Below is a long overdue, common sense letter and approach to the government attack on the horse industry. I could go on for hours about this subject but this letter sums it if much better than my rant.
Read it and understand that we all love our horses, that is why we want the best for them!
To: The AHA Board of Directors and Executive Committee
From: The APAHA Board of Directors
The Arabian Professional and Amateur Horsemen's Association voted, with unanimous approval, to thank the AHA Board for continuing your support for the re-opening of the equine terminal marketplace, and to join with the AHA in support of the reinstatement of equine processing in the United States. While we appreciate that this subject can be a sensitive one to those who are not intimately involved in the horse industry, there is no question that it is an integral component for the continuation of the horse's survival into the 21st century, as well as to any and all breed associations.
The simple fact of the matter is that for the horse to continue to survive and contribute to mankind, as it has done for the last 5000 years, the equine terminal marketplace must be reestablished in the United States. Equine slaughter for rendering and consumption is a necessity in the equine livestock industry, in order to allow horses at the bottom of the pyramid a humane, dignified, and contributing end. The bold words are the important points of this referendum, not the emotionally exploited ones of slaughter, rendering, or human consumption. Without a terminal marketplace, horses today are left trying to survive, for the first time ever, after their usefulness as a work-mate to man has passed. Regardless of whether you like the idea of equine slaughter, the vast, documented increase in equine suffering throughout the US since the close of the slaughter houses should be enough in and of itself for all people who truly care about horses to stand up and demand that those of us who have invested our lives in horses be the ones responsible for making the decisions about the marketplace that surrounds them.
Some people were affronted when the AHA stepped up last year to support the reopening of the equine processing plants. We contend that as breeders and current caretakers of the world's oldest breed of horse, we have an obligation to our Arabian horses to support the reopening as well. It affects breeders and the breed in a singularly unassailable way; simply, that the free and low price market for the “pet quality” horses, if you will, is simply no longer available. The bottom tier of every breed and breeder's marketplace, that for family riding horses, has been eaten up by the “rehoming” of over 300,000 horses since 2007, many of whom have huge medical issues, training issues, psychological issues, and on and on. Often, the people who take on these horses are novice horse lovers whose heart-strings have been played by emotional, fact-less advertising paid for by lobbying groups that never invest in shelters and rehoming at all. Once saddled with an adopted horse that by contract cannot be sold or bred, these horse lovers find the difficulty of dealing with the myriad of issues draining financially and mentally. Needless to say, these experiences are not good at building repeat, long-term business for the horse industry.
We spoke recently with four different breed associations in order to research registrations since the ban, and discovered that every one is down by over one third in new registrations from 2006 to 2010. Quarter Horse registrations dropped from 150,000 in 2006 to less than 90,000 last year. Paints fell from 39,357 in 2006 to 17,835 in 2010. The Morgan Horse Association registered 3461 horses in 2006, with only 1835 in 2010. We are all aware of our own registration decline, from 10,311 in 2006 to 6660 in 2010. All these breeds weathered a similar economic downturn in the ‘80's without this kind of drop in registrations, and rebounded accordingly, the difference being that when economically strapped owners could no longer afford feed for their horses, they had a way to reduce numbers until the economy changed, after which their breeding business could rebound.
By reopening the equine processing plants, we are simply restoring to horse owners and breeders the option that all other livestock breeders and owners have, and that horse owners and breeders had until the last four years. We will still retain the option to care for our horses after their usefulness is done, and we will still retain the option to rescue horses from the terminal marketplace. And people will still have the option to make horse meat available to some of the 25,000 people on earth per day who are dying of starvation, allowing horses a chance to give back and be useful to humans, as they have done for centuries, even after they have passed.
There are issues to address, certainly, and many different options available to improve the terminal marketplace, among them mobile slaughter units and live web monitoring of plants. As horsemen, breeders, and horse lovers, we are the ones responsible for dealing with these issues, making sure that the terminal marketplace becomes ever more humane, with a quick and dignified passing, without undue stress, and where the horse can go on to be useful to man after his demise, just as he has been for the last 5000 years. This is not a job for politicians, lobbyists and animal rights people to define; it's a job for us, so that the horse that has brought so much to our lives will survive and evolve to bring much needed help to the people coming after us.
In closing, APAHA would again like to commend the board of AHA for joining horse-industry leaders in the fight to protect the future of the Arabian horse breed and the horse in general.
The Arabian Professional and Amateur Horsemen's Association Board of Directors