Time To Quit Horsin’ Around

Let’s get something straight, right off the top. I love horses. Currently, there are five of the prettiest, most useless critters in the world having their run of my pastures. They are useless because I allow them to be; I make no demands on them, I merely enjoy their presence. I don’t have the time or inclination to ride I once had, but that’s certainly not their fault.

Now that I hope you understand my relationship with equines – we keep donkeys as well – I hope you’ll be better able to relate to my pro-horse slaughter sentiments and realize that their is absolutely no conflict between the two.

Bottom line: We have way more horses than we need. Some of them are not easy keepers, as my horses are. They require a great deal of care that is expensive and yields little or no benefit, save a misplaced benevolent feeling on the part of the caregiver. Some horses are of a difficult and dangerous temperament. Some are just old and ill and, as my son-in-law once said of my favorite saddle horse, “just need a friend.” That friend, putting emotion aside and addressing a realistic need, may decide, as I did, to euthanize the animal, literally putting it out of its misery.

Attorney Paula Mays is a trademark attorney, formerly with the US Patent and Trademark Office. In an entry on the popular Huffington Post blog, she talks of attending high school in the suburbs of Baltimore, MD, watching her classmates “preparing for horse shows, braiding their beautiful horses and donning their riding outfits in hopes of a victory.”  That doesn’t sound like someone who has been involved, even casually, in caring for a horse.  So, why is she considered an expert on horse slaughter?  For whatever reason, she’s writing a blog spreading much of the same emotionally-fueled misinformation as so many others who anthropomorphize horses, demonizing anyone with a more balanced, albeit less romantic view.

At some point, we need to get realistic about these animals.  They’re beautiful, yes even magnificent and iconic for the most part, but they’re not mystical or magical – they’re animals.

The recently-released Disney movie Secretariat opens with a voice over of Diane Lane reading a wonderfully poetic passage, Job 39:18-25;

Do you give the horse his might?
Do you clothe his neck with a mane?
Do you make him leap like the locust?
His majestic snorting is terrifying.
He paws in the valley and exults in his strength;
he goes out to meet the weapons.
He laughs at fear and is not dismayed;
he does not turn back from the sword.
Upon him rattle the quiver,
the flashing spear, and the javelin.
With fierceness and rage he swallows the ground;
he cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet.
When the trumpet sounds, he says ‘Aha!’
He smells the battle from afar,
the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.

Look at the other passages surrounding that.  God, questioning Job’s knowledge, also asks about the mountain goat, the ostrich, the wild ox, the wild donkey and the hawk.  The point being, God doesn’t want Job to acknowledge the greatness of the creations, but rather of the Creator.  We can’t help but reflect back to Genesis 1:28, where God says of man;

Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.

Horses are to be useful, productive creatures in service to man.  Conversely, man is to care for them and see to their well-being.  Sometimes their usefulness, as with many other animals, is in the products they yield rather than the life they live.  That’s the weighty decision left to man, and while it must be made with care and kindness, it must be made.  Humane treatment, transport and slaughter should be of paramount concern, yet selected harvest is necessary to maintain balance.

As I mentioned, I love horses.  I also love sheep, goats, cattle and yes, even pigs and chickens, but my compassion is tempered with pragmatism.  We cannot restrict our options in an increasingly hungry world.

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About raybowman

church of Christ elder, farmer, grandad, agriculture writer and broadcaster

Posted on October 11, 2010, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Your point is well-made: our discussions and decisions desperately need Truth, not romantic notions, to guide them.

    God, questioning Job’s knowledge, also asks about the mountain goat, the ostrich, the wild ox, the wild donkey and the hawk. The point being, God doesn’t want Job to acknowledge the greatness of the creations, but rather of the Creator.

    If I might lean into your remarks a bit, I think I would rather say that the point is that the greatness – the power, the freedom, the speed, the uniqueness, the majesty – of the creations reflects and magnifies the infathomable greatness of their Creator.

    By rightly and accurately recognizing their unique greatness, rather than idolizing them (which is what anthropomorphizing really is), we do two things. One, we place ourselves in a position to rightly relate to God, them, and other people; and Two, we recognize the awesome stewardship responsibility that comes from being God’s appointed guardians.

    The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (Gen 2:15)

    The “keep it” phrase is the same verb that is used in 3:24, describing the duty of the cherubim to “guard it” – precisely because we failed to do so.

  2. Ray, I agree completely. I love horses, have all my life. My horse has always been my best companion/friend. But There are too many horses out there, and people unable to care for those horses. The number of reports of domestic horses being turned loose, or just abandoned at sale barns says there is a problem, and there aren’t enough bleeding hearts or money to fix it. As a horse lover, I consider slaughter to be a necessary evil, we don’t eat horse meat, but other cultures do, so there is a market. I think all horses would be better off if slaughter were brought back. Maybe we should just ship these unwanted horses to Ms. Mays…. ( I thought when hogs were $8 and PETA was crowing about it that a potload should have been delivered to their HQ) Let her take care of the vet bills, the farrier, the feed, the board….

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