by Bonnie Kohleriter, EWA contributing writer
The goal of this conference stated “The sole purpose …convene the horse industry…bring together different perspectives…find pragmatic, sustainable, economically viable solutions for horses both domestic and wild.”
A look at the objectives and sponsors of the hosting organization, United Horsemen, of this conference infers this is a group of horse people united around a common goal. Yet if one were to look closely at the sponsors of this conference one would see all groups are not primarily involved with horses.
Of the so called “Gold Buckle Sponsors” only 3 out of 9 are primarily involved with horses. Of the “Silver Spur Sponsors” 11 out of 19 and of the “Bronze Concho Sponsors” 2 out of 6 are involved mainly with horses. Of the 34 total sponsor groups listed, less than half or 16 are involved primarily with horses as a livelihood. Most other groups are cattle ranchers and farmers.
Then again the sole purpose is “…to bring together different perspectives…Solutions for horse. We expect the Summit to be packed with dialogue…Best interest of the horses at its core.”
One only has to look at the agenda to realize Day 1 is to establish the problem of excess horses. Day 2 is to promote and consider the facets of the slaughter, and Day 3 is to identify opponents of slaughter and strategies for combating them.
Different perspectives to the solution of excess horses are not considered. In fact, every attempt is made to exclude different perspectives being on the table. Previously identified people with ideas different than slaughter are excluded from the conference or are forcibly removed even though they demonstrate no evidence of being disruptive to the conference.
The conference allows for almost no dialogue following the presentations…no comments or question and answer periods.
Those with views other than slaughter are discredited (pp. 22 and 23 of the agenda). “They are not concerned with animal welfare but with animal rights. They believe humans and animals are equal. Animal ownership is slavery. Animals should not be used “for any use.” and there should be “extensive” regulations of animal husbandry.”
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is discredited. They “deceive” the public. They give only half of 1% of their donations to the care and welfare of animals. A full page add is devoted to quotes made by Wayne Pacelle back in the early 1990s, taken out of context and designed to bash him. Wayne is the President and CEO of the HSUS.
Then the attendees are told what to do with the press. It is called “Reputation Management Tips”: “The media are here to tell our story. Know the main message about the Summit of the Horse and incorporate it into EVERY RESPONSE that you can. We are speaking with a unified voice for horses and horse people are statements in the agenda given to the conferees.“
An agenda advocating slaughter and negating anti-slaughter, limiting dialogue, disallowing alternative solutions to be presented, discrediting the reputation of those with other views, and attempted controlling of the press is not consistent with the stated purpose of the Summit…Different perspectives?…Dialogue?
The organization sponsoring this event, United Horsemen, first of all, does not represent united horsemen. One has only to look at the media coverage and displays outside the conference to know horsemen are not united with the group.
Then the United Horsemen claim to be a 501(c)(3) educational and charitable organization that implements “humane” and realistic solutions. This is fallacious advertising. Is transporting the sick, the old, the injured and disabled, the weakened from neglect and abuse, and the young thousands and thousands of miles to a slaughter plant “humane?”
“Charitable” implies an activity or donation designed to help the ill, poor, or helpless. Where is the charitable in this organization? And “education” implies the imparting of knowledge, but real education provides for the exchange of dialogue between teacher and learner and for an openness to multiple ideas and solutions for complex problems. This conference, in my opinion, did not provide education but carefully crafted propaganda leading to support for Sue Wallis’s bison, cattle, and horse slaughter plant in which she will be the executive director.
Registration at this conference was dubious in character for the United Horsemen Organization. When registering, we were told there are two ways to register. 1) If you belong to an organization, you can pay $400. Or 2) you can pay $25 for a membership and $100 for registration. Which would you choose? On receipt of paying the $125 shows as a “Donation” on your receipt. This is not a donation. This is a required membership and registration fee if you want to attend the conference. One wonders if the fees will be used for lobbying and legislative purposes as “See how many support the government refunding of inspections for slaughterhouse horsemeat.”
Deceptive naming of themselves “UNITED HORSEMEN”, misrepresenting the execution of their purpose, promoting propaganda rather than charity and education, and calling membership and registration fees a donation in a seeming misuse of a 501(c)(3). When an organization has to use deception and message control to such an extent, it seems to me that “something just ain’t right.”
Contacts: Bonnie Kohleriter | 925.683.0411 | firstname.lastname@example.org
John Holland | 540.268.5693 | email@example.com
Equine Welfare Alliance is an umbrella organization representing 130 organizations and hundreds of individuals across the United States and several countries worldwide. www.equinewelfarealliance.org
Bonnie Kohleriter is retired from an academic career in science and is now “following her passions”.