A Fair Look at Quebec Horsemanship

With the possibility of horse abattoirs re-opening in the US right now–in Missouri, Washington, and most recently, Florida–I thought this news would be a soothing corrective to the anxiety all horse-lovers are feeling these days.  What follows is an out an’ out advertisement for a new Camp de jour (Day Camp) opening at my cousins’ riding and training ranch in Mascouche, QC, called Le Ranch Equestre.  I want to be clear that just because my cousins own and operate Le Ranch Equestre Carola & Filles doesn’t mean that I am not objective about the quality of what they’re offering…not a bit…not at all. Why shouldn’t I be (although it’s true that these gorgeous young women share my gene pool, and each generation is more amazing than the last–but I digress….)

No, the fact is that hearing about their Day Camp reminded me that there is a vibrant, live horse industry in Quebec which continues to enjoy, celebrate and spread the love of horses to future generations, and this achieves two things:  it balances outsiders’ view of Quebec as one of the hotseats of the horse slaughter industry (and, if you’ve been reading this blog, you know my views on that…in spades); and, it ensures that there will always be future defenders of horses since places like Le Ranch Equestre (did I mention that it’s owned by my cousins?) make it their mission to show young people the intrinsic value of the horse.

“Getting soft, O wise and toothless one?” you wonder.  

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Viking: Quebec’s Poster Horse

Joël Le Bigot, who hosted the Radio-Canada broadcast today featuring Chamie Andorette, owner of Refuge Galahad, is a deft interviewer with an impish sense of humour.  More to the point, Mr. Le Bigot asked pertinent questions of each guest–and, best of all, he had clearly done his own research (in contrast to the reporter on Bien dans son assiette’s recent two shows on horse slaughter).

Chamie did a good job describing how Refuge Galahad works with, and gives financial support to, selected, supervised foster homes.  There is a great deal of support for Galahad in Quebec which is great.  However, I would have liked Joël to know

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Refuge Galahad & Radio-Canada: Revised

The Radio-Canada show is called “Samedi et rien d’autre” hosted by Joël Le Bigot at 7am, Saturday, March 3rd, on “The Health and Welfare of Horses”, particularly addressing the mistreatment of horses.

Guests are Refuge Galahad, the SPCA de l’Estrie (I think that’s correct), and Renée Levesque of the FEQ (Fédération Equestre du Québec).  Please visit Refuge Galahad’s site and FB, and my blog post, Association.  Don’t forget to tune in this Saturday.

PLEASE IGNORE MY PREVIOUS POST as the information had not yet been confirmed. Check with Radio-Canada to confirm the above prior to air-time this Saturday. 

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Ohh, Radio-Canada (Mar 1st, 7pm)

I must apologize to Claude Brunet, interviewer/host of the recent Radio-Canada broadcast, Bien dans son assiette (see When Reporters Get it Wrong )–at least, in part, and I’ll tell you why shortly.  First, I’d like to address a few questions that have come my way, especially since so many are sharing this blog in cyberspace (and, it would be nice if some of you new visitors would actually buy or even read my novel because more than half of what I post here already appears in Ground Manners. A Novel …but I digress).

Q:  Why have the numbers of horses slaughtered in Canada decreased between the years 2008 and 2009?

A:  There were seven slaughterhouses killing horses in Canada; then there were five; then there were four.  

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Bear Witness to the Facts

Recently, I’ve received emails saying that I should have been clearer about the non-relationship between abattoir closures in the US in 2007 and the phenomenon of horse abandonment.  (I don’t know about that.  I thought my Primers on Horse Slaughter on this blog and published on The Stablewoman Gazette clearly showed that there was no relationship.  But I tend to live in my head, so I may be wrong about how clear my writing was.)

So, according to the US government’s Government Accountability Office (GAO) report:  “The total number of US horses sent to slaughter in 2006, the last full year of domestic slaughter [the last abattoir closed in late 2007, thus not giving a full year’s numbers. my italics]…(gives) a total of 137,688 horses.  Taken together, the 137,984 US horses that were sent to slaughter in Canada or Mexico in 2010 is approximately equal to the total number of horses slaughtered in 2006.”  GAO Report

Again, look at the numbers:  (2006)  137, 688    (2010) 137,984   A difference of 296 equines. For 2011, go to the EWA site; they always update their stats.  Now the GAO is no friend to horses, which perhaps is as it should be.  It is an agency which, in this case, was mandated by the US government to study the distaff side of the US horse industry, so it must be objective and neutral on the subject under its scrutiny.  We can safely say, then, that its figures are accurate as far as numbers legally recorded by authoritative agencies can be–especially since, if you collate numbers gathered by non-governmental, industry-specific, and advocacy groups, the numbers are readily corroborated (at least on paper).

The report is flawed, however, in other respects, and I invite you to read the Position Paper co-authored by the EWA and the Animal Law Coalition (ALC) called:  An Analysis of the GAO Report on Horse Welfare:  Disturbing Omissions and Cover-up.  (visit the EWA site)

See…a difference of 296 equines.  As a horse advocate, I cry for one just as I do for ten, for tens of thousands.  They are all precious to us.  But in terms of keeping the record straight and arguing from a strong position, the numerical difference is clearly insignificant.  Most importantly, it refutes the pro-slaughter argument that the closing of US abattoirs increased horse abandonment.  It didn’t; there is no such relationship.  People have always abandoned their pets (illegal, to begin with); people have always overbred horses; and those specific pathologies are social phenomena unrelated to food slaughter.

 

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Don’t Take My Word for It: Numbers Don’t Lie

As I’ve said again and again:  don’t take my word for it.  Do the research yourself.  So many Quebeckers are vehemently against horse slaughter but they haven’t got the time to do the research.  So here are a few facts (and, all of these have already been listed under my Primers on Horse Slaughter right here on my blog.  If the link doesn’t work, go to My Categories under Primers for Horse Slaughter).

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