December 13, 2013 is National Day of the Horse here in the United States. It should be a day to take time to recognize how much we owe to the horse and how much of our history has been changed because of them. Yet it is remarkably difficult to get politicians around the country to acknowledge this.
The horse in the photo above is Sergeant Reckless, a horse who served with the United States Marines during the Korean War. Since horses are prey animals, you would expect them to flee from danger. Not this mare. She carried ammo to marines so they could continue their fight and she carried the wounded back to safety. Even being wounded twice did not stop her. For more info, http://www.sgtreckless.com/Reckless/About_Reckless.html. There have been thousands of horses who served bravely throughout history but most of their names are long forgotten.
The United States government in general and BLM in particular seem to have forgotten that horses can be invaluable assets and symbols of freedom. Now they are considered a nuisance, especially if they interfere with cattle grazing on federal lands. The BLM has rounded up most of the wild mustangs, on the pretext that they are overpopulated. No one at the BLM has explained HOW they could become overpopulated by such large numbers. If the mustangs didn’t have the food and water to survive, they would be dead. These are wild horses, not domestic horses who are fed and watered by people. The ugly truth is that the BLM gets money by selling grazing permits to ranchers and the mustangs are getting in the way. So the BLM rounds up the mustangs, using helicopters among other things, to make room for more cattle. This can be done at any time that BLM chooses and they seem to prefer foaling season. (Ladies, imagine that you have just given birth when someone starts chasing you through the desert with a helicopter so your only option is to run for your life). Needless to say, this is very dangerous for mares who have just given birth and a newborn foal cannot run fast enough to keep up with its mother while she’s galloping full speed for miles. The mustangs that survive the round ups are taken to holding facilities and kept there at tax payer expense. Some of the ranchers get paid to keep the mustangs on their property while their cattle are grazing on federal lands. If the mustangs become too much trouble, some of them can easily be shipped off to the nearest equine slaughter house. The ranchers win. The mustangs lose.
Horses can do things that seem impossible and make it look easy. They have the determination and the heart to go above and beyond to the next level. Even this is not always enough, especially in the Sport of Kings. Every racehorse owner hopes their horse will be the next Secretariat. His record still stands but thousands of Thoroughbreds have been destroyed chasing that dream. Some start out with big wins but most end their days as the low level claimers that keep the racing industry running. What happens to them when they can no longer race isn’t always known to the general public. Some of them go on to new careers. Others are not so fortunate. Every year thousands of Thoroughbreds are shipped off by callous owners looking to make a few hundred dollars off a horse that may have won them thousands. Those horses are sold to kill buyers and sent to be slaughtered for food. A typical racehorse is so full of drugs and hormones that the meat would be a health hazard so everybody lies. The kill buyers fill out forms with false information to make sure the slaughterhouse will accept the horse. The plants deliberately test for drug residue in parts of the carcass where they know they will not find any and the meat is sold to consumers in foreign countries.
All of this must stop but the politicians have yet to pass any laws that would correct the problems. America’s wild mustangs should be returned to the wild to roam free. The round ups should be permanently stopped. The SAFE Act should be passed. No horses should be slaughtered in the United States or exported for slaughter in foreign countries. Horses have done so much to inspire us to do greater things and help us in times of dire need. Their service should not be repaid with treachery.