Whole Heap of Little Horse Links


Yes, we’re still deep in the horse meat scandal.

  • You can now buy a “horse burger” fancy dress costume (Business Insider)
  • Only 13% of Americans would consider eating horse meat (almost twice the percentage who would eat dog), whereas 34% would consider alligator lasagna (KTAR)
  • Groups in Oklahoma want to build a horse abattoir. (SFGate.com and Fox23.com) As does a business in Roswell, New Mexico (Koat.com) And a Philly restaurant wants to add horse meat to the menu (Consumerist)
  • Grub Street suggests 20 places to eat horse, including locavore horse lasagna in Scotland. (Grub Street)
  • A visit to a Kazakh horse meat market (NPR) and a visit to a Polish horse sale (Baltimore Sun)
  • In the merry-go-round that is the international, industrialised food chain, an Irish slaughterhouse sent “beef” to the Czech Republic which was in fact horse. (USA Today)
  • A German politician and clergyman are drubbed for saying that the rejected horse-beef food should be given to the poor. (The Local)
  • Russia threatens to suspend horse meat imports from the EU – something of a joke given that they continue to import possibly bute-laced horse meat from the USA. (Fox News)
  • Could the incorrect labelling have begun in Romania after all? Mislabelled horse meat found in the country (Bloomberg)
  • China reacts to the horse meat scandal (Bloomberg)
  • Meanwhile, I have more local news stories about neglected horses in the US than I can load up here.
  • Non-meat-related uses for horses: a California teen escapes gang culture through his horse. The pastor who helped Dawan Whitmore get riding lessons comments: “He learned how to feed the horse every day twice a day, rain or shine. Forget football practice, forget all those other things. It teaches him a great deal of responsibility. Not to mention self worth.” (23ABC News)

Whole Heap of Little Horse Links

Found horse, Berlin street.

Found horse, Berlin street.

First up: please go directly to Horse Nation to read Susan Corwin’s account of joining a hunt in Meath, Ireland to break the world record for the number of side-saddle attendees. Fans of Molly Keane and Somerville & Ross will enjoy the craic. This was Susan’s first choice of riding expedition after a gruelling course of cancer treatment. Turns out a thick application of Irish mud, a wilful Connemara pony and some very large ditches are just the ticket.

After about the second ditch, a very kind Irish gentleman handed me his flask and assured me that the more I drank now, the smaller the ditches would get, and the more I drank at the pub later, the bigger they would get.

And now on with the more mixed news of all that’s weird or worrying in the horse world. Not much light-hearted fun this week, I’m afraid, but some steps forward.

  • Burger King finds itself implicated in the horse meat scandal. (CNN) Which has probably been going on for over a year… (Telegraph) Meanwhile, Poland say that five of the six slaugherhouses that supply meat to Ireland have no traces of horsemeat on site. (Reuters)
  • Aqueduct racetrack in New York begins to cancel race days in order to try and get a grip on horse safety. Six horses have broken down on the turf course and been shot since December. More of the NYT’s excellent coverage of the lethal intersection of big, casino-inflated purses and medication abuse in US horse racing (NYT)
  • Denver International Airport erected a statue of a giant blue mustang with neon red eyes five years ago, and everyone hated it. Now that those five years have passed, locals are legally allowed to petition for its removal. Will it become a cult classic or a bad taste memory? (9News.com)
  • Danish scientists on the challenges and rewards of studying social hierarchy in horses. (The Horse)
  • I’ve covered donkey-milk soap as a beauty aid. Now Kazakhstan is getting in on the act with horse-milk soap. (Eurasia.net)
  • Emaciated and gravely injured cob youngster abandoned in an Essex playground. Photo not for the faint-hearted; the horse had to be put down immediately. (Thisistotalessex)
  • The number of ponies hit by cars on Dartmoor has risen with the poor weather: the ponies come to the roads for the sale that’s laid down to melt snow. (BBC)
  • An American man says he violated a horse because he was trying to make a “horseman baby”. (The Smoking Gun) And Germany outlaws bestiality. Good news for German horses, if not for wannabe centaur begetters. (NYT)

They Shoot Horses

Spiegel Online just published a large feature on a new history book which details transcripts of conversations between German combat veterans of World War Two. As you can imagine, they make for an uncomfortable read.
I found this extract, which seemed to me to sum up our strange attitudes to horses.

Pohl: “I had to drop bombs onto a train station in Posen ( Poznan ) on the second day of the war in Poland . Eight of the 16 bombs fell in the city, right in the middle of houses. I didn’t like it. On the third day I didn’t care, and on the fourth day I took pleasure in it. We enjoyed heading out before breakfast, chasing individual soldiers through the fields with machine guns and then leaving them there with a few bullets in their backs.”

Meyer: “But it was always against soldiers?”

Pohl: “People too. We attacked convoys in the streets. I was sitting in the ‘chain’ (a formation of three aircraft). The plane would wiggle a little and we would bank sharply to the left, and then we’d fire away with every MG (machine gun) we had. The things you could do. Sometimes we saw horses flying around.”

Meyer: “That’s disgusting, with the horses…come on!”

Pohl: “I felt sorry for the horses, not at all for the people. But I felt sorry for the horses right up until the end.”

People think horses were not involved in the war, but, as I understand it, Hitler’s army used more equines than Napoleon’s, and they can only have represented a fraction of the combined total of horses destroyed by the hostilities. Not only that, but, as this extract from the Eisenhower Institute website proves, their care had horrific consequences for the populations attacked on the Eastern Front:

One little known aspect of the massive effort to perform what today might be called ethnic cleansing, concerned Wehrmacht (German Army) horses. The typical infantry division table of organization included 12,352 officers and men and 4,656 horses. The vast majority of German artillery and supplies were horse drawn. Although much has been made of the notion of Blitzkrieg (lightning war) the fact of the war was that no German army could move faster than its horses could pull its equipment behind it. Depending on the weather and distance traveled, each division needed up to 55 tons of feed per day. During the invasion of the nations of northwest Europe, feed for the horses was generally carried with the army or taken to it by supply trains from Germany. The Wehrmacht made few such plans for its invasion of the USSR. There were more than 750,000 horses in the attacking force in June of 1941 and they required 16,350 tons of feed per day, much of which was to be confiscated from the Russians. As the towns and villages experienced murder and the torch, their granaries were emptied and their horses stolen for replacements. The mass starvation of peasants in the coming winter was attributable, in fair measure, to the empty grain bins between the Volga and Moscow. Like everything else about the Great Patriotic War, the scale is difficult to conceive. The German army causality losses during the 1941-45 period exceeded 6,700,000 horses (26,000 of which were eaten by starving German soldiers during the battle of Stalingradvii) and no one can calculate the number of Russian lives lost because the horses consumed the grain that could have supported human life.