Summit of the Horse

We published a recap from the recent Summit of the Horse, held in Las Vegas from Jan. 3-6, a few days ago in the Breed & Sports News blog. Since then I’ve received many more pieces of information of what went on at the Summit, and the talk at the conference.

The United Horsemen is a group of horse women and men, who have a sincere interest and concern regarding the welfare of our horses – particularly those in the category of “unwanted”.

Theresa Manzella, who is the President of Willing Servants, a horse rescue based in Montana, summed it up like this:

“The Summit of the Horse was absolutely jam packed with solid, fact based and scientific, statistical and charted information, presented by people who are the absolute unequivocal  experts in their fields. Not only ranchers and trainers, but representatives from every branch of the horse industry were present, which included, conservationists, rescues for both domestic and feral horses, cattlemen’s associations, tribal council members, veterinarians, breed registries and associations representing various disciplines, representatives for the USDA, as well as Canada and Mexico. Dr. Temple Grandin happened to be one of my personal favorites. Additionally, there were at least two Senators present, as well as constitutional lawyers, and representation on private property rights were also included.

“Never could I have imagined such a comprehensive, educated, well rounded panel.”

Our friends Bill and Jann Parker of Billings Livestock, were also there. The Parker’s have long run this equine sale venue, and have a great reputation for bringing solid and dependable stock horses, performance horses and even ponies and mules to their sales. Some of the most prominent breeders in North America have consigned to a Billings Livestock Sale at one time or another.

They also run a number of “loose” horses – horses which run through the auction ring without a rider, through their sales. Although loose horses are often saddle broke, they sell for much less than saddle horses and are often bought by kill buyers.

Bill and Jann Parker served on the Horseman’s Forum, “Necessary Steps to Restore Lost Value and Normal Markets. “ The forum had a wide range of speakers, from the Horseman’s Council of Illinois and the Master of Foxhounds, to the Intertribal Agriculture Agency and a veterinarian from Iowa. They related what effects they have noted from the closing of the American horse slaughter plants.

Below, I’m reprinting an excerpt from a news release written by Sue Wallis, Vice President of the United Horsemen. You can read the entire post here.

“I talked about our numbers and how they have been negatively affected since horse processing has been stopped in this country,” said Jann Parker. “Basically, since the processing plants closed our sale gross was about half. Our gross sale revenue in 2006 was $979,000 for 1,021 horses; in 2010 for it was $424,000 for 780 horses. Who is being hurt is the person who lives in Cody or Townsend or Roundup who hopes to get about $1,000 when they bring in a few loose horses. That’s not happening now. They don’t receive that money to spend in the community or put toward another horse purchase.”

Parker said one of the subjects she found of particular interest was hearing speakers on the Unintended Consequences on state, tribal and private lands  program. “Five northwestern tribes have done a remarkable job organizing the ‘Intertribal Agriculture Council and Northwest Tribal Horse Coalition.’ They have all had problems with wild and feral horses. One tribe even had as many as 15,000 feral horses on their land. They are being proactive to deal with all of these unwanted horses.”

BLM Director Bob Abbey spoke on the Wild Horse and Burro Program. “He seemed to understand our frustration with the issue, but he has other groups he has to answer to. He knows there is a lot of work to be done with the huge population of wild and feral horses on federal lands,” Parker noted.

Parker said the highlight was listening to Dr. Temple Grandin, the now-famous livestock handling equipment designer who travels around the world speaking on autism and livestock handling.

Other topics included setting a high standard for humane horse processing, efforts to provide humane and economically viable options, the equine market report, protecting grazing and other rights, and a variety of other issues.

“It was productive meeting with many different facets. It brought everyone together, from ranchers and ropers to horse breeders and tribal members, so we had a broad spectrum to discuss what we can do for our industry and our horses,” concluded Parker.  “Horses are our passion, and I felt we owed it to our customers to attend this important event.”

At the head of this blog post stands the mission statement of the United Horsemen. If you are interested in knowing more about this committed group, check out their website here. Remember, they are an entirely volunteer organization. Not one speaker at the Summit was paid, all were there on their own dime, and with a sincere concern for the welfare of horses in our society.

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