I could eat a horse

Horses. Wild horses. What to do? Round ’em up, find nice homes for ’em, stuff the mares full of birth control, etc., etc., etc. Nobody talks much about another fairly obvious option, which lurks as the dark and unspeakable.

Look, I’m all for the nice ideas that people float. I’d love to see a Wild Horse Refuge, for example, akin to the Sheldon Antelope Refuge. I’m all for being kind and compassionate to wildlife, which we’ve treated horribly over the years. But let’s also acknowledge—the wild horse story in Nevada is a success story. That is, you’ve got animals out there in the desert, big animals, that are actually increasing in number. How many large wild mammals in the lower 48 can make that claim? OK, besides coyotes. I’m not comfortable accusing the BLM of lying or being conspiratorially anti-horse in some way. I have a tendency to believe the government in this instance when it claims there are too many horses on the range. (And yes, cattle are the main problem. The land of northern Washoe is cow-burnt, without a doubt. But horses do have an impact).

So my question is: Why should wild horses be any different from, say, deer? When we have a overpopulation of deer, what do we do? We ask hunters to get out there and nail one. Stuff your pantry. When there’s an abundance of fish, what do we do? Declare free fishing week. Come on out and help us thin this bountiful surplus. So if there’s a serious abundance of horses, why exactly do they get a pass? Certainly, it’s a rhetorical question; we all know why they get the pass. But my point: I love trout and deer just as much as I love wild horses. No more and no less. And I’m willing to treat them equally.

It’s not as though we’re talking about junky food here. Horsemeat is, by many accounts, superior to beef. It’s described as lean, finely textured, slightly sweet, tender, even delicious, and is rich in protein. In other words, it’s prized. The countries that eat horses? Many. China, Japan, France, Italy, Germany and Switzerland, plus a whole bunch in South America. In Montreal, horse meat is popular, partly due to the fact that horses are immune to mad cow disease, and many Canadians are still very wary of that viral monstrosity.

Of course I’m being a bit of a provacateur. But it’s undeniable, it would seem, that we do have a valuable resource here and that our cultural hangups prevent us from either taking advantage of it or selling it to those who don’t share those hangups. Instead of making some money from this resource and then using those funds to help the cause of the horses (granted, a somewhat ghastly irony, but, well …), we’re stuck with horses growing old in “pony jails” while we engage in serious discussions on the bizarre pursuit of mare contraception. So who’s zoomin’ who?