February 3, 2009 -- Loxahatchee, FL -- It hasn't even been two weeks since the inauguration of President Obama, and it seems as if some of our elected representatives have missed the forward movement of transparency and accountability regarding lobbyists and ethics. Maybe that is where the rub is: it's not a lobbyist who is attempting to steer taxpayers' dollars for a personal agenda, it is a state representative who touts an elected seat.
North Dakota State Representative Rod Froelich and State Senator Joe Miller have introduced a bill to the state's legislative assembly proposing to spend $100,000 on a study to determine the feasibility of a horse slaughter house in North Dakota. There are some startling coincidences worthy of mention. Representative Froelich's family are longtime quarterhorse breeders, and according to their website at http://www.froelichranch.com
they specialize in breeding horses of outstanding color and disposition.
Quote from the site: "Welcome to our 38th annual production sale. The five Froelich brothers, along with our mother, Barbara, and our nephew, Lance, are excited to again bring you a consistent group of foals with 'disposition, color, & conformation ranch-raised in big country'."
Whether Representative Froelich has sent horses to slaughter is a question only he can answer. Unfortunately, in our country, breeders send horses to slaughter because of their color; yes, this does exist. For example, two QH babies named Abercrombie and Fitch arrived at Pure Thoughts Horse & Foal Rescue. They came with AQHA papers so we called the previous owner, a breeder in Minnesota who selects for color: "palomino to be exact." According to the breeder, the two babies were sold to Simon Horse Company in Minnesota owned by Joe and Ryon Simon who are known killbuyers for horse slaughter. Both horses were sold because they were red in color, and Fitch's mother was sent to slaughter because that was her third red baby. This almost takes us back many years ago to a situation which was referred to as "cleansing."
How many times are we going to look into the pro-slaughter bowl of cherries and see that the pit is usually someone who stands to gain personally or financially, whether on the sale of horsemeat or the act of slaughter itself?
Here is an idea for Rep. Froelich: rather than ask the taxpayers to pay for a study on the feasibility of opening a slaughterhouse in North Dakota (creating a dumping ground for quarterhorses that do not have the most perfect conformation, sought after color or greatest disposition), ask the AQHA to designate funds for genetic studies and education. Even the horse novice understands the homozygous genes and the possibilities of perfecting color choices. Another thought would be to take that $100,000 and donate it to a rescue that saves slaughter-bound horses, and we will take all your not-so-perfect babies and mares that do not produce foals of the "right" color and place them in loving homes. It is so redundant to have yet another attempt at promoting horse slaughter stem from the AQHA arena.
How unfortunate that the AQHA is one of the wealthiest equine organizations in the US and yet continues to support horse slaughter. Even while the thoroughbred associations are stepping up to develop solutions to help our equine athletes retire safely and with dignity, the AQHA (with four times the annual foal registration of the TB industry) refuses to present and incorporate a plan for their horses. In addition, the AQHA allows for artificial insemination, embryo transplant and cloning (their latest endeavor) while the thoroughbred industry requires live cover. As stated earlier, a major consideration should be researching methods of successfully producing the most sought-after foals.
Consider these numbers related to the AQHA (2007 US data):
-Quarter horse population: 2,859,851 (Estimated 2007 all-breed population: 9.2 million)
-AQHA new foals/registrations: 117,830
-AQHA membership: 305,000
-Total owners: 902,453
-AQHA total assets: $111,154,925
-Revenues from registrations, transfers, membership, breeding fees: $19,288,000
-AQHA 2008 new foals/registrations: 140,000 (this should be 140,000, right?)
These revenues and assets are not comparable with any other breed association, The AQHA charges owners for foal registrations and annual dues. The majority of QH owners do register their horses as it adds market value to the horse, and it's required in order to enter the horse in AQHA-sanctioned racing, shows and events. More foals equal more revenue for the AQHA.
These figures show that annual breeding means huge financial gain for the AQHA. Excess stock would negatively impact market values, so unsalable quarter horses go to slaughter to make room on farms for next year's foals. The AQHA also contributed $9,000 to Senator Larry Craig, who filed a notice of intent to object on a federal bill aimed towards ending horse slaughter; subsequently, the bill saw no action in the Senate.
No other breed of horse is sent more frequently to slaughter than the American Quarterhorse, the real victims of greed in the American horse industry.
If we trace the historical path of this issue in the political arena, the continuation of horse slaughter has always stemmed from personal agendas or personal gain. This year, let's try to have humanity as the agenda, do what is right, and represent the voice of the people.
Pure Thoughts Inc.
National Horse Welfare Organization
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/horse-slaughter-overbreeding-02-09.html">Horse Slaughter: Not the Answer to Overbreeding</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com