It started like any other stroll around the Internet. My sister was considering getting a new horse upon her return from California. This began my foray back into the horse market. It was a market I had been absent from for years, as my two horses aged peacefully in the pasture. I wasn't planning to get another horse until I was living at a place with more land.
But I began to look. My love of horses and connection to them had not diminished despite my role as a college student and lack of opportunity to ride my horses, one of them due to her age and one, his mental stability.
As time went by, I missed my old life as an equestrian more and more. Needless to say, I fully supported my sister's plan.
The search was idle at first. Then, I started to see a trend and curiosity got the best of me. I had a question. Why were thoroughbred ex-racehorses so much cheaper than most other horses of the same age and training?
The answer I found was not comforting, and my nonchalant horse search became something I had not expected. What I learned about many horses , not just ex-racers, incensed the horse lover in me and led to the discovery of a web of horse slaughter much more vast and violent than I had ever known it to be.
When concern for the protection of American wild mustangs began in the 1950s, the world became more aware of the existence of horse slaughter. These horses were being rounded up and sent off to undesirable fates.
Then, the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971 finalized their protection under the Bureau of Land Management.
Years passed and wild horses were still rounded up. However, now they were sent to be adopted by enchanted Americans. I presumed they were safe. I was wrong.
Turns out, I was wrong about the safety of all horses, not just the wild ones.
In the years that people were fighting to protect wild horses from slaughter, of course said slaughter still existed. Horses' hooves are used in many items from Jell-O to glue and horsemeat is a growing delicacy in Europe.
Family horses, old horses, show horses, even wild horses, I learned, due to a loophole in the wild horse protection laws, and yes, a large number of ex–racehorses, are sent to slaughter every year.