Homeless on the range
Horses are being abandoned by the thousands across the USA. Some are strays, others a result of overbreeding or a sour economy. How should we humanely lessen their numbers?
By Mary Zeiss Stange
It's a climactic scene in the 1962 Kirk Douglas film, Lonely Are the Brave. The cowboy, Jack Burns — fugitive both from the law and the civilization overtaking the open range — confronts a choice: He can scale a steep rock face and escape to Mexico. But to do so, he must leave his palomino mare, Whiskey, to either be recovered by the posse pursuing him, or to run wild in the New Mexico desert.
It takes him but a moment to decide: Whatever the outcome, he and his horse are in this together. It is a noble sentiment and an ultimately tragic decision. In the end, the horse is literally dead and her rider at least metaphorically so.
No one who owns and loves horses, as I do, can fail to note the counterpoint the film provides to what is happening to horses in America today. There is a national epidemic of "surplus" or "unwanted" horses. Domestic horses are being abandoned as never before. Some are being released as "strays" on public lands. Others are being left to starve in pastures denuded of grass. The reasons are various and excruciatingly complex. Read More
When the emotions are taken out of an argument, you have nothing left to consider but the facts that are available. The facts are that since the horse processing plants in the US were forced to close, it has added an incredible expense to utilizing these unwanted horses. They are now forced to travel thousands of miles, out of the country. This has contributed to the growing number of unwanted horses, and caused the general welfare of our nation’s horses to drop.