Letters

They eat horses, don't they?
I had outgrown my small pony, but was still too little to ride the big thoroughbreds we had, so Mom wanted to buy a large pony for me. We went to a sale in North Carolina very much like the one described in your article "A horse is a course" [October 1]. We quickly realized what kind of auction it was. In the parking lot, tied to a cattle trailer alongside two skinny horses, Mom spied an outwardly ugly pony, but she saw something in his eyes--an intelligence that few possess. Mom bought him on the spot--he never even went through the sale--and when she drove home to get the trailer, I stayed with him, an 11-year-old girl afraid her new pony would mistakenly go in the auction and end up senselessly killed.

We named him Surplus, because he was, technically, extra. Some animals are meant to partner up with a person, and somehow Plus found me. We were an unbeatable team. He took care of me, even when I'd screw him up. Any other pony would've dumped my ass in front of the jump, but Plus always made that extra special effort to get us over it in one piece.

The ironic thing is, at one show he was recognized by a well-known pony trainer. We discovered who he was, and learned his history. He had been one of the top ponies a few years before. Plus was considered too strong for most kids, and he had a tendency to jump out of any paddock he was put into. But, for some reason, we were perfect together.

It terrifies me to think of how many others like Plus are needlessly killed each week. Yes, there are a large number of broken-down horses that go to slaughter sales, but by no means are they the only ones. Tiny Shetland ponies--given by naive parents to children who quickly tire of them--go in droves to auctions. It's the equivalent of abandoning a cat or dog because they've become "inconvenient."

The bottom line is, horses are expensive (the monthly board for my horse is more than my rent), but I make sacrifices so he can have the care he deserves. If you cannot meet the requirements for horse ownership, do not buy one. Choose a different sport. There are no emergency vet bills, no extra supplements, no insurance payments attached to a soccer ball. Until people can accept the responsibility of being a horse owner, the needless slaughtering will continue.

Jeffie Barbour
Via e-mail

Thank you for publishing a factual article detailing the practice of slaughtering horses for meat. As a student of agriculture and a horse owner for 15 years, I think it is in the public's best interests to know that this industry exists. If anything is to be done to stop the slaughterhouses from operating in Texas, there must be a public push for it. Hopefully, your article will be the "call to arms" that is needed.

Christie Partee
Via e-mail

I am a horse owner-breeder of American Paint horses. For my own education on the issue of horse slaughter, I have interviewed "killer-buyers," investigated feedlots and auctions in California, often with slaughter supporters as my "guides." I strongly disagree with the erroneous idea that their slaughter is not cruel. Our horses are and have been pets, companions and recreational partners. There is absolutely no difference in killing and exporting them for foreign consumption, and killing and exporting our dogs and cats for foreign consumption.

The bottom line is, if you can afford to own, breed, show, race, etc., you can afford to humanely euthanize them!

Patricia Rockstad
Newport Beach, California

I was so appalled when I read this article. I wasn't even aware that this type of abuse occurred in the United States, much less in our own beloved Texas! Perhaps we need a little change in government policy here. The methods are inhumane, and the practice overall is sickening.

Why don't the money-hungry bastards that run these "houses of horror" have a bit of compassion for life instead of selling out for a quick buck? I would happily take these men when they are aged or lame and knock them in the head three or four times, skin them, and then sell them to another country as junk meat. What comes around goes around!

Melanie
Via e-mail

Thank you for raising awareness on the incredibly disturbing practice of horse slaughter for overseas human consumption. For more information about these atrocities, readers can check out http://www.equus.org. This site details, with video, these awful practices, and also has information on how you can help these animals.

Kristen Fisher
Via e-mail

Thank you so much for your article on horse slaughter. It took some courage for you to print that with the horse slaughter plants right there. I commend you for your courage and thank you from me and all the horses.

Karen Pottala
Via e-mail

Great story on the horse slaughter. Our Web site (http://members.tripod.com/~SueE/HB1029.html) has photos of horses from Pennsylvania auctions that are shipped to slaughter. Some with broken legs. One was at the sale the day [animal welfare researcher] Carolyn Stull was there for her study. He arrived in Texas with a hole worn into his side.

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