Marion Altieri

Mare is the visionary Partner, Editor and Radio Host for Alpha Mare Media. Mare is a New York State-licensed Thoroughbred owner. Her membership in NYTHA (New York Thoroughbred Horsewoman's [-men's] Association; NYTB (New York Thoroughbred Breeders; Thoroughbred Women, Ltd. and the Saratoga Thoroughbred Club all inspire, educate and contribute to her depth of knowledge of the breed and the Sport.

Her volunteer interests are all Thoroughbred-related, of course: she should probably get a hobby off the track, but there's just no time or interest. Her mantra is, "If it don't have four legs and a maneit ain't an athlete!"

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Rants and raves, one darned opinionated Broad--er, Woman--who loves Thoroughbreds; loves the sport; and freely expresses her exasperation. The Alpha Mare wants to see good things all around for everyone in horse racing, and will use her proverbial pen to start dialogues and perhaps even instigate a revolution or two...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Alydar Alpo?  Filet of Filly?  No, thanks.

Ed. Note: A recent posting by HRI blogger Marion Altieri has illuminated the inhumane manner by which horses are slaughtered for consumption outside the United States and engendered lively debate on this site.

The fact that proponents of equine slaughter can stall a bill and keep it from being passed enrages and disgusts me. It should enrage you, too.

S. 311, A bill to amend the Horse Protection Act to prohibit the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, and for other purposes

OK, horsepeople, let's dice this out logically, shall we?

Apparently there are those among us who can sleep at night, after spending their days convincing themselves that equine slaughter is a necessity. Because there are just too many "unwanted" horses. Because thinning the herd in this heinous way actually benefits the breeds. Because it's their God-given right to dispose of their horses any way they see fit, damnit.

They probably tell their small children that "Daddy works in a horse slaughterhouse, but it's OK 'cause the horsies like it."

Let's think about this as if we're all intelligent, compassionate human beings. A few facts:
1) Equine slaughter is not only cruel--it's executed in a particularly, intentionally vicious fashion. Something to do with the myth that a horse who’s killed after being euthanized doesn’t taste as good. Or the meat is gamey. Or some such crock.
2) Equine slaughter is NOT necessary. All the reasons given by the pro-slaughter people are crap.
3) It is neither legal nor culturally acceptable to consume horsemeat in the United States.
4) The meat from those dead horses goes to Europe and Japan. For upscale dining and dog food. Most notably, to France and Belgium, where horsemeat is a delicacy. It's not like a 1,000 pound mustang is sacrificed to feed starving children in Appalachia or Africa. It's going to feed the egos of snotty Europeans who want to brag that they can afford a $100 Thoroughbred steak. Or that Phydeaux digs eating Triple Crown Alpo.
5) The Big Argument--that there are "just too many horses" is easily remedied: QUIT MAKING THEM.

It's precisely because I love horses that I know--and YOU know--that equine slaughter MUST be stopped. NOW.
There's no logical reason to continue the practice. A horse--or donkey, mule, burro or zebra, for that matter--is NOT a used Kleenex. You cannot just toss it out when you're through with it.

An equine is a living, breathing, feeling being, capable of giving and receiving love. In our culture--that of North America--horses played an integral role in the settling of the nations. They fought wars with us; provided protection and comfort; camaraderie and friendship. The equine species in North America, with the exception of wild horses--are domesticated animals. Like cats, dogs and gerbils.

Would you consider sending your beloved cat off to be slaughtered, to feed a rich Belgian or his pooch?

Then why--WHY--would you take your precious Thoroughbred--whose only mistake was being born slew-footed--and allow that animal to be slaughtered at the hands of a heartless human pig?

For four-hundred bucks?

Are ya kiddin’ me?

All the money that goes into breeding a Thoroughbred, into feeding, sheltering, training--and you'd let that horse go for a lousy four-hundred dollars?

What the Hell is WRONG with you???

All equines--ALL of them, including those wild horses, and Aunt Betsy's pet mule--deserve our unwavering protection, from inception to natural death. We in the world of Thoroughbred racing have a moral obligation, and a spiritual mandate, to not create horses for whom we cannot guarantee a good life.

They're not disposable. They're God-given gifts. They're not here on Earth for a "trial"--to see if you like them or not. You may have made them: you may be the breeder. But make no mistake: you are not their Creator. As breeder or owner, you bear an obligation to follow that horse all the way through its life, and assure that it never ends up in a killpen.

I attended the Keeneland Sales this past week, both nights. It was wonderful, I had a blast. The air was electric.

I couldn't help but think, though, about the billions of dollars represented in that sales pavilion. Amazing. So many people there who can buy and sell the world.

And I thought to myself...if each of these people took just ten minutes of their time to call their representatives in Washington, and demand that the Amendment to the Horse Protection Act be WOULD be passed. Senators and Congresspeople are very responsive to the demands of those who threaten to take away their fat jobs and bennies.

The Amendment makes illegal the shipping of equines for slaughter. Simple: horses can't get slaughtered if they can't get to the slaughterhouses. And, smart as they are--and lacking thumbs--they surely won't drive themselves there. This Amendment must be passed, so that the slaughterhouses' business dries up. They can't torture and kill what can't get to them.

So we have before us only two actions, both of which can be done this very night:

1) Every person in Thoroughbred racing--trainers, owners, breeders, fans, writers, editors, publishers, feed distributors, hay farmers, farriers, van drivers, grooms, exercise riders--can decide tonight to pick up the phone tomorrow morning and call our representatives in Washington. Tell them to pass this Amendment, stop the transportation of equines to slaughterhouses--and effectively stop the mass murder of our horses.

2) Every breeder in the United States can sit back, take a chill pill, breed selectively and remind themselves of why they do this: because they love these horses. If you make fewer horses this year, you may be a tad less-rich next year. But you'll also sleep better at night, because you have the assurance that you're helping pull the plug on equine slaughter. Your conservative breeding this spring means that five years from now there'll be fewer "unwanted" Thoroughbreds.

(I know, the thought of an unwanted Thoroughbred just doesn't make sense to me, either. Thoroughbreds are God's most magnificent creatures--who'd ever get rid of one? I want one so desperately, my own Thoroughbred--filly or colt, doesn't matter--that I cannot fathom anyone getting rid of one just because they "don't work out." )

If you breeders stop making so many babies, cool your hooves and breed more selectively--concentrate on quality, rather than quantity--you'll be contributing to the anti-slaughter effort in immeasurable ways.

This column is a call to stop slaughter, post-haste. Let's quit screwin' around, talking about it, clucking to ourselves, and feeling self-righteous because we know it's wrong. Nothing ever gets done because a bunch of horse lovers sat around bitching about it over a Dos Equis. Pick up the phone. Call Washington. Threaten their jobs--we ARE their bosses, we CAN vote them out.

Let's make a promise--a vow, if you will--to stop the heinous mass murder of all equines, once and for all, in the United States. It's not a good indicator that our nation allows it, for one very good reason: the quality of a society is measured by the quality of life of its weakest members.

Horses don’t have thumbs. Because of this one factor, they depend on us for their food, shelter—for their very lives. Even wild horses depend on humans to not destroy the natural vegetation and habitat in which they dwell. By merit of their dependence on we mere humans—equines are, indeed, in that “weakest members” category.

Ergo, if our society is being measured by our treatment of horses—we’re screwed. If we fail to stop the mass murder of our beautiful, loyal, sentient horses—we deserve the mantle, “barbarian,” for it’s a sign that our culture is going the way of the pterodactyl—and of Rome.

I'm an opinionated woman, I know. But the fact is that if you make a living in this sport and don't care enough about our horses to make sure that slaughter stops, immediately--you don't deserve to make a living in this sport.

Obviously, I like horses a lot more than I like humans: I've never met a horse I didn't like. I can't say that about people.

Written by Marion (Mare) Altieri

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