Arabian Horse Association Mission Supporters

Opposing the AHA Equine Slaughter Endorsement


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APAHA Nominated for Bulwer-Lytton Award…

Recently, a small group Arabian horse trainers known as the “Arabian Professional and Amateur Horse Association” (APAHA) issued a letter to the Leaders-In-Charge of the Arabian Horse Association, patting them on the back for the Board’s endorsement of horse-slaughter-for-human-consumption.

Normally, something like this this would warrant a formal response, countering the usual rhetoric and misinformation that is standard fare for horse slaughter advocates.

But frankly their letter is so mind-numbingly absurd, it can only be considered a parody of the usual distortions and fabrications coming from the AHA in their misguided endorsement of slaughter.

Given that, it was difficult to dignify with a serious response. For the record, though, we *love* the term “Equine Terminal Marketplace” — utterly brilliant, and worthy of the Best-Worst Euphemism. Ever.

Here is a copy of the letter in its entirety, followed by AHAMS response in red.  

To: The AHA Board of Directors and Executive Committee
From: The APAHA Board of Directors
Dear Friends,
The Arabian Professional and Amateur Horsemen’s Association voted, with unanimous approval, to thank the AHA Board for continuing your support for the re-opening of the equine terminal marketplace, and to join with the AHA in support of the reinstatement of equine processing in the United States. While we appreciate that this subject can be a sensitive one to those who are not intimately involved in the horse industry, there is no question that it is an integral component for the continuation of the horse’s survival into the 21st century, as well as to any and all breed associations.
The simple fact of the matter is that for the horse to continue to survive and contribute to mankind, as it has done for the last 5000 years, the equine terminal marketplace must be reestablished in the United States. Equine slaughter for rendering and consumption is a necessity in the equine livestock industry, in order to allow horses at the bottom of the pyramid a humane, dignified, and contributing end. The bold words are the important points of this referendum, not the emotionally exploited ones of slaughter, rendering, or human consumption. Without a terminal marketplace, horses today are left trying to survive, for the first time ever, after their usefulness as a work-mate to man has passed. Regardless of whether you like the idea of equine slaughter, the vast, documented increase in equine suffering throughout the US since the close of the slaughter houses should be enough in and of itself for all people who truly care about horses to stand up and demand that those of us who have invested our lives in horses be the ones responsible for making the decisions about the marketplace that surrounds them.
Some people were affronted when the AHA stepped up last year to support the reopening of the equine processing plants. We contend that as breeders and current caretakers of the world’s oldest breed of horse, we have an obligation to our Arabian horses to support the reopening as well. It affects breeders and the breed in a singularly unassailable way; simply, that the free and low price market for the “pet quality” horses, if you will, is simply no longer available. The bottom tier of every breed and breeder’s marketplace, that for family riding horses, has been eaten up by the “rehoming” of over 300,000 horses since 2007, many of whom have huge medical issues, training issues, psychological issues, and on and on. Often, the people who take on these horses are novice horse lovers whose heart-strings have been played by emotional, fact-less advertising paid for by lobbying groups that never invest in shelters and rehoming at all. Once saddled with an adopted horse that by contract cannot be sold or bred, these horse lovers find the difficulty of dealing with the myriad of issues draining financially and mentally. Needless to say, these experiences are not good at building repeat, long-term business for the horse industry.
We spoke recently with four different breed associations in order to research registrations since the ban, and discovered that every one is down by over one third in new registrations from 2006 to 2010. Quarter Horse registrations dropped from 150,000 in 2006 to less than 90,000 last year. Paints fell from 39,357 in 2006 to 17,835 in 2010. The Morgan Horse Association registered 3461 horses in 2006, with only 1835 in 2010. We are all aware of our own registration decline, from 10,311 in 2006 to 6660 in 2010. All these breeds weathered a similar economic downturn in the ‘80’s without this kind of drop in registrations, and rebounded accordingly, the difference being that when economically strapped owners could no longer afford feed for their horses, they had a way to reduce numbers until the economy changed, after which their breeding business could rebound.
By reopening the equine processing plants, we are simply restoring to horse owners and breeders the option that all other livestock breeders and owners have, and that horse owners and breeders had until the last four years. We will still retain the option to care for our horses after their usefulness is done, and we will still retain the option to rescue horses from the terminal marketplace. And people will still have the option to make horse meat available to some of the 25,000 people on earth per day who are dying of starvation, allowing horses a chance to give back and be useful to humans, as they have done for centuries, even after they have passed.
There are issues to address, certainly, and many different options available to improve the terminal marketplace, among them mobile slaughter units and live web monitoring of plants. As horsemen, breeders, and horse lovers, we are the ones responsible for dealing with these issues, making sure that the terminal marketplace becomes ever more humane, with a quick and dignified passing, without undue stress, and where the horse can go on to be useful to man after his demise, just as he has been for the last 5000 years. This is not a job for politicians, lobbyists and animal rights people to define; it’s a job for us, so that the horse that has brought so much to our lives will survive and evolve to bring much needed help to the people coming after us.
In closing, APAHA would again like to commend the board of AHA for joining horse-industry leaders in the fight to protect the future of the Arabian horse breed and the horse in general.
Sincerely,
The Arabian Professional and Amateur Horsemen’s Association Board of Directors

AHAMS RESPONSE:

“We found your referendum to be direct and provocative. Let us summarize briefly what we see as the salient points:

….The Equine Terminal Marketplace is an essential economic pipeline whereby redundant Equine Production Units are transported to Processing Facilities where their life functions are terminated in order to maximize demand for Alternate Equine Purchases in order to revitalize the declining U.S. live equine market.

Additionally, reestablishment of the U.S. Terminal Marketplace will provide synergies for those pyramid-disadvantaged horses who have lingered beyond their profitability threshold. Acceptance into the Terminal Pipeline will ultimately enable them to meet a dignified and contributing end as a plastic wrapped Consumer Commodity on a styrofoam tray.

Non-viable Equine Livestock Units can Cross the Rainbow Bridge stress-free and secure in the knowledge that they will continue to serve man even after their demise – they will be served to man as entrecôte de cheval. In this way, horses will be allowed to benefit mankind on a world scale by saving the EU from starvation, while concurrently ensuring the survival of the remainder of their species….

Truly this is the type of dispassionate, progressive reasoning needed during these Tough Economic Times to counter the overwrought ramblings of those namby-pamby bleeding hearts who assert that Equus caballus is something other than a Depreciable Inventory Asset.

You are to be commended: this represents the kind of clear thinking that has brought the Arabian Horse Association to where it is today.”

Note: In this analysis we have been careful to avoid use of unambiguous but inflammatory expressions such as slaughterhouse, kill floor, captive bolt, bleed tank, and death.)

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The April, 2011 Board of Directors Meeting

Following the withdrawal of the resolution that would have rescinded the Board’s slaughter endorsement, several Directors expressed support for a “stand alone” resolution regarding the slaughter issue.  In other words, they would be more likely to consider a resolution that 1.) did not attempt to ‘rescind’ a Board motion, and 2.) was worded to adopt a neutral position regarding reestablishment of US horse slaughter plants.

In preparation for the April 2011 Board of Director’s meeting another resolution, this time using the same wording as the American Horse Council, was drawn up and submitted to the Board.  It read as follows:

Whereas, the Arabian Horse Association has individual members both supporting and opposing a federal legislative ban on horse slaughter, and
Whereas, the American Horse Council has adopted a neutral position in recognition of their member organizations and individuals who hold opposing views,
Therefore, Be It Moved that the Arabian Horse Association hold no official position regarding the reestablishment of equine slaughter facilities in the United States.

In addition, copies of several hundred signatures and comments from members of the Arabian Horse Association supporting this resolution were submitted to each Director prior to their vote.

Yet despite the members input, and in another stunning display of utter disregard for the membership, the Mission Statement of the Association, and the Arabian Horse, the Board of Directors voted to defeat this motion in favor of Lance Walter’s original directive to support the slaughter of our Arabian horses and others.

The following is a letter from one of the Directors, from their Regional newsletter, attempting to explain why the Board voted against a ‘neutral’ position.  (spelling is not changed)

Our response in RED:

DIRECTOR:
“One of the last issues discussed was the issue of the Equine Slaughter.  This issue was brough forth by a motion made by Dick Reed asking that AHA board change their previous position to that of a “neutral position” on equine slaughter.  This was a very hard and emotional issue to discuss.  I think “ALL” board of directors felt that a neutral position was favorable since every member of AHA has a position one way or the other regarding this issue.

 ??? If true, this simply reflects a disappointing lack of courage and conviction by the board members who ‘felt’ this way, but did not vote accordingly.  The public perception is that the original Board members who approved this outrageous slaughter endorsement do not want to appear as though they were made to “back down” on this issue and the new directors, wanting to remain in the good graces of Mr Walters, lacked the fortitude to challenge his position.      

DIRECTOR:
“We spent much time on this and many directors spoke to the issue. We revisited the initial position drafted by Debbie Cain to the BOD in May of 2009.   I’m copying Debbie’s motion below:

Whereas:  there is a great concern regarding the humande treatment of all equine breeds and livestock, The Arabian Horse Association and Arabian Horse Foundation actively support equine rescue along with responsible livestock and horse ownership and breeding:  Therefore, be it Moved, after extensive reserach as a BOD we support the reopening of equine processing plants for horses in the U.S.  We believe the restablishment of the humane processing of horses is in the best interest of the horse and livestock community, and therefore, direct our President, Lance Walters, to support the reopening of US equine processing facilities.

This is BOD motion that was drafted to the board and later read at convention stating the position of AHA.  We discussed this long and hard.  As a board we felt that the statment as it was released did not indicate or direct a “position” on equine slaughter.”


???  That’s exactly what this ‘directive’ did…in fact it was the sole reason for this motion: to “support the reopening of US equine slaughter (oops, processing) facilities.”   How could the directors possibly have interpreted this any other way?

DIRECTOR:
“And, that it left each member the right to have thier own feelings regarding this issue.”

This is the core of the issue, isn’t it?   However, the AHA endorsing horse slaughter for human consumption on behalf of the entire membership completely, and utterly disregards those members with “their own feelings” – you are forcing members who oppose slaughter and/or the AHA’s endorsement of it to support an organization they would, under normal circumstances, NEVER support.  Because the AHA is the ONLY association that can provide the necessary services (registration, promotion, National show) to Arabian horse owners, the ONLY choice given to those members is stop breeding/showing/selling Arabian horses or support a philosophy they are deeply and fundamentally opposed to. 

 DIRECTOR:
“It does say AHA supports establishing humane processing that is in the best interest of the horse and livestock community.  It does NOT say we support a “nueutarl positin”
.”

We believe that’s exactly the problem, now isn’t it?

DIRECTOR:
“28 of 29 members voted to leave our position “as is” and to make no change.  I can tell you I feel that everyone has their right to their position on this issue.  I spoke to this effect.  I did vote to keep the position as is with no changeIf it had been an “up” or “down” vote to take a neutral position I would have voted “yes”…  But, that was not the case.  The motion was to “change” the previous motion.”

 ??? Again, with all due respect, this Motion for neutrality stood on it’s own merits; it did NOT attempt to ‘change’ the prior directive (which, by the way, was never carried out, so is essentially non-existent anyway) Perhaps you are referring to the earlier ‘Resolution to Rescind’ the 2009 motion that was presented at Convention last year? 

 “I feel and think I made the right decision in representing Region 14 members.  Maybe not everyone, but the majority.”

If we are not mistaken, was the Board not presented with several hundred comments from members asking for a ‘neutral’ position? While this is not the first time Directors have claimed a “vast majority” of support, there never seems to be ANY verifiable sources to support that claim.

 DIRECTOR:
“I also think this issue will be revisited again by the Board.”

Those who oppose horse slaughter and/or the AHA’s endorsement of it, handily outnumber those who support it.  Don’t you find it interesting that they (those in charge at AHA) have refused to conduct a member survey? 
At any rate, the lone director who supported this Motion for neutrality is to be commended for his conviction and willingness to take a stand in the face of overwhelming opposition.  It is not an easy thing to do, and speaks volumes about his character.  How disappointing that the other Directors lacked the mettle to take a stand… So ultimately, and once again, the BoD members have managed to completely disregard the stated Mission of the association, the Humane guidelines set out in the AHA handbook and Code of Ethics, and any consideration for the membership. 

As for this being “revisted” again by the Board — it is difficult continuing to present a rational argument for neutrality based on the very bizarre logic presented in your letter, which we assume is representative of the position taken by the other like-minded Directors who oppose a ‘neutral’ position for the Association.  That you admittedly state the “directors felt that a neutral position was favorable since every member of AHA has a position one way or the other regarding this issue” yet still voted AGAINST it, speaks volumes about the lack of conviction and integrity of the current Directors. 

Frankly, this explanation makes the entire Board (save the Director who made the Motion) appear impotent and thoroughly intimidated by Mr Walters, whom they clearly did not want to disappoint.

End


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Which begs the question…

In 2009, the Board of Directors, at Lance Walters request, approved a motion that gave him a “directive” to present the AHA as officially ‘on the record’ in support of the reestablishment of US horse slaughter plants at the upcoming American Horse Council meeting.

At the AHC meeting, the discussion of horse slaughter was not on the agenda, and Lance was unable to state an official position on behalf of the AHA.

After the Board members insisted their original slaughter endorsement could not be rescinded due it being a “directive” that was never carried out, why is the AHA still defending its pro-slaughter position?

Unless the “directive” argument was merely a red-herring, the AHA, based on the reasons given to withdraw the resolution, currently hold no official position regarding slaughter (which is as it should be) just as it was prior to the 2009 Board meeting.

 


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A last-minute ‘Hail Mary’ pass by the Board of Directors prevents humiliating defeat at Convention

Apologies for the delay in updating the news from AHA regarding the efforts to overturn the Board’s slaughter endorsement.  It was requested that we not discuss the details of the ‘technicality’ that led to the withdrawal of the Resolution to Rescind at last November’s convention until the Board had an opportunity to meet in April of this year. Based on the outcome of the April Board of Director’s meeting, any informal confidentiality agreement we had is no longer valid.  The following is a brief run-down of the events from last November’s convention:

In November, 2010, a resolution to rescind the Board’s endorsement of reestablishing US horse slaughter was brought to the convention to be voted on by the delegates.

After a resolution has been accepted, it is assigned to separate committees for their review and recommendations before going to the floor for a final vote by the delegates.

The resolution to rescind was assigned to two committees;  “Equine Stress and Research” and the Board of Directors.  While the committee for Equine Stress and Research voted to recommend approval of the resolution to rescind, not surprisingly the Board of Directors took umbrage and were vehemently opposed to this resolution — they argued that rescinding a Board Motion would ‘set a bad precedent’ and could potentially affect their ability to ‘respond quickly’ in future urgent situations. (?)    Worried that there would be overwhelming support by the delegates for the resolution to rescind, the Board members wanted desperately to save face. Clearly, a resolution originally asked for by President Lance Walters and unanimously approved by the Board members, being rescinded by the majority of delegates would be a humiliating defeat.  Using a last-ditch attempt to prevent the resolution from going to the floor, they decided that the original resolution was a merely a “directive” given to the AHA President, Lance Walters. Therefore since the “directive” was never carried out, (the endorsement was never presented to the American Horse Council) it could not be ‘rescinded.’  It was recommended and agreed to by the club delegate that the resolution would be withdrawn on this ‘technicality.’  The sport of football has seldom seen a better Hail Mary pass.