intervention happens immediately with the use of appropriate risk assessment tools and treatment programs created specifically to target animal abuse.
The wanton abuse of a dog named Captain is the foundation for this petition, created by animal activist Charlene Myers and (now retired) parole officer Carole DeGrood. Brian Whitlock of Vancouver, British Columbia was convicted on June 12, 2013 of animal cruelty for beating Captain in the head and body with a baseball bat. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail, mandatory psychological counselling and 3 years of probation, but had also been convicted of assault and has subsequently been charged with killing his mother. The petition is intended to be applicable to anyone convicted of animal cruelty under the Criminal Code in Canada. Please help Animal Cruelty Legislation Advocates Canada collect signatures for presentation to the House of Commons.
The Petition is available in both English and French versions:
Please note about the petition:
Signing the petition:
Submitting the petition:
ACLA Canada (short for Animal Cruelty Legislation Advocates Canada)
7895 Gladstone Drive
Prince George, BC V2N 3K5
Petition to the Government of Canada Requesting Mandatory Risk Assessment and Treatment for Anyone Convicted of Animal Cruelty Under the Criminal Code
Why is this petition important?
Animals are easy targets for abuse as they are vulnerable and without legal rights. Although the crime of animal cruelty may be viewed by some people as unimportant or trivial when compared with other crimes, studies show that people who harm animals may also be involved in other criminality, including crimes of violence toward humans, either simultaneously or in the future. Furthermore, according to the National Link Coalition animal abusers often kill and abuse pets to orchestrate fear, violence and retribution in homes marked by domestic violence. They add that animal cruelty rarely occurs in isolation—it’s usually “the tip of the iceberg” and frequently the first opportunity for social services or law enforcement agencies to intervene.
In a speech delivered at the Congressional Informational Briefing on Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence in 1998, Special Agent Brantley of the Federal Bureau of Investigation noted the link between animal abuse and violence toward humans (typically referred to simply as “the link”) and revealed the importance of taking animal cruelty into account when assessing a perpetrator’s behaviour when he stated the following:
“Some in our society make too much out of qualitatively distinguishing between violence against humans and violence against animals. Ladies and gentlemen, violence against animals is violence and when it is present, it is considered by the people I work with to be synonymous with a history of violence.”
As animal cruelty is not only a crime of violence unto itself but one that is linked with violence against humans, the focus should be placed more on the behaviour demonstrated by someone who inflicts violence than on the species or legal status of the target victim. As psychologist Dr. Lynn Loar states, “the behaviour that harms the animal is the same behaviour that harms the human.”
As a result of recognizing the link between animal cruelty and violence toward humans, animal protection organizations, social services, and law enforcement agencies in the United States have been working together to address the link since the 1990s.
Canada seems to be moving forward in this regard but there is more to be done. People convicted of animal cruelty typically still receive minimal sentences and there does not appear to be adequate recognition by the courts and other criminal justice workers of the potential risk animal abusers may pose to public safety. If someone convicted of animal cruelty does happen to be sentenced to significant time in custody, available risk assessment tools and treatment options are not designed specifically to allow the assessor to expose and gather information about animal abuse and the perpetrator’s motives for it. These deficiencies need to be addressed.
The Colorado LINK Project found that “an animal cruelty offender’s potential risk to public safety may vary from little to none to extreme” and recommends that “animal abuse by adults and children be examined carefully through comprehensive and developmentally sensitive evaluation to help determine the context and seriousness of the abuse, causative factors and the perpetrator’s level of blameworthiness.” As animal cruelty is a crime of violence that is linked to violence against humans, then animals, people, and communities will be safer if everyone convicted of animal cruelty under the Criminal Code of Canada is required to undergo mandatory risk assessment and treatment developed specifically to target animal abuse.
This petition calls upon the House of Commons to require that adequate risk assessment tools and intervention programs are developed and that everyone convicted of animal cruelty under the Criminal Code of Canada be required to undergo mandatory risk assessment and treatment developed specifically to target animal abuse.
For further information, please “like” the
“National Animal Abuse Prevention Day” (NAAPD) Facebook page.
heatherclemenceauTwo Children Teasing a Cat Annibale Carracci (Italian, Bologna 1560–1609 Rome) Why do some people pull the wings off butterflies, toss firecrackers at cats, shoot the neighbors’ dogs with BB guns (or torture cats with crayfish)? The Dark Triad consists of three personality characteristics—narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. You can see it in the painting. Look at the little girl’s smile as she watches the boy torture the car with a crayfish. stray-dog-and-a-catphoto-2chained-dog
Written by: Heather Clemenceau
Photos and video credit: Rob Boisvert
On Friday, May 15th, two Godbout Express transports of horses were observed at an out-of-the-way truck stop in Marysville, Ontario by animal activist Rob Boisvert of Refuge RR in Alexandria Ontario. In listening to the video, it is evident that the drivers appear to be trying to mislead Boisvert and his friend, by telling them that they are enroute from Ohio (probably Sugarcreek Auction) to New Brunswick. They are actually headed to Quebec, and this is proven by a photo taken of one of the trailers which shows a CFIA seal – meaning that the truck cannot be opened until it reaches its destination at one of the two slaughter plants in that province. There are no provincially-registered horse slaughter facilities in New Brunswick.
Monday is a statutory holiday throughout most of Canada. The video was taken about 7 pm Friday. From Marysville (near Belleville, ON), it is possibly 5 hours drive or longer (with holiday weekend traffic) to either Les Petite Nations (in St. Andre-Avellin, PQ) or Richelieu ( in Massueville, PQ) slaughterhouses. The horses would arrive very late the same day or possibly the next day. We can only wonder what time they expected to get there? Were the horses to be unloaded somewhere and rested? According to a 2011 article in Better Farming, “slaughter-bound shipments will be accepted only during the CFIA’s regular hours of operation…” Therefore, we can only take that to mean that unless arrangements were made to offload horses on Friday night, there would be no CFIA inspectors at the plant until TUESDAY, May 19th – more than three full days later! The horses, unless unloaded somewhere (and by necessity breaking the CFIA seal), would have to stay on the trailer until that time – a horrifying possibility. Would they be watered or fed? Already many of the horses are standing in the trailers with heads hanging low…
Godbout Express is a repeat offender with the CFIA. The CFIA has most recently issued the company Notices of Violation of Part XII of the Health of Animals Regulations for $7,800 during the period of October to December 2014, with total fines of $45,600 in both current and past reporting periods.
A check of US DOT #648752 reveals that Godbout Express has incurred two violations already in 2015 in the United States, with similar violations in 2014.
|HOS Compliance Violation: 395.3A3-PROP Driving beyond 11 hour driving limit in a 14 hour period. (Property Carrying Vehicle)|
|HOS Compliance Violation: 395.3A2-PROP Driving beyond 14 hour duty period (Property carrying vehicle)|
Given the company’s propensity to incur violations, further investigation with the CFIA will be necessary to determine when these horses arrived and were actually offloaded.
Click to view slideshow.
heatherclemenceauGadbout ExpressCFIA sealCFIA Report
Written by: Heather Clemenceau
In a brazen move that would make Sue Wallis proud, the AQHA has sent to its Canadian members, a propaganda piece that insisted that the S.A.F.E. Act would create a “hellish demise” for horses, of “starvation, abuse and neglect.”
It’s difficult to imagine such contrived ignorance exists to such a degree outside of the BLM itself when it comes to wild equines. Yet in the massmail entitled “Unsafe Consequences,” the group specifically mentions the “overpopulation” of the wild horses and burros, juxtaposing the costs of the BLM holding facilities with the convenient way of eliminating the problem – restoring slaughter to the United States! Not only is the wilfully-blind AQHA on a non-stop crusade to promote slaughter for their own breed, they’re encroaching onto the issue of protected wild horses and burros – a comprehensive extermination campaign designed to eliminate all “undesirable” equines.
Here is an excerpt of the “facts” they present in their massmail, which can be read here and is included below.
If this enrages you, please take a moment to send a response to them below or via their contact form:
P. O. Box 200
Amarillo, TX 79168
American Quarter Horse Association
1600 Quarter Horse Dr.
Amarillo, TX 79104
8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Central
Please read the entire communication below:
Written by: Heather Clemenceau
The CFIA documents and slaughter records pertaining to the May 15th shipment of two tractor trailers of horses seen near Marysville, ON on a holiday weekend have now been received. The enquiry was made to ascertain whether or not the horses would have been unloaded in a timely manner on a long holiday weekend in Canada. The paperwork reveals that, as expected, Godbout Express was driving for Ohio Kill Buyer Fred Bauer and the 56 horses were shipped from Larue Ohio. The horses were on the trailers for 27+ hours. Please refer to the previous blog post and video.
Chronology and Summary
*information was also requested as to the condition of the horses at the time of unloading, but this information was either withheld or simply not provided.
Although the manifests made note of several lip tattoos and brands, only a few were indicated and were sufficiently legible enough to trace. Most horses with lip tattoos will be thoroughbreds and not standardbreds, unless perhaps in their late 20s or 30s since the practice of lip-tattooing a standardbred has long been phased-out. With a swipe of the pen, no thoroughbreds are sent to slaughter! Richelieu supposedly backed away from slaughtering thoroughbreds (at least on paper) as a result of the Cactus Cafe & Canuki fiasco with trainer Mark Wedig. According to an email from Richelieu administrative technician Geneve Ethier, the Canuki and Cactus Cafe case “did occur major problems to us and a lot of time, efforts, and money consuming. So to avoid that in the future, the plant advises all his suppliers to not BUY those thoroughbred[s] and overall not have them ship to us. . . . For us, thoroughbred[s] are definitely banned from our premises.” The likelihood that this shipment of 56 horses, some with lip tattoos, contains no thoroughbreds, is quite improbable. So of course, the paperwork is virtually without a doubt – not accurate, or we dare say – FALSE.
In two conversations I had with CFIA veterinarians regarding this shipment, at no time did they tell me that veterinarians/inspectors at slaughterhouses worked any shift other than the standard day shift. According to a 2011 article in Better Farming, “slaughter-bound shipments will be accepted only during the CFIA’s regular hours of operation…” So miraculously perhaps, an inspector was either working a Saturday as part of his/her normal job requirements (the day the horses were unloaded) or was called in especially to break the seal. If the drivers make this trip twice a week (a statement made to Rob Boisvert when he quizzed them in Marysville) then it’s reasonable to assume that the horses are left overnight, packed together in stupefyingly hot July and August weather with no access to water, if the same driving schedule is followed.
Every attempt was made to determine the ID of the horses on these shipments. A few are questionable with more than one possibility due to the illegibility of the writing. Judging by their ages, most of these STB mares could have been older broodmares whose services were no longer required. The remaining 50 horses all had names at one time; to us they are unknown and untraceable, but not to be forgotten.
T4738 – STB Mare – “Gettinjiggywithit”
5B159 – STB Gelding – “Snilloc Three”
2B448 – STB Mare – “Spring Hill Mini”
8A452? – STB Mare – “BC Firepan”
6G525 – STB Mare – “Fast Bunny”
The 9 Ethical Principles of the True Horseman
from “Tug of War” by Dr. Gerd Heuschmann, dressage rider and veterinarian
heatherclemenceauJusticetop hat tip Debby
“You just need to be a flea against injustice. Enough committed fleas biting strategically can make even the biggest dog uncomfortable” – Marian Wright Edelman
Written by: Heather Clemenceau
In our internet travels we often come across examples of either accidental errors or deliberate attempts to mislead the public. As per a blog post by the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition, Spa Creek Ranch, located in Salmon Arm British Columbia, was producing horse milk products. According to their website:
“In Europe, unpasteurized mare’s milk is used for health purposes, because our skin is our largest organ, it [the cream] penetrates through the skin and helps that way.”
“Horse milk contains many easy absorbable [sic] vitamins; it gives the skin resistance and increases the blood flow.”
An advertisement in the Warm Blood Breeder’s Digest (page 8/9) claims that the milk products “gives energy to cancer patients” and that the skin cream and shampoo were used by people with “eczema, psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, kidney failure, cow’s milk allergy, stomach problems, post-surgical recovery, MS [multiple sclerosis], and rheumatoid arthritis.” It also claims that prior to WWI, mare’s milk “cured 25,000 people of tuberculosis.” Infectious disease specialists should just quit using anti-microbials in their work and give their patients a bottle of mare’s milk……<<eyeroll>> It really is an outrageous spin, and shame on the Warm Blood Breeder’s Digest for perpetuating this.
Horse milk is occasionally proclaimed as a sort of beauty treatment, and something that Cleopatra apparently bathed in. But making the claim that a shampoo or skin cream of any type “penetrates the outer layer of the skin” or somehow alleviates any of the aforementioned conditions, is a hugely contentious issue. Once you start advertising that your product penetrates the skin and increases your circulation, you are referring to the actions of a drug, rather than a cream made with horse milk. If you have a product with the effect of a drug, then the FDA will be very interested in talking to you, so you had better be prepared to prove your claims and show that it has been tested for safety and efficacy. One thing I’ve observed about horse milk marketers elsewhere in the world is that they tend to behave like horse meat marketers – they make a lot of claims about the health benefits of their products that don’t necessarily stand up to scrutiny and are usually resistant to reason and contrary evidence. I’m sure that if some of these entrepreneurs could figure out a way to get milk from a California condor, they would surely do it in the name of profit.
I checked the Pubmed database to see what studies had been conducted on horse milk and mare’s milk, and found a total of 81 studies, most of which had no direct application to humans. This is actually a pretty small number of studies, most of which were done in Russia and the Middle East, where drinking unpasteurized milk is more common. This handful of studies typically report the results of using horse milk rather than using a blinded control. There are also a few small, poor quality studies suggesting a possible benefit in mare’s colostrum to improve wound healing and fermented mare’s milk to reduce the toxic effects of mercury (big question mark on that one!) Yet another study seems to show that children allergic to cows milk might be able to tolerate horse milk. There was certainly nothing that suggested horse milk had therapeutic properties that could encourage uptake of vitamins through the skin, thus reducing symptoms or eliminating serious disease. Therefore, based on the evidence at hand, horse milk “therapy” could probably be classed as experimental treatment at best. The existing studies might justify doing more (and better quality) research, but they don’t justify prescribing it to treat patients for disease. All in all, the research didn’t amount to much – sorry Cleopatra.
So it seems that science never bothered to test any of the above claims put forth by Spa Creek Ranch. I gave the company the opportunity send me information regarding any longitudinal study that showed a correlation between horse milk and the successful treatment (or even the unsuccessful treatment) of any of the aforementioned medical conditions. I wrote very politely and nicely in a non-confrontational manner (quite unlike how I often write in this blog). Never heard from them.
So I then wrote to Advertising Standards Canada, a non-governmental body made up of advertisers, representatives from advertising agencies and the media, and consumers. It discourages false or misleading advertising through codes of conduct. I asked ASC to delve into the possibility of an inaccurate advertisement about benefits for people with cancer in particular. Furthermore, on Spa Creek Ranch’s online page for testimonials, it seemed like people were claiming that horse milk cream treated symptoms of menopause, re-grew hair, healed athlete’s foot, and functioned as an antibiotic. To be fair, the company didn’t state these things themselves, but they posted them on their website as a promotion – rather like asking a friend to stuff your Yelp reviews. Nevertheless, people considering buying this product would read this stuff and might be influenced by it, because, you know, the human power of belief is inexhaustible, particularly if you might be sick and looking for a cure.
So after the passage of a few months, ASC wrote back to say that:
“We have made repeated attempts to contact the advertiser to have them rectify the problematic claims with respect to the Mare’s Milk advertising. However, we have not yet received a response to our letters. As part of the drug complaint adjudication process, ASC is required to contact the advertiser to notify them of what needs to be removed or amended to bring the advertising into compliance. Given this, we will be forwarding this complaint to Health Canada for their adjudication.”
It was shortly after this that ASC then advised me that Spa Creek Ranch was planning to withdraw the mare’s milk product and that their website would be revised to remove the related content and thus the file would be closed. In fairness, the company was not asked to stop selling their products entirely (although I’m glad they apparently did) but to modify their marketing efforts so that they were not making unsubstantiated claims about the properties of horse milk.
Some people may question, what is the harm in letting people use these products, believing that they might have some tangible benefits? These testimonials are really problematic because they suggest to the uninformed reader that horse milk has these magical properties. This is not only true of mare’s milk but of any quackery or “woo” therapy. In a not-so-ironic coincidence, the Chinese word “Wū” (巫) means a shaman, usually with magic powers. So it’s within the alt-med or “woo” community that horse milk purveyors have found their target market. Whenever alternative therapies are found to have efficacy, they are adopted and become “mainstream.” If they are tested and found not to have value, they should be discarded.
Horse milking operations are also promoting and defending some of the same misdeeds associated with the traditional dairy industry, along with horse slaughter. It’s clear that in order to facilitate the production of milk, excess animals will be produced because post-natal hormones are needed to produce milk for offspring. In many ways, the horse milking industry resembles the PMU industry, because slaughter is not just for old, sick, or lame animals.
Horse milk products are far more popular in the EU than in Canada, where this appears to be a small-scale farm operation. God help horses and their foals – how many foals were born so that milk was available as an ingredient in shampoo or skin cream? The website made no mention of what happened to them.
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