Friday, March 21, 2008

Follow up on the double-decker accident horses from last year

First of all, good for the Longmeadow Rescue Ranch people. They have truly done a great job rehabbing these horses. If you aren't familiar with the original story, here you go. That's the rescued pregnant TB mare with her baby at left. Now for some parts of the article I'd like to comment on:

“It’s not the bigger breeders doing most of this,” said Don Treadway, an executive with the American Quarter Horse Association. “At the bottom end, it’s hard. You can’t regulate it. You get ol’ Joe down the road who has a stud and someone else who has a mare and they want to raise a baby. You get a lot of unwanted horses that way.”

OK, Don? The bigger breeders are doing a lot of it because ol' Joe is producing A BABY but some of your big ranches are producing FIVE HUNDRED BABIES. While neither is right, I am sick of AQHA's defensiveness about the big ranches/breeders. No one needs to make 200+ foals a year. NO ONE. Seriously, how many people have the staff or money to ensure that more than a couple dozen foals get properly socialized, trained, dewormed, feet done, etc.? The fact is that most of these big ranches are doing things on a shoestring and that stuff is not BEING done or it's being done half-assed (cheap feed through dewormer ring a bell?) These days, it seems like more foals than not get a bad start in life. The less socialized they are, the fewer homes are available for them. How many horse owners really know how to deal with a weanling or yearling that is wild as a March hare? Or want to?

"Almost everyone involved hopes that eventually the market and plain, old common sense will serve to diminish the excess numbers."

I hope one day to have a black Jaguar convertible, but I am not holding my breath. I still say the only thing that will diminish the excess numbers is social disapproval of overproduction and dumping horses for less than meat price. Most human behavior is controlled by social pressure (and or fear of reprisals from the deity of your choice, but at this point it's too late to put "stop breeding crap horses!" into the Bible...although I've heard a number of good interpretations about the responsibility of stewardship that I like - it just never seems to be interpreted that way by the folks breeding Gypsy Spotted Vandalusians and thinking their breeding operation is blessed by the Lord. But I digress...)

“We don’t recommend or prefer slaughter,” Treadway said. “But is it AQHA’s business to find a home for every member’s horse when they’re done with them? I don’t think it is. Maybe some people will contribute to a managed facility with the right requirements. But I don’t think there’s nearly enough resources to take care of 100,000 horses in 2007 if the slaughter bill passes.”

Translation: There ain't no money in finding homes for horses when people are "done with them" but there is a LOT of money in registering the new ones they create to replace the ones they just dumped off at the auction. If the AQHA doesn't recommend or prefer slaughter, why doesn't the AQHA come out against it and tell owners on their main page that they have a responsibility to their animals? Ooooh how scary and controversial...

Not that AQHA is the only problem here, it's just that it seems like every time someone at AQHA opens their mouth, something stupid comes out. Remember Tim Case suggesting that the only people opposed to slaughter were over-emotional women? Oh yeah...Can't you people hire one spokesperson who can represent the views of the majority of your membership who are not OK with slaughter as a fate for horses whose owners "are done with them?" The AVMA's got the same problem. I know so many anti-slaughter vets and nobody is speaking for them.

"When Cole contacted Carter in the aftermath of a wreck, he told her he could have another truck there within four hours to load the surviving horses back up and point them toward their final destination."

That Charlie Carter, what a guy. *eye roll* If you've never seen the pictures from his feedlot before, here you go. (Warning: graphic and upsetting).

Happy endings from the Charlie Carter lot:

Desert Spark (go to the last page to see updated pics - horse looks fabulous now!)

Champion Lodge (SW of over $300K, almost shipped from Carter lot)

Trinity (WARNING: MUSIC ON LINK) (badly injured filly - made a fantastic recovery thanks to Celtic Rein Rescue)