NYSHA Board Members Attended Equine Advocates Seminar
Recently, several of us from NYSHA’s Board of Directors attended a tragically enlightening seminar sponsored by Equine Advocates, an amazing rescue and education center in Chatham (NY), Columbia County.
The focus was on horse slaughter — both about how it is so inhumanely accomplished, and preventing it from happening in the United States again. The issue is quite complex, and for complete information, their website (www.equineadvocates.org) is a great resource. Part of the emphasis was on how horses provided the foundation for growth in this country. They served us in war, transportation, farming, industry, and the postal service, to name just a few of their functions.
Yet now we have repaid them by making them a disposable commodity, especially in the racing world. But how many people ever think about this when at the racetracks or at horse shows? Even when horses break down, there is the inevitable acceptance that it’s just part of the sport.
Animals in entertainment of any kind face terrible challenges. As a child, I never wondered what happened to the animals at a petting zoo, the Catskill Game Farm, or a circus — either in their daily lives or when they outlived their usefulness. And I LOVED animals! Why didn’t I think about that?
Our challenge in the humane community is to make people think about it. My classroom has pictures of elephants being whipped at a circus, of my donkeys who were rescued just before they were almost sent to their fifth home in under three years ( a roadside zoo), of a diving mule terrified of jumping. In Animal Club we talk about these issues; the children are astounded, and besides refusing to attend these events, they write letters to change laws about what is acceptable in “entertainment.”
We all need to protest and speak up to enlighten the general public about these issues. Most of the population in this country does not support horse slaughter, but is not vocal enough to stop it. The belief in doing the right thing in this and many other cases of animal abuse must somehow be channeled into publicizing it and making the changes necessary.
A few weeks after attending the workshop, my horse Honey became very sick and needed to be euthanized within the day. It was devastating. There is the consolation that she died surrounded by family, love, and kindness — not the horror experienced by hundreds of thousands of horses each year.
Living with a horse or any animal is an honor and a privilege. Animals in entertainment experience the same fears, joys, and needs as those in our homes or barns, but as a society we don’t seem to make the connection. It’s time we did.
As always, for the animals,
In memory of Honey. Rest in peace. You will always be loved and remembered.
New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol.XXVI, No.1, Spring/Summer 2012.