Victims in the shadows: Horses

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Image by Aitor Garmendia of Tras los Muros

Every so often, outrage rocks social media about the slaughtering of horses, often those whose lives have been used, broken and discarded by the horse racing industry. Like all other nonvegan institutions grounded in our abuse of our fellow earthlings, horse racing is a supply industry that works from the bottom up.

Bear in mind that it’s not just the wealthy and glamorous wanting to be seen and to socialise with the ‘right people’ in their designer gear, who drive this vile industry.  Every bet or ‘flutter’ (‘Just a pound each way’), every ‘office sweepstake’ (‘Go on – there’s just a couple of numbers left!’) on the latest race, no matter how harmless they seem, are ways that ordinary people everywhere endorse and approve the bloodbath and ensure that it will continue. There was a time that I was complicit. Be honest with yourself and search your own conscience.

And horse use is a global issue although to listen to the howls of outrage one would be forgiven for thinking only one country is involved. The horrors we inflict on this species are not confined to the ‘entertainment’ industry; they are ‘only’ a contributor to an overall obscenity. Did you know that globally, in a single year (2019), 5 million horses were slaughtered to be eaten?

That’s 13,536 individuals every single day, who are trucked to our slaughterhouses, their broken beauty and neglected grace electric-prodded and manhandled into line to meet terrifying and gory deaths with blades and saws wielded by members of our species whose wages are paid by everyone who refuses to be vegan.

The countries contributing to these statistics are listed below* and include every part of the world. Just because a country does not appear on the list, nothing can be assumed. Many countries export horses to facilities in neighbouring countries. As an example the majority of those trucked to one European slaughterhouse in a single year were found to have travelled long distances by road from other European countries.

As with other species, slaughter occurs by the cutting of both carotid (neck) arteries which results in their bleeding to death. In some cases horses are hanged by the neck from chains until they suffocate; just one method of subduing the power of a large creature whose utter terror – even in a wounded and depleted state – makes their desperate fight for life dangerous to their killers and a financial risk to their plant and equipment. It is violent, gory and agonising. Like all our victims, their fear is simply off the scale.

Some of the defenceless creatures whose lives are being hacked from them in our slaughterhouses today and every day, will have been ‘farmed’ specifically for the purpose of being butchered and eaten. On the slaughter trucks, alongside casualties of the ‘entertainment’ industries, are victims of other forced-labour-activities of our species, broken, wounded or ill; yet more are simply unwanted or ‘outgrown’ modes of transport and accessories; novelties whose appeal has worn off.

And it doesn’t end there, horses are used as laboratory test subjects and as imprisoned producers of hormone replacement drugs (using pregnant mares – Google ‘premarin horses’) and for repeated blood extraction to create a drug to boost farmed pig fertility (again using pregnant mares – Google ‘blood farm horses’).

And the reason this atrocity happens? Once again this is the manifestation of the ugly prejudice called speciesism. In the words of the late Tom Regan,

‘The fundamental wrong is the system that allows us to view animals as our resources, here for us – to be eaten, or surgically manipulated, or exploited for sport or money. Once we accept this view of animals – as our resources – the rest is as predictable as it is regrettable.’

It’s not the legislation that needs to change; we don’t need more of it, or better enforcement. Every single use that we make of others stems from the mistaken idea that their lives are ours to use and ours to take. And we need to stop that. Completely. No exceptions. This is what needs to change – this arrogance, this ignorance, the sheer brutality of thinking we have the right to ‘own’ other individuals and use them for our interests.

I beg you to look at the individuals behind the brutality of our species. All it takes is a moment to decide that no more innocents will be so afraid that their legs can hardly bear their weight; no more innocents will stand defeated in a slaughterhouse queue in sickened horror on our account.

Make that decision today. Say, ‘Not in my name’ and decide to be vegan. It’s simply the right thing do do.

*Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Réunion, Romania, Russian Federation, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, China

All statistics via FAOSTAT

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2 Responses to Victims in the shadows: Horses

  1. Erin Baldridge says:

    Thanks for your articulate and feeling article. I learned about factory farming last spring when they were murdering all the excess animals they didn’t have workers to ‘process’. I couldn’t help the animals because they were all dead so I decided the only thing I could do for them was to become vegan. I hate vegetables and it was kind of rough learning how to cook differently.
    I don’t understand how it was that I had no idea how our ‘meat’ system worked. I didn’t have a clue. I feel if people could be educated about what happens and see some pictures and video they would be sickened like I was. EBaldridge

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your experience. When you say that you don’t understand how it was that you hadn’t a clue – I’m sure many of us can totally relate. I certainly can. Once I did find out, I was desperate to tell everyone I knew, thinking they’d be as shocked as I was. It was a huge disappointment to meet so much apathy and it was from my frustration that this blog began. I hope that you’ve found plenty sources for cooking ideas! Once you build up a repertoire of a few standard meals, no doubt it’ll gradually expand as you come across new recipes. But the bottom line is that when you realised the truth, you became vegan. I admire you for realising so clearly that this was the right and logical thing to do. Very best wishes!


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