NAIS news

18 03 2007

There’s been a lot of talk in American equine circles lately about NAIS, the National Animal Identification System: “If fully implemented the National Animal Identification System will affect the owners of most livestock species, including cattle, bison, deer, elk, llamas, alpacas, horses, donkeys, mules, goats, sheep, swine, all poultry species (chickens, ducks, etc), and even some fish species, under the heading of aquaculture, and any animal that may be added to the list in the future. Locations, or premises, where these animals are housed or otherwise handled will be required to be identified, as this is the first component of NAIS. Afterward, the animals themselves will be identified, and, finally, they are to be tracked in their movements between the various premises.”

As you can imagine, this has huge implications for American farmers, ranchers, breeders, and those who participate in racing and other equestrian sports. The grassroots opposition to NAIS in the US has been loud and vociferous; a similar program in Australia, while not as far-reaching as NAIS, has added extra layers of bureaucracy while making things more difficult for ranchers and farmers already struggling with drought conditons.

Here’s the latest from Karen Nowak and the Arkansas Animal Producers Association, an anti-NAIS organization:

The issue of national equine ID has been discussed between animal health officials since at least 1987 but did NOT involve any organization representing the actual horse owning public until 2002. The purpose of this lengthy article is to provide a reference document for the evolution of the plan to include equines in the National Animal Identification System. A “timeline of events” from 2002 through 2006. The inclusion of numerous quotes from actualnorganizational and government documents is quite deliberate. Those of us who oppose this plan are frequently accused of spreading “misinformation” by the groups who have developed and promote the NAIS. This document allows their own words and actions to speak for themselves!

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Horses in popular culture, and things which tick me off

18 03 2007

Pounding hoofs, originally uploaded by _dixie.

Herewith, some clichés I could really do without…

1. Whenever a galloping horse is shown in a movie, the camera will linger awhile on the pounding hooves. Why is that?

2. Horses in movies also whinny all the time for no reason. There’s a Canadian Historica Minute in which a midwife and girl are racing through the snow in a sleigh to reach the girl’s mother, who is in labour. Suddenly, there’s a downed tree across the trail! The horse rears and whinnies! First of all, the horse would have seen the tree from a ways away and slowed itself down in time; secondly, there is no earthly reason for the horse to whinny about it.

3. Cartoon horses with giant schnozzes and feet. I just hate that.

Bad art! BAD ART!

4. I’m tired of the horse whisperer cliché. Good horsemanship was good horsemanship long before we started getting all evangelical about it.

Those are a few of mine…what might yours be?

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New book: I Am The Great Horse

18 03 2007

i Am The Great Horse

The Gruaniad has a review of a new book by Katherine Roberts, I Am the Great Horse, which tells the story of Alexander the Great and Macedonian history through the eyes of the conqueror’s legendary horse Bucephalus. At 544 pages, it may be a bit ambitious for the average teen, but it sounds like a worthwhile read for anyone.

If you enjoy this sort of novel, you may also be interested in Traveller by Richard Adams (author of the classic Watership Down and The Plague Dogs); Publishers Weekly describes the book as “an ironic, revisionist view of the Civil War as seen by Robert E. Lee’s horse, Traveller.”

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Humane society refutes horse dumping claims

18 03 2007

Shadow of a Doubt, originally uploaded by Katford.

The Humane Society of the United States says that recent claims that thousands of horses have been abandoned in Kentucky are unfounded.

The society is calling it “a campaign of fear mongering by a foreign-owned horse slaughter industry which is on its last legs in the United States“.

“Proponents of slaughtering American horses so the French and Belgians can eat horse meat frequently alarm the public about wanton abandonment to raise false and baseless concerns about a proposed ban on horse slaughter for human consumption.”

At the annual meeting of the Kentucky Animal Care and Control Association last week, the organization’s president, Dan Evans, surveyed the membership about the situation. None reported an increase in abandoned horse reports or sightings.

“The notion that Kentucky is overrun with unwanted horses is absurd,” said Pam Rogers, Kentucky State Program Coordinator for The Humane Society of the United States, who was at the meeting.

“We are a state of horse lovers, and we want to protect our horses from being butchered and exported to foreign countries where horse meat is considered a delicacy. These claims made by the horse slaughter industry’s lobbyists have no basis. This is just plain rumor mongering.”

The reports surfaced after a federal appeals court decision closed down two horse slaughter plants in Texas. Equine welfare experts report that the horses bound for the Texas slaughter plants are now being shipped to a plant in Mexico to be killed. The only horse slaughter plant still operating in the United States – in DeKalb, Illinois – is importing horses from Canada for slaughter, underscoring the point that there is no surplus of horses available in the United States. The US Department of Agriculture reports that 92.3 percent of American horses going to slaughter are healthy and in good shape – not starving or neglected animals.

An overwhelming majority of Americans and members of Congress oppose slaughtering horses for human consumption. A bill in Congress – led by Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), Rep. John Spratt (D- S.C.), and Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.V.) in the House, and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D- La.) and Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) in the Senate – would protect American horses from the industry. The House voted five times in favour of stopping horse slaughter in the last Congress, and the Senate voted to do the same by a two-thirds majority, but time ran out before the final authorizing bill could be enacted.

Claims that a ban will lead to the starvation and abandonment of thousands, however, are inaccurate. Horse slaughter was banned in California in 1998, and no corresponding rise in starvation and abandonment cases has been seen. Starving or abandoning horses is animal cruelty and subject to criminal prosecution under state cruelty laws. After California banned horse slaughter, cases of horse theft in the state dropped by 34 percent because there was no longer an incentive to steal horses for the foreign meat trade.

Many horse owners facing difficult times reject selling their animals to slaughter. Instead, they may sell or adopt them, donate them to a rescue group, or have them humanely euthanized by a licensed veterinarian. These are viable options currently available.

A recent trade article quotes a livestock auction operator: “I thought we’d see [horse] prices so bad that people would just turn their horses out on the highway because they couldn’t feed or sell them, but it looks like that may not happen.” Link

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Thumbelina on tour UPDATE: more pics!

18 03 2007


Thumbelina, the world’s smallest horse (and Bridlepath’s single most-viewed subject) began her tour of all 48 US continguous states on Friday, and will visit children’s hospitals, schools and summer camps. Michael Goessling, her owner and handler, said that the miniature horse, already a regular on US chatshows, will enchant children and raise money for good causes. Link

UPDATE March 20 2007: More pictures added; see below.

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