I thought it interesting enough to share my two cents....
I think there are many reasons horses go to slaughter ......
- There are too many horses: racing industries don't help because the market is flooded with Tb's, Standardbreds, and Quarter Horses because of so much breeding
- Horses cost money: they are really expensive to keep and care for properly... and people's financial situations change so it can be hard to keep a horse if things don't go as planned
- Horses are meat: I hate the idea of eating a horse, but the reality is that they are a meat animal and many countries do eat horse meat regularly
- Auctions are a quick and easy way to sell a horse: they just are... and it's legal for kill buyers to be able to purchase horses at auction
- It's legal to breed as many horses as you want, and it's legal to slaughter horses.
To give you my point of view - why I sold Ellie and why I continue to sell some horses - there are a few reasons.
1) I really enjoy re-training horses, and helping to take a horse that was unwanted, or unused, train them and make them safe and useful. I enjoy finding them new owners that can then give that horse a new look on life, and at the same time spread awareness about natural horsemanship in how the horse was trained.
2) Horses aren't cheap - I would happily keep all of my horses if I could, but the reality is I'm not rich. I can afford to keep things running and care for my horses, but to be able to re-train and save new horses I need to sell some horses that I have retrained both to recuperate some costs, and to meet the farm tax quota.
3) Horses are happiest with a purpose and person - I only have so many hours in a day, and I can't give all of them enough attention on my own. Horses thrive when they have a good human partner to keep them fit and engaged. I like getting horses to a point where they are safe and trained enough for a new human partner to be able to enjoy them.
4) I know I can't save all the horses, but I know I can save a few.... I feel I give them the best chance at a happy life by making sure any horses that I own, or am going to sell get solid training basics, and become safe to handle so that someone else can enjoy them...... I know that if people enjoy a horse because they feel safe with them, that horse is much more likely to have a forever home.
In Ellie's case, she was an off the track TB mare and a chestnut which are known for being bold and unruly - much like Thetis. I bought her and loved her to bits, got her fully trained, but in the end had to sell one of my horses if I was going to continue taking on new ones to retrain.... if not for me then Ellie could have very well ended up at auction and slaughter before she was given a chance.
I've changed a few of my practices in selling horses to help make sure horses I sell don't go bouncing around from home to home, or end up at an auction -
- for starters I charge less money.... I mostly cater to the pleasure rider looking for an easy horse to trail ride, do low level shows, etc - horses are more likely to have a long term home with these types of buyers because its less likely these new owners will out grow the skill/usefulness of the horse (I'm guilty here too and sold my very first horse because he couldn't handle jump courses over 3'3" and I wanted to go higher).
- I sell to clients, or people willing to take some lessons and/or learn about natural horsemanship.... if you show up to ride one of my horses and insist on using a bit, wearing spurs, using a crop, and just hopping on with no ground work... you're not getting on
- I include a contract with a first right of refusal for me to have first chance to buy a horse back if they decide to sell, and that they will never take the horse to auction or send for slaughter
- I don't sell a lot of horses each year, I focus my efforts on a couple horses that I think would be able to find good homes and/or do better with one on one attention rather than being used in our program with summer camps, etc.
- I spread the word that I am willing take horses back that don't work out, or if for some reason I can't... I will help in whatever way I can to rehome/sell the horse
I don't know that it's important to place blame in Ellie's case - was it the TB breeder's fault for breeding too many TB's? the government for allowing slaughter houses for horses? The drought that caused really high hay prices and therefore a lot of people to get rid of their horses? Her past owner's fault for allowing her to slip into those hands? or mine for not keeping her? I think you could make a good argument for any one.
What I think is more important is to try and save the horses we can, do our best to ensure good homes if/when we need to sell a horse, and advocate for responsible Canadian horse breeding/care/slaughter laws.
What do you think?