Tuesday, November 5, 2013


In response to a a lawsuit filed by The Humane Society of the United States and a subsequent appeal by the Humane Society to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, on Monday November 4, 2013, the 10th Circuit granted a temporary injunction barring companies in New Mexico and Missouri from beginning to slaughter horses with the objective of shipping horse meat to countries where it is consumed by humans or used as animal feed. This by no means ends the story.

My blog captioned "Horsement" which was published on February 11, 2013, and my blog captioned "Too Many Horses?" which was published on March 19, 2013, each dealt with the issue of horse slaughter and slaughter facilities. This publication is captioned "Nobody Gets a Free Pass". Hopefully you will understand the choice of the caption upon reaching the last word of the last sentence of the last paragraph of this writing.

My understanding is that the Humane Society takes the position that a horse is, at least in the U.S., a companion animal and therefore shall not be treated in the same way as cows or pigs or sheep or goats or chickens or whatever. And from my childhood memories of growing up on a farm in Iowa I remember one or more of all of those animal species filling the role of "companion animal" or otherwise having a bond of affection between farmer and animal.

We maintained on our farm a few cows which produced milk, some of which we consumed either as milk, or cream, or for making butter, and the rest of which was sold to dairies for processing and sale to consumers. Elsie was a Brown Swiss. Brown Swiss were utility cows. They filled more than one niche. They produced calves for the processing of beef. They produced milk and milk products for human consumption.

Twice a day for many years my father hand-milked Elsie. They had a bond. She was not identified as a pet. She could have been. At the age of 14 she no longer produced enough milk to pay for her overhead.

Most family farmers in those days did not have the economic luxury of sustaining and keeping farm animals after they stopped producing. Imagine if you will farm animals being fed to keep them alive until they died and then being hauled out to the back 40, dropped into a deep pit, and covered with dirt. Imagine that with one animal. And then imagine that with scores of animals, or for some, hundreds of animals. And then decide whether that would be a viable economic model.

When the cattle truck arrived to haul Elsie off to slaughter, she did not want to leave the barn. So she had to be pushed up the ramp and onto the truck. Dad was in tears. But there was no Humane Society to protect her from the impending "cruelty". So the cow that was not a companion was gone.

I question the nomenclature, the designation, "companion animal". By whose standards? By what subjective criteria? Pursuant to whose value system?"

For those of you individuals reading this blog as you munch on some cheddar and crackers, I have one simple question: got milk?

The words "humane" and "cruel" are human inventions and certainly have a place and meaning within the context of two or more persons and their relationship to each other and among them, and to a lesser extent to their relationship with other living creatures. But it is not a word that is applicable to nature on a broader scale. Is the wolf that relentlessly attacks and kills an elk calf with repeated flesh-tearing bites cruel? Is it cruel for being impelled by impulses with which it is born to feed its own young while inflicting fear and pain upon its prey? By definition it is acting inhumanely. It is not a human being. It is a wolf.

Cruelty as a human trait is, when applied to Nature, simply the way things work as different animals fill distinct and different niches as part of life on the planet. Wolves are not cruel. Lions on the Serengetti Plain are not cruel. They are part of Nature and acting naturally.

Whether we like it or not, we human beings are animals. We are part of Nature and perhaps our resistance to accepting that imperils as much as anything our ability to sustain life on Planet Earth. Or, to put it another way, perhaps our vision of ourselves as superior beings separate from nature allows us to do things to nature that may destroy nature and us with it. No other animal would have the hubris and arrogance nor, clearly, the ability, to accomplish such an end.

I have written about this previously. During the Great Recession many horse owners found themselves no longer able to care for their horses. They did not have the economic ability to feed their horses. They did not have the economic ability to euthanize them and haul them away.

In April of 2013 I visited Central Iowa where I had lived as a child and young adult. In discussions with a local farmer I learned that during the Great Recession some horse owners, lacking the resources to maintain their horses, simply turned them out onto the roads to fend for themselves. Which leads us back to the question of economic sustainability from one geographic area to another. Allegedly large portions of our Country face continuing drought and decreased food supply for livestock, of which some, by Humane Society designation, are "Companion Animals". The American West is identified in the popular imagination with herds of horses. The American West is a focus point regarding how we deal with the values conflicts manifested by the litigants in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

At some point we are talking about numbers. As a Nation, are we talking about hundreds of horses whose owners are unable to care for them, or are we talking about thousands of horses, tens of thousands of horses? The answer most likely changes depending upon economic circumstances in a given geographical area. Often those economic circumstances are related to weather and climate conditions. The answer, if we can identify it, at least will tell us if we have any hope of saving even a minor percentage of those horses from mistreatment (not necessarily because of human malice) and eventual premature death.

For some there is no need to deal with numbers. If my value system is such that horses are no different than any other kind of domestic livestock, then excess horses, or even horses specifically bred to be consumed, to be devoured, are subject to slaughter for economic benefit to the owner. For others, only horses that otherwise would not receive adequate care and maintenance should be subject to slaughter, and for others no horse should be subject to slaughter. What is certain is this: for some there is no room for compromise.

Cruelty to animals by human beings exists. I have seen it. The most extreme example is one I witnessed as a Peace Corps Volunteer in South America. It was a beautiful December day in the mountains. The town conducted an annual fair with prizes going to animals and handicraft and related matters. There would be several days of bullfights. On one beautiful December afternoon the bull entered the ring. The matador strutted and brandished his cape in the dance of death. It was time. The sword plunged into the back of the bull close to the shoulder. The bull remained on its feet. Again and again the sword plunged in. Finally the bulled rested on the ground, its legs under it. The dagger plunged into the neck behind the base of the bull’s skull, ending its suffering. If a pride of lions had torn away at a Cape Buffalo bull until finally it fell, there would have been no cruelty for which the lions could be held blameworthy. But even though we human beings are animals, we hold ourselves to a higher standard in which cruelty exists, is acknowledged, and is not tolerated.

If the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation were to turn its attention from human disease and suffering in Africa, and dedicate all of its resources to a giant horse rescue operation, I could see where maybe the numbers might work out. Every farmer, every rancher, every "companion horse" owner, would ship his underfed or overaged horse to some giant Gates Rescue Facility at Gates’ expense, and everybody would live and die happily ever after – except for the people in Africa who no longer were helped by the Gates Foundation. Or the farmers and ranchers who suffered economic loss and who are expected to finance the morals and values of others by keeping their horses alive when they can no longer feed them or the "companion animals" are too old to contribute to farm or ranch enterprise.

To the reader who questions not in the slightest the merits of his or her virtues and values, I tell you that you do not get a free pass. If you, in the aggregate, cannot get a handle on the dimensions of the challenge of being humane, then do not assume that your efforts will solve the challenge which you perceive. But if you are content with saving the horses you can without imposing your values on everyone, by all means do what I asked you to do in my writing on March 19, 2013: find your checkbook and write a check payable to Peaceful Ridge Rescue, which is s a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. Better yet, go to their website at http://peacefulridgerescue.com/
and click on the "donate" button. Consult with your CPA and make sure your donation is big enough to reduce your federal income tax liability. Don’t be a neigh-sayer. Make a difference.
Mount up, Ladies and Dudes.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Hialeah Park and Race Track Fantasy

So let’s say somebody who can decide it decides that no part of Hialeah Park should be redeveloped as anything other than the home of Hialeah Race Track. Hialeah Park is part of Greater Miami. And Greater Miami is the Gringo Capital of Latin America. Well, it would be the Gringo Capital if it were not for the fact that a great part of the population is not Gringo. We’ll call it the North American Capital of Latin America.

And let’s say that somebody who decides such things decides that the developed area surrounding Hialeah Park is going to be redeveloped into something. And let’s say that something is an equine theme park, featuring sophisticated, cosmpolitan shops with a horsey thread running through; and upscale housing for the horsey set to hang out while acting horsey in Greater Miami, the North American capital of Latin America (Sorry, Mexico. This fantasy will not work if we make you the capital).

And let’s say that a ton of thoroughbred race horse breeders from throughout the hemisphere put up a minimum of US $500,000 each to invest in the project of the Hialeah horsey theme park through the EB-5 visa program, and they all get permanent resident visas so they can live here more than half of the year as permanent residents while they watch their horses train at Hialeah Park and race at Hialeah Park.

And let’s say that stakes races are run on the Hialeah Race Track, with horses participating from all over the hemisphere, and rich people who like to hob nob with rich people mingle with rich horsey people, and the whole thing becomes a magnet that attracts birds of a feather from all over the world, people who really don’t care that much about South Beach but enjoy the aroma of a sweaty horse and whatever else goes with it. And Hialeah and the surrounding area are transformed. And the Florida thoroughbred industry has Ocala as its northern base and Hialeah as it s southern base, and north and south find ways to energize and nurture each other.

And in the playgrounds of public parks and on school campuses, little kids learn how to play horseshoes and the small kids who stay small grow up to become jockeys.

There is a hard reality looming over the fantasy: bringing in those horses to the U.S. will require clearance from the USDA. We’ll talk about that in a future blog.

Mount up, Ladies and Dudes.
Gary D. Malfeld

Monday, June 10, 2013

Florida Thoroughbreds

Florida, Maryland, California, New York and Kentucky all have incentive programs for the breeding of Thoroughbred horses for racing in their respective states. Everything being equal, there should be no reason for a Florida owner to meet the requirements of another state to have a foal born in that state instead of Florida and be registered as a Thoroughbred of that state instead of being registered as a Florida horse. But things are not equal. And the reality that some Florida owners would prefer to have his or her foal born, for example, in New York State than in Florida suggests that the incentives are greater for owning a New York foal than a Florida foal.

As this writer sees it, if we were to do a comparison study of the economic incentives programs provided by each state competing for breeding of quality Thoroughbreds in their respective states, Florida would not come out first. And the reason why Florida would not come out first is not because the Florida incentive regime on paper is in any way inferior. The reason is because a stakes winner is going to more often bring greater benefits to its owner by winning, placing or showing in the famous race tracks of other states than in Florida.

This writer is not disparaging the quality of the product at, for example, Calder or Gulfstream. But other states are home to legendary, historic racetracks. And the most historic, legendary race track in Florida is Hialeah. And Hialeah does not conduct Thoroughbred races. And racing Quarter Horses and refurbishing the statue of the great Citation will not be enough.

Restoring the legendary magic of Hialeah Park will be critical to fortifying the image of Florida as a great state for Thoroughbred racing. And re-developing the adjacent neighborhoods surrounding the Hialeah racing park to make racing fans not only comfortable with but desirous of visiting the track will be necessary to provide a setting worthy of the jewel that is the Hialeah race track.

The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners Association needs to get involved aggressively and work with the city of Hialeah and Hialeah Park’s owner, whether that owner be John Brunetti or someone else.

I urge the voting members of the FTBOA to choose a study commission composed of visionary individuals who truly care about establishing Florida-bred horses as the gold standard for quality Thoroughbreds. That commission should make the contacts and schedule the appointments with the people in South Florida who have the power, influence and resources to extend Hialeah racing beyond the track and park, and convert the neighborhood surroundings into the dazzling setting for the jewel that is Hialeah.

Mount up, Ladies and Dudes

Gary D. Malfeld

Monday, May 20, 2013


Loch Ness has Tessie. Animal Planet has Bigfoot. Stables and pastures have horse flies.
And although it has yet to be conclusively documented, some horse flies reportedly have been observed by entomology students on Spring Break to be bearing tiny saddles, and sitting on those tiny saddles are tiny cowboys wearing boots with tiny spurs, the use of which reportedly creates the erratic flight patterns of the horse flies.

These stories of mystery and myth are intriguing for the mystery and for the lengths people will go to prove the tales to be true. So what should one do upon finally proving the myth to be true? Accept it for what it is and move on. Stay normal, like the old guy with the frog. You know the story.

Two elderly gentlemen are conducting their customary evening stroll through the woods. A frog along a favorite pathway seeks their attention.

"Guys, guys", shouts the frog. "Guys, somebody pick me up and give me a kiss. Guys, guys, I’m tellin’ you. Pick me up, give me a kiss, I will turn into a beautiful princess, and then BAM! We make crazy, passionate love all night!"


One of the gentlemen bends over, picks up the frog, puts it into his jacket pocket, and the old-timers continue down the path.

The frog becomes frantic. "Hey, get me outa here! Didn’t you hear me! Give me a kiss, I will turn into a beautiful princess, and then BAM! We make crazy, passionate love all night!"

Calmly, the old man with the frog in his pocket answers: "I would rather have a talking frog."

The problem with real horse flies is that they want to become intimate with your horse whenever they can. And that could be deadly for your horse. Horse flies are transmission vectors for equine infectious anemia. Equine infectious anemia is transmitted by blood-sucking insects, including horse flies. Anemia, irregular heart beat, swelling in extremities and lower abdomen, and death may be the result. There may be cases of chronic EIA which leave the horse in a debilitated state over a sustained period of time. All horses that test positive for EIA must be reported to federal authorities. The owner of the horse that tests positive has three options: send the horse to a recognized research facility, or place it in quarantine for life, or euthanize the horse.

Horses that cross state lines routinely are tested for EIA using the Coggins test. Horses that test negative receive a certificate that they have tested negative. Horses that are imported from abroad are tested for EIA.

So finally we get to the point of this narrative: insects that feed from a diseased horse and then feed on a healthy horse can infect your healthy horse with EIA. So you want to keep your healthy horse away from diseased horses. But you do not own your own farm, your own stable, your own pasture. You board your horse. Here is my suggestion: before you choose your boarding facility, investigate. Does your boarding facility deny boarding to any horse which is unable to provide a current Coggins test certificate showing that the horse tests negative for EIA? Your safest boarding alternative is a facility that is safe upon inspection for sanitation, physical suitability, and that employs rigid safeguards against the spread of infectious diseases. Find out if the boarding operation only boards horses that have up to date test certificates showing them to be negative for EIA.

A few weeks ago I visited a boarding facility. I heard what sounded like a harmonica being played, followed by yodeling. I looked everywhere. The only identifiable objects meeting my gaze were multiple deposits of horse manure of varying freshness and horse flies flying erratically. Next time I visit I am taking along a butterfly net. I decided against carrying a shovel.

Mount up, Ladies and Dudes.

Gary D. Malfeld

Friday, March 29, 2013


A few days ago I watched a woman cradle in one of her arms the head of a six year old Thoroughbred mare. The woman whispered sweet nothings in the mare’s ear. The mare closed her eyes in a trance of deep contentment. I listened intently to see if I could hear the mare purring like a kitten. This was an example of cross-species communion.

Years ago when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer trainee. Another trainee was practicing horsemanship as part of preparation to live in rural areas of South America where personal transportation was provided by beasts of burden. His horse reared up and the rider slid backwards behind the horse and onto the ground. The horse sat down upon the rider and broke the rider’s pelvis.

Horses are not kittens. They are not lap dogs. They are not treated as pets by most legal regimes in most places in most countries. And for purposes of movement across international borders, they are treated as disposable products. Many of the rules of buying and selling across international borders apply, matters such as when ownership passes, when risk of loss passes, payment terms, third party liability, and so on. And sometimes, just as with a bag of spoiled or contaminated onions imported from abroad, upon inspection at their U.S. port of entry they might face being thrown away. By being thrown away, I mean that they might be euthanized.

The United States Department of Agriculture maintains an animal import center headquarters and field quarantine facilities in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Those seeking to import horses from abroad must seek a permit for importation from the Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service (APHIS) before shipping from the country of origin. Miami, Florida is one of several approved ports for entry of horses into the United States.

To be admitted, a horse upon admission at a U.S. port cannot have been on premises where African horse sickness, dourine, glanders, surra, epizootic lymphangitis, ulcerative lymphangitis, equine piroplasmosis, equine infectious anemia (EIA), contagious equine metritis (CEM), vesicular stomatitis, or Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis (VEE) have occurred during the 60 days immediately preceding exportation, nor should these diseases have occurred on any adjoining premises
during this same period of time.

A horse projected for importation cannot have been in a country where CEM (contagious equine metritis) is known to exist, nor have had any contact, breeding or otherwise, with horses from such a country, for the 12 months preceding exportation. The horse must have been inspected and found to be free of ectoparasites.

In this very brief presentation I am going to discuss, inter alia, the phrase adjoining premises. The importer seeking to import a horse into the U.S. from abroad must receive certifications from specified authorities in the country from which the horse is being imported that the horse meets the criteria to qualify for importation. One of the items for certification is that the horse during the 60 days immediately preceding exportation did not have any of the diseases listed, nor did the diseases occur on any adjoining premises
during this same period of time.
A practical application of the rule could involve the following: the importer requires that the exporter check the target horse check for all of the diseases listed above. If the horse is found clean of everything, and if it can be proven that the horse has been on what might be identified as "clean premises" for 60 days, the horse is ready for exportation. And I would suggest that the horse should be transported by clean means (chain of logistics) from departure to arrival at the U.S. port.

If the target horse has a disease that can be cured, and the economic arrangements can be reached between seller and buyer, then if the horse is cured it should be moved to a clean zone not adjoining where the horse has been previously, and remain in the clean zone for 60 days before being exported. One cannot predict with certainty what the USDA will do in a specific case, but my own research leads me to believe that the phrase adjoining premises are premises which touch and are connected, or in contact, with the other premises involved, rather than those merely lying near or adjacent. That means that the safe zone, the clean zone for holding horses for 60 days, can be close to the premises which in and of themselves would disqualify the horse from entering the United States.

Now we will discuss due diligence. If you are the buyer/importer and you totally trust the exporter/seller, and you are satisfied that as to each, your word is your bond, you may some day be the proud owner of a horse imported into the United States which is euthanized by the United States Department of Agriculture because it harbored a prohibited disease. At least try to take pictures of the horse while it is vital and breathing, something to cherish. But if you are even slightly anal, do due diligence. Identify the diseases endemic to the area from which your target horse originates. Understand which of the diseases are treatable and which are not. Have thorough and complete testing done, and make sure the purchase contract does not become binding unless the horse gets a clean bill of health. Find out who will be doing the testing and certification, and decide whether you are willing to trust the results. Make sure that the horse testing clean or becoming clean after treatment stays for 60 days in a clean holding zone prior to exportation. Check out each link in the logistics chain from start to finish. Make sure there is no chance of infection or re-infection resulting from a contaminated link in the logistics chain. And then hold your breath. And when you start breathing again, mount up and ride, Ladies and Dudes.

Gary D. Malfeld

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Is PETA involved in song-writing?

I was driving in rush hour traffic listening to a country music radio station when these lyrics blared out: "save the horse ride a cowboy". What the hell does that mean?

Update on horsemeat:

Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, New Mexico expects to open its horse slaughter plant April 29, 2013.

Getting the medical records for your horse from your veterinarian:

Florida Statutes section 474.2165. Ownership and control of veterinary medical patient records; report or copies of records to be furnished.

(2) Each person who provides veterinary medical services shall maintain medical records, as established by rule.

(3) Any records owner licensed under this chapter who makes an examination of, or administers treatment or dispenses legend drugs to, any patient shall, upon request of the client or the client's legal representative, furnish, in a timely manner, without delays for legal review, copies of all reports and records relating to such examination or treatment, including X rays. The furnishing of such report or copies shall not be conditioned upon payment of a fee for services rendered.

You do not need to give your veterinarian a reason. You make your request. You have a right to receive your records. Mount up, Ladies and Dudes.

                                            Gary D. Malfeld

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Peaceful Ridge Rescue cut the red ribbon at its home in Davie, Florida on Saturday, March 16, 2013. Local government dignitaries participated in the ceremony to officially open the horse rescue facility. More than a few horses also were present for the event. The rescue motto is "A Home for Every Horse".

A few days ago a friend in White Plains, New York told me that a small breeding farm in his neck of the woods had reduced its foal output. Demand for horse acquisition had diminished during the Great Recession.

A veterinarian recently lamented that too many horse owners could not afford to feed their horses, could not place them elsewhere, and could not afford to euthanize them and dispose of the remains. The economy impacts equines.

I do not have reliable statistics to answer the questions. How many horses nationwide have suffered the consequences of the Great Recession over the last few years? How many horse owners bought horses even though their financial circumstances did not justify taking on such a heavy responsibility? Does our equine population exceed our carrying ability, at least in multiple locations, with no likelihood that the excess populations can be relocated to areas with greater carrying capacity?

Perhaps, over time, the market place sorts it all out. Certainly that could happen and likely will happen if we view horses as a commodity, not unlike wheat, or petroleum, or the proverbial widgets. There will be a new equilibrium. But for the most part in the U.S. we do not perceive horses to be widgets, or as mere commodities to be bought and sold like inanimate objects, or even like pork bellies.

There are those who truly care about animal welfare, including horse welfare. But they will tell you that when the equine population significantly exceeds the economic carrying capacity of a given area, it may be more humane to allow some horse owners the option of selling their horses for slaughter, ostensibly in the least distressing manner possible for the horses, then to simply let them die a lingering death over time under the ownership of people trapped by their inability to either care for or relocate their animals. You do not need to accept that viewpoint. You can insist that the only humane alternative, the only moral alternative, the only ethical alternative, is for communities to provide rescue facilities.

Over a period of several years local governments have struggled to fund basic governmental services, including police, fire, schools and programs for the elderly and the homeless among the human animal population also struggling to survive. So the resources to fund the demands for equine rescue services will not typically be provided by government at levels equal to the need. And that is why non-governmental equine rescue services find a ready demand for their efforts.

If you are one of those people who believe that it is morally and ethically wrong to control equine populations by treating horses as just another commodity, as simply raw material for the slaughterhouse, and you cannot ignore the fact that some horses will die lingering deaths caused by malnutrition and lack of medical care due to owner neglect, then perhaps you have a moral duty and an ethical duty to pony up. It takes money to save horses. It takes money to provide a home for every horse. It takes money to provide a home for any horse.

Maybe some of you read my comments about horse meat in my prior blog. If you are convinced of your own virtue, convinced of the rightness of your own values, and your values are not consistent with horse slaughter or horse abandonment, then find your checkbook and write a check payable to Peaceful Ridge Rescue, which is s a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. Better yet, go to their website at http://peacefulridgerescue.com/
and click on the "donate" button. Consult with your CPA and make sure your donation is big enough to reduce your federal income tax liability. Don’t be a neigh-sayer. Make a difference. Mount up, Ladies and Dudes.
Gary D. Malfeld

Monday, February 11, 2013


This writer will, sometimes, post articles intended to impart helpful information. Sometimes the intent will be to provoke thought, to examine values, and to explore distinct points of view. The article that follows is intended to provoke thought, to examine values, and to explore distinct points of view. The reader should not assume that the text accurately reflects this writer’s personal values or points of view on specific questions.

          This is not a philosophical debate. We are just rearranging our prejudices. [Anonymous].

          La Gitana (The Gypsy) was a black Paso Fino mare owned by the United States Peace Corps. She served as my means of transportation on the mountain trails of the Eastern Range of the Andes in Colombia during my service as a Peace Corps Volunteer. La Gitana covered the most difficult terrain with complete safety and sure-footedness. On level ground, or even during an ill-advised mad dash down the unlit mountain on a treacherous trail at night time, she was a joy to ride.

          What made La Gitana special was her disposition. She never refused to face the task before her, whether it be ascending or descending on a rocky pathway, jumping over a low lying stone fence, or fording a fast flowing stream after a heavy rain. And she was feisty as all hell.

          I was a Peace Corps Volunteer working the Colombian countryside, organizing rural people to help themselves. After a sally on horseback into some remote destination, I would return to the town where I lived and entrust the care of La Gitana to a twelve year old boy who was an accomplished horseman in his own right.

          I delighted in La Gitana’s response to human speech. One afternoon I decided to demonstrate to her young caretaker just how responsive La Gitana could be to my spoken words. I hurled a string of pungent insults at her. Immediately she whipped her head around and bit me in the nipple. It hurt like all get out. I never did that again.

          La Gitana hated shoeing. One time I was replacing her shoes. I had just tapped a horseshoe nail through the outer wall of her right rear hoof. She let loose with a violent kick, and drove the tip of the nail into the bone of the middle finger on my right hand. Decades later, I retain the scar as a souvenir of our sometimes adversarial relationship. Sometimes she treated me as her equal. I admired her greatly.

          Tex was a Hereford steer in the feedlot of the family farm the barnyard of which is displayed in the photograph on the home page of my website,
www.equinelawfl.com. He was simply one of many cattle being fattened for slaughter. We developed a bond of friendship and trust, boy and bovine. As he milled around the enclosure of the sale barn with his companions and the auctioneer sang out the bidding, he came to me as I stood on the other side of the wire chainlink, his eyes wild with fear. There was nothing to be done by me. And then he was gone.
          Well, Ladies and Dudes, Tex ended up on a human dinner plate.  I do not know what happened to La Gitana after her retirement from public service, but under similar circumstances a horse today in Florida would not end up on someone's dinner plate.  Not legally anyway.  Why?  Because it is unlawful for any person to sell in the markets of Florida horse meat for human consumption unless the horse meat is clearly stamped, marked, and described as horse meat for human consumption. 

          In the United States as of yet there are no slaughter facilities authorized by government for the killing of horses and processing of their meat for human consumption.  So there is no horse meat marked for human consumption.  Several businesses, some of them in Missouri, have sought such authority.  They would require federal inspection, and even today federal funding for inspection is not a given in light of strong public opposition to horse slaughter for the human dinner table.  It is not likely that in the foreseeable future such horse slaughterhouse facilities will be operating in the State of Florida.

          Unless you are a vegan,  your value choices are not necessarily internally consistent.  Hogs are at least as smart as horses, and pot-bellied pigs are popular pets.  Maybe you smell the ham baking in the oven as you read this.  Or hear the bacon sizzling in the pan.  Tex was not a horse.  Think about charcoal flavored juicy steak on the grill and a cold bottle of beer on a hot summer day.

          It comes down to this:  in the United States of America predominant cultural values more other than not are reflected in laws.  For historical reasons and cultural tradition, horses are protected from the fate awaiting most other domestic farm animals.  Both religion and economics have played a role in our contemporary attitudes regarding human consumption of horse meat.  As early as 732, Pope Gregory III banned horsemeat for human consumption because it was viewed as part of pagan ritual.  But as is so often the case economics, military considerations and social class all have played their part.

          It takes little effort to imagine that horses would be more useful as  means of transportation and death delivery systems than, say, cows, pigs, goats or chickens.  Not many knights in shining armor saddled up and mounted a cow to search for military conquest.  Yes, oxen were (and still are) used to plow fields, but certainly horses were found to provide far more effective and a greater variety of services in agriculture and transportation than other species of domestic animals.   Horses were, comparatively, more useful to mankind in ways that would endure and could be repreated daily than as a one time source of animal protein on the dinner plate.

          The taboos against consuming horses for human fooed tended to fade away, at least for some, in times of famine and scarcity.  The ravages of war, economic hard times, and desperate need for affordable sustenance led from time to time by those at the bottom of the economic ladder ladder to consume horsemeat, and especially from horses no longer suitable for other purposes, even if their more affluent neighbors scorned horsemeat as food for the rabble.

          Notwithstanding the historical taboos against conumption of horsemeat in Western society, today if you travel to Europe, or Latin America, or Asia, you will find human consumers of horse meat who do not beat their spouses, do take good care of their children, go to church or its equivalent, and are otherwise just good, all around decent neighbors.  And what does that tell us?  We make laws motivated by emotion as much as by reason.  Maybe we can call it democracy. 

 Gary D. Malfeld 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Equine Purchase Checklist

          The reader is invited to rate the importance of each of the items listed in the Equine Purchase Checklist which follows and to add other items to the checklist to make it more useful and reliable.

1. Description of animal: name, age, breed, gender, height, color

2. Breed registry identification and documentation

3. Seller proof of ownership and whether one or multiple owners and percentage of ownership interest of each

4. Right to examination of animal by veterinarian of buyer’s choice prior to purchase with purchase conditioned upon buyer’s satisfaction with examination.

5. Have animal perform to Buyer’s satisfaction and to what extent and under what conditions prior to purchase.

6. Contact information for prior veterinarian caregivers of the subject animal.

7. Current location of animal and whether pasture, paddock or stable.

8. Animal’s existing dietary routine

9. Shot and health records

10. Contact information for prior farriers

11. Seller’s representations as to prior health records of animal and current physical condition of animal

12. Name of sire and dam and breed registry and other pertinent information as to both

13. Existence of insurance of any kind for the animal and whether transferable

14. If a mare, whether she is in foal and expected foaling date

              Name of sire of foal and information on sire; breed registry if any, owner of sire;

              contact information on owner of sire

15. If stallion, breeding history if any and identification of progeny

16. Training history; contact information for trainer(s)

17. If competition animal, history of shows and results, or if racing, history of racing experience and results.

18. Identification of all costs that will be involved in the transaction and which costs are responsibility of seller and which costs are responsibility of buyer

19. Seller cooperation in changing ownership in respective breed registry and associations relevant to animal ownership and activities.

Thank you for sharing
Gary Malfeld