Anti Horse Slaughter Advocates Target Bute Ban in National Zoo Campaign

By Steve Long ~ author/publisher of Horseback Magazine

“Studies performed in laboratory animals have shown that phenylbutazone has carcinogenic properties. “

LioneatinghorsemeatHOUSTON, (Horseback) – When equine slaughterhouses open their doors in New Mexico, Iowa, and Missouri this month, their proprietors are likely to face a determined effort by animal advocates to educate a prime market for horsemeat – the nation’s zoos. Horseback Magazine has learned that a determined national effort to inform them that phenylbutazone, or bute, is prohibited by the FDA for human consumption, and American horsemeat faces a ban by European Union countries because of toxic chemicals..

The federal USDA has approved funding for the use of federal meat inspectors in the facilities. All say they will open in July.

On advocates target list – 222 zoos from coast to coast.

Bute is administered to horses and other animals as a pain killer.

In their pitch to the zoos, advocates will cite an FDA prohibition against use of the drug in food animals, as well as a ban by the European Union on the import of horsemeat tainted with phynalbutazone and about 25 other chemicals commonly administered to U.S. horses. In Europe, horses destined for food must be monitored for life and certified that their meat is uncontaminated via a diary system.

Scientists say feeding bute tainted meat to zoo animals is dangerous to the expensive exotic species.

“Studies performed in laboratory animals have shown that phenylbutazone has carcinogenic properties.  Based upon these studies, phenylbutazone is just as dangerous to animals as it is to humans,” said Ann Marini, MD, PhD.

Marini is co-author of the leading study on the subject of the use of Bute in horses,  “Association of phenylbutazone usage with horses bought for slaughter: A public health risk,” along with Nicholas Dodman and Nicolas Blondeau. The Work was published in the scientific journal,  Food and Chemical Toxicology.

The drug is almost universally used on American horses and it is believed that only an insignificant number of animals have not received it. Of most concern is the fact that the drug does not leave the animal’s carcass but remains in the body for life. The only valid test for its presence is to test the kidneys where it is stored through a post mortem examination.

“In 2007, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service stated that “phenylbutazone is considered to be one of the most toxic non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It is not approved for use in food animals and there are no regulatory limits, such as acceptable daily intake or safe concentration for meat, established by the Food and Drug Administration. Therefore, the presence of any amount of phenylbutazone in food animal tissue will be considered a violation and likely to be unsafe for human consumption,” said an online statement from Thermo Fisher Scientific, a firm that markets a quick test to determine if bute is present in horsemeat.

“Feeding horse meat to captive carnivores has many hazards beyond the revulsion of zoo attendees. Not only does it contain a wide range of equine medications, but it can also transmit trichinosis and even the West Nile Virus,” said John Holland, the nation’s foremost advocate of preventing the resumption of equine slaughter. He is founder and President of the Chicago based Equine Welfare Alliance.

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Video: Outer Mongolia, Wild Horses and the Paradox of Horse Slaughter

Source: 2013 American Equine Summit: R.T. Fitch

“It is ‘Feel Good Sunday’ and we are sharing with you the presentation that Terry and I made at the 2013 American Equine Conference 3 weeks ago this day.  It is posted, here, by special request as there is some humor to it but there are also gaps in the beginning as we edited out areas where I may have given away some of our undercover activity that will, hopefully, lead to litigation.  Please enjoy as we share our story about the horses of Outer Mongolia and in only 3 short weeks, in the future, Terry and I will be trekking on horseback across Tibet, the second largest horse culture in the world, and what we learn will be shared with you.  Keep the faith, my friends.!” ~ R.T.


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Horseback Magazine: A Global Equine Adventure for our May Readers

Source: Horseback Magazine Press Release for upcoming May Issue

Equine Advocates take readers into the Wilderness of Outer Mongolia

Horseback May IssueJoin us, in our upcoming May issue, as Terry and R.T. Fitch, longtime readers, friends and subscribers of Horseback Magazine, and co-founders of Wild Horse Freedom Federation, take us into the expansive, unspoiled wilderness of Outer Mongolia as they trek on horseback to document the reintroduction of the world’s most primitive specimen of the wild horse.  You’ll meet the Takhi, a truly wild equine in its unspoiled native environment.

Terry and R.T. lived among, and rode with native Mongolian nomads, as they searched for the elusive wild horses while asking the question, “If Outer Mongolia has the largest horse culture in the world, why do the nomadic tribes still slaughter and eat the very spiritual centerpiece of their social structure?”

The answer may surprise you.

Don’t miss this thought-provoking glimpse into the mindset of a democratic, nomadic nation that on one hand is struggling to reintroduce the native wild horse while on the other dine upon the flesh of their domestic counterpart.

R.T. Fitch is author of the popular Straight from the Horse’s Heart…Terry Fitch is a renowned wild horse photographer.  Both are humanitarians active in the American wild horse preservation movement.

TPWD Releases Photos of “Executed” Horses

Story by Steven Long ~ Publisher/Editor of Horseback Magazine

“One of the horses clearly was not an easy keeper or was underfed…”

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – Texas Parks and Wildlife, the state agency charged with the welfare of animals in their natural habitat didn’t have enough respect for 11 domestic horses to give them a quick and painless death. Instead, on the orders of  park superintendent Barrett Darst of Big Bend Ranch State Park, the horses, mares and foals, were sent to a painful slaughter, Mexico style.

Friday a TPWD lawyer complied with a Horseback Magazine open records request and released documents already provided to by an animal cruelty investigator. But the state parks department went a step further and released photos of some of the condemned animals.

One of the horses clearly was not an easy keeper or was underfed, its ribs showing; yet the horse was  ridden on the ranch as evidenced by saddle marks near its withers.

TPWD could easily have dispatched  the horse with one of the guns used to kill 70 wild burros it considers a non native species earlier this year. Critics claim the park is ridding the donkeys to make room for big horn sheep, a big game animal coveted by hunters who will pay mega bucks for a permit to hunt them.

Despite the extensive documentation provided to Horseback Online regarding the slaughter sale, State Parks Director Brent Leisure denied park officials knew they were selling horses to known killer buyer Ruben Brito.

Big Bend Ranch is the states largest park. It is 70 miles across and lays on the banks of the Rio Grande near Presidio.

During the past year the Texas Department of Criminal Justice sold about 60 prison horses to longtime killer buyer Trent Saulters who took them directly to the slaughter pens of Presidio.

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Texas’ Big Bend State Park Sends Horses to Slaughter

By Eric Nicholson of the Dallas Observer

“First the park shoots the burro’s and now sends the horses to directly to a killer…”

Texas Park Horses become tainted dinner for foreign diners

For years, Julie Caramante was a leader the fight to shutter Dallas Crown, Kaufman’s infamous horse slaughterhouse. Dallas Crown closed in 2007, as did the Beltex slaughterhouse in Fort Worth, but Caramante, a lifelong equine welfare advocate, has continued to keep a close eye on the horse slaughter industry.

That led Caramante to the recent discovery that the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department had sold horses to a known slaughter buyer. According to documents she obtained from the agency following a tip, TPWD had sold 11 horses from Big Bend Ranch State Park to Ruben Brito, who regularly transports horses to slaughterhouses across the border in Mexico. The story was first reported in Horseback Magazine

Included in the documents Caramante obtained is an email exchange between Dan Sholly, deputy director of Texas State Parks, and BBRSP officials.

“Have you been able to determine if we can move forward with this process of culling the horse herd at BBRSP?” wrote Dierdre Hisler, Region 1 State Parks Director.

“I don’t recall receiving an answer (could be lost in my e-mails) to my question about sell pricing,” Sholly responded. “Are we willing to take canner prices for our horses? Is that all they are worth? No blood lines? No high potential for more than dog food?”

Hisler responded that the horses “are not of QUALITY,” and Sholly okayed the sale for $.25 per pound.

Kevin Good, an assistant to the TPWD director, said BBRSP has kept a small contingent of horses at the park to do various jobs.

“As horses do sometimes, they made baby horses,” he said. “The herd got to a size where it had to be reduced.”

Good said it isn’t sure if the local parks staff were aware of Brito’s connections to the slaughter industry when they made the sale and, even if they were, he’s unsure whether state laws on surplus property would have allowed them to reject the offer.

“The fact is if he’s meeting the requirements of a state bidder, we can’t exclude him because we may or may not like what their business is,” Good said.

That said, TPWD is now reviewing its policies to see if there is a way such a sale could be disallowed.

Caramante is less forgiving, particularly given the way the same state park culled its burro population earlier this year.

“First the park shoots the burro’s and now sends the horses to directly to a killer,” she wrote in an email. “Guess they don’t like anything equine.”

Horseback Mag Banned from Horse Slaughter Summit

Story by Steven Long ~ Editor/Publisher of Horseback Magazine

United Horseman Prez. Duquette Shows His True Colors

“Due to travel and our court hearing this little gem by Steve Long slipped by so we re-visit it, here.  The story speaks to the core of the problem of ethics that swirl around predatory horse slaughter and the likes of Dave Duquette who support it.  The horse-eaters prefer to operate from underneath their moldy rocks so that the yellow stripe down their back is not visible in the light of truth and honesty.  Must be a terrible way to live.” ~ R.T.


Horseback Mag Publisher Steven Long enjoying old fashioned Texas BBQ with Author R.T. Fitch ~ Picture by Vicki Long

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – Horseback Magazine had hoped to cover the upcoming pro-horse processing Summit of the Horse in Oklahoma City beginning April 2, however, the fiery tempered president of United Horsemen, the presenting sponsor, has barred this magazine’s first amendment right to cover a news story of interest to all horse owners.

In a posting in response to a United Horsemen press release published at Horseback Online, Dave Duquette wrote to editor Steven Long, “Your lack of integrity and inability to just report (Like your (sic.) supposed to do) and all the assertions you make leave us at the United Horsemen believing you are NO better than Simone and You or your staff will not have access. You can hang out with your friends across the street.”

“We are journalists, not activists,” said Horseback’s Editor Steven Long. “We make that statement to Mr. Duquette exactly like we constantly do to his opponents. The job of reporting is not to make one side or another happy, and I’m certain those who are anti-slaughter are often just as angered by our work as Duquette is.”

In a previous post, Horseback mentioned it was considering covering the Oklahoma City “Summit” in person and was looking forward to meeting its leadership.

“It kind of reminds me of the old Communist Party meetings in Russia where only media acceptable to the party was allowed in the room,” Long said. “We have tried to tell all sides of this story. Looks like one side only wants their story told at the expense of all others.”

Horseback Online has scrupulously posted all of the United Horsemen press releases sent to us. The magazine has, however, corrected numerous misstatements and distortion of fact by the group. It has also pointed out glaring omissions made by its leadership to the press, including never mentioning the ban on phenalbutazone and other chemicals for use in food animals. Horseback has also challenged the outright fabrication by pro-slaughter activists that residues of bute go away over time in animals. In fact, bute stays in the kidneys of animals administered the drug – forever.

“We do it because all horsemen should be aware of that fact which might lead to the implementation of a horse passport system like they have in Europe,” Long said. “We point that out as a public service because I just can’t believe American horsemen want a European type passport system after the overwhelming rejection on the part of horse owners when USDA tried to institute NAIS.”

“We will continue to cover the entire story,” Long said. “And we will continue to print the news releases of Duquette’s group, United Horsemen. Frankly, every time we do it our online readership spikes through the roof because they are so provocative.”

In poll after poll taken by reputable national firms over the last decade, a full 70 percent or more of all Americans say they oppose horse slaughter.

United Horsemen appears to have substantial financial backing from the meat industry. It has become increasingly vocal in the wake of removal of a prohibition against federal funding of meat inspectors in slaughterhouses. Duquette and others have claimed that there will soon be slaughterhouses open in several states to process horses. Thus far, Congress has not appropriated funds for the inspectors.

Sources close to opponents of horses slaughter say literally hundreds of lawsuits are expected to be filed as soon as an abattoir opens its doors.

Duquette, an Oregon horse trainer, recently took the reins of the organization from Wyoming State Representative Sue Wallis, (R).

The summit will draw some of the leading proponents of the pro-slaughter movement such as animal behavior and livestock specialist Dr. Temple Grandin, and industry lobbyist Charles Stenholm, a former Texas congressman.

“We have friends of both sides of the issue,” Long said. “We have deep roots covering the sport of rodeo at the highest level, and almost all of our friends there are in favor of slaughter. We simply offer a friendly forum to our readers, including Mr. Duquette, to voice their opinions. We frequently receive thank you notes from from pro-slaughter advocates for posting their side of the story.”

Horseback Magazine has never taken a position for or against slaughter. We have, however, taken a very strong position opposing the use of the captive bolt gun on horses.

Duquette mentioned Simone Netherlands in his statement. She was covering last year’s Las Vegas meeting of the group for a Nevada independent television station when she was escorted from the meeting room and allegedly assaulted by Wallis.

Long is an investigative journalist with almost 40 years in the business. He has broken stories regarding the sale of crack babies out of a Texas jail, hawking of stolen Sixteenth Century medical texts by a university librarian, and about prison inmates receiving face lifts, nose jobs, and tummy tucks at taxpayer expense. He is also the author of three books and a winner of the State Bar of Texas Gavel Award for distinguished journalism.

“While it looks as if I won’t be in the room, we will have confidential sources there,” Long said. “Besides, they televise the thing.”

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“Unwanted Horse” Producer Pfizer Sponsors Teleconference to Promote Compromised GAO Report

Press Release from The Equine Welfare Alliance

Smell of Scandal in the Air

Chicago (EWA) – A long overdue Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the effect of closing the US horse slaughter plants is scheduled for release on Wednesday, June 22. Although the report’s contents are to be kept confidential until released,  slaughter supporters have been indicating for months that they were leaked the report and have now orchestrated an “Unwanted Horse” teleconference late in the day of the release presumably to promote the report’s findings.

The teleconference, called “Ask a Vet” is being presented by The Horse, the magazine of the American Veterinary Medical Association, a long term supporter of horse slaughter, and features veterinarian Tom Lenz the former Chair of the American Horse Council‘s “Unwanted Horse Coalition (UHC)”. The UHC, supposedly founded to propose solutions to the excess horse problem, has instead concentrated on promoting the phrase “unwanted horse” to take the focus off of over production, which slaughter actually encourages, and imply slaughter horses are somehow unusable except as meat.

Pfizer Pharmaceuticals sponsoring a teleconference on solutions to the “unwanted horse” problem is beyond brazen. Pfizer owns Wythe Pharmaceuticals, the producer of a line of hormone replacement therapy drugs made from pregnant mare urine and is one of the largest producers of excess, poorly bred and untrained foals in North America.

Every year, Wythe contracts farms to breed tens of thousands of mares so that their urine can be collected to make the drugs. Not only does this process create thousands of excess foals, the drug was found to have devastating health effects on women during a 2002 study by the National Institutes of Health. The company responded by diluting the drug and renaming it.

Viewed as a tactic to stall legislation to ban horse slaughter, the report was requested by Congressional Senate members opposing a ban in the 111th Congress (2009-2010). Slaughter opponents point out that the closings did not reduce the number of American horses being slaughtered, and therefore could not have affected the horse industry. USDA statistics show the same numbers of horses being bought for slaughter at US auctions now as before the closings, with the only difference being where they are slaughtered.

It was a rude surprise when horse slaughter lobbyist Charles Stenholm spoke at a January conference to promote horse slaughter and strongly hinted that the report would be good for their position. This was followed in a letter sent to all members of Congress by slaughter promoter, Sue Wallis, in which she begged members to delay any votes until the GAO report was released.

When Steve Long, editor of Horseback Magazine, inquired to the GAO about the leak, he was told they were aware the report had leaked, but that he could not see it until the June 22nd. This was almost immediately followed by a denial of the leak from a higher official.

Long told EWA, “It was astonishing that the top press flak at GAO was so unsophisticated he denied his own spokesperson confirmed there was a leak. Generally Washington spokesmen are much more savvy than that and know many reporters tape interviews.”

Executives of the EWA and Animal Law Coalition provided information to the GAO lead investigator Terry Horner, but when rumors of the leaks emerged, EWA’s John Holland found Horner had effectively disappeared. “Email to Mr. Horner went unanswered, and when I tried to call his office I was given a message that he would be unavailable until June. In June calls resulted in a message that the number was unassigned even though it was still in the directory”, said Holland.

The GAO has maintained a reputation for independence and fairness, making the leaking of the report and the implied bias of those who prepared it a potential scandal.

Obama’s BLM Confirms it Will Resume Wild Horse and Burro “Gathers”

Story by Steven Long ~ Editor/Publisher of Horseback Magazine

Another Season of Injury, Death and Imprisonment to Commence in July

Obama's BLM torturing the last of our wild mustangs ~ photo by Terry Fitch

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – After spending most of the last two years under attack for its wild horse “gathers” in the west, the federal Bureau of Land Management will soon resume the capture and possible extinction of the North American Mustang. The confirmation came early Monday from BLM Chief Washington Spokesman Tom Gorey.

The agency had canceled all of its roundups for the remainder of the year citing a lack of funds to continue. Since Labor Day weekend 2009 when the BLM launched an accelerated schedule of capture on Montana’s Pryor Mountain, hundreds of wild horses have died during and in the aftermath of helicopter driven stampedes.

Gorey says the capture of horses will now resume for the remainder of the  year.

“The Federal government had been operating under several stopgap spending measures (so-called Continuing Resolutions) earlier this year until this month, when Congress passed a longer-term Continuing Resolution that will take us through the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011, which ends Sept. 30,” Gorey said.

“The current Continuing Resolution provides a $12 million increase to the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program (putting the FY 2011 WH&B budget at $75.8 million), thus making it possible for the agency to conduct gathers this summer, starting in July. With the funding issue now resolved, the BLM will be able to carry out this facet of its management responsibilities.  The tentative schedule for this summer’s gathers will be issued soon,” he said.

The Pryor Mountain capture of an iconic Palomino named Cloud who had been the subject of three PBS “Nature” documentaries sparked outrage nationwide and even abroad.

Conservative wild horse advocate and author R.T. Fitch blasted the Congress for wasteful spending by funding the capture of wild horses.

“The U.S. Congress broke it’s promise to reduce unnecessary spending when they not only fully funded the BLM’s 2011 budget but granted them an additional $12 million so that they can now harass, maim, injure, capture and warehouse our last remaining wild horses,” he said.

Earlier BLM Director Bob Abbey said the agency was going in a new direction after appointment of a new interim director of the Wild Horse and Burro Program. Fitch says the director has gone back on his word.

“Bob Abbey, who has admitted that the system does not work, appears to consider a ‘new direction’ to be simply more of the same cruelty and waste.  Taxpaying Americans have lost control of their government,” the author said.

Chicago based Equine Welfare Alliance President John Holland echoed Fitch.

“The BLM faces an inevitable budget crisis over the cost of keeping the horses in long term holding, and yet they never miss an opportunity to make the situation worse,” he said. “Clearly, we are watching the engineering of a disaster. Within a year they will be wringing their hands about what they can possible do with all the horses.”

Wild Horse Advocate’s Photo Snares First Place

Terry Fitch Takes People’s Choice Award 2 Years Running

"Dueling Band Stallions ~ photo by Terry Fitch

Houston, (SFTHH) – Hundreds of entries representing 15 countries and 45 states were entered in the eighth annual online equine photography contest sponsored by the Equine Photographers Network, making this the most competitive contest to date with an incredible array of outstanding equine images.

Coming in with a first place ribbon was wild horse advocate Terry Fitch’s photograph of “Dueling Band Stallions” capturing the top honors for the People’s Choice Amateur award.  The photo was actually placed in fourth position by the judges in the category of “Extreme Action” but public demand and interest rocketed it to a solid first in “People’s Choice”.  Dueling Band Stallions was shot last year in the Pryor Mountains of Montana where Fitch was visiting the herd of wild horse stallion “Cloud” made famous by Emmy award winning cinematographer Ginger Kathrens.

“I humbly thank all of the kind folks who voted for that shot”, stated Fitch, “but I am not the winner, the horses are.  The whole reason for entering that picture was to help draw attention and interest to the plight of our national icons, the wild horse.”

Fitch and her husband R.T., author and volunteer Executive Director of Habitat for Horses Advisory Council, initiated several law suits against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) last year over the agency’s controversial practice of “zeroing out” federally protected wild horse herds.  Likewise, the Fitches are familiar faces at the BLM’s contractor driven wild horse roundups.

“We witness for the horses with our cameras”, commented Fitch, “When we are present and documenting at the roundups we feel that the BLM and their contractors are on better behavior and the horses are treated better.  Not that they are treated well, just better”, she added.

"Last Jump" ~ photo by Terry Fitch

The Fitch’s recently returned from witnessing the early end of the BLM’s Antelope Complex roundup in northeast Nevada and last month R.T. addressed the BLM advisory board in Phoenix, AZ regarding their mismanagement of America’s wild horses.

Terry Fitch’s photography is no stranger to the Equine Photographers Network; in the same contest, last year, Fitch won first place in the same division for her shot of a horse rescued by Habitat for Horses and adopted by Willie Nelson called “First Bite

This year Fitch also garnered an “Honorable Mention” in the “Performance” category with her mainstream shot entitled, “Final Jump”.

As an amateur, Fitch’s work is consistently highlighted in Horseback Magazine and TrueCOWBOY Magazine.

Obama’s BLM Holds Onto Expired Board Members

Story by Steven Long ~ Author/Publisher of Horseback Magazine

BLM Flips Off Public, AGAIN!

BLM's Bob Abbey, "Take this AGAIN, America!"

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – The federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM)  has extended the expired terms of three long gone outgoing trustees of the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. The board members continue to serve.

“The outgoing members terms expired on June 14, 2010.  These terms have been temporarily extended until new nominees are appointed, “ said BLM national spokesman Tom Gorey.  Each of the hold over trustees represents an area of the agency’s interest. They are:

Ms. Renee Taylor – Livestock Management

Dr. Vernon D.  Dooley – Wild Horse and Burro Management

Dr. J. Wayne Burkhardt – Natural Resources Management

All oversee areas that are in the direct line of fire of wild horse advocates critical of the agency’s massive roundups which some say will eventually cause the North American Mustang to become extinct.

“The nominations for the three positions are currently with the Director, who is reviewing them,” Gorey said. “Once he makes his choices, they go to the Interior Secretary for his review.  Once the Interior Secretary approves, the selections go to the Agriculture Secretary for his review.  Once the Agriculture Secretary signs off, the nominees can take their positions.”

Gorey told Horseback Magazine that BLM Director Bob Abbey has already named the prospective replacement board members but refused to make them public. Asked if the secretive bureau was hiding the identity of its appointees, an official in Abbey’s office said the names are being kept secret, not by law, but through BLM Policy.