…And the armies which were in heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean…
~from the book of Revelations in the Holy Bible
The Mrs Grandma Horse Lover series made its way through an unpopular and unpleasant topic for the past six weeks–Is there really a need for horse slaughter facilities? Finally, the wrenching part–end of life. Or–as we call it out here on the ranch–the end of the road.
Last week in Part V, I pointed out the Humane Society’s guidelines for getting rid of your horse–no matter how well-intentioned–won’t work for every situation. But now for their final solution: euthanasia.
Most animal rights sites seem to assume if it weren’t for greedy horse owners and their friends–the kill-buyers at auctions–all horses would approach the ends of very long lives gentle as kittens and harmless as doves. As a result, usually the only option listed for euthanizing them is putting them to sleep in a grassy meadow or other happy place with a drug cocktail.
Some equine and veterinary sites list bolt guns and bullets as options, too, because people who actually deal with horses know they come in all shapes, sizes, and temperaments and all kinds of accidents, illnesses, and crazy behavior beset them. As I’ve mentioned before in Part lll of this series–there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution at the end of their lives.
After visiting animal rights websites for several weeks for this series, this is the impression I came away with of farmers, ranchers and most horse owners:
A psychopath? No, just a farmer or rancher eyeing his livestock
That couldn’t be further from the way things really are.
Out here on the home place Gramps or I do any needed euthanizing of our livestock with a rifle, but…guess what? We don’t want to! Sometimes it’s just necessary. I haven’t had to kill any of my horses, but I would if I needed to. Putting an animal down is gut-wrenching and sometimes heartbreaking to me and I only do it in emergency situations when an animal is suffering and Gramps can’t get to it immediately. We don’t pay someone else to deal with that part of life on the farm.
The Humane Society claims 80% of Americans are against horse slaughter, but according to a 2006 Gallup poll and other numbers I found, only about 2% of Americans own horses. That tells me most people don’t have anything at stake financially or emotionally–even though it’s an emotional issue–in what happens to horses at the end of their lives.
To many horse owners, however, processing facilities (slaughter houses) are a needful part of life. Not all horses fit a certain mold. Horses are huge and they can–and do–hurt people. Some develop incurable lameness. Some lose their loving owners. Some are old and infirm. Sometimes a horse’s death on a small acreage or in a stable environment causes real financial hardship–expensive vet bill for euthanization and then perhaps hundreds of dollars to dispose of the carcass by composting, or at a rendering plant or landfill. (Which doesn’t seem very noble to me.)
I have sold horses to slaughter because I couldn’t in good conscience sell them for gentle riding horses and I didn’t want to shoot them and let the coyotes eat them. I personally would rather know my horse fed somebody–or made dog or cat food instead of the coyote population–after death than just rotting away. And, like our Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin, I would rather know they were taking a short ride to a facility in Oklahoma rather than crammed in a trailer with a bunch of other horses all kicking, biting, and stomping each other all the way to Mexico or Canada–which is what has been happening ever since the last US horse processing plants were closed in 2007.
Many people want to walk away from dying and death, or pay someone to deal with it for them. People even walk away from Gramma and Grampa at the end of their lives because they don’t want to deal with the ugliness and inconvenience of illness and death. If you don’t believe me, visit the elderly who are abandoned in nursing homes and veteran’s facilities. Death is an unpleasant and usually painful business for everything that draws breath–and horses are no exception.
Thank you for reading the Mrs. Grandma Horse Lover Speaks On End of Life Issues. I hope it provided another viewpoint from that commonly presented in popular media.
This will be my last regular Monday post for a while until life out here on the home place settles down sometime in the fall. Good Lord willin’, I’ll continue to post a picture on Wednesday and something else on Friday or Saturday.
*Next week, Anna, of The Silent Isle, has asked me to guest post for her. I hope y’all will follow me over there. I won’t be discussing slaughter of anything but the English language. There will be a handsome man, ladies. He happens to be dead, but hey…we can’t have everything.
Until then, God bless all y’all and enjoy Celtic Thunder doing Amazing Grace.
*These artists don’t necessarily endorse my blog, I just love ’em.