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Riding Club Slammed for Horse Meat Meal

Riding Club Slammed for Horse Meat Meal

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A team of horse lovers has been condemned for eating horse meat

Wikimedia/Dieter Josupeit

A university riding club has caught flack for patronizing a horse meat restaurant.

The equestrians of Linköping University in southern Sweden certainly love their horses, but they’re now the subject of some condemnation at the university after the team was caught enjoying horses on their plates as well as under their saddles.

According to The Local, the university riding club has an annual party at a restaurant, and this year the club organizers had the idea to go to De Klomp, an establishment well-known for serving primarily horse meat. The team reportedly attended as a large group and enjoyed a mixture of cured meats and a main course of roasted horse meat accompanied by warm potato and vegetable salad with chile mayonaise. The menu was paired with a beer called Dead Pony.

Many were not happy about the riding club’s choice of restaurant, and another student started a petition to condemn the riding team. More than 1,000 people reportedly signed the petition against the team for patronizing the horse meat restaurant.

"We thought we might get some upset comments, but not that those people would start a petition - certainly not,” said Frida Dagsgård, the riding club's treasurer and vice president. "It started as a joke. Someone said that maybe we could test horse meat. First of all we laughed, then we thought that it was something we could actually do."

De Klomp’s owner, Take Aanstoot, is of course no stranger to controversy and said he welcomed the debate over the riding club’s meal.

"I want more people to talk about meat production and not wasting food,” he said, “because we are wasting food because we think that some things are too cute to eat."

Eating Styles: Would You Eat Horse Meat?

Hello, So Good readers! It’s Monday, which means it’s time for another Eating Styles poll. This week’s topic was sparked by one of my friends (who knows I love horses) posting on my Facebook wall with this article from The Oatmeal making the case for why we should be eating horses instead of riding them. The article was a joke, or at least I took it as a joke until I saw this announcement from the Huffington Post about Britain’s Princess Anne making the case for why the British should seriously consider eating horse meat.

Although eating horse meat is still a largely taboo practice in America, it as well within the bounds of social and culinary acceptability in other countries like France, China, Germany and Japan. What about you – would you eat horse meat? In the horse meat-shunning culture we have now, I wouldn’t be surprised if you said no. But what if horse meat became a sanctioned meal to Americans? What if all your friends were doing it? Would you try it then? Vote below and explain your answer in the comments.

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9 Responses

I’ve eaten horse meat in Budapest. It tasted like hot, wet beef jerky.

I’m Hungarian and I’ve eaten horse meat before.If you ever visit Hungary I recommend you try salami and sausages made out of horse meat.It tastes really good but it’s a bit more expensive than regular cold meat.

Eh, why not? I’m in no hurry to add them to my diet, but I’d at least try it if someone put it in front of me. I do love horses as living creatures, but a similar affection hasn’t kept me from dining on rabbit.

I had horse meat in Germany. MTeat’s summary is perfect. It had the meaty flavours of beef but without the meaty heaviness. Just a little bit sweeter than beef, too.

When my mother and I first went to Italy for me to finish my classical voice studies, mom was horrified at the number of horse meat butcher shops we passed. My grandmother had horses on their ranch farm. Mama loved them and had the innate American phobia about eating horsemeat.
But I was intrigued because I LOVE meat of all kinds, and have tried various kinds such as goat (gamy but tasty) in Mexico and bear in the southwest (too gamy), as well as other non-conventional meat dishes. But I was curious about horsemeat because it´s prohibited in the States but was, 25 years ago, very popular in Europe and considered the best meat for people with anemia or blood deficiencies. So, when mama returned home from the hospital with her leg in a cast after a road accident, and for the first time in my life, at age 20, during her absence I had to make the meals, at first I made the normal dishes and reveled in learning I´d inherited my one-time restaurateur mother´s cooking abilitoes. But one day, passing the horsemeat butcher´s, an imp possessed me and I bought a couple of horsemeat steaks. That evening I made them for dinner but didn´t tell mama what meat they were, and we both loved them. Tasty, meaty, a bit sweeter than beef. The next day, I prepared two more, and finally confessed to mama what they were after dinner. She was horrified and told me never to buy them again. And, to tell the truth, although they were still good, the second time, the meat tasted much too sweet, almost nauseatingly so. And I really felt I couldn´t eat them again, bt not because they were horsemeat, but because I don´t like sweet tasting meat.
It actually became quite nauseatingly sweet. But the US, like England, are horse-loving countries, so the prejudice against horsemeat isn´t logical, it´s emotional, The sweetish flavor may also have influenced the prejudice against eating it. Yet, strangely enough, there´s no prejudice against eating lamb or rabbits. And, loveable creatures, too. It seems some humans have an affinity with horses that doesn´t apply to other edible animals.

I don’t know why people carry on eating any meat….
What gives man the right to take another’s life.
The problem is they just take and don’t put themselves in another’s place.
Animals want to live – as much as we do.
You are making your stomach’s a living grave for dead animals if you eat meat.
Think of their suffering, imagine the fear horses fear, who are nervous by nature feel, indeed all animals.
Watch ‘’ or ‘Meet your Meat’, become aware of their suffering and then once you have seen the other side – decide whether to carry on eating something that is not yours, or take the kinder road, and give up meat and dairy.

Jan- You are absolutely right. We do not have any right to take life. If slaughterhouses had glass walls and the public could watch their “food” struggle, scream, and fight for their lives in terror….then no one would eat meat. Each animal is an individual, with a personality, strong emotional family ties, and a beautiful soul. Respect for life is a core belief of all major religions, yet most choose to ignore this.

Like many vegetarians, Jan and Samantha are wrong. I’ve seen animals being slaughtered and I still eat meat. I’ve slaughtered animals myself and I still eat meat. I’ve hunted and eaten what I’ve killed. Bunnies and lambs are cute and I eat them. Horses are not special, they’re yummy.

Yes, I’ve eaten raw horse meat (in Japan, where it’s called basashi and dipped in a spicy garlic soy sauce) and it’s delicious.

Horse Meat

We’ve all heard the phrase, and it comes from when horse was on the menu. It was rather significant phrase to me as a kid because I grew up with horses, usually five occasionally six. They were my mother’s hobby and the main reason why I spent some 13 summers of my youth haying until I joined the army. I know horses, haying and ground hornets well. I also know it take one huge hole to bury a dead horse. It’s not a hole you dig by hand. Want a reference point? Dig a hold to bury a car. That’s about right except you have to make it deep or carnivores will dig down to it. Even getting a dead horse to the hole is a chore particularly if it dies in a stall in the barn.

Not only did my mother bring home live horses but horse meat as well. We bought it in the butcher store occasionally. It had to be separated from the beef — other side of the store — but there it was, several different cuts catering to the Canadian shoppers. In fact, horse meat was on the menu at the Harvard Faculty Club up until 1983. It was a common food in the U.S. during WWII and was consumed in quantity because it was not rationed. Archaeologists tell us early man hunted and ate horses. They became beasts of burden much later. Horses are called the noble beast because they will always try to do what you ask of them.

Here’s a bit of trivia for you: Henry Ford loathed horses. He hated them. He said he worked hard to develop the car to free man from the Culture of Horses. Ponder that. Here’s a man who helped change an entire society — the world — because he hated a particular animal. Then again, someone who loved horses, which were the main muscle of the day, could have developed the car because they wanted to save horses from all that work and suffering. Either way the internal combustion engine put an end to the horse culture.

The banning of horse meat goes back to the eighth century. Popes Zachary and Gregory III both told Saint Boniface to forbid his missionaries to eat horse meat, as it had a strong correlation to the Germanic pagan rituals which Christians were trying to eradicate. The Germans of old liked their horse meat, and still do and until 2005 the United States was the major exporter of resturant grade horse meat.

Buying horse meat and slaughtering horses for commercial meat was illegal in the United States from 2006 until Nov. 18th, 2011, though it was available in other countries during those times. Horse meat could be in US markets in early 2012 but it was sure to create public controversy. The only legal impediment nationally is funding federal meat inspectors. However, California and Illinois have banned the slaughter of horses for human consumption, and more than a dozen states tightly regulate the sale of horse meat. Not so elsewhere.

In Japan there’s a sashimi dish made of horse meat. Horse is very popular in France. From a culinary point of view horse meat is lean, much along the taste and texture of moose, deer or kangaroo. It is a gray colored, dry, sweeter than beef, and improves in flavor greatly by the inclusion of fat when cooking or from a marinade. Fresh is far better than frozen .

As mentioned elsewhere most people would not eat their pets, regardless of what those pets are. When I meet someone who has a reptile for a pet I have to remind myself of that least I make a few misplaced iguana shoes or turtle soup jokes. Though we ate horse meat eating our horses when they died was not an option. We buried Ginger, Bonnie, Cheeko, Rusty, Mary and Sootie. And I am sure all these years later I would be bothered by the deed had we eaten those big, lovable pets. However, in hindsight all these years later, we also buried a lot of meat. Combined they weighted some 6,000 pounds. Even after dressing that would be three to four thousand pounds of meat, two tons of it. That’s a lot of food to put into the ground. If raising cattle that we eat is a waste of land resources then what is burying a pet horse?

Horses have cuts just as beef does, with more or less tender parts. We usually bought steaks but they ended up in stews more often than fried. Without some tenderizing and fat the frying pan does not treat horse meat well. The stews were excellent. Indeed, my mother loved New England Boiled Dinners. We had that virtually every Sunday for every Sunday I ever lived at home — without exception — and more than once there was a chunk of horse meat in there growing tender by the long, moist heat.

Foul-mouth chef Gordon Ramsay says horse is healthy, packed with half the fat of beef and has far more Omega 3 fatty acids than beef. He describes it as “slightly gamey” and “packed with protein.” I don’t remember it being gamey at all.

While there are legitimate reasons not to eat horse on the positive side, horses don’t have mad cows disease.

  • 1 1/2 lb. (675 g) lean ground or cubes horse meat
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 mL) olive oil
  • Tomato Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 mL) olive oil
  • 1 cup (250 mL) tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 mL) brown sugar or honey
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 mL) mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 mL) Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste


In a pan, sauté the horse meat in oil. Drain the meat and throw out the cooking fat. Put the meat back in the pan. In a glass bowl, mix all the sauce ingredients. Pour into the pan over the meat. Cover and simmer for one hour. Serve with pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan or Pecorino cheese.

The problem with horsemeat is that we are a culture of chemists. There are no horses that I am aware of that aren’t treated with all sorts of medications (most not suitable for animals intended for slaughter). If you raise horses for meat there would be strict regs associated with what they could be treated with. Not so the horse meat supply – particulately the racehorse meat supply. Not much they don’t use to make a horse run, or keep it on four legs long enough to ship to the butcher. Not for a sentimental reason, but for seriously real health threats, don’t eat horsemeat unless you personally know where it was raised and that its safe!

Is this inferential or do you have evidence of said? I grew up with horses and they rarely had any medication except occassionally when ill. This was before west nile virus, however. But even now the schedule of shots for horses is very little, four or five at the most. Cattle however are routinely immunized and given antibiotics, eight to 10 shots annually, more if ill. I would think if any meat was likely to have medications et cetera it would be cattle not horses.

I worked in race horse industry for 13 years and can vouch that they are given all kinds of shots and drugs.

I’ve been a horse owner all my life, and so when faced with horse on the menu in Vietnam, I had a crisis of conscience, followed by a bottle of rice wine. In the end, I tried it, and it was delicious. It was simply marinaded and cooked on a stick, but it was lovely – like beef, but also had a taste similar to crispy chicken skin.
A normal riding horse or racehorse, in my opinion, is unsuitable for the table. Most riding horses, and I would assume all racehorses, have been given bute (an oral antiinflammatory) at least once. Racehorses would have it before and after most races to ensure they run past any injuries.
It clearly states on the packet that bute is not to be given to animals that will be used for human consumption.

In the mid 1970’s for a long time previously and probably up to now, the urine and sometimes feces of winning and suspect race horses and dogs was tested by some ( PROBABLY ALL States that had racing programs ) States for drugs. For a while way back when, detection of some steroids was a challenge. With the equipment of today they might be able to tell where the oats the horse ate yesterday morning were grown. I do not know what if any drugs are allowed for treating race animals. I presume if a drug will impact a animals performance, it better have been metabolized or excreted to undetectable amounts before a race.

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They’re Dying at the Finish : Horses, Including Ex-Thoroughbred Racers, Are Being Slaughtered for Big Profit Some Travel Long Hours in Grueling Conditions

Just up the road from an affluent community in Chino Hills, under a blazing sun, a man in a baseball cap loads horses for transport to slaughter.

Some of the animals move slowly, the result of old age or injuries, but others are obviously well-conditioned, thoroughbreds fresh off the track.

The ranch hand continues loading until 46 horses fit in the double-decker truck designed to transport cattle and pigs, animals smaller than horses. The horses will travel in these close quarters as far as Texas, to one of the 10 USDA-inspected equine slaughterhouses. Eventually, they will be sold for human consumption in Europe and Japan.

Many in the racing industry are unaware of the market for horse flesh, and of the ones who know, many assume the slaughter-bound horses are not their horses, that somehow the ones that go are lesser in class. But neither an impressive pedigree nor a winning race record provides an exemption.

Proud Duke, a bay son of Splendid Courage, earned $143,350 racing four years in Southern California. In the end, he boarded a cattle truck in Chino Hills and was slaughtered in Ft. Worth. Wine Girl, by Debonair Roger, earned $104,485 at the races, delivered a couple of foals and was sent to the holding pens to await shipment.

Broodmares carrying expensive foals are likewise non-exempt. In the last year, mares in foal to Habitony, who sired Breeders’ Cup Classic contender Best Pal, and Olympic Native, who stands for $3,500, were found at the holding pens.

The scene occurs with startling familiarity. The horses crowd onto the truck. Some begin pawing the metal floor and biting each other. Others stare out from between the slats. Mares, stallions and geldings all file in together, standing shoulder to hip and nose to haunches for the 18-hour journey. Before they even begin the trip, their coats are washy with sweat and one appears to be bleeding from the mouth.

The ranch hand says a few words to the driver, and the truck leaves. Then it’s back to the pens to rearrange the horses still waiting. The 46 on the truck will travel without food, water or a break to the Beltex Corporation’s meat-packing plant in Ft. Worth. There they will each receive a bullet in the head as required by the Humane Slaughter Act.

The man loading the truck works for Leonard Grenier, owner of about 20 acres in Chino Hills that serve as a last stop for many horses. He could just as easily work for Slim Hart of Hart’s Livestock in Corona.

Both Grenier and Hart, who head the only two operations in Southern California that provide horses to slaughterhouses, buy the animals from a variety of sellers. They get back yard horses at the weekly local auctions and thoroughbreds at the sales that cater to the racing community. Many times they don’t have to venture out. People from the tracks, local farms and lay-up facilities, where horses are sent to recuperate, sometimes bring the animals to the two ranchers.

The former racehorses Hart and Grenier buy are often thoroughbreds who were not expected to win or runners who were injured beyond recovery. And because the meat buyers can only use live animals, there is incentive to keep horses alive until they go to the slaughterhouse. Injured animals that might otherwise be given a lethal injection at the track--and sent for autopsy as required by California law--are kept alive and sent to Grenier’s or Hart’s ranch.

The animals who come from the farms can be injured runners, barren mares, crooked babies or horses whose owners didn’t pay the board bill. For Grenier and Hart, they are simply horses selling at a lower price than the per-pound prices the slaughterhouses will pay.

Grenier, a lifelong horseman and a racehorse owner, evaluates the animals on his lot to determine if they can be sold as saddle horses or anything more profitable than slaughterhouse horses.

Like backstretch workers at the track, Grenier is up early and spends long hours seven days a week with his horses. He said he loves the four-legged creatures.

“You can’t do this if you don’t,” he said.

Grenier is constantly evaluating, buying, selling, breeding, talking about and caring for horses.

But mostly, it’s buying and selling. He still remembers why he began shipping horses to slaughter in the early 1970s.

“I remember the day a man told me he’d pay 20 cents a pound. It was like someone telling you they were going to hand you $100,000 tomorrow,” he said.

He’s a horse trader and loves the action. At a recent two-day horse sale, Grenier stood near the bid spotter for the length of the auction each day. From his perch on the railing, he watched 425 horses enter the ring. He bid on many and finally bought 12.

His competitor, Donna Hart, bought eight. Slim Hart, Donna’s husband, did not return repeated calls for comment on this story.

“It’s a last resort when they’re shipped for canners,” Grenier said. “A lot of them don’t ride.”

The slaughterhouse is more than a last resort it has become the bottom of the market. Any horse that might sell for less than the slaughterhouse will pay becomes worth more dead than alive.

A riding school or back yard breeder who might have bought a thoroughbred off the track for $200 is now being outbid by Grenier and Hart.

And for racehorse owners who think about keeping a non-racing thoroughbred, the cost of the alternative, maintaining the horse, is greater than the opportunity cost of a missed sale. There are boarding bills, veterinarian bills and training bills, if the horse is sound. Day rates for boarding a horse at California farms run from $6 to $16 a day for broodmares. Horses that are recovering from injuries and need extra attention are, on the average, $8 more, according to an industry newsletter.

A horse with a bowed tendon that requires six months off could cost $4,320 in boarding bills alone. And then there is no guarantee the horse will ever earn a check if it returns to the track.

Even “humanely destroying” an animal has its costs.

“If you have money to put them down, there’s nothing wrong with doing that,” Grenier said. “But how many people have money to do that?

“Putting them down costs a couple hundred dollars, and then by the time you have them hauled away . . . what are you going to do? That, or take the $500, especially if you’ve no attachment to it?”

And for Grenier, Hart and the meat-packers who deal in equine slaughter, the horse trade makes sense on the bottom line. A full-grown thoroughbred weighs anywhere from 900 to 1,300 pounds. The slaughterhouses pay up to $1 a pound. California Thoroughbred Sales and Barretts, the two companies that cater to the state’s racing industry, set the baseline price for recent horse sales at $500.

For a horse trader who buys a horse for $600 at a Tuesday auction, as Grenier did, and has a truck lined up for the next Tuesday, the result may be $400, less a week’s feed. That’s on one horse. Send 46 each week and the profits climb with the volume.

There is no market for horse meat in the United States, but demand for it is strong in other regions of the world. Last year, the value of American horse meat exported exceeded $128 million. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 243,585 horses were slaughtered in this country for human consumption elsewhere. Another 46,494 were transported to slaughterhouses in Canada.

In 1992, the American equine slaughter industry sold horse meat at an average of $1.38 a pound. And the steaks eaten in France and Japan were not the only parts sold.

“Essentially, almost all the by-products are used in one shape or form,” said Robin Lohnes of the American Horse Protection Assn. “They go for pet food the bone meal can be used in fertilizer, and the hides go to leather products.”

While the USDA inspects every horse that is slaughtered for wholesomeness and safety--last year fewer than 1% were rejected--the agency does not record the numbers of each breed going through the slaughterhouses.

“They make more money on animals with smaller bones,” said Sharon Johnston of Horsepower International, a lobbying organization. “There are different grades of horse meat, and thoroughbreds are a higher grade usually because they are younger animals.”

Johnston, however, is more concerned with the treatment of the slaughter-bound animals before they are killed. Only the method of slaughter is federally regulated, and California law does not address transportation and treatment of horses.

A bill drafted by Horsepower International, AB2039, would establish regulations for the shipment of horses to slaughterhouses. Among the requirements: Horses must be able to stand upright with the head above their withers stallions and mares must travel separately mares cannot be shipped in their last trimester, and to prevent transport of crippled horses, the bill requires that animals be able to bear weight on all four legs.

The bill was signed by Gov. Pete Wilson and takes effect Jan. 1. Another bill, AB1809, was designed to ban the tripping of horses by the legs for entertainment or sport. The bill died in committee, and charro rodeos continue.

Grenier rents some of the horses awaiting shipment to these rodeos, in which horses are used in the roping events. Instead of catching the cattle by the horns, the rope is thrown out to catch a frightened and galloping horse by the front legs. The roper then pulls the horse’s legs out from beneath and drops the animal to the dirt.

These animals are rented at a daily rate. After a few turns through the rodeo circuit, they are shipped for slaughter.

But, again, this route is a last resort. Grenier tries to sell what he can at a higher price before shipping them, but not to the point of conflict with the Texas-bound trucks.

The shipping company charges him the same amount whether the two-tiered truck is full or not. It’s in Grenier’s best interest to send as many as are needed to meet the maximum allowable weight of 47,000 pounds.

Eva Marina, Kim Kircher and Helen Meredith operate the Pegasus Foundation, a nonprofit organization designed to rescue as many horses as possible from slaughter and the cross-country journey that must precede it. California law prohibits the slaughter of horses for human consumption.

Marina, an artist’s representative, trained horses in her native Sweden before emigrating to Southern California. Kircher is a lifelong horse enthusiast who joined Pegasus after hearing a radio announcement for one of the group’s early fund-raisers. Meredith trains horses at Santa Anita with her husband, Derek. Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Cardmania is in their shedrow.

The three women have a friendly relationship with Grenier and a more strained one with the Harts.

Grenier gives them free access to his feed lot, and almost every day one of the three is there, searching through the dusty pens trying to determine which horses can go to new owners. They use the Chino ranch as a showroom of sorts, bringing prospective buyers out to look at the horses. The buyer then negotiates directly with Grenier.

Grenier readily agrees that the women do good work, acknowledging: “They sell horses that I wouldn’t have been able to sell a few years ago.” But they also are doing his work for him, and their clients pay more than Beltex.

Often, Grenier will hold a horse out for them, moving it from the main pen to one of the stalls behind his office. But if he has to fill a truck, anything not sold is at risk.

Eventually, the members of the Pegasus Foundation hope to buy or lease a training center where they can keep horses while they look for new owners. If they had the space to board horses, they could offer trainers and owners an alternative to these kinds of equine way stations--sometimes called feed lots. With Pegasus’ nonprofit status, anyone who donates a horse to the foundation could take a tax write-off worth more than the price Grenier and Hart will pay.

Earlier this year, Marina and Meredith discovered a gelding who appeared to be in good health. Flipping up the lip and jotting down the tattoo number gave them access to more information. It turned out the gelding, named Wishful Thinker, was in perfect physical condition.

Fabio Nor, a trainer known for feeding his horses lettuce and bottled water, and generally babying his animals, was shocked to discover that a horse he trained had ended up at the feed lot.

As a racehorse, Wishful Thinker didn’t show much promise or even any reason to continue in training, so Nor gave him to a small breeder. The horse was sent to stud for a couple of years until the man couldn’t keep him anymore and called Nor to return the horse.

Nor gave Wishful Thinker to a driver for Hubbard Horse Transportation, who gelded the horse and planned to use him for roping cattle. That didn’t work out, so the van driver sold Wishful Thinker to a riding stable.

Pegasus found the horse at Grenier’s lot waiting for the next truck to Texas.

“I was surprised when Helen (Meredith) called,” Nor said. “I don’t want any of my horses to go to the killer. I’ll turn them out somewhere if I have to.”

Sometimes the route from racetrack to feed lot is more direct. Pegasus’ efforts also turned up a bay thoroughbred colt who seemed healthy except for a suspiciously tight bandage on his leg.

This colt was a 3-year-old named Three Mike’s. He won his last start on April 17 at Santa Anita to cap an 11-race career. In his first start, eight months earlier, he was a half-length winner at Del Mar. When Pegasus found him, he had earned $25,950.

Three Mike’s broke a cannon bone during a morning workout, ending his racing career. Craig Lewis, who trained the Interco colt, said he discussed it with the owners and told his foreman to give the colt away.

Lewis said he was surprised and upset to hear the colt was found in the slaughter-bound pen at Grenier’s. He thought he had given the horse to a good home, that after recovering, Three Mike’s would be a riding horse.

Lewis said to work the hours it takes to be a trainer, you have to love horses and don’t want to see them slaughtered.

“Most of my owners feel the same way I do,” he said. “They don’t care if they give it away. They just don’t want it butchered.”

Pegasus rescued Three Mike’s from Grenier’s and found a new home for him as a riding horse. Upon seeing the X-rays, the new owner’s veterinarian had suggested the horse be killed because of the severity of the injury, but he was overruled.

Other trainers see the slaughter industry as a necessary evil. Racing is a money-making venture, and training and owning are businesses with a bottom line. Local trainer Byron Allen sells openly and often to Grenier and Hart.

“I sell to those boys because they’ve always got a market,” he said.

Allen keeps a band of 40 broodmares and is always culling the offspring that won’t make it at the races, often taking young, healthy animals directly to the feed lots.

“Obviously if you’re in this business, you do it because you love horses,” he said. “You don’t do it because you want to sell them for dog food.”

But, Allen added, he can’t keep all the horses he raises.

“It would get to a point where the people who want to do good by their horses can’t, because they’ve got too many to feed,” he said. “If you keep all the bad ones, you can’t do right by the good ones.”

But if the good ones are the ones who earn their keep, thousands of horses born each year don’t count. In 1989, the Jockey Club registered 48,196 thoroughbred foals. Last year, as 3-year-olds, only 53% had made it to the races, according to The Bloodhorse magazine, and the number of horses in training from that foal crop will continue to drop as they grow older.

The magazine estimated an owner’s annual cost to be $20,000 per horse. Using that as a break-even point, only about 11% earned their keep.

In other words, from a foal crop of 48,196, only 2,809 earn the owner’s cost back, fewer than 6%.

Although Pegasus is a new group, Marina has been rescuing horses for four years. By her estimates, she has helped rescue more than 200 from the agonizing trip and death at the slaughterhouse. But then, Grenier can ship as many as 46 horses per week. And Hart might ship more.

Pegasus also started a “die with dignity” program for the horses who were too far gone when discovered at the feed lots. One crippled mare was unable to fight for her share of food in the crowded pen. Pegasus bought her from Grenier and had a veterinarian administer a lethal injection to the skinny and sore chestnut mare.

They eat horses, don't they?

That’s a strange threat! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to go there to visit the wine country, see the art in Florence, learn some history in Rome, and enjoy the Adriatic beaches?

Not if you hear the above and you are a horse! Especially if you were a horse back in the day when I used to ride in my now-extinct homeland of Yugoslavia.

With total number of horses in the country small and dwindling after the cavalry was disbanded in 1948, with fast urbanization of the country reducing the number of horses working the fields, and before equestrian sports started taking off again in the late 1980s, there was no need for a dedicated horse slaughterhouse. Occasionally a really urgent case would be slaughtered in a cattle slaughterhouse. A horse in agony after an injury would be killed on the spot (e.g., on the racetrack) and its meat donated to the perennially strapped-for-cash Belgrade Zoo for lions and other carnivores, But most horses at the end of their lives ended up on trucks headed to the meat market of Italy (and probably a few also to Austria – but I don’t have access to any documents, just what everyone in the horse business at the time knew).

With all the horse meat ending up in Italy, there was not much left for domestic consumption. Thus whole generations grew up without ever tasting it. The culture gradually changed. A horse butcher had a store in Belgrade for about a decade in the 1960s, but had to close due to low demand. Later, in mid-1980s, another entrepreneurial butcher opened a horse-meat store, this time promoting it as a delicacy rather than utilitarian, cheap alternative to beef. That store did not last long, either.

While there is no taboo against eating horse in the Balkans, there are definitely cultural forces that prevent it from being as popular as it is for its neighbors to the West, And those forces are divided by generations.

According to the elders, especially those with clear memories of World War II, horse meat was a poor man’s food, only to be consumed in times of war or famine. If you can afford beef, pork, lamb and chicken, why should you stoop so low as to eat the tough, acidic horse meat?

On the other hand, youngsters saw horses in a much less utilitarian way. They did not remember thousands of cavalry horses, cart horses, and draft horses filling the countryside. They did not remember poverty and hunger. Every horse they met had a name, be it a nice riding school pony, or a stunningly beautiful sports horse.

Obviously, neither of the two age groups could be easily persuaded that horse meat is a delicacy.

I saw that generational divide myself one day, back in the 1980s. We grilled some horse steaks…at the barn, right after we finished riding, grooming and petting our horses. There were horses inside, happily munching their oats in their stalls. There were other horses outside, sliced and roasting on the grill. How conflicted everyone’s feelings were!

But that was an excellent opportunity for all of us to discuss and debate the ethical, utilitarian, economic, nutritional, ecological and other angles of horse consumption. Why older people found it easier to eat the meat than the younger folk? Why was it easier for men than for women? Why some found it delicious, while others hated its texture and taste? Many of the young, pony-obsessed girls wouldn’t touch it, while younger boys gave it a try despite obvious disgust.

In the end, it all came down to names. You cannot eat an animal whose name you knew when it was alive. Name gives it a personality. An animal whose name you know is also an animal you know well – its looks and behavior and personality. It’s a friend. Friends don’t eat friends.

The steaks we had came from a horse we knew nothing about. Not the name, not age, sex, breed, color, anything. Perhaps the previous owner really loved that horse, cried when loading it onto the slaughterhouse truck. Just like one day, certainly, someone in Italy was going to eat the flesh of our horses we loved, and could do it because of not knowing those horses personally.

But by buying and eating that horse’s meat, we helped that previous owner recover some of the financial loss. Perhaps it was a farmer who lost a horse essential for working his farm. Without taking the meat price for the old horse, the farmer would not be able to buy a new horse, and would not be able to work the farm and feed his family. The circle of life would have been broken, both the human one and the equine one.

That was the economy of individual horse ownership by regular people. Of course, if you are rich or live in a rich country, and if you can afford to keep all your horses out on pastures until they die the natural death, by all means do that. But most people cannot afford that. And yet they need to have horses for their livelihoods. Eating horse meat is an essential part of such an economy.

I can attest that this statement is true.

But then it got tricky. The problem became more complex. After all, it is relatively easy for an individual to decide not to eat horse meat because of ethical concerns. But that is the meat of a dead horse who died in order to provide that meat. So, how do you try to use ethical considerations to explain why you refuse to eat meat of the horse who is still alive? I am talking about marinated, delicious testicles of the stallion who is still prancing out in the paddock. In a country where offal is a perfectly normal part of everyday cuisine, and one can order sweetbreads in any decent restaurant. No harm was done to any animal. So, why not eat it? Not an easy question to answer. And it’s pretty obvious that the answer is not rooted in ethics, economics, ecology, nutrition or health concerns. It is psychological and aesthetic, thus it is rooted in culture.

And this is where we switch gears, as we need to start comparing cultures, in this case Balkans with America.

“Behaving or not, you’re going to Mexico!”

The question “shall we eat horse meat?” is coupled with the related question “shall we slaughter horses?”. In both countries, most of the horse slaughter (and consumption) is outsourced to other countries (Italy in the case of the Balkans, Mexico in the case of USA). Yet the attitudes are different. There, if there were more horses and there was more appetite for meat, there would be horse slaughter in place with almost nobody’s objection. Without too much emotional opposition to eating horses, economic forces would be allowed to dictate what happens on the ground.

Here, there is an overabundance of horses, but because there is no appetite for meat at all, slaughtering horses is considered a very bad idea. Hence such outcry when the slaughter of horses was recently made legal again after a long time (and opening a slaughterhouse is fraught with difficulties).

If unicorns were easier to catch, they would be a staple diet in at least some cultures.

The shift in culture that I started observing in the 1980s there, already occurred much earlier here in the States. Horses are still used in agriculture there, especially in more mountainous regions where tractors are ineffective and uneconomical. Many small farmers cannot afford tractors, or have too little land to need one. Older people still remember the life on the farm, and even kids have seen horses working in the field. The movement from country to city happened too recently.

Here, agriculture has long ago moved from small farmers to gigantic agribusiness. Very few people have any personal experience with a horse working the land. Most horses are used for pleasure and sport – they have names and are treated as pets, rather than as beasts of burden.

Also, there is an overproduction of horses here. So many horses are bred, often of poor quality, that many never get to be ridden at all – they go straight to Mexico while still young. It is not that just old, sick or lame horses get slaughtered, it’s healthy foals! It’s not just a natural circle of life, it’s production of horses directly for slaughter.

Then, there is the issue of food safety. There is a reason Europe does not allow import of American horsemeat, no matter how much demand there may be there (and demand is dropping there as well). One never knows if the meat came from a racehorse (or if it’s horse meat at all). The rules for drug use (from steroids to painkillers) in racehorses in the USA are so lax compared to other countries, that it is almost certain that the meat of an American racehorse is unfit for human consumption. And how can one know if the steak or sausage came from a draft horse or a racehorse? With eating horse in America being potentially dangerous, it’s not strange that people don’t do it, and the cultural tradition of eating horses quickly dies out. If your parents never ate horse meat, you won’t either. Cultural food habits start at home.

But there are other reasons why American culture is so strongly against eating (and thus slaughtering) horses. I vaguely alluded to some of those already, but now need to be more explicit. And for this, we need to go back to the old master, anthropologist Marshall Sahlins and his 1976 essay La Pensee Bourgeoise: Western Society as Culture, in which he takes a close look as to why Americans eat cows and pigs, but don’t eat horses and dogs.

Manly Men in the Feed Lot.

True, “in most parts of the world, people are grateful to eat whatever is available to them.” Vast areas of the planet have scant vegetation. Plant agriculture is impossible due to poor soil. People need and want to live there anyway, at least as nomads if not settlers, but cannot sustain themselves on an occasional root or berry. They have to carry their food with them, but that also takes up energy. So the best way to survive in such harsh environments is to have the food walk along with them. Cattle, goats, sheep, camels, donkeys, mules, asses and yes, horses, are the sources of daily nourisment, both meat and dairy.

Yet the point is not only of consuming interest the productive relation of American society to its own and the world environment is organized by specific valuations of edibility and inedibility, themselves qualitative and in no way justifiable by biological, ecological, or economic advantage.

There is no nutritional reason not to eat horse. If anything, horse meat may have some advantages over beef. If production of horse meat was a viable, large industry due to high demand, it would have similar environmental impact as beef industry has now, and the economics would be the same as well. Low demand is due to culture, which determines even how food taste is perceived. It is not surprising that food preferences then become deeply ingrained, and offers of locally unusual foods elicit strong negative responses based entirely on emotions, rather than rational calculations. So even during times of crisis and famine, those cultural and emotional obstacles prevent the population from taking advantage of available food sources, regardless of governmental, corporate, scientific or media efforts to help enlighten the population about it. The angry reactions are based entirely on cultural norms and emotional sense of disgust. Sahlins uses this example from the Honolulu Advertiser of 15 April 1973:

“Horses are to be loved and ridden,” Gallagher said. “In other words, horses are shown affection, where cattle that are raised for beef … they’ve never had someone pet them or brush them, or anything like that. To buy someone’s horse up and slaughter it, that, I just don’t see it. “

In a crisis, the contradictions of the system reveal themselves. During the meteoric inflation of food prices in the spring of 1973, American capitalism did not fall apart-quite the contrary but the cleavages in the food system did surface. Responsible government officials suggested that the people might be well-advised to buy the cheaper cuts of meat such as kidneys, heart, or entrails-after all, they are just as nutritious as hamburger. To Americans, this particular suggestion made Marie Antoinette seem like a model of compassion (see fig. 10). The reason for the disgust seems to go to the same logic as greeted certain unsavory attempts to substitute horsemeat for beef during the same period.

When I came to the States, I understood that I would not be eating horse here at all. Which is fine with me – I tried a steak once and a sausage once, and while they were OK, I can totally live without them. But when we castrated a couple of colts at the barn, none of the whites would touch the testicles. But they were expertly prepared by an African American friend and we ate them with great appreciation.

Salome serves roasted unicorn head, which inludes cheecks, lips, tongue and brain.

As I wrote at length a few years ago, one of the specifics of American cuisine, due to culture, lies in its history. When we talk about Balkans food preferences, we are covering pretty much everyone who lives there – the class divisions and cultural divisions were always quite miniscule there. But when we talk about American food preferences, we tend to forget a big chunk of American culture. Whites prefer beef to other species, and will almost universally not eat offal. But there is a whole parallel culture, often unmentioned. The soul food, the Southern food, all the offal and innards and roadkill and strange foods that were cooked, and recipes perfected into delicacies by generations of African Americans, descendant of slaves who fixed steaks for the white masters and learned how to utilize everything else from the slaughtered animals. They have no problem with offal – or horse – as that is an intergral component of that subdivision of the American culture. Sahlins:

The poorer people buy the cheaper cuts, cheaper because they are socially inferior meats. But poverty is in the first place ethnically and racially encoded. Blacks and whites enter differentially into the American labor market, their participation ordered by an invidious distinction of relative “civilization.” Black is in American society as the savage among us, objective nature in culture itself. Yet then, by virtue of the ensuing distribution of income, the “inferiority” of blacks is realized also as a culinary defilement. “Soul food” may be made a virtue. But only as the negation of a general logic in which cultural degradation is confirmed by dietary preferences akin to cannibalism, even as this metaphorical attribute of the food is confirmed by the status of those who prefer it. I would not invoke “the so-called totemism” merely in casual analogy to the pensee sauvage. True that Levi-Strauss writes as if totemism had retreated in our society to a few marginal resorts or occasional practices (I 963a 1966). And fair enough-in the sense that the “totemic operator,” articulating differences in the cultural series to differences in natural species, is no longer a main architecture of the cultural system. But one must wonder whether it has not been replaced by species and varieties of manufactured objects, which like totemic categories have the power of making even the demarcation of their individual owners a procedure of social classification. (My colleague Milton Singer suggests that what Freud said of national differentiation might well be generalized to capitalism, that it is narcissism in respect of minor differences.)

Marshall Sahlins then delves into the question of words and names. As he reminds us, Red Queen said, “It isn’t etiquette to cut anybody you’ve been introduced to.” Horses (and dogs) have names. Most cows (and pigs) don’t.

Muscles of accepted food animals have cute monikers that hide what parts of the animal and which animal they came from. There is beef and pork and mutton. There are steaks and t-bones and round and chuck. But un-acceptable species don’t have such cutesy names for their muscles. Horse meat is called horsemeat. Dog’s would be dog-meat. Nothing to hide. Likewise, names for innards are not cutesy, hiding the obvious source: liver is liver, tongue is tongue, kidneys are kidney (though intestines become tripe, and testicles, probably due to puritanism, become whitebreads). Sahlins again:

Edibility is inversely related to humanity. The same holds in the preferences and common designations applied to edible portions of the animal. Americans frame a categorical distinction between the “inner” and “outer” parts which represents to them the same principle of relation to humanity, metaphorically extended. The organic nature of the flesh (muscle and fat) is at once disguised and its preferability indicated by the general term “meat,” and again by particular conventions such as “roast,” “steak,” “chops,” or “chuck” whereas the internal organs are frankly known as such (or as “innards”), and more specifically as “heart,” “tongue,” “kidney,” and so on-except as they are euphemistically transformed by the process of preparation into such products as “sweetbreads.”The internal and external parts, in other words, are respectively assimilated to and distinguished from parts of the human body-on the same model as we conceive our “innermost selves” as our “true selves”-and the two categories are accordingly ranked as more or less fit for human consumption. The distinction between “inner” and “outer” thus duplicates within the animal the differentiation drawn between edible and tabu species, the whole making up a single logic on two planes with the consistent implication of a prohibition on cannibalism. It is this symbolic logic which organizes demand. The social value of steak or roast, as compared with tripe or tongue, is what underlies the difference in economic value. From the nutritional point of view, such a notion of “better” and “inferior” cuts would be difficult to defend. Moreover, steak remains the most expensive meat even though its absolute supply is much greater than that of tongue there is much more steak to the cow than there is tongue. But more, the symbolic scheme of edibility joins with that organizing the relations of production to precipitate, through income distribution and demand, an entire totemic order, uniting in a parallel series of differences the status of persons and what they eat.

Of course, there are cultural (and language) differences between nations as to how they name the animals and how they name edible body parts. French is quite different from English in that regard, for instance. In Serbian, the words for muscle-meats from various animals are not cutesy but directly derived from the names of those species: govedo=govedina (cattle=beef), tele=teletina (calf=veal), ovca=ovcetina (sheep=mutton). Where eating animals is both an economic and a cultural necessity, where there is no taboo or even mild unease about eating meat, there is no need to come up with linguistic camouflage.

But what I find most interesting in Marshall Sahlins’ article is this passage:

The exploitation of the American environment, the mode of relation to the landscape, depends on the model of a meal that includes a central meat element with the peripheral support of carbohydrates and vegetables-while the centrality of the meat, which is also a notion of its “strength,” evokes the masculine pole of a sexual code of food which must go back to the Indo-European identification of cattle or increasable wealth with virility. The indispensabilitty of meat as “strength,” and of steak as the epitome of virile meats, remains a basic condition of American diet (note the training table of athletic teams, in football especially). Hence also a corresponding structure of agricultural production of feed grains, and in turn a specific articulation to world markets-all of which would change overnight if we ate dogs. By comparison with this meaningful calculus of food preferences, supply, demand, and price offer the interest of institutional means of a system that does not include production costs in its own principles of hierarchy. The “opportunity costs” of our economic rationality are a secondary formation, an expression of relationships already given. by another kind of thought, figured a posteriori within the constraints of a logic of meaningful order. The tabu on horses and dogs thus renders unthinkable the consumption of a set of animals whose production is practically feasible and which are nutritionally not to be despised.

The American meal – a big juicy beef steak surrounded by a little bit of vegetables mainly as decoration – as a manly man’s meal. The meal of the pioneer, the cowboy, the self-sustained, survivalist, rugged individualist. The beef steak as a descendant of the steak a hunter hunted in the past. Beef steak as a product of the hard work in the harsh environment in the vast expanses of the American West. Only the toughest need apply. The cultural mythology that led to placing beef at the pinnacle, that led to distaste for eating any other species (not for macho men!), that led to taboo against eating horses (companions and co-workers in the difficult production of beef), and that eventually led to hyperproduction of beef for the growing population by consolidating it from small farms into huge feed lots owned by large agribusiness. So, both the illogical, uneconomical, and environmentally damaging food instructure in the States AND the taboo against eating horse may stem from the same cultural source – the early self-sufficient pioneer man.

But that was centuries ago. Surely we have progressed since then. Remember when Michael Pollan made the full circle, from feed lot (symbolic hunt) through a series of organic and local small operations back to the non-symbolic, real hunt, he had difficulty pulling the trigger. We are more civilized now.

In his book A Primate’s Memoir, Robert Sapolsky relates how he adjusts his own diet depending on where he is. Earlier in his career he used to split his year in half. During the half spent teaching neuroscience at Sanford, he was a vegetarian. In America, one has that choice. But in the other half of the year, studying baboons in the field in Africa, he ate what the locals fixed. Yes, a zebra leg. Not just that he would have insulted the hosts by refusing, but if he refused it would incur additional expense and effort of the hosts – they would have to find nutritious plant food every day for him, something that is not as easy to do in that region. There are good reasons why local diet is mainly based on hunted animals.

Thus, the deep roots of the American culture may prevent us from ever eating horse. Although it makes no economical, health, nutritional or environmental sense, that is OK as it makes cultural sense and we can afford this taboo.

But we should re-analyze why outdated machismo is still guiding the way our food instructure works in damaging ways and perhaps do something constructive about it to bring it along into the 21st century, somewhat away from beef and gigantic feed lots and toward a more sustainable, environmentally friendly, public-health reasonable, nutritionally balanced food system.

Marshall Sahlins, La Pensee Bourgeoise: Western Society as Culture, in Culture and Practical Reason (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976) (pp. 166 – 179)

Photo of me: original photo by Russ Creech, photoshop by Mindy Weisberger.

Unicorn on the grill and on the platter, original art from Taymouth Hours, 14th century, at British Library, additional photoshop by Sarah J Biggs. Originally posted on April Fool’s Day by Julian Harrison at Medieval manuscripts blog of the British Library.

Horse meat trotting back onto plates?

It was a sign of the times when the horse butcher featured in the French blockbuster film Amelie closed for good.

The small horse’s head above the door that Amelie points to as one of her favourite Parisian landmarks disappeared a couple of years ago, along with the butcher, and the old red iron gates, now painted blue, serve as the entrance to a mobile phone store.

Though eating horse is considered taboo in many cultures, particularly in English-speaking countries, it has been part of French life since late in the 19th century.
But while meat in general remains popular in France, horse appears to be riding into the gastronomic sunset. According to statistics from the French Meat Information Centre, the CIV, horse butchers fell from almost 1 300 to under 1 000 between 1999 and 2002 alone.

Yet a handful of chefs and horse-meat lovers are doing their best to revive the taste.

Horse meat slightly healthier

Many French people believe it is healthier than other meats. “Horse-meat is relatively low in fat and high in iron,” said Xavier Panier, a doctor specialised in nutrition and homeopathy. “The food horses eat is more natural and the meat easier for our bodies to assimilate.”

In contrast however with beef producers, who survived problems with mad cow disease, the French horse meat industry has not recovered from a set of trichinosis scares over the past 30 years.

After wiping horse off menus, today several Parisian restaurants including Les Crocs, Les Pissenlits Par La Racine, Sardegna a Tavola and Le Taxi Jaune, have put it back on and customers are eating it up.

It’s a matter of taste
Artisan butcher Michel Brunon, who runs his eponymous butcher shop in the Beauvau covered market in eastern Paris, supplies horse-meat to three of these restaurants and has no trouble understanding this mini-renaissance.
“It’s a tradition and it’s a taste,” he said while arranging cuts of horse which include entrecote, filet and tournedos.

The trouble is that while most aficionados like Brunon say horse is similar in flavor and texture to beef, mentally it’s still an acquired taste.
“We used to eat it when I was little,” said Gaelle Bienvenu, 20, who works for Brunon, “but when I found out it was horse, I said, ‘Never again.'”
“You can’t eat it if you think of horses galloping on a beach,” she continued, while transforming a side of meat into small cuts, “and that’s about all it takes to turn most people off.”

Her boss Brunon took over his space eight years ago from a dedicated horse butcher whose sales had nose-dived.

The first Parisian horse butcher opened in 1866, responding to the needs of poorer clients who wanted good meat at a low price. A few years later, when the city came under siege from Prussians, horse saw a huge boost in consumption. And in recent years, horse butchers offered an emergency solution on Mondays by remaining open when other food stores were closed for their weekly break.
“Luckily, I sell other stuff,” Brunon said. “Rough estimate: I might sell a kilo of horse for 15 of beef, but when people buy it,” he said, plopping down a large order for an older client, “they buy a lot. They either avoid it, or they eat tons.”

Chef Otis Lebert falls into the latter category. He so enjoys preparing and selling horse that he doesn’t sell beef at his Parisian restaurant, Le Taxi Jaune.
“Do people complain about no beef? Yep! But they can go elsewhere,” he said. “Anyone who wants meat can eat horse.”

At home, he practices what he preaches. “We did a Franco-Japanese dinner at home the other night where I made a horse tartare with wasabi and olive oil,” he said. “It was excellent.”

For Lebert, the biggest challenge and greatest reward is getting people to enjoy something they thought they would hate. “Even Americans, if they’ve lived here a while, will try it,” he said.

Lebert started by offering a classic entrecote and now, as long as he can get it from his butcher, he likes preparing a plump French cut called the poire which he prepares Rossini-style, with a generous slab of foie gras that melts over the top.

He is not alone in his enthusiasm for horse.

Alexandre Lazerges is the founder of the Poney Club, a group of people who meet once a month at Les Crocs, and eat horse. “Rule number one for the Poney Club,” he said at a smoky neighbourhood bar, “is if you don’t eat horse, you’re not in the club.”

But for Lazerges, who runs the culture section of French magazine Technikart, the idea of the Poney Club is more to be a social and networking circle for hip 20- to 30-somethings than to be a showcase for horse meat.

“[Eating horse is] a special touch for the group. It’s not the objective, but it’s fun,” he said. He’s also hooked. When he gets a call, his cell phone doesn’t ring &ndash it neighs.
When asked what he has learned about horse meat since he founded the club, his answer is 100% carnivore. “That it’s good.”

But asked whether 10 years down the line, 2007 would go down as the year that marked a horse renaissance, both Brunon and Lazerges gave just a Gallic shrug.
Chef Lebert had a different response. “I’m just getting going.”

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VANCOUVER — Foster, a two-year-old pony, was heading to a slaughterhouse near Kamloops when he was bought right off the truck and later sold to Southlands Riding Club.

Foster was one of three ponies destined for slaughter that instead arrived Friday at the riding club’s Horse Rescue and Rehabilitation Program to begin a new chapter in life. The fourth horse in the program is Tabitha, an eight-year-old mare that had been owned by a former Southlands resident who developed cancer and was no longer able to care for the horse.

“We are so excited. Obviously, it feels good to rescue horses, and their stories were really sad,” said Brooke Saunders, Southlands Riding Club president. “I’m so attached to them.”

She said the club will be able to care for four rescue horses at a time, and train them as riding horses. The program will provide riding opportunities for young members of the Vancouver Pony Club once the horses are rehabilitated.

The rescued horses are being rehabilitated by trainer Robyn Hunt and a group of volunteers from the club who will help her with exercise and training. Members of the Pony Club will also assist with grooming, care and feeding of the horses.

Saunders said while the adoption fee was minimal for the horses, the cost is in the upkeep. They are hoping sponsors will help with the cost of their care, and the club is also looking for donations like tack, blankets and halters.

The program will try to sell one of the horses to an approved home once it is rehabilitated and bring in another rescue animal, she said.

The other horses rescued include Miss Saintly Blue, a six-year-old mare that was waiting at the auction in a stall all day with four weanlings, one of which was her own foal.

And Swagger, the least shy of the rescued ponies, is a four-year-old gelding that was bought at an auction in Eugene, Ore. when a successful bid was made against a meat buyer.

In 2014, there were 66,775 horses slaughtered in federally and provincially inspected facilities in Canada, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. There are two Quebec horse meat processing plants, two in Alberta, and one in B.C. — KML Meat Processors in Westwold, near Kamloops.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated there were three horse-meat processing plants in Quebec there are only two.

Remember Ferdinand: Tragic death of a Derby winner

Ferdinand (March 12, 1983 – 2002) was a Thoroughbred racehorse that won the 1986 Kentucky Derby and 1987 Breeders’ Cup Classic. He was voted the 1987 Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year. Ferdinand won his connections $3,777,978 in prize money.

Ferdinand, the 1986 Kentucky Derby winner who went on to capture the following year’s Horse of the Year title with a dramatic victory over 1987 Derby hero Alysheba in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, is dead.

The Blood-Horse has learned the big chestnut son of Nijinsky II died sometime in 2002, most likely in a slaughterhouse in Japan, where his career at stud had been unsuccessful.

Reporter Barbara Bayer, as detailed in an exclusive story in the July 26 issue of The Blood-Horse, attempted to learn of Ferdinand’s whereabouts after a member of the Howard Keck family that owned and bred the horse inquired about having him returned to the United States, where he began his career at stud. As a racehorse, Ferdinand won eight of 29 starts and earned $3,777,978, retiring as what was then the fifth leading money winner of all time. His victory in the Kentucky Derby gave trainer Charlie Whittingham his first success in that classic, and it was the final career Derby win for jockey Bill Shoemaker.

Ferdinand was retired to stud in 1989 at Claiborne Farm near Paris, Ky., where he was foaled. His initial stud fee was $30,000 live foal, but he achieved little success as a stallion from his first few crops of runners.

Sold to Japan’s JS Company in the fall of 1994 at a time when Japanese breeding farms were aggressively pursuing American and European breeding stock, Ferdinand spent six breeding seasons at Arrow Stud on the northern island of Hokkaido, from 1995-2000. Initially popular with local breeders (he was mated to 77 mares his first year), Ferdinand was bred to just 10 mares in his final year at Arrow, and his owners opted to get rid of him.

After efforts by the farm staff to place Ferdinand with a riding club failed, he passed into the hands of a Monbetsu, Japan, horse dealer named Yoshikazu Watanabe and left the farm Feb. 3, 2001. No attempt was made to contact either the Keck family or Claiborne Farm.

Bayer at first was told by Watanabe that Ferdinand had been “given to a friend.” When she asked for more information, she was told Ferdinand “was gelded and I think he’s at a riding club far away from here.” In fact, records showed Ferdinand was bred to six mares in 2001 and then two in 2002. He spent a period of time at Goshima Farm near Niikappu, where a former handler at Arrow Stud had seen him.

Finally, when Bayer told Watanabe she wanted to see Ferdinand, the story changed yet again. “Actually, he isn’t around anymore,” she was told. “He was disposed of late last year.” Ferdinand’s registration in Japan was annulled Sept. 1, 2002, Bayer learned.

“In Japan, the term ‘disposed of’ is used to mean slaughtered,” Bayer wrote in The Blood-Horse. “No one can say for sure when and where Ferdinand met his end, but it would seem clear he met it in a slaughterhouse.”

“Unfortunately, to those well-versed in the realities beyond the glitter and glory of the racetrack, it comes as no surprise,” Bayer wrote. “Ferdinand’s story is the story of nearly every imported stallion in Japan at that point in time when the figures no longer weigh in his favor. In a country where racing is kept booming by the world’s highest purses and astronomical betting revenues, Ferdinand’s fate is not the exception. It is the rule.”

“That’s just disgusting,” said Dell Hancock, whose family operates Claiborne Farm, upon hearing the news of Ferdinand’s likely fate. “It’s so sad, but there is nothing anyone can do now except support John Hettinger’s efforts to stop the slaughter of Thoroughbreds in this country. That wouldn’t change anything in Japan…to have this happen to a Derby winner is just terrible.”

While the Japanese are among the societies that consume horse meat, it is more likely a slaughtered Thoroughbred would be used for pet food, since the meat consumed by humans is a certain breed of horse raised specifically for that purpose. The slaughter of no longer useful imported breeding stock and many domestic Japanese Thoroughbreds is not uncommon. Shortages of land and the high cost of maintaining a pensioned horse are reasons slaughter is considered an alternate. As in the U.S., where slaughter is also an option available for horse owners, a number of organizations are attempting to provide homes for retired and pensioned racehorses, stallions, and mares. The Japan Racing Association funds one program that currently benefits 90 horses.

Among the people Bayer met and spoke with while trying to learn of Ferdinand’s fate was Toshiharu Kaibazawa, who worked as a stallion groom at Arrow Stud during the horse’s years there. He called the former champion “the gentlest horse you could imagine. He’d come over when I called to him in the pasture. And anyone could have led him with just a halter on him. … He’d come over to me and press his head up against me. He was so sweet.”

“I want to get angry about what happened to him,” Kaibazawa added. “It’s just heartless, too heartless.”

My Pig’s Toenails

The publicists says I should be plugging the book, but I have a more immediate concern: the fact that I received no good advice from my last post about how to cut my pig’s toenails.

One person did suggest that I use my pigs for “sustenance.” Which crossed my mind. But I can’t eat anything that I’ve had to clean up after. Which means I am now a vegetarian and still have a partially paralyzed pig who needs her toenails cut.

Besides, this is what they looked like when they first arrived:

Unlike the other animals on the farm (back story >) , the pigs were a gift . My kids gave them to me for my birthday, and how do you tell your children – who think they’ve just given you the best present ever – that you have too many (bleep)ing animals already? They bought them from a breeder who called them “teacup” pigs and promised they’d never weigh more than 30 pounds.

Right. And I’m Lady Godiva riding gloriously naked across the horizon on my well-behaved steed.

Are there any attorneys out there who can, in the name of civil justice, do anything about this…

(See that fake smile on my son-in-law’s face? He was part of the best-birthday-present-ever conspiracy, and whenever he comes to the farm, he pets the pigs and smiles and tries to pretend like they’re still cute in an effort to cover up his culpability. He thinks I’m stupid).

At first, when the pigs were still under 30 pounds, I let them live in the house. I dressed them in pink sweaters and painted their toenails. I gave them cute names, which I’ve long forgotten, because once they started expanding (75 pounds in six months) and ramming the kitchen table whenever they got hungry and pooping things that looked like meatloaves out of their butts, I started calling them “those things” which is the only name they go by now. More specifically: Thing 1 and Thing 2.

As soon as the weather warmed up, I decided they should be free-roaming things and relocated them outside. I put them in a small barn with the chickens where they had their own separate apartment with a dog house big enough for both of them and all of their blankets and toys. They roamed the property at will and thrived: 125 pound by age one 150 pounds by age two 200 pounds currently and still counting.

They got so fat that after a while, you couldn’t see their legs anymore. Then they got fatter and their eyes disappeared under rolls of eyebrow blubber. They got so fat that when one of them meandered out to the road, she blocked traffic (two pick-ups and the mail delivery car) for 20 minutes until I finally coaxed her back into the yard with crescent roll dough.

The last straw was when one of them got stuck in the dog house door. She panicked and squeal/screamed so loudly, the neighbors half a mile down the road called 911, because they thought someone was being murdered (they later told me they didn’t know what the horrible sound was but seemed like something to call 911 about). By the time the sheriff arrived, the pig had dragged herself out of the barn and into the yard, still screaming, dog house still attached to her body.

The sheriff’s first reaction was to reach for his gun (and I must admit, I didn’t do much to stop him). But then his SWAT training must have kicked in: He whipped off his jacket ran down the dog house and, then leaped onto its roof, which weighed it down just enough for the screaming pig to pull her body the rest of the way out.

After that, the pigs went on a diet. Nothing but water and lettuce for a week. That, however, didn’t go over well, and they decided to run away from home, which meant the sheriff’s next visit happened after another neighbor called 911 to report “big, black things” attacking her garbage cans.

By the time the pigs were two-and-a-half years old, they were no longer pigs: They were humongous, hairy, black cows with no legs or eyes. Because they couldn’t see so well, they ran into things a lot, and when one of them ran into a small hole in the ground, she threw out her back, which paralyzed her hind legs.

The veterinarian’s suggested that she be “put down.”

Had the sheriff shot her or the mail delivery truck run her over, I wouldn’t have lost too much sleep. But to actually cause the death of something… well, I figure almost anything is better than being dead. Even if you have to drag yourself around by your front legs like a beached walrus it’s probably better than not being. So I let her live.

And now… her toenails have grown to be about seven inches long, because she can’t move around enough to wear them down. I tried to cut them back when they started a life of their own, but she weighs 250 pounds now and does not want anyone messing with her toes.

[ edit ] Horse meat in various countries

[ edit ] Austria

Horse leberkäse is available and quite popular at various hot dog stands. Dumplings can also be prepared with horse meat, spinach or Tyrolean Graukäse (a sour milk cheese). They are occasionally eaten on their own, in a soup, or as a side-dish.

[ edit ] Belgium

In Belgium, horse meat (paardenvlees in Dutch and viande chevaline in French) is highly prized. It is used in steak tartare , in which, compared to the beef equivalent, the richer flavor of the horse meat lends itself better to the pungent seasoning used in preparation [ citation needed ] . Besides being served raw, it can be broiled for a short period, producing a crusty exterior and a raw, moist interior. Smoked horse meat is very popular as breakfast and sandwich meat. Horse steaks are also very popular the town of Vilvoorde has a few restaurants specializing in this dish. Horse-sausage is a well known local specialty in Lokeren with European recognition.

It is widely believed that traditional Belgian fried potatoes (pommes frites) were cooked in horse fat [ citation needed ] , but in fact ox fat ( suet ) was used, although for health reasons this has been supplanted by nut oil (considered inferior by many).

[ edit ] Canada

Agriculture in Québec seems to prosper under the prohibitions from the United States. There is a thriving horse meat business in this province the meat is available in most supermarket chains. Horse meat is also for sale at the other end of the country, in Granville Island Market in downtown Vancouver where, according to a Time magazine reviewer who smuggled it into the United States, it turned out to be a "sweet, rich, superlean, oddly soft meat, closer to beef than venison". [12] Horse meat is also available in high end Toronto butchers and supermarkets, most notably in Fiesta Farms in downtown Toronto. Aside from the heritage of French cuisine at one end of the country and the adventurous foodies of Vancouver at the other, however, the majority of Canada shares the horse meat taboo with the rest of the Anglosphere . This mentality is especially evident in Alberta , where strong horse racing and breeding industries and cultures have existed since the province's founding.

[ edit ] Chile

In Chile it is used in charqui .

[ edit ] China

Horse meat is not available in most parts of China, although it is generally acceptable to Chinese. Its lack of popularity is mostly due to its low availability and some rumors saying that horse meat tastes bad or it is bad for health, even poisonous . In Compendium of Materia Medica , a pharmaceutical text published in 1596, Li Shizhen wrote "To relieve toxin caused by eating horse meat, one can drink carrot juice and eat almond ." Today, in southwestern China, there are locally famous dishes such as Horse Meat Rice Vermicelli (马肉米粉) in Guilin . In the northwest, Kazakhs eat horse meat (see below .

[ edit ] France

In France, specialized butcher shops (boucheries chevalines) sell horsemeat, as ordinary butcher shops have been for a long time forbidden to deal in it. However, since the 1990s, it can be found in supermarket butcher shops and others.

[ edit ] Germany

In Germany , horse meat is used in Sauerbraten in some regions of Germany, a strongly marinated type of sweet-sour braised meat dish in the last couple of centuries beef has become more commonly used. Rosswurst (horse sausage) is a sausage containing horse meat and beef and is rarely sold in Bavaria . Horse meat is generally not used in German dishes.

[ edit ] Iceland

In Iceland it is both eaten minced and as steak, also used in stews and fondue , prized for its strong flavor. It has a particular role in the culture and history of the island, as its consumption was one of the concessions won when the pagan Norse Icelanders eventually adopted Christianity in the year 1000.

[ edit ] Indonesia

In Indonesia , one type of satay (chunks of grilled meat served with spicy sauce) known as sate jaran is made from horse meat. This delicacy from Yogyakarta is served with sliced fresh shallot (small red onion), pepper, and sweet soy sauce. [ citation needed ]

[ edit ] Italy

Italian cuisine is highly regional. Horse meat is used in a stew called pastissada, served as horse or colt steaks, as carpaccio , or made into bresaola . Horse fat is used in recipes such as pezzetti di cavallo . In the region of Veneto a dish is prepared which consists of shredded, cured horsemeat on a bed of arugula , dressed with olive oil and fresh lemon juice. Also in Veneto, horsemeat sausages called salsiccia di equino or salami, and thin strips of horse meat called sfilacci are sold. The straight horsemeat steak carne di cavallo, similar to classic American Porterhouse steak , is generally available in the Alto Adige/Südtirol region of the Italian Alps . In Sardinia sa pezz'e cuadduis one of the most renowned meat and it's also sold in typical kiosks with bread panino con carne di cavallo . Chefs and consumers tend to prize its uniqueness by serving it as rare as possible. Donkey is also cooked, for example as a pasta sauce called stracotto d'asino. According to British food writer Matthew Fort , "The taste for donkey and horse goes back to the days when these animals were part of everyday agricultural life. In the frugal, unsentimental manner of agricultural communities, all the animals were looked on as a source of protein. Waste was not an option." [29]

[ edit ] Japan

In Japanese cuisine , raw horse meat is called sakura (桜) or sakuraniku (桜肉, sakura means cherry blossom , niku means meat) because of its pink color. It can be served raw as sashimi in thin slices dipped in soy sauce, often with ginger and onions added. In this case, it is called basashi ( Japanese : 馬刺し ). Basashi is an essential part of Japanese cuisine and it is rare for an izakaya not to offer it. Fat, typically from the neck, is also found as basashi, though it is white, not pink. Horse meat is also sometimes found on menus for yakiniku (a type of barbecue), where it is called baniku (馬肉, literally, "horse meat") or bagushi ("skewered horse") thin slices of raw horse meat are sometimes served wrapped in a shiso leaf . Kumamoto , Nagano and Ōita are famous for basashi, and it is common in the Tohoku region as well. There is also a dessert made from horse meat called basashi ice cream. [30] The company that makes it is known for its unusual ice cream flavors, many of which have limited popularity.

[ edit ] Kazakhstan

In Kazakhstan horse meat is a large part of the diet, due mainly to the nomadic roots of the population. [31] Some of the dishes include sausages called kazy and shuzhuk made from the meat using the guts as the sausage skin, zhaya made from hip meat which is smoked and boiled, zhal made from neck fat which is smoked and boiled, karta made from a section of the rectum which is smoked and boiled, and sur-yet which is kept as dried meat. [32]

[ edit ] Malta

In Malta , stallion meat ( Maltese : Laħam taż-żiemel ) is commonly used in various dishes. It is usually fried or baked in a white wine sauce. A few horse meat shops still exist and a few restaurants serve it for locals and tourists. [33]

[ edit ] Mongolia

Mongolia , a nation famous for its nomadic pastures and equestrian skills, also includes horse meat on the menu. Mongolians also make a horse milk wine, see kumis .

[ edit ] The Netherlands

In the Netherlands , smoked horse meat (paardenrookvlees) is sold as sliced meat and eaten on bread. There are also beef-based variants. Horse meat is also used in sausages (paardenworst). The popularity of both varies regionally.

[ edit ] Norway

In Norway horse meat is used in some sausages, such as Vossafår.

[ edit ] Poland

Used in production of kabanos , recently declining in popularity. Live, old horses are often being exported to Italy to be slaughtered. This practice also garners controversy

[ edit ] Slovenia

Horse meat is generally available in Slovenia . Colt steak (žrebičkov zrezek) is available in some restaurants and there is a popular fast-food restaurant in Ljubljana called Hot-Horse that serves hamburgers made of horse meat. [34] [35]

[ edit ] Sweden

In Sweden horse meat outsells lamb and mutton combined. [18] Smoked/cured horse meat is widely available as a cold cut under the name hamburgerkött (hamburger meat). It tends to be very thinly sliced and fairly salty, slightly reminiscent of deli-style ham. Gustafskorv, a smoked sausage made from horse meat, is also quite popular, especially in the province of Dalarna, where it's made. It is similar to salami or medwurst and is used as an alternative to them on sandwiches.

[ edit ] Switzerland

In Switzerland horse meat may be used in Fondue Bourguignonne . Horse steak is also quite common, especially in the French-speaking West, but also more and more in the German-speaking part. A speciality known as mostbröckli is made with beef or horse meat. Horse meat is also used for a great range of sausages in the German-speaking North of Switzerland. Like in Northern Italy, in the Italian-speaking South, local "salametti" (sausages) are sometimes made with horse meat.

[ edit ] United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom the slaughter, preparation and consumption of horses for food is not against the law, although in practice it has been out of fashion since the 1930s and there is a strong taboo against it (see above ). It was eaten when other meats were scarce, such as during times of war [36] [37] (as was whale meat, never popular and now also taboo). The sale of horse meat in supermarkets and butchers is minimal, and most of the horse meat consumed in the UK is imported from Europe, predominantly the South of France , where it is more widely available. [38]

Horse meat may be consumed inadvertently. A Food Standards Agency 2003 investigation revealed that salami sometimes contains horse meat, without this ingredient being listed. Listing is legally required.

[ edit ] United States

Horse meat is rarely eaten in the United States and it is difficult to legally obtain horse meat. Horses are raised instead as pets or for working purposes (border patrol, police work, and ranching). Horse meat holds a very similar taboo in American culture as it the one found in the United Kingdom previously described, except in the fact that it is extremely uncommon to find it even in its imported form.

Restriction of human consumption of horse meat in the U.S. has generally involved legislation at the state and local levels. In 1915, for example, the New York City Board of Health amended the sanitary code, making it legal to sell horsemeat [39] . During World War II , due to the low supply and high price of beef, New Jersey legalized its sale, but at war's end, the state again prohibited the sale of horse meat, possibly in response to pressure from the beef lobby.

In 1951, Time magazine reported from Portland, Ore.: “Horsemeat, hitherto eaten as a stunt or only as a last resort, was becoming an important item on Portland tables. Now there were three times as many horse butchers, selling three times as much meat.” Noting that “people who used to pretend it was for the dog now came right out and said it was going on the table,” and providing tips for cooking pot roast of horse and equine fillets. A similar situation unfolded in 1973, when inflation raised the cost of traditional meats. Time reported that “Carlson’s, a butcher shop in Westbrook, Conn., that recently converted to horsemeat exclusively, now sells about 6,000 pounds of the stuff a day.” The shop produced a 28-page guide called “Carlson’s Horsemeat Cook Book,” with recipes for chili con carne, German meatballs, beery horsemeat, and more. [40]

Harvard University 's Faculty Club had horse meat on the menu for over one hundred years, until 1985. [41] It was available there by special order more recently than that. Until 2007, a few horse meat abattoirs still existed in the United States, selling meat to zoos to feed their carnivores, and exporting it for human consumption, but recently the last has closed by court order. [42] [43]

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