Guest blog by Brianne Goutal, a highly respected top international equestrian on the United States show jumping team. She represents Cloverleaf Farm, Remarkable Farm and her own stable, Brianne Goutal LLC. She is currently ranked 10th in the United States and 54thin the world and is the only rider to have won all four coveted equitation finals for junior riders, the crown being the ASPCA Maclay National Championship in 2006. Brianne is from New York City and has served as an ASPCA Equine Welfare Ambassador since 2008, speaking out against horse slaughter and other forms of equine abuse.
Like many Americans (and people worldwide) this weekend, I watched with my heart in my throat to see the outcome of this weekend’s famous annual horse race. We all witnessed an amazing day in history as American Pharoah became the first horse since 1978 to win the seemingly unattainable title of Triple Crown champion.
But as I watched, I was wrought with guilt knowing the horrors these horses may face once their careers are over. Every day hundreds of American horses are shipped in unimaginable conditions to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada where they will be killed for human consumption. Over the course of this year alone, roughly 150,000 horses will face this terrifying experience.
It is nightmarish to think no horse is safe from ending up at a slaughterhouse. Not even American Pharoah is more than one bad sale away from this horrendous fate until horse slaughter is banned for good.
Rather than discuss the grisly details of this sad finality, I want to shine a light on a root cause of this problem: irresponsible breeding.
The racing industry, the western show industry and even my industry of show jumping—as well as many more—are guilty of irresponsible breeding practices. Breeding champions is a numbers game: the more you breed, the better your chances of breeding a star. As long as it remains legal to sell horses to slaughter, there are no real ramifications for irresponsible breeding.
Breeders can take responsibility for the horses they breed, starting now, without waiting for Congress to act. As an ASPCA Equine Welfare Ambassador, I call for an end to the slaughter of American horses for human consumption and ask all horse industries to adopt responsible breeding practices including:
Breeding horses purposefully and intentionally with specific good homes in mind.
Reclaiming a horse if he or she is at risk of abuse, neglect or slaughter.
Including a clause in every sales contract that gives you the first option to buy back the horse you are selling.
Pledging to never send a horse to auction where is no way to control who will buy him or her and for what purpose.
I want to applaud those breeders who already have publicly pledged to abide by these principles. I do not have a perfect solution, but I know these steps can make serious advances in prioritizing responsible breeding in the horse industry.
I urge everyone who cares for horses to think about this problem. Please join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade for updates on critical animal welfare legislation, including horse-slaughter-related legislation, and opportunities to lend your voice quickly and easily.
If you are a barn owner or run an equine business or organization, please sign the ASPCA Endorsement Form to let us know you support a ban on horse slaughter.
Whatever American Pharoah’s future may hold, I hope our awareness about equine welfare can take just one step closer to a goal of protecting the horses we rely on and who, in turn, rely on us. I truly believe that together we can find a solution. We are responsible for the horses we breed. Their fate depends on us. We are their voice.
Each year approximately 150,000 American horses are trucked to Mexico and Canada to be slaughtered for human consumption. Horse slaughter is a cruel, unnecessary, predatory industry that has no domestic market. Even though 80 percent of voters oppose horse slaughter, many people don’t know that American horses are still going to slaughter every single day.
Want to learn more? Join us for an #ASPCAchat on horse slaughter on May 27 from 1:00 to 2:00 P.M. ET. The chat will take place simultaneously on both Twitter and Facebook, and two ASPCA experts will be available to answer all of your questions. Tune in and find out where horse slaughter takes place, why it must be stopped and how you can make a difference for our nation’s horses.
Our #ASPCAchat will feature:
Carolyn Schnurr, ASPCA Senior Manager, Federal Legislation Nancy Perry, ASPCA Senior Vice President, Government Relations
Attention, horse lovers: ASPCA Help a Horse Day is coming up, and there are many ways you can make a difference for equines this weekend. While Help a Horse Day is Sunday, April 26, the ASPCA and equine rescues, sanctuaries and animal shelters across the nation will be celebrating April 24-26.
Here are three ways you can participate:
Attend a Help a Horse Day celebration in your area. Help a Horse Day is the perfect time to support your local equine rescues, which work hard to save animals who have been starved, abused or abandoned. These groups will host open houses, education programs, spring festivals, hoedowns, barn raisings, 5K walks and other fun-filled events throughout the weekend. Visit our directory to find an event near you.
Enter our Help a Horse Day Photo Contest. Share a photo of your favorite equine on your social media networks using the hashtag #HelpAHorseContest—tell us what you love most about him or her for the chance to win a special ASPCA horse lover’s prize pack!
Thanks for helping us protect horses on this special day and all year long.
We are happy to report two significant state-level wins for horses in the past few days that will ensure horses have more options to protect them from slaughter:
Nevada Finalizes Wild Horse Agreement With Wild Horse Protection Group: Return to Freedom, the founding organization of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), and the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) reached an agreement to humanely manage more than 1,500 horses in the Virginia Range, which encompasses more than 280,000 acres. This precedent-setting agreement launches the largest-ever private-public partnership to manage horses while improving public safety and benefiting Nevada taxpayers.
Kentucky Gov. Signs Bill to Assist Stray Horses: Governor Steve Beshear enacted a measure to reduce the hold period for stray horses from 90 days to 15 days to enable the rescue and care of those horses. By shortening the amount of time a horse must be held before being re-homed, costs for local officials are significantly reduced and will enable a great deal more rescue work for horses in need. Prior to the enactment of H.B. 312, which takes effect on June 24, 2015, Kentucky had the second-longest hold period in the country at 90 days. This new law brings Kentucky more in line with bordering states that all have 10-day hold periods.
The ASPCA stepped in to provide grants for diversionary feeding, fencing and other management tools and we worked to help enact these reforms knowing these victories will pave the way for further assistance from local and national organizations. Importantly, these horses now have more options, which will help keep them off the auction block and out of slaughter plants.
As part of the ASPCA’s goal to end the slaughter of American horses, we work to pass legislation that protects horses from this predatory industry, including pushing for a full federal ban on horse slaughter. We also work to provide options for at-risk horses through grant-making, education and equine programs that support the horse-rescue community, offering more than $1.1 million in equine grants in 2014 alone.
The new year is looking good for horse welfare on Capitol Hill! President Obama’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16), released yesterday, reaffirms the President’s support for a ban on the use of tax dollars for horse slaughter. If accepted by Congress, the budget proposal will renew language prohibiting the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from spending any tax dollars on inspections at U.S. horse slaughter plants and prevent horse slaughter plants from opening in the U.S. for another fiscal year.
“We appreciate the White House’s continued commitment to keeping the grisly business of horse slaughter out of the U.S.,” says Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations. “The President’s actions reflect the will of the 80 percent of Americans who oppose horse slaughter for human consumption and large, bipartisan votes in past Congresses have underscored this position. Congress should move swiftly to heed the American people’s wishes and renew this prohibition for the sake of protecting horses from cruelty and consumers from this gross threat to human health.”
This funding limitation mirrors the language included in the President’s previous budget proposal and is in line with Congress’s demonstrated opposition to horse slaughter. Congress included this same prohibition on tax dollars for horse slaughter in its FY14 and FY15 spending packages, both after strong House and Senate committee votes on the issue.
In addition to these achievements on Capitol Hill, great strides have been made on this issue internationally. As of January 15, the European Union bans the import of horse meat from Mexico for human consumption. This decision was based on evidence of the terrible treatment of these horses—many of whom originate in the U.S.—and the risk their meat poses to human health (due to the vast array of dangerous drugs routinely given to American horses). We must build on the momentum of these recent victories to ensure that the President’s recommendations are adopted by Congress for the next fiscal year!
What You Can Do Let’s make sure the message comes through loud and clear that protecting our horses must continue to be a priority in this new Congress. Sign up for the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade today to stay current on the latest animal welfare developments, and join us in being a voice for horses on Capitol Hill!