Friday, February 27, 2009

Horses Remember! New Research on Long Term Memory of Equines...

Research Sheds Light on Equine Long-Term Memory
by: Christa Lesté-Lasserre
February 20 2009, Article # 13642

Remember back when that umbrella popped open and spooked your horse? That might have been five or even 10 years ago, but new research into equine long-term memory (LTM) shows that your horse probably remembers those events just as well as you do.

In a study led by Evelyn Hanggi, MS, PhD, co-director at the Equine Research Foundation (ERF) in Aptos, Calif., horses that had been tested on recognition and advanced learning abilities as many as 10 years earlier were able to repeat the same tasks with a nearly perfect level of accuracy without having to learn the skills again. Not only were the horses able to remember the specific objects learned years ago, they were able to apply those previously learned rules and concepts to never-before-seen objects years later. As the horses had not been exposed to these tests since the time the previous research was completed in 1997, 2000, and 2001, Hanggi concluded that horses have a remarkable capacity for LTM.

A horse indicates the larger of two images.
"Over the years at the ERF, we observed how easily all of our horses recalled certain aspects of our research procedures, such as how to operate the testing apparatus and station," Hanggi said. "We could also stop an experiment and then return to it several months later with no performance loss, and this led us to consider carrying out an LTM study. We were quite excited with the outcome."

In the study, three ERF horses were given three variations of tests in which they had to select between images projected onto an LCD computer screen. The horses were to choose according to criteria established for the previous research on discrimination, categorization, and concept learning carried out six, seven, and 10 years earlier using printed images. "This study also showed that horses are able to perceive images on LCD screens, which had never been previously tested," Hanggi added.

As this initial LTM experiment was limited to only three horses, Hanggi said more research would need to be carried out on a wider scale for conclusions regarding breed or sex differences, if any. "However," she said, "we can now say that excellent LTM is certainly within the capacity of the species."
The study, "Long-term memory for categories and concepts in horses (Equus caballus)," was conducted by Hanggi and Jerry Ingersoll, and was published in the January 2009 edition of Animal Cognition.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Open Letter to Legislators from Paula Bacon, former Mayor of Kaufman Texas says it all! Please contact you Reps and ask them to co-sponsor HR503!

Dear State Legislator:

You will soon be asked to vote on ... legislation regarding the commercial slaughter of American horses of which you probably have very little firsthand knowledge. No doubt you have heard from lobbyists and organizations who want you to support the practice, but before you do, you should ask yourself why the residents of Texas and Illinois worked so hard to rid their states of their horse slaughter plants. The answer may surprise you.

As a mayor who lived with this plague in her town for many years, who knows what the horse slaughter industry really is and what it does to a community please allow me to tell you what we experienced. The industry caused significant and long term hardship to my community which was home to Dallas Crown, one of the last three horse slaughter plants in the United States.

All three plants were foreign-owned, and since the market for horsemeat is entirely foreign, the industry will always be dominated by these foreign interests. The corporations involved in this industry have consistently proven themselves to be the worst possible corporate citizens.

The Dallas Crown horse slaughtering facility had been in operation in Kaufman since the late 70's and from the beginning had caused problems both economically and environmentally. I have listed some of the specific issues below.

I will gladly provide you with detailed reports from my former City Manager, Police Chief, and Public Works Director regarding odor and wastewater effluence violations at the Dallas Crown horse slaughter plant in the City of Kaufman.. The reports reference "decaying meat [which] provides a foul odor and is an attraction for vermin and carrion," containers conveyed "uncovered and leaking liquids," there are "significant foul odors during the daily monitoring of the area," and "Dallas Crown continually neglects to perform within the standards required of them."

Therefore, in August of 2005, our City Council decided by unanimous decision to send the Dallas Crown issue to the Board of Adjustments for termination of their non-conforming use status. In March of 2006, the Board of Adjustments voted to order Dallas Crown closed, but the plant was able to tie the enforcement up in the courts until they were finally closed under state law in February of 2007.

Dallas Crown repeatedly described itself as a "good corporate citizen." I will be straightforward in asserting that they are the very antithesis of such.

Dallas Crown had a very long history of violations to their industrial waste permit, ‘loading' the capacity of the wastewater treatment plant.
Dallas Crown denied the City access to their property for wastewater testing beginning October 1, 2004 until July 6, 2005 , despite requirement by city ordinance, city permit agreement, and court order.
City staff reported that a $6 million upgrade to our wastewater treatment plant would be required even though the plant was planned and financed to last through 2015.
Odor problems resulting from the outside storage of offal and hides over several days persisted not only in traditionally African-American neighborhood known as "Boggy Bottom", but at the nearby Presbyterian Hospital , the daycare center, and surrounding areas.
Transport of offal and fresh hides on City and state thoroughfares is conducted in leaking containers without covers.
City documents reveal an extended history of efforts to have Dallas Crown address various environmental issues. Reports include descriptive language including such as "blood flowing east and west in the ditches from your plant," "It has been over 45 days [it had been 59 days] and no apparent cleanup has occurred," "Your system has not improved and subsequently it has gotten a lot worse," "Words cannot express the seriousness" of recent violations and the "adverse effects on the wastewater treatment plant," and "Please be sure trailers are secured before leaving your premises to prevent spills," noting also "bones and blood laying in front of the facility," problems with bones and parts in neighboring yards and the attraction of "dogs and other animals."
In response to 29 citations for wastewater violations, each accompanied by a potential fine of $2,000, Dallas Crown requested 29 separate jury trials, potentially causing yet another economic strain to the City's budget. We could, of course, not afford to litigate in order to extract the fines
Dallas Crown took 11 months to submit a mandatory "sludge control plan" to assist efficient operation of the wastewater treatment plant though City staff requested it orally and in writing many times.
The City Manager advised me that the City would have to spend $70,000 in legal fees because of Dallas Crown problems, which was the entire legal budget for the fiscal year.
During this period, Dallas Crown paid property taxes that were less than half of what the City spent on legal fees directly related to Dallas Crown violations.
Generally, Dallas Crown has the economic ability to prevail, to exceed the constraints of the City's budget.
Dallas Crown had a negative effect on the development of surrounding properties, and a horse slaughter plant is a stigma to the development of our city generally. I have since learned that these problems were mirrored at the other two plants. Fort Worth's Beltex horse slaughter plant also violated Ft. Worth's wastewater regulations several times, clogged sewer lines, and both spilled and pumped blood into a nearby creek (San Antonio Current, June 19, 2003 ). Texas State Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, whose district includes Beltex, and Rep. Toby Goodman, R-Arlington, fought hard against legislation that would have legalized horse slaughter in Texas in 2003.

The horse slaughter plant in DeKalb , IL had a similar pattern. It was destroyed by fire in 2002, and rebuilt in 2004. It was charged and fined by the DeKalb Sanitary District almost every month from the reopening until its closing in 2007 under a new state law for consistently exceeding wastewater discharge guidelines. I can provide you with the documentation of those violations. Like Dallas Crown, Cavel refused to pay their fines for years.

During this time, I learned that an estimated $5 million in Federal funding was being spent annually to support three foreign-owned horse slaughter plants! And when the Dallas Crown tax records were exposed in the city's legal struggle, we found that they had paid only $5 in federal taxes on a gross income of over $12,000,000!

Moreover, the parent company of Cavel has since moved its operations to Canada and continued to slaughter American horses. In Canada they have apparently become even more blatant, dumping huge untreated piles of entrails onto open ground and even using a tanker truck to discharge blood and refuse into a local river.

I have mentioned only the pollution issue, but this is but one negative aspect of horse slaughter. I have subsequently learned of a USDA document containing 900 pages of graphic photos that show the horrors that the horses were subject to. Behind the privacy fences of these plants, trucks arrived continuously and on those trucks was every form of inhumane violation one can imagine from mares birthing foals to horses with eyes dangling from their sockets and legs ripped from their bodies.

The more I learn about horse slaughter, the more certain I am: There is no justification for horse slaughter in this country. My city was little more than a door mat for a foreign-owned business that drained our resources, thwarted economic development and stigmatized our community. Americans don't eat horses, and we don't raise them for human consumption. There is no justification for spending American tax dollars to support this industry at the expense of Americans and our horses.


Former Mayor Paula Bacon
Kaufman, TX
325-665-2043 cell

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pro-slaughter says Livestock - Anti-slaughter says Companion, Here is What the FDA Says...

February 12, 2009

FDA Reminds Public of Comment Period Deadline for the Draft Guidance for Industry on Anesthetics for Companion Animals

On December 17, 2008, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published in the Federal Register the availability of a draft guidance document for industry entitled “Guidance for Industry #192: Anesthetics for Companion Animals.” The comment period for the guidance closes on March 2, 2009.

The purpose of the guidance document is to provide industry with FDA’s recommendations for the development of new animal anesthetic drug products for companion animals (dogs, cats, and horses). The guidance discusses information that sponsors should consider when planning and conducting safety and field studies for their proposed drug product. The guidance also provides recommendations on how to analyze the study data and how to present the collected data in an organized package to CVM.

The draft guidance, once finalized, will represent the Agency’s current thinking on the development of companion animal general anesthetic (injectable or inhalational) drug products.

The draft guidance document is available at The federal register notice can be found at:

Interested persons may submit written comments on or before March 2, 2009, to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), FDA, 5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. Electronic comments may be submitted to: Identify all submissions to the docket with the following docket number: 2008D-0623.

For additional information about the draft guidance, please contact Dr. Germaine Connolly at FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, 240-276-8331,

Is the Horse Slaughter Movement Funded by horse Breeders?

Is the Horse Slaughter Movement Funded by Horse Breeders?

by A BuzzFlash Reader

The slaughter of horses for human consumption is no longer legal in the US. Sadly more than 100,000 horses each year are shipped to Canada and Mexico to satisfy the palates of “gourmands” overseas. Upwards of 90 percent of the horses sold for slaughter are healthy, sound animals, according to USDA statistics. Of that 90 percent, some are bred solely for the slaughter market, others come from farms providing horse urine to pharmaceutical companies and others are horses with cosmetic or minor conformation issues which make them valueless to the breeders, many of whom are producing a hundred or more foals yearly.

Several states, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming, among others, are studying or considering opening horse slaughter plants under the guise of providing a more “humane” method of disposing of “unwanted” horses than shipping them in trucks cross country for slaughter in Canada or Mexico. There is also a well-funded, but virtually unknown national movement afoot, with bills pending in Congress, to allow horse slaughter for human consumption once again.

This issue is not about treating horses humanely or dealing with “unwanted” horses. It’s about profit, pure and simple. For example, the wording of the North Dakota bill includes “… to meet overseas export markets for horsemeat…” Clearly, sponsors of this bill see a market opportunity, thinly disguised as a way to “solve” a conveniently overstated problem.

As the movie line goes, “Follow the money.” Who would profit if a horse slaughter facility were to open in any given state? We know the slaughter facility will make money; that’s a given. But so will the people who supply the horses destined to become someone's dinner. Who is lobbying for these plants to reopen? It's my guess that it’s the potential suppliers who see the slaughter business as a way to make money off an “unwanted” or “valueless,” product, to quote the North Dakota bill’s sponsor.

For a breeder, each year’s “crop” of foals has a percentage of colts and fillies who do not meet the breeders’ standards. The North Dakota bill is sponsored by a rancher who raises Quarter Horses, which, coincidently, is the most common breed to be sent to slaughter. His last sales catalog listed 80-plus young horses for sale. Were there any “unwanted” or “valueless” horses sent to slaughter because they didn’t make “the cut”? Horse breeders, as well as horse associations, surprisingly, are some of the most vocal supporters of horse slaughter.

Other lobbyists for the horse slaughter movement claim a slaughter facility will alleviate horse “overpopulation” by providing breeders and others with a place to send horses (for a profit) to a “humane” death rather than let them face starvation, neglect or abandonment because the owner, for whatever circumstance, is unwilling to care for the animal. Horse slaughter proponents won’t tell the public that the death of a horse in a slaughter facility is anything but humane. They also won’t share statistics that don’t support their cause. For example, cases of abuse, neglect and abandonment, not to mention horse theft, actually went down when the slaughter plants closed. Supporters also won’t tell the public that there are dozens of rescue facilities, not to mention horse-loving youths and adults, who would willingly take a breeder’s “unwanted” horse and give it a loving home.

Horse slaughter is a highly emotional subject with “facts” bandied about with little but anecdotal evidence to back them up. Factual information can be found in the USDA records, as well as from organizations that track this type of activity. If, after researching the issue for yourself, you feel moved to contact legislators and share your opinion in opposition to horse slaughter, be prepared for a fight. Too much money is on the table for breeders, ranchers, kill buyers/shippers and foreign and domestic investors in slaughter facilities to let this issue die.

Here are the links to some websites you may wish to visit:

Article about horse slaughter provided by the Humane Society of America

Article in Agweek supporting horse slaughter, primarily in North Dakota.

Article from Animal Law Coalition detailing the results of a study on abuse of horses following the closing of slaughter facilities

Article from Animal Law Coalition providing information about horse slaughter bills in various states

Contact information for federal legislation to further protect horses


Vicki | A Voice For Our Horses

No breed is more prominently represented in the slaughter trucks rolling

toward Canada and Mexico than the quarter horse. ~ John Holland

Friday, February 6, 2009

Horse Slaughter: Not the Answer to Overbreeding!

Horse Slaughter: Not the Answer to Overbreeding

by Pure Thoughts, Inc.

February 3, 2009 -- Loxahatchee, FL -- It hasn't even been two weeks since the inauguration of President Obama, and it seems as if some of our elected representatives have missed the forward movement of transparency and accountability regarding lobbyists and ethics. Maybe that is where the rub is: it's not a lobbyist who is attempting to steer taxpayers' dollars for a personal agenda, it is a state representative who touts an elected seat.

North Dakota State Representative Rod Froelich and State Senator Joe Miller have introduced a bill to the state's legislative assembly proposing to spend $100,000 on a study to determine the feasibility of a horse slaughter house in North Dakota. There are some startling coincidences worthy of mention. Representative Froelich's family are longtime quarterhorse breeders, and according to their website at they specialize in breeding horses of outstanding color and disposition.

Quote from the site: "Welcome to our 38th annual production sale. The five Froelich brothers, along with our mother, Barbara, and our nephew, Lance, are excited to again bring you a consistent group of foals with 'disposition, color, & conformation ranch-raised in big country'."

Whether Representative Froelich has sent horses to slaughter is a question only he can answer. Unfortunately, in our country, breeders send horses to slaughter because of their color; yes, this does exist. For example, two QH babies named Abercrombie and Fitch arrived at Pure Thoughts Horse & Foal Rescue. They came with AQHA papers so we called the previous owner, a breeder in Minnesota who selects for color: "palomino to be exact." According to the breeder, the two babies were sold to Simon Horse Company in Minnesota owned by Joe and Ryon Simon who are known killbuyers for horse slaughter. Both horses were sold because they were red in color, and Fitch's mother was sent to slaughter because that was her third red baby. This almost takes us back many years ago to a situation which was referred to as "cleansing."

How many times are we going to look into the pro-slaughter bowl of cherries and see that the pit is usually someone who stands to gain personally or financially, whether on the sale of horsemeat or the act of slaughter itself?

Here is an idea for Rep. Froelich: rather than ask the taxpayers to pay for a study on the feasibility of opening a slaughterhouse in North Dakota (creating a dumping ground for quarterhorses that do not have the most perfect conformation, sought after color or greatest disposition), ask the AQHA to designate funds for genetic studies and education. Even the horse novice understands the homozygous genes and the possibilities of perfecting color choices. Another thought would be to take that $100,000 and donate it to a rescue that saves slaughter-bound horses, and we will take all your not-so-perfect babies and mares that do not produce foals of the "right" color and place them in loving homes. It is so redundant to have yet another attempt at promoting horse slaughter stem from the AQHA arena.

How unfortunate that the AQHA is one of the wealthiest equine organizations in the US and yet continues to support horse slaughter. Even while the thoroughbred associations are stepping up to develop solutions to help our equine athletes retire safely and with dignity, the AQHA (with four times the annual foal registration of the TB industry) refuses to present and incorporate a plan for their horses. In addition, the AQHA allows for artificial insemination, embryo transplant and cloning (their latest endeavor) while the thoroughbred industry requires live cover. As stated earlier, a major consideration should be researching methods of successfully producing the most sought-after foals.

Consider these numbers related to the AQHA (2007 US data):
Quarter horse population: 2,859,851 (Estimated 2007 all-breed population: 9.2 million)
AQHA new foals/registrations: 117,830
AQHA membership: 305,000
Total owners: 902,453
AQHA total assets: $111,154,925
Revenues from registrations, transfers, membership, breeding fees: $19,288,000
AQHA 2008 new foals/registrations: 140,000 (this should be 140,000, right?)

These revenues and assets are not comparable with any other breed association, The AQHA charges owners for foal registrations and annual dues. The majority of QH owners do register their horses as it adds market value to the horse, and it's required in order to enter the horse in AQHA-sanctioned racing, shows and events. More foals equal more revenue for the AQHA.

These figures show that annual breeding means huge financial gain for the AQHA. Excess stock would negatively impact market values, so unsalable quarter horses go to slaughter to make room on farms for next year's foals. The AQHA also contributed $9,000 to Senator Larry Craig, who filed a notice of intent to object on a federal bill aimed towards ending horse slaughter; subsequently, the bill saw no action in the Senate.

No other breed of horse is sent more frequently to slaughter than the American Quarterhorse, the real victims of greed in the American horse industry.

If we trace the historical path of this issue in the political arena, the continuation of horse slaughter has always stemmed from personal agendas or personal gain. This year, let's try to have humanity as the agenda, do what is right, and represent the voice of the people.

Pure Thoughts Inc.
National Horse Welfare Organization
Jennifer Swanson
Cheryl Hanna

Daffodil Arabian Horse Association is hosting Wine Tasting Garden!

The Daffodil Arabian Horse Association is hosting a wine tasting garden at the Exhibition Hall at the King County Fairgrounds. The event, The Enumclaw Chocolate and Wine Festival runs Friday and Saturday the 6th and 7th from noon to 9pm. Proceeds from this event are going to establish a fund for distressed/abused Arabian horses. Some of the top wineries in WA and OR will be participating. Great time to stock up on your favorites!