Known throughout their centuries-long history as the Horse of Kings the Andalusian was prized for their kind, intelligent and courageous nature. They were war horses, tools of diplomacy and trusted companions of novice riders. Today they are the most elegant of dressagers. Now they are also known as dinner.
In the economic boom years of Spain breeders increased their herds as demand for this elegant horse skyrocketed. Newly wealthy people bought land and horses, those in the suburbs just bought horses. Finally everyone could have an Andalusian, the premier horse of the equestrian world. Their intelligence, docility and sensitivity to humans drove this demand even more than theirs looks and heritage. They display ultimate trust in and affection for their humans. Almost all are child safe, even intact stallions.
When the economic bubble burst it not only affected humans. Horses who had sold for 20 to 100 thousand dollars only a few years before could suddenly be had for a few hundred dollars is a buyer could be found. Slaughter buyers arrived like vultures to a ripe carcass offering 200 dollars a head for Andalusians caught in the Euro Crunch. From the horse of nobility to the Olympic show ring, from children’s companions to Oscar-winning movies the horse everyone wanted became the horse no one could afford to keep.
Thousands of Andalusians have been sent to slaughter and thousands more will follow. Some breeders are even offering their horses free to anyone who can keep them alive. There have been few takers so far for these most revered and beloved horses of Spain.
Now is not the time to remind people that horses, like cats and dogs, suffer from the consequences over population. Now is not the time to berate short-sightedness nor rail against horse slaughter. Now is the time for the international equestrian community to step up and step in. Not all can be saved but all that can be saved should be saved. They have earned the right to expect this of us,for without horses what would human civilization be like. They have earned this right by their service, their loyalty and their trust. The fact that this slaughter has been allowed quietly continue its course is heartbreaking.
The equestrian community must respond to this with whatever resources are available for rescue. If we turn our backs on them now we have lost the right to ever set boot to stirrup iron, much less to call ourselves equestrians.
Briar Theelsmom is a life long equestrian who is an animal rights activist and environmentalist. She lives on the south Georgia, north floor border in woodlands surrounded by wildlife. Briar is a staunch supporter of liberal causes and considers animal rights to be equally valid as human rights.
Image Source: istockphotos.com