Handful of Legislators Condemn Our Horses to USDA Approved Abuse With OUR TAX MONEY

AWI Press Release: Handful of Legislators Condemn Horses to USDA Approved Abuse

Jack Kingston

Washington, D.C. (November 15, 2011) – It would appear that some in Congress are all talk when it comes to seriously reducing federal spending and decreasing the size of  government.  Despite overwhelming objections from the American public and the horse community, and despite Congress’ own supposed belief in fiscal restraint, the fate of America’s horses was undermined by three Members of Congress and their staffs behind closed doors this week.  For years, an amendment to the annual Agriculture Appropriations bill has prevented tax dollars from being used to “inspect” horse slaughter facilities in the U.S.   The House of Representatives voted this year to again include it in the Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill, but three members of the Conference Committee, Representative Jack Kingston,
Herb Kohl
Roy Blunt

Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) , removed it from the final bill.  A fourth member of the Conference Committee, 

 Representative Sam Farr (D-CA), was the lone objector.

Sam Farr

“I have been in Washington for a long time and this move baffles me.  Both parties talked about making the hard cuts in federal spending and yet behind closed doors, three of the four men thought it was a good use of taxpayer dollars to ignore their colleagues and restore a federal program that will cost Americans at least $5 million a year and pull limited USDA inspectors from ensuring the humane treatment and safety of our nation’s food supply. To make matters worse, this was all done to appease a few foreign companies and Big Ag,” said Chris Heyde, deputy director of AWI’s government and legal affairs department.  “This action shows the true nature of some elected officials—that they are more concerned about helping special interests than doing what they were elected to do.”

Some legislators are trying to disguise what they did as helping the horses, but there is substantial evidence of horses suffering at taxpayers’ expense when slaughter was permitted in the U.S. While a recent GAO report attempted to connect an increase in abuse to a cessation of horse slaughter in the U.S., the authors noted that there was no actual proof other than claims put forward by pro-horse slaughter proponents. 

With this cynical move, there is now only one avenue left for ending the tragedy of the slaughter of horses for human consumption:  Swift action on the GAO’s other recommendation—passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act. 

“AWI commends Representative Farr (D-CA), ranking member of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, for being the sole member of the Conference Committee to stand up for America’s horses and fiscal responsibility,” noted Heyde.  “We look forward to working with Representative Farr and other Members of Congress on passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act.”

The Animal Welfare Institute is calling on everyone who has horses and cares about the welfare of America’s horses to demand that Congress pass the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act immediately.

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Advantages of horse ownership discussed at Ranch Management University

Advantages of horse ownership discussed at Ranch Management University - North Texas e-News
By Blair Fannin, Texas A&M
Oct 30, 2011
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COLLEGE STATION – Most ranch owners don’t realize the significant impact horse ownership and its contributions have on the Texas economy, according to an equine specialist.

The Texas horse industry has a statewide economic impact of more than $5.2 billion a year, said Dr. Clay Cavinder, an assistant professor of equine science at Texas A&M University.

Cavinder was one of several speakers at the recent Ranch Management University at Texas A&M.
Dr. Clay Cavinder

Dr. Clay Cavinder, assistant professor of equine science at Texas A&M University, discusses horse ownership at the recent Ranch Management University program. (Texas AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin)

“Ranch Management University provides a foundation of knowledge for those who are new to owning land in Texas,” said Dr. Larry Redmon, workshop coordinator and Texas AgriLife Extension Service state forage specialist.

The program features numerous experts in specific disciplines from AgriLife Extension, Texas AgriLife Research and faculty from the department of animal science at Texas A&M.

“Horses are valued at $4.2 billion just in the state of Texas,” Cavinder said. “In terms of comparison with other industries and their effect on the GDP, we are on the same level as the motion picture industry, apparel manufacturing and tobacco industry. So, the horse industry brings a lot to the table.”

Annual expenses are roughly $2,300 for the horse owner when calculating feed, health and other requirements, Cavinder said.

Trail riding, one of the more popular activities, has many benefits with regards to physical fitness, family participation, as well as an emotional outlet for disabled individuals.

Cavinder said individuals also enjoy ‘horse chores’ such as cleaning stalls and use it as an emotional outlet.

A majority of horses now are owned for recreational purposes; most horse owners are not from a rural background.

“In the 1930s, the horse population declined due to the advent of the automobile,” Cavinder said. “Today, the horse population is going back up. People are owning horses for the sheer fun of it. There are a lot of 20-year-olds that grew up having horses, but their parents weren’t that involved with it. Their grandparents were likely more active in it.”

Horse ownership carries with it benefits, as well as responsibilities, he said. Food, water and shelter are three basic responsibilities of horse ownership, according to Cavinder. Nutrition is the largest annual maintenance expense for the horse and is also one of the most neglected aspects of horse care.

The digestive system of a horse is that of an animal that was created to run and move and eat roughage.

“Colic is the No. 1 killer of a horse,” Cavinder said. “Because it can’t vomit, it creates a different set of problems here (that can lead to colic). We do not want to create a digestive upset.

“Because we’re feeding horses concentrate diets, we do have to consider a few special things like distances and time between feeding. If you feed at seven in the morning, feed at seven at night. If you look at the statistics, there’s millions of dollars spent on treating colic.”

Cavinder said a set, routine feeding time each day will help prevent digestive problems.

Horses don’t have gall bladders, which in humans emulsify fat, so they can’t be fed low quality forage, Cavinder said.

“This is why we have to feed nice, high quality feed or hay. A horse doesn’t have the ability to break down and utilize roughage that is very high in structural carbohydrates.”

Cavinder advises rotating grazing of pastures to allow plants to grow before grazing.

“Wait until the forage reaches 3 to 4 inches, then clip the pasture for growth,” he said. “If a pasture gets to the point where there isn’t forage, then throw hay out there.”

Cavinder also advises monitoring horses in the barn and observing their behavior for signs of sickness.

“I always tell students when walking through the barn, don’t neglect to look at other horses,” he said. “When they are sick, they look depressed. They’ll have their ears drooped back and head down.”

Registration is already being taken for the next Ranch Management University program scheduled April 9-13. For information, visit https://agriliferegister.tamu.edu/ and enter “Ranch Management” as the keywords.

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"From my earliest memories, I have loved horses with a longing beyond words." ~ Robert Vavra