More About What The TRF?s Plight Means

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I received several very thoughtful comments about my blog ?The TRF?s Plight Is Bad News For Our Unwanted Horses? on March 14, and I want to sincerely thank you. I want this blog to be as much of a conversation as possible in this format, and I've found I've learned quite a bit from reading your comments over the last two years. Redman97 provided some equine slaughter numbers that are about twice as high as the numbers I've been using for the last several years. He didn't say where he got those numbers from, but he does claim they're from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He says that 419,000 horses were slaughtered in 12 U.S. plants in 1990 and that that number had declined to about 117,000 per year by 2000, when we were down to just three slaughter plants?two in Texas and one and Illinois. Those three were all closed in 2007, and he says the number of U.S. horses slaughtered annually has averaged 116,000 since then. His point is that since these numbers show that just as many horses are being slaughtered today as before the closings (and the Great Recession), my theory is false. He says that people are still finding a way to send horses to slaughter, so it can't be the reason that rescues likes the TRF are flooded. Perhaps Redman97 is right, that my theory is flawed. But I'll respond that I'm glad some people are finding a way to send their unwanted horses to Canada and Mexico. Perhaps those people just don't live here in California, because my veterinarian runs a horse rescue here in Sonoma County, and he tells me that every month they're finding hungry horses who?ve been set free or left somewhere by people. And this is in a relatively affluent, still agriculturally rich county, a county with more than 18,000 horses. I'll still believe that slaughter is one part of the solution to unwanted horses, just like nuclear power is to energy. Both have their drawbacks, but how would we replace the 10 to 15 percent they contribute' The two other recurring and related themes were responsible ownership and the economy. Alimygoat had a good suggestion. She said: ?It seems to me that the horse world could look at what helps in the world of dog and cat rescue and figure out how to stop producing more horses, or dis-incentivise horse breeding by making breeders pay to get a permit to breed. I know it sounds fascist to people who are not used to thinking about the realities of limited resources, but those folks creating more horse mouths to feed should pay into the ?retirement fund? until the situation gets closer to the ideal where every horse can be a beloved and cherished herd member, or at least provided with the bare essentials. Likewise, the people involved in the racehorse industry should be required to be fiscally involved in some kind of care fund for the retired horses. It sounds, unfortunately, like there needs to be more rules to curtail people's greed and shortsightedness.? I suspect what we're seeing in Redman97?s numbers are the effects of people breeding too many horses, especially mares that shouldn't be bred. And of people buying horses who shouldn't be buying horses, as suggested by bellanini. it's so expensive to breed a horse, that it boggles my mind that some farms produce dozens each year and figure that at least half of them will be ?throwaways,? but I'm told that's what happens. Then someone usually buys those ?throwaways? to be a pet, and those horses are, largely, the horses or bet slaughtered or simply abandoned. Alimygoat and bellanini each suggested rules or requirements for horse ownership and future care, but the problem is that no organization has the power to do that. It would be great if breed/racing organizations (especially The Jockey Club and the American Quarter Horse Association) could require its members to pay annually or per horse into some kind of requirement fund, but I'd rather go without any level of government involvement. that's a frightening nightmare. I'd prefer education or mandatory funding by horse organizations as a solution. I think those of us who are responsible, knowledgeable horse owners have to deal with the problem, because, unfortunately, our associations don't reach at least 98 percent of horse owners who are not knowledgeable or responsible. The words of my friend Kansas Jack brought home the fact that at least one cause of the unwanted-horses problem is something that we can little affect?the economy. ?He says: ?When those in charge mismanage things to the point that the whole economy suffers, you can't blame the people who work. Take me for instance. I'm on Social Security and a minimal retirement, which has been affected by the economic conditions. My wife, a wonderful younger gal, lost her job at the university due to budget cuts and grant reductions. She's on the priority list for re-hire, but the university is having a hiring freeze. That means that she and I go without so our equines can be cared for. They get a little less grain, and a little more hay. I'm looking forward to seeing more green and less brown in the pasture. Hooves still grow and need to be trimmed. They all still need to be wormed, etc., etc., etc. If there was no economic downturn, my responsible ownership would be able to be more responsible.? Unfortunately, a depressingly significant percentage of people don't share Kansas Jack?s responsibility toward his horses, and those horses, and the rest of us, suffer for it.