Amidst all the excitement over Michael Phelps’ Olympian medal haul and the buzz surrounding Usain Bolt’s dramatic sprint victory, the London Olympics’ so-called minor sports—canoeing, table tennis, Greco-Roman wrestling, for example—seem to take place well outside the spotlight.
Such is the case with equestrian events. Although competition on horseback has been part of the Olympic Games since 1900, other than political sniping over the competition-related costs of Mitt and Anne Romney’s high-priced show horse, dressage (kind of like ballroom dancing for horses), show jumping and something called equestrian eventing—a combination of jumping, cross-country competition and dressage—all take place in relative anonymity, as far as the sporting media is concerned, anyway.
(One question, though: When the competitions are concluded, shouldn’t the horses receive the medals, rather than the riders? Seems to me that the four-legged athletes are the ones doing all the work).
Back on this side of the pond, however, horses are back in the news, for reasons that remain controversial, but depending on the outcome, potentially positive for animal agriculture.
Unwanted and abandoned
In New Mexico, a group of horse owners and equestrian clubs is urging the state’s governor to support a proposed new horse slaughterhouse in Roswell, N.M., arguing that the closure of domestic packing plants that handle horses five years ago has caused “needless suffering under the cruelest of conditions.”
The New Mexico Horse Council, which claims to represent more than 200 horse owners and 30 horse clubs, told Republican Gov. Susana Martinez that an informal survey of its members showed 94percent in favor of humane slaughter.
“Horses deserve better than to be abandoned, starved, or transported long distances in overcrowded trucks to slaughter in foreign countries,” council President Rusty Cook wrote in a letter, noting that rescue facilities are unable to care for all the unwanted horses.
Martinez, along with a number of equine and animal humane groups, have been vocal opponents of a plan by a businessman to open what could be the first horse slaughterhouse in the country since Congress restored funding for inspections in such plants. Another application is pending for a plant in Missouri, USDA officials have noted.
Scott Darnell, a spokesman for Martinez, said the governor received the letter but her opposition has not changed.