Approximately 150 people convened at the 2014 American Equine Summit in upstate New York this past weekend.
It was held at the sprawling Equine Advocates sanctuary in Chatham, where 85 slaughter-bound horses, including famous race mare Press Exclusive, who nearly died en route to slaughter, have been given bucolic forever homes.
Attendees, who hailed from as far away as South Dakota, Pennsylvania and New York City, converged on the farm for the two-day conference, April 26 and 27, to be updated on the ongoing efforts to improve the welfare of American equines.
Victoria McCullough, international equestrian, philanthropist and owner of Chesapeake Petroleum, arrived at the podium like a general addressing her adoring troops.
A leader in the fight to strengthen laws against illegal horse slaughter in Florida, McCullough advocated for the passage of stricter laws after equestrian Ivonne Rodriguez’s horse was ruthlessly butchered years ago. In 2010, HB 765, which was sponsored by Rep. Joseph Abruzzo, D-Wellington, was signed into law. And the new law, named for both McCullough and Rodriguez, makes illegal butchering a felony.
At the weekend conference, McCullough reported ongoing successes in her efforts to put horse welfare on the agenda of top lawmakers. Citing a recent meeting with Vice President Joe Biden, McCullough praised the vice president for his efforts to promote changes to the U.S. Omnibus bill, which effectively eliminates funding for horse slaughter plants in America.
Stating that more needs to be done to end horse slaughter, McCullough said, “We have to win the EU and Canada” and persuade those countries that horse meat should not be consumed by humans. “What do we do next? How do we stop our horses from being sent over the borders? My idea is to declassify equines from the food chain.”
A wide range of issues affecting equine welfare was discussed during the conference. John Holland, president of Equine Welfare Alliance, offered statistical evidence opposing claims that slaughter plants add jobs and benefits in their host communities. He countered those assertions by citing statistics showing a decline in crime rates after slaughterhouses close.
And George Strawbridge, Jr., international horseman and owner of Augustin Stable, spoke of his opposition to drug use on racehorses, and of the idea that racehorses should be started on the track at a later age so that their bodies mature.
As speakers tackled topics affecting horse welfare, outside in a nearby grassy paddock, rested a Thoroughbred who has been called a poster horse to end horse slaughter.
Press Exclusive, a race mare who earned nearly a half million on the track, and then gave birth to nine successive live foals before she nearly died en route to a slaughter plant, was enjoying some sun while napping in her field.
She cocked her head at new guests. After eyeing everyone, she rolled for a few seconds, and then hoisted herself up and darted off, zooming around her paddock like a diva performing for fans.
And after, she agreeably posed for photos, and accepted head scratches.
“It’s amazing she looks as good as she does, after all she’s been through,” said Susan Wagner, Equine Advocates founder. “When I look at her now, and see how great she looks at 18, I think she must have looked amazing when she was a 3 year old.”
Press Exclusive is among 85 horses in permanent protective sanctuary at Equine Advocates. A private donor, who agreed to sponsor the mare as a gift to his wife, pays her care in full.
9 responses to “Survivors frolic as summit tackles slaughter”
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What this brood mare was put through being bred over and over for nine years and then discarded like trash is what I have been saying for a long time. I believe 99% of TB breeders do to their breeding stock just like this mare was done. There are probably some decent breeders out there but few and far between. To these people breeding these horses is a business just like running a grocery store or a car lot and its expected to turn a profit including writing off any horses shipped to slaughter on their taxes returns. All of the 99% know who the local kill buyers are, it saves them time because they don’t have to truck a load of brood mares just like Press Exclusive to a auction. These people don’t make any effort to place any of these brood mares in homes at all. The kill buyer pays a going rate to the breeder and that’s it. If there was no easy out for the over breeder a lot this would stop over night. Canada may be on the verge of passing a law that stops horse slaughter in that country because of the drugs in the US horses that are the largest number of horses they slaughter. The EU won’t allow horse meat shipped from the US in their countries but turn a blind eye to the thousands of US horses that go across Canada’s border from the US. I believe the EU said that because it was possible that any slaughter plant that might have opened up in the US would want to ship contaminated horse meat to the EU counties. But plane loads of contaminated boxed horse meat from US horses killed in Canada are shipped out daily.
WELL WHERE TO START, FIRST OF ALL ISNT SLAUGHTER ABUSE?: CUREL TREATMENT IN ANY ANIMALS NOT JUST HORSES IWOULD HAVE TO SAY LET THE HORSES GO ON ROBERT REDFORDS PROPERTIES GET AL THOUGHS ABUSERS TO THINK TWICE. PEOPLE ARE NOT GOING TO GIVE UP ON ANIMALS AND THERE SAFTY.THOROUGHBRED OR STALLION WE LOVE THEM ALL DOGS CATS ECT… IT DOESNT MATTER. THEN THERES PEOPLE WHO DONT CARE ABOUT ANYTHING BUT THE ALMIGHTY BUCK WHEN IS ENOUGH MONEY MONEY MONEY THATS ALL THEY CARE ABOUT.NOT LIFE UNLESS ITS THERE OWN.
Bravo, Susan Wagner, for presenting this successful forum that casts more and more light on the plight of horses in the USA and the world. Many thanks to all the speakers and planners and dedicated equine advocates who met there and who are taking the message of equine welfare and compassion for all animals to their respective circles. Horse slaughter, equine overbreeding, race track abuse and other ills all must end. My heartfelt gratitude to Susan for this great effort and to all the speakers and attendees who made it great.
Thanks for the coverage of this conference, Susan Salk.
I hope that Susan Wagner will make this conference an annual event, I will absolutely attend it next year.
I’m extremely encouraged by Victoria McCullough’s selfless activities to federally prohibit horse slaughter and its horrific bulk transport. This amazing, selfless woman could be doing any number of things with her time, but instead she champions horse welfare and humane treatment. Thank you, Victoria!
Another important, humane federal bill is the ban on double deckers for horse transport:
S.1459 and HR.4440.
Please be heard in opposition to the atrocious practice of horse slaughter.. Contact your US congressman and your two US senators, and ask them to actively support S.541 and HR.1094, the current bills banning horse slaughter for human consumption (and its deadly bulk transport). Find yours at: http://votesmart.org/
The story of Press Exclusive’s journey from being trampled on the floor of a trailer heading to a slaughter house in Canada to her arrival at her forever safe home at Equine Advocates is something all horse advocates and activists should read. I first had the chance to see “Press” two weeks after her arrival at Equine Advocates. Knowing her story and the amazing people (Mindy Lovell and Susan Wagner) who intervened to save her I had a lump in my throat when I saw her health and beauty. Thank god for people like them.
So glad that advocates could convene and share ideas It allows for a great recharge and re-commitment to ending horse slaughter and the slaughter pipeline.
Well done. Are there more that people can’t get around to these rally’s can do. Who do we contact in regarding this kind of treatment stopped.
Fired up even more after this Summit. Knowledge used well along with work will get the job done.