As a horse lover, whenever the topic of horse meat comes up in conversation, everyone is always like “you must be really against that.” I don’t know where this idea comes from. Animal lovers can still be happy eating meat. We have pet chickens at home for the eggs, but I still enjoy eating chicken. I don’t really know where the idea comes from that horse owners are against horse meat.
Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I think horse meat is sad. I find the idea of sending old or ‘broken’ horses to slaughter for meat sad. That horse will have given a lot to their owners over the years and I feel that they deserve a better end than that. But at the same time, as long as they have had a good life and have a kind end, then there are worse fates for a horse. I also have no problem with the idea of horses being farmed for meat.
Today I stumbled across an article about the Dartmoor ponies being culled for their meat and how popular their meat (Taffety) has become. As with most wild horse breeds around the world, as we take over more and more of the countryside, the numbers of wild horses fall. The number of Dartmoor ponies has fallen by roughly 29,000 over the past 60 years! Conservation societies recognised that something needed to be done to save this breed and surprisingly, they were the ones to start marketing pony meat.
Farmers were struggling to stay afloat and didn’t have the resources to help keep the semi feral Dartmoor ponies on their land. This combined with the decrease in demand of riding ponies led to many of the farmers culling the ponies to keep numbers under control. This caused the Dartmoor pony population to plummet further, putting the breed at risk. Conservation societies recognised this, and instead of working against the farmers, they worked with them to give them an incentive to allow the ponies to stay on their land.
Being able to sell pony meat to a growing market means the farmers can afford to keep the ponies and allows the ponies to live as much of a natural lifestyle as possible. So in this case, promoting horse meat has improved the welfare of wild horses in the area.
Any issue I have with horse meat is the same issue I have with any meat, welfare. If the animal had a happy life and a quick death, then surely that is all what matters, not what the animal is. Schemes like this are fascinating and I think horse lovers should think about getting behind it, even if they don’t feel comfortable eating the meat themselves.
What do you think about the idea of horse meat?
Last Updated on 07/08/2018
Interesting perspective that I never really considered. I guess it’s like with anything- quality of life and methods are important factors.
Good post and something I was only recently talking to a friend about who also assumed I would be horrified at the mere mention of horse meat.
Trouble is people don’t always appreciate the difficulty and expense of keeping a horse and I’ve met many who in their efforts to “save” horses and ponies from slaughter have inadvertently led to their quality of life being dire with some kept in small back yards by people that have neither the knowledge, experience or ability to adequately care for them.
The same friend that was horrified at my frank and seemingly heartless attitude towards horse-meat had no idea how much it cost to keep a companion pony at grass all year and was really surprised to realise you still have to pay for insurance, routine health care treatments, farrier visits and then land rent / hay and supplements etc.
Unfortunately horses often need to be able to “pay their way” in the nicest sense of word because it’s just an unrealistic and impractical option to save each and every one. Don’t get me wrong I hate to see horses being sold for slaughter because someone else has deemed them useless or whatever and in fact a mare I re-homed was destined for the slaughter-house by former owners that just didn’t have the time, patience or experience to spend time with her. She ended up a fantastic horse and taught my daughter to ride but again not everyone has the luxury of being able to give others the same.
Like you my concern is for their welfare and the end to be as humane as possible in the same way it is for every other animal.