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Sunday, October 30, 2011

What’s for Dinner? Part 2

Last January I wrote an article titled “What’s for Dinner?” about the issue of slaughtering horses for meat.  I’ve had a lot of exposure to this issue - from eating it as a preferred meat in Kazakhstan to the sometimes raucous debates here in the United States about horse slaughter. I have mixed emotions about it. But last Friday night I got a new perspective.
Dale In Kazahstan

LeAnn and I were invited by friends to go to a horse auction so we decided to make a date night of it. While the tack and equipment auction was going on, we walked from stall to stall to look at the horses that were up for sale. Potential buyers could test ride the horses in the outdoor paddock. There were a few good horses but most were mediocre. When the horse auction started, a horse was lead into the ring or sometimes ridden to show their responsiveness. The auctioneer would describe it and then start his chanting. With the bad economy, horse prices are low right now. A nice looking draft horse topped out at only $750 so the owner withdrew the horse from the sale. A well-trained stock horse that might bring $2,000 in a normal economy went for $700. 

It was interesting watching the buyers parlay. I kept my eye on one particular buyer who was bidding on almost every horse. When the price got above $300 he bowed out, but more often than not he got the horse for $100 or $200 after which he would pull a pad and pencil out of his pocket to note the purchase. I kept asking myself, “What is he doing? Why does he want all these horses? Then it occurred to me – horse meat. He is taking them to Canada for slaughter. I turned to our friends, nodded at the buyer and asked “horse meat?” and they confirmed my notion. 
Horse Meat Below the Lamb's head

I have seen horse carcasses in the Kazakh butcher shops, I have eaten horse sausage, and I have argued both side of the issue. But at this auction, it became much more emotional to me. After the auction we saw the buyer load them up on his large trailer and my heart just sank. Why does it bother me more than my chickens that I kill myself or the steer in the field that I am going to buy for my freezer? It just does. 

~Uncle Dale~


Anonymous said...

I think sometimes that horses are more dog like to us. Horses are people animals and they look forward to being with us just as a loyal lab does. I can totally understand how you feel.

Anonymous said...

We don't eat horses in Canada.

Dale Johnson said...

About 100,000 horses are slaughtered a year in Canada for horse meat. Some of it is consumed in Canada, primarily Quebec, and the rest of it is exported.

K-Koira said...

I think it has a lot to do with how much time we spend not just with the animal, but working with them. We are much more likely to spend time training and working with dogs and horses than with a chicken, making it easier to slaughter them. After working with a horse or a dog, you have to recognize that this is a smart, thinking creature, which creates a good deal of empathy.

That said, I take somewhat the same view of horses for meat as rabbits for meat, in that those raised as pets should never end up slaughtered, but those raised for meat it okay. Its more about the emotional investment, I think.

Then again, horses don't fit in my if-you-can-scare-it-to-death classification (such as rabbits, chickens, and sheep, which must be handled carefully to prevent them from dying from sheer fright). Horses, cows, pigs, etc, all seem to be more thinking and reasoning beings.

rkbsnana said...

My husband has so many horses now that are so costly to keep but are so like pets he hates to sell at these low prices for fear they will be mistreated. He would be heartbroken if he thought one would be slaughtered

doglady said...

What I have read in numerous publications is once the United States banned slaughtering horses for meat, the incidence of abused animals went up. There was no way to dispose of the ones people,which for a variety of reasons,no longer wanted . I hate to think of a horse as a throw away but in my mind it would be better to humanely slaughter them than to leave them without adequate husbandry and that is what is happening.

teekaroo said...

This is a touchy subject. We view horses as more of a special animal, a companion animal and the thought of slaughtering them is not a pleasant thought. I don't have any desire to eat horse. However, the ban on slaughter has driven the horse market into the ground. With no outlet for useless, or old horses, there is no place for new and better horses to go. People are turning their old horses out on BLM land to starve. Slaughter is definitely more humane than that.

Stoney Acres said...

I was raise on a ranch and my father trained horses for a living for more that 20 years. Coming from that back ground I can't even fathom eating a horse. We always had 20 to 30 head of horses on our place and they were part of the family. When our horses came to the productive end of their lives they were humanly put down by a vet and buried in a place of honor in our back pasture. In fact if my dad had his preference I'm sure he'd love to be buried there along side his favorite stallion and his dog.

Dale Johnson said...

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts. Dealing with unwanted or unneeded horses is a real dilemma.