I’ve spent a fair bit of time in the saddle. In the saddle of a horse, that is. I spend 2 weeks on a horse packing trip at the Adventure Unlimited Ranches in Colorado when I was in high school. It was great fun. We packed up the shoulder of Mt. Harvard in the amazing alpine passes and forests. And we spent time across the Arkansas River Valley in the big meadows and valleys. We even spend a day helping round up cattle. And after all that, I’d still ask for ketchup on my horse burger.

 Slaughter opponents pushed a measure cutting off funding for horse meat inspections through Congress in 2006 after other efforts to pass outright bans on horse slaughter failed in previous years. Congress lifted the ban in a spending bill President Barack Obama signed into law Nov. 18 to keep the government afloat until mid-December. Huffington Post

This month Obama signed a spending bill that included language lifting a ban, not on butchering horse meat, but on allowing federal funds to go into inspecting horse meat packing operations. A lot of people might have some misconceptions about this. From what I’ve gathered, horse slaughter is not illegal in the US, though it is not currently done because of the bans on transportation of horses for slaughter in most states. In fact, the last horse slaughter facility was closed in 2007 in Illinois.

The last U.S. slaughterhouse that butchered horses closed in 2007 in Illinois, and animal welfare activists warned of massive public outcry in any town where a slaughterhouse may open. Huffington Post

There is no market for human consumption for horses in the US as even for those of us who don’t think feral horses are “wild” still have a negative gut reaction to the thought of eating Mr. Ed.

Horse meat is rarely eaten in the United States. Horses are raised instead as pets, for working purposes (Farming, police work, and ranching), or for sport. Horse meat holds a very similar taboo in American culture, the same as the one found in the United Kingdom previously described, except that it is rarely even imported. read more

Although there are reports of Americans dining on horse meat a recently as the 1940s, the practice is virtually non-existent in this country, where the animals are treated as beloved pets and iconic symbols of the West.  Huffington Post

It probably wouldn’t get much play as human consumption is not a viable market for horse meat here and couldn’t be relied on as a use for the excess horse population. read more

The US horse population is estimated at 6.9 million, with an average age of 10.4 y (11). Assuming a 5% to 10% annual population replacement rate, at least 500 000 horses must leave the US horse population by death each year. Clearly, in recent years, slaughter for human consumption has not been the primary method of stabilizing the equine population in the USA. read more

Since I live in Nevada, “wild” horses feature heavily in the cultural fabric of the state. Wild horses are considered “Majestic,” and “icons of the west.” Which they are. Majesty and iconism are constructs of human emotion, and emotion is a basic human instinct. Just like anger, joy and hunger. Check out this video I produced when I worked for Twelve Horses.

This video is one sided. That’s all it was intended to be. It’s not a news video. It’s a promo to tug at your heart and make you want to help save wild horses. At a company that used horses are part of our brand, it worked for us. Hopefully some of my ecologist friends will chime in in the comments with a more reasoned view.

Still if I saw some horseburger at Whole Foods, I’d grab a pound and make a burger, or maybe some burritos.

-M

photo at top by RenoTahoe on Flickr