Horses deserve better [UPDATED]Published 4:03am Monday, July 22, 2013 Updated 6:07am Monday, July 22, 2013
The story The Journal ran this past week on Brad Anderson and his adoption of a pair of neglected horses from New Salem, N.D. was particularly interesting to me.
It was interesting mostly because Anderson is a neighbor.
The other night, Anderson shed some light on the larger picture of why more and more horses seem to be in situations of neglect: money.
The bottom line is, in most parts of the country, the value of a horse has dropped dramatically in recent years.
Sure, the Kentucky Derby winner will sell for millions, but the average, everyday horse just isn’t worth much anymore.
One example I found on the Internet was a case in Missouri. Horses once worth thousands now might bring $500.
At a horse auction, the Internet blogger pointed out, 1- and 2-year-old horses with champion breeding and registration were sold for $35.
Coupled with the rising cost of caring for horses — it costs as much as $300 per month to buy enough hay to feed a horse — the result, clearly, has been cases of neglect.
It’s similar to the recent housing crisis. If the value of homes decline, then the incentive to maintain a home and keep up a mortgage disappears. The result is a bunch of vacant neighborhoods.
The difference, of course, is that horses are living, breathing things who are among the smartest in the animal world.
Considering the situation, there are opinions that laws preventing the slaughter of horses for human consumption should be changed. Originally created to prevent inhumane treatment of horses, some say those laws are having unintended consequences.
When horse slaughter is allowed, it reduces the supply of them, thus potentially increasing the general value of horses. Since the value of horses today is so low, the result, apparently, is horse neglect.
Thus, some have a valid argument that quickly slaughtering a horse is far more humane than letting it die slowly due to starvation and disease from neglect.
I’m not saying that any and all forms of slaughter should be allowed. But clearly, we slaughter cows every minute for human consumption.
I’m fairly certain they have figured out the most humane ways of doing it. How are horses different?
I’m glad Brad decided to take in those horses. Believe me when I say he will give them a good life. I think those who neglected the horses, essentially leaving them for dead, deserve the punishment they will receive.
But I also think it’s a precautionary tale to reactionary politicians who create or change a law based on one tragic story.
Let’s make sure the new law does not create even more tragic stories.
• • •
It’s always fun to watch the British Open when it is played in Scotland. This week, Muirfield is the site of the Open, which, thanks to a couple lovely trips there, I had the opportunity to play three times.
It’s funny, but even though the trip was only a few years ago, while watching it on TV, I’m having a hard time remembering the course.
Maybe it’s because the pros are playing from entirely different tees. Believe me, the course was hard enough when I played it — from regular tees and without a couple weeks of making sure the fairways and greens were unbelievably firm as they are now.
There are grandstands and corporate tents everywhere to make the course look completely different.
But still, you’d think I’d remember some of the holes.
I clearly remember playing the course — badly, of course, since I and the rest of my tripmates are mere mortals.
Maybe my allergies are disturbing the connective tissues in my brain.
Joel Myhre is The Journal’s publisher. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org