Horse Welfare 2013 – The Year in Review

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2014 Christmas Horse copy© Heather Clemenceau

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

2013 certainly became the year of the adulterated horsemeat scandal!  “Filler product,” comprised of horse meat and beef, is believed to have been unwittingly sourced from Poland and Romania, and used in the manufacture of the burgers and other ready-to-eat products.  Millions of products were removed from supermarket shelves in the EU.  The impact on industry trust on consumer confidence and ultimately on ready-meal volumes has been severe, and we are still occasionally hearing of instances whereby horsemeat has infiltrated the food supply.  Promises to tighten up the traceability systems in the UK should serve as foreshadowing to other nations such as Canada,  where it seems likely that some form of traceability will be pushed on the horse owner in the distant future.

There were certainly other big stories centering on animals, and the publicity surrounding the release of “Blackfish” was perhaps the most notable one, generating massive concern over the plight of captive marine mammals. Will any of the movies produced to highlight the plight of wild and slaughterbound horses be able to achieve similar popularity in 2014?  There are “lessons learned” from the success of this movie that can be used to bring horse issues to the mainstream public….

In the U.S., there were maneuvers to open slaughterhouses in Iowa, Missouri, and New Mexico, even though these businesses have almost no chance of being profitable and may not even be able to sell their product in the EU. Thus far, they have been staved off in court, but what happens in 2014 is uncertain.  HSUS and other advocates have secured language in the House and Senate 2014 spending bills to bar USDA inspections of horse slaughter plants, but the Congress has not given final approval to the measure.  Sadly, in Canada, a 5th horse slaughter plant opened in British Columbia.  which has become the subject of strenuous protests by horse advocates in that part of the country.  The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition also brought to the forefront the issue of non-compliant transport of live horses to Japan for meat.

In New York, grassroots animal advocates put carriage horses on the media radar screen during the mayoral contest there, and recently a carriage driver was charged with animal abuse after a horse was observed by police to be lame from serious thrush.  Cruelty to Tennessee Walker Horses was brought out of the stable and into the sunlight.  Trainer Jackie McConnell was sentenced for his abuses,  and trainer Larry Wheelon was indicted.  The PAST Act, legislation to upgrade the federal law against soring, received significant support with more than 250 House members signing on to the bill. The former leader of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association came out in favour of the bill, as did other prominent leaders within the industry.

Coins offered by the Royal Canadian Mint celebrate 2014 as the Year of the Horse

Coins offered by the Royal Canadian Mint celebrate 2014 as the Year of the Horse

As most of us know, 2014 is the Year of the HorseA article on Chinese elements describes those born in the Year of the Horse as:

“Those born under the Sign of the Horse are said to be graceful, eager, impetuous, sharp, fashionable, hardworking, intelligent, friendly, cheerful and popular folks. People born in the Year of the Horse are excellent talkers, and can charm just about anyone. They are clever, kind to others, and like adventure. It is easy for them to fall in love. They are cheerful, perceptive, talented, and earthy. They like entertainment and large crowds. Horses are not comfortable with authority; they prefer to be the One in charge. They prefer a constantly changing, challenging environment. They are adventurers, scientists, poets, and politicians.”

Recent Horse Years are: 1906, 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990 and 2002. A few famous people born in the Year of the Horse: Frédéric François Chopin (1810), Davy Crockett (1786), Paul McCartney, Harrison Ford , Aretha Franklin, and Barbara Streisand (1942), Teddy Roosevelt (1858), Sir Isaac Newton (1642)  and Oprah Winfrey (1954)

Click to review highlights of the entire year on Storify:

storify 2013

About Heather Clemenceau

Hopefully as I've grown older I've also grown wiser, but one thing I've definitely become cognizant of is the difference between making a living and making a life. Frequently outraged by some of life's cruelties, and respect diversity. But.....I don't suffer fools gladly, and occasionally, this does get me into some trouble! I have the distinction of being the world's worst golfer - no wait, I do believe that there is a gypsy in Moldavia who is a worse golfer than I. Nor am I much of a dancer - you won't see a booty-shakin' flygirl routine from me! I'm also not the kind of cook who can whip up a five-course meal on a radiator either! And I've never figured out how to get an orchid to bloom a second time. I love to discuss literature, science, philosophy, and sci-fi , or even why Seinfeld is funny on so many levels. Words move me. I'm very soft-hearted about most things, especially animals, but I have a stoicism about me that is sometimes interpreted incorrectly. I do have a definite edge and an often "retro-adolescent" sense of humour at times. I'm a big advocate of distributed computing projects to advance science. Check out http://boinc.berkeley.edu/ if you want to find out more. I'm an eclectic (but not crazy) vegetarian, and as such, it's a personal practice of mine to seduce innocent meat-eaters into cruising the (salad) bars at every opportunity. You would be powerless to resist. I was recently surprised to find that a computer algorithm concluded that I write like Dan Brown, which is funny because I didn't think Dan Brown could actually write. Check out your own style - http://iwl.me/ Oh, and I love impractical shoes and funky hats.

5 responses »

  1. Thank you Heather for all your work for the horse. It find it insulting that the Canadian mint should mint coins celebrating the horse. No county, state or nation in North America should have the audacity and hypocrisy to celebrate their connection to the horse while continuing to round up wild horses and continuing to butcher any equine. I find that repugnant.

    • Hi Morgan! The Mint would have no idea of or connection to slaughter. Those two agencies are not exactly conversing with each other. I think the coins are beautiful and plan to buy a couple of them myself. I’m sure the artists at the Mint want to create coins that suitable honor horses, but they have no concept of horse slaughter. I didn’t even know horse slaughter existed until 2010 and I had owned horses for quite a few years.

  2. As of Friday, January 17,2014 USDA horse slaughter inspections in the US are banned! The House approved the Bill Wednesday, Jan 15th and the Senate approved the bill Jan 16th with the President signing it Friday afternoon.

    I have yet to see the full version of the bill but I have heard there is a stipulation in it stating that funding for horse slaughter inspections can not happen until the FDA determines that horsemeat is safe for humans to consume. I have confidence in all the folks who helped get the defunding back into the 2014 budget, to ban horse slaughter inspections, that they will once again prevail in Congress to get the Safe Act passed once and for all, before the year of the horse comes to an end.

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