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Spotlight On: ASPCA Help A Horse Day

Even though the blog is still technically on a break--though the fam and I are making real progress on getting our butts to Georgia!--I really want to share something with y'all. It's also sorta cool/serendipitous that it happens to fall on my mom's birthday. (Happy birthday, Mom!!) This year, April 26th happens to be the 4th annual ASPCA Help A Horse Day. Essentially, Help A Horse Day is a day for horse rescue groups from 42 states across the country to host events in their communities to raise awareness about the work they do to help at-risk horses. In doing so they are also competing to win grand funding totaling $100,000--the largest grant pool to date.

Click here for a list of participating rescues.

Additionally, the ASPCA teamed up with 2 Broke Girls actress and horse advocate Beth Behrs--who recently adopted her own rescue horse, Belle--to raise awareness.

Coinciding with this, the ASPCA has unveiled the results of a recent nationwide survey, and their results are eye-opening:

  • At least 2.3 million Americans have adequate space, resources, & a strong interest in adopting a horse
  • This suggests that there are more than enough homes available for the ~125,000 American horses shipped to Canada and Mexico last year to be slaughtered for human consumption

Now, I realize that horse slaughter is something of a hot-button topic among horse people. Many are against it because the practices are horribly out-of-date and inhumane while others are in favor of it because they believe it helps keep a steady bottom in the horse market, thus helping regulate prices, and because it's a reliable place to dump unwanted horses.

Regardless of your personal beliefs, or mine, there is preliminary information coming out of Europe indicating that there may be a correlation between the consumption of horse meat and a recent rise in various illnesses (fair warning: its a long read). This intrigues me because it's been a long-held assumption of mine that this very thing would occur.

This all started when we adopted our first off-track Thoroughbred, Connolly. Not only was he horribly abused, but he was given extreme amounts of drugs intra-muscular, drugs that should have been given intra-veinous, drugs that had turned a patch of skin on his neck rock-solid. Drugs that were in no way recorded so they could be passed on to future owners (a common practice for upper-level riders, not so much for lower-level riders).

Several years later at 17, Con was diagnosed with cancer. Not only was he diagnosed, the vet found that the cancer had spread internally, quite literally, from one end to the other. Before this happened, I had never even heard of horses getting cancer like that. Tumors? Sure. Gray horses and majority-white paint horses get them regularly. But I'd never heard of them spreading like that, and I've been in the industry since I was a child.

That got me thinking. If whatever drug cocktails my poor Con Man was given turned his muscle into rock, would those drugs metabolize completely, or would there be trace amounts left in the body? More importantly, if we hadn't adopted him and he had been sent to slaughter, would anybody care that he could be turned into a potentially poisonous dinner for someone in another country?

Again, regardless of your personal opinions on horse slaughter--or mine--there is a need to explore this further. If the research proves this theory, then what is to be done about horse slaughter? We can't just keep shipping horses without a comprehensive medical history to slaughter, especially not since some of the biggest supporters of horse slaughter are top professionals whose horses are often given things like phenylbutazol tabs, a drug that's a proven carcinogenic in humans. (For a more comprehensive list of drugs and their effects, follow the link to the article above.)

I don't have an answer. I can't really even postulate on theories borne from this research. All I can say for certain right now, though, is that you can make a difference. Please, consider adopting a horse, or if you can't, a donation to your local horse rescue is also greatly appreciated.

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*Note: None of these are affiliate links, which means I don't make any money or anything if you click on them. I'm simply sharing a cause very close to my heart at the request of the ASPCA.