Dear Fellow Horse Enthusiasts & WHR Friends:
Having been in the horse business for over 40 years, making a living strictly through training, showing, selling, and teaching, I take great offense at the state of affairs concerning horses in the U.S. The mis-guided efforts of the non-agriculture based populations in American cities have reached a dangerous point. The lack of real common sense on their part (out here we call it "horse sense") has placed this country in a huge financial and ethical dilemma, and now is threatening the very way of life for many in the rural livestock ranching or recreational world of horses.
More specific and detailed information is available for you to read at the bottom of this letter, but to be brief, every aspect of the horse-industry part of the western lifestyle is being threatened from every angle: the slaughter issue, rodeo events, and horse shows. If we don't fight back and "animal rights' organizations have their way, one of these days these horses, the core of our livelihood, recreation, and profession, will become classified as "pets" and no longer livestock. We'll be lucky even to be able to put a saddle on a horse, let alone ride one. The English, Dressage, Hunter, Jumper, Racing and Polo worlds are included, and they too should be concerned.
Don't sit on the sidelines anymore; stand up and let your voice be heard.
Politicians only care about numbers. We may be out-numbered on Twitter and Facebook, but we mustn't give in. We must believe in a collective consciousness of truth and common "horse sense". We, the horse community, are a huge industry with a tremendous impact, and our voice will be heard. You and your friends can help.
Please join Wil and I and the efforts of the United Organization of the Horse. Go to their website and join today. Get informed and involved and take action. They need all the help they can get. We urgently ask you to learn about these pressing matters; there are bills right now before the Senate in Oregon and Nebraska that we need to fight, bills that could adversely affect all horse owners.
Here are two other great horse organizations we advocate: Back Country Horsemen of America and American Horse Council. If you enjoy having the privilege of riding horses and living a life free to ride when and where you choose, whether it's in your own back yard or on BLM or National Forest land, you might get involved in your local chapters of these organizations and stay abreast of the legislative initiatives regarding the rights you may be losing right from under your nose in your very own state. We can't express our concern enough.
Thank You for your support,
Beverly & Wil Howe
Animal Rights Forces Foiled in Oregon Legislature
As I was writing this letter, I received word that the Oregon Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources canceled a public hearing scheduled for Thursday on Senate Bill 613, which was aimed at wiping out Oregon's rodeo tradition by banning the roping of livestock. Legislative leaders said the measure also lacked support in the Oregon House, and that lawmakers will not address this bill again during this session.
You can read the full details here
For those of you wanting to know more of the story...
I am all for the humane transport and slaughter of horses in the states, and I'll explain why. The states' outlaw of processing plants here in 2007 by removing the funding for FDA horse meat inspectors resulted in processing plants closing down and animal rights organizations literally burning down the remaining plants, causing an explosion of unwanted horse populations far too high to sustain. Our Wild Horse programs are a farce, and overpopulation has decimated much of the rangelands. The impact is far-reaching, and the millions of taxpayers dollars spent to feed and care for these feral horses has become too impractical to sustain. With the unwanted horse populations in the hundreds of thousands, horse rescue operations are overcrowded and lack sufficient funds to operate. Folks who can't afford to care for their horses anymore are literally turning them loose on public lands, private ranches, and Indian Reservation land at such a rate that the effects are catastrophic. The horses can't survive on over-grazed land. Here in Arizona, people may go out on a trail ride and return to find a couple of horses tied to their trailer with a note that reads: "Looks like you have a nice rig and care for your horses. Please care for these." Stories like are repeated countless times all over the country. How long can we go on like this?
We have tried for years to educate people on this impending dilemmas of over-breeding and the unwanted horse and slaughter issue, and have found that most reasonable people, city folks included, will agree that horse slaughter plants are a necessary evil when the true facts of the situation are explained to them. Just like dog pounds--if we didn't have them, we'd be overrun by roving packs of dogs gone wild. The pounds serve a purpose; the shelters find homes for as many dogs as they can, and the others must be euthanized. Horses fall into this same situation, but they have more to offer at the end use. Here in a country where people go without a meal and in a world where one-third of the population is starving, how can we sit on our high horse because of a cultural romanticized attachment to the horse?
It seems that we here in the U.S. have a love of European countries--their quaint villages and eco-lifestyles--and we try to emulate them in our architecture, high-end mini shopping malls, apartment and shopping communities with local farmers' markets, etc., but we won't eat horse meat... heaven forbid!! France is a country that regards the horse and its contribution to their country that they have a National Celebration of the Horse. Some of the greatest horsemen are from our European communities...communities who also have horsemeat markets.
Not that I am going to start eating horse meat if they get the packing plants up and running again, but if I did eat red meat, I'd much prefer horse to a cow, who eats anything! A horse is pickier and a cleaner animal all the way around. How can we sit on our high horse and deny the tremendous usability of the horse, continuing to waste this resource and allowing the neglect, abuse, and financial burden to go on, breaking the backs of folks burdened with growing herds of unwanted horses and the millions spent annually (the BLM estimates $60,000,000 for 2011) to sustain the captive wild horses? You can only adopt out so many. Sound familiar?
They will get this these plants going again, and I will fight for it all the way because I care about the horse.
I don't want to see horses being shipped to Mexico where there are no restrictions or inspectors and the conditions are far more inhumane for the horses than they would be here in the states after even stricter new processing procedures are enacted. Creating jobs and industry to areas of this country currently hurting, the benefits of the horsemeat industry are huge. Talk about sustainability--everything gets used! We all like to romanticize the American Indian and their way of using everything from the buffalo or other game they killed; well, our livestock industries do the very same thing... where do you think all the shades of pink in women's cosmetics come from??? Livestock blood!!!!! Bonemeal is also used in all kinds of food products. We are missing the rendering plant industry that makes a wide array of byproducts.
We have gotten things so out of whack that we now impose our human ideals onto our pets by having vegetable and high-fiber dog food for so-called "healthier" pets! Yet these days we have a higher incidence than ever of human-type diseases in out pets with cancer, thyroid, pancreas issues, etc. Problems also occur because dogs are being fed too much corn and very little real or raw meat; the day of the Alpo canned horsemeat are gone, and they should be back! Dogs are carnivores--meat eaters!
Oh... and that brings us to wolves, the cute, wild cousin of the domestic dog who has such strong family ties and must be given rights over any landowner or livestock owner, and is now taking over our West in short order. Just this winter, in our hometown in northeast Oregon, over 150 elk in our neighboring valley hay fields were forced down out of the upper country by wolves, wolves who pushed these herds over the Snake River into our country in the first place. Where will it stop? Common sense for the welfare of our fellow countrymen must outweigh this politically-correct insanity. It is all tied together. The whole Western and rural lifestyle is being threatened by the multitudes who live in the more densely-populated areas of this country and know nothing of what it takes to ranch, farm, or steward the land and bring food to their dinner table or milk to their glass--oh, I mean restaurant table; they don't have time to cook at home, they're too busy with the demands of "city life".
Let us not argue or be antagonistic. I apologize if I sounded a bit rude, but when one is passionate and things just doesn't make any sense, it is easy to get a bit carried away. We must educate and not intimidate those who do not know the other side of the story. To debate and persuade, you must first know the other point of view. We do understand their compassionate efforts to put an end to unnecessary animal cruelty, but they must be made aware of the unintended consequences brought about by the complete annihilation of a specific program or industry. Yes, we should have a haven for a few wild horses, but not to the tune of 60 million dollars a year spent on a program that's not working. There must be balance and fair practices. The folks who want to bring back the horse processing plants have a plan and it's a good one, and it must be heard by all. It's all about the horses and our property rights.
Western folks would rather be left alone; that's why many of us live out west and a long way from anybody, so cooperative efforts have always been a struggle. But we must stand up and unite and be heard. Our larger horse organizations need to be encouraged to help in the fight--they have the pull, but are reluctant to be out in front. We as members need to push for our representation. Being politically correct is quickly becoming a joke, as it serves no one. Being fiscally responsible is a large part of this equation, and most of us can understand that, no matter which side of the fence we are on.