I was scanning through news articles online last week like I always do when I came across one titled, Thoroughbreds: From Elite to Meat, recently published in the Huffington Post. The main thing that caught my attention right off was the title. I figured that this was just another run of the mill anti-horse slaughter rants that I usually come across. The author of this interesting article was none other than the infamous Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA. Yes, I said PETA. Something about this article was different than many of the other anti-horse slaughter pieces I usually come across. For once I actually found myself thinking, “Wow, one of these animal rights extremist groups is actually making a proposition that doesn’t sound all that bad.” Scary, to think that I might actually half agree with PETA on something. Though their proposition isn’t perfect, and could use some tweeks from horse-minded folks involved directly in the industry, it didn’t sound that far outlandish.
PETA’s proposal requests that the Jockey Club set up a retirement fund that would require a mandatory $360 retirement fee for each registration of a foal and for each transfer of ownership. Through this proposed plan the $360 fee would apply to new registration for foals and ownership transfers of broodmares and breeding stallions. PETA suggest that is could provide a potential $20 million in revenue to be put towards retirement funding for older Thoroughbreds. Though the Jockey Club currently has a Retirement Checkoff, it has to date only generated approximately $95,000 from 64,000 foal registrations. That is only about $1.50/horse and does not cover the total cost to feed one horse a day.
I think that the idea behind this proposal is a good one, but the price required may be a little steep. With the unwanted horse issue looming over our heads, growing larger by the day, and no definite hope of having horse slaughter reinstated in the United States, those of us in the horse industry need to think a little outside the box on ways to provide proper care and management for retiring, aging horses. If slaughter is not an option, other options for humane retirement or euthanasia must be available to owners. I don’t necessarily think that this proposition will be a fix-all but one of a wide array of methods that will be vital to decreasing the current unwanted horse population and ensuring the perpetuation of the horse industry. Though some may not like to hear this, those of us in the horse industry need to start thinking “outside the box” if we are ever going to solve our problems.
What are your thoughts on PETA’s proposal? What solutions would you suggest to solve the unwanted horse issue?