In October 2008, it was announced by then Ontario Equestrian Federation (OEF) Vice-President, Gary Yaghdjian, in his article “The Truth About Horse Slaughter in Canada” http://www.horse.on.ca/files/October_2008_WHOA!.pdf , “With the advent of animal activist activity here in Canada, the OEF has been networking with its sister federations and Provincial farm animal councils to form the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada (HWAC)”. http://www.horsewelfare.ca/index.php .
The HWAC has a vague agenda, but when you look closely at its listed Partners, and the activities of the group, it becomes apparent that their mandate is anything but the welfare of horses. When it first appeared on the scene in 2008, we saw HWAC’s message: “Promoting the humane handling of horses throughout all their life stages”. However, their slick website once researched, reveals much more than horse welfare concerns.
From the HWAC’s Designated Regional Spokesperson list: http://www.horsewelfare.ca/contact we see the close links with the OEF and the AEF:
Ontario – Gary Yaghdjian (OEF Past President) Tel 905-649-1342 Cell 905-424-0078
Jack De Wit (OEF Board Member) Tel 905-424-4666
Bill DesBarres (Alberta Equestrian Federation (AEF), Chair Breeds & Industry, and HWAC President Tel 403-526-1070 Cell 403-529-7237
HWAC’s agenda becomes more clear when you read this page http://www.horsewelfare.ca/about including:
- Horses are the only food producing livestock species not 0-rated for GST.
- Annual exports of horse meat exceed $60 million.
- 70% of the annual sector production is processed for export and domestic markets.
- 16% of the world’s population consumes horse meat.
- Europe, Asia, South America, Australia and Canada consume horse meat.
- Horse meat is low in fat, and a good source of protein and iron.
- Cultural factors (religious, economic) influence public attitudes towards eating horse meat.
The CHDC has exposed the dirty underbelly of Canada’s horse slaughter industry, under two separate investigative reports in 2008 (Natural Valley Farms in SK) and in 2010 (Bouvry Exports in Alberta and Richelieu Meats in Quebec).
Exposure at both plants revealed cruel handling, unsafe kill floor conditions, and improper stunning practices resulting in immense suffering of horses.
In both cases, some horse federations and/or HWAC denied the film evidence was authentic. These claims were later proved to be unfounded.
Instead of acknowledging and acting on this evidence, the kneejerk reaction of these industry groups was to deny it ever happened. But happening it was, and still is, as long as horse slaughter exists in Canada.
To further expand on this, the CHDC wrote a revealing paper earlier in 2010 asking the question, “Did you know that your provincial horse federation supports and endorses the slaughter of North American horses?” called What You Didn’t Know about Canada’s Horse Federations.
In this document, the relationship is revealed between HWAC and the U.S. based United Organizations of the Horsehttp://www.unitedorgsofthehorse.org/. From their website: “The United Organizations of the Horse (UOH) was formed to address two key issues:
1. To restore humane and regulated horse slaughter in the U.S.; and
2. To control the overpopulation of wild and feral horses on federal, state, tribal, and private lands.”
There is another pro-slaughter horse group closely linked to the UOH. They are the United Horsemen’s Front (UHF)http://www.unitedhorsemensfront.org/. From their website: “The United Horsemen’s Front promotes horse welfare and the health of the horse industry by providing accurate, timely information about the unintended consequences of the ban on equine processing in the United States. The United Horsemen’s Front seeks to unify our country’s horsemen and -women in our common goal: achieving humane and realistic solutions to the unwanted horse problem from the perspective of experienced horse people who have the best interest of the horse at heart.”
The United Organizations of the Horse and the United Horsemen’s Front are promoting and creating means to slaughter not only America’s domestic horses, but also their wild mustangs.
Now these groups have a pro-slaughter conference planned for January 2010 in Las Vegas they’ve called the “Summit of the Horse”: http://www.united-horsemen.org/summit-of-the-horse/.
From their website, the summit is: “A gathering of men and women who make their living with horses, and those who care deeply about ecological balance on healthy lands. A summit of concerned citizens who understand what is necessary to keep the land, the horses, the people, the cultures, and the economies vibrant and healthy.” “Now is the time for all of those who care deeply about the land and the horse, to come together as ethical and moral horse people, and find ways to address ignorance and a lack of understanding by activists and policy makers.”
Summit sessions will include: “Control Excess Wild & Feral Horses: Deal with Unwanted, Abandoned, and Neglected Horses on all Lands”, also “Restore Humane & Regulated Horse Processing: Resurrect the Horse Industry and Normalize the Equine Economy”, and “Healthy Lands/Healthy Horses – Restoring ecological balance to federal lands, controlling excess and unwanted feral horses on state, tribal, and private lands.”
The Summit of the Horse and its organizers do not hide their agenda – it’s straight forward in its attempt to rally like-minded people and groups to restore horse slaughter in the U.S., and control the wild mustang population. That much cannot be said of the HWAC in Canada, whose agenda is more hidden behind “horse welfare” messaging such as “promoting the humane handling of horses throughout all their life stages”.
But make no mistake about it – they are all tightly connected with a similar mission, and quite incredibly, Canada’s provincial horse federations are interwoven among these fringe pro-slaughter groups.
To expand on this reality check, I encourage you to read R.T. Fitch’s blog “Straight from the Horse’s Heart”:
– “Slaughterhouse” Sue Wallis Public Sticks Bloody Foot in Mouth http://rtfitch.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/slaughterhouse-sue-wallis-publicly-sticks-bloody-foot-in-mouth/
– “Summit of Horse Slaughter Promoters” Grasping at Straws http://rtfitch.wordpress.com/2010/12/13/%e2%80%9csummit-of-horse-slaughter%e2%80%9d-promoters-grasping-at-straws/
Finally, it must be stated that it is a frightening proposition what the HWAC, UOH, UHF and the Summit of the Horse represent. It is even more frightening that Canada’s horse federations are linked with this extreme, intolerant pro-slaughter movement. Canadians must be made aware, and concerned horse people must let Equine Canada http://equinecanada.ca/breedsandindustry/index.php and their provincial horse federations http://albertaequestrian.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=427&Itemid=383 know how they feel about this alarming push towards equine prejudice.
Solutions for managing horse populations start at the source – at the breeders and owners – not an end solution at the slaughterhouses. For more information on humane options for horses and eliminating slaughter, visit the CHDC at www.defendhorsescanada.org