Okay, so. Semi-long post coming your way.
For those who don't know, I live in Ontario, land of farming and road work and politics and an indecent amount of sugary food. And for those just stopping in for the first time: my name's Jess and I'm a leftie hippie bleeding-heart pre-med. My family has been going to markets and participating in the farm thing since I was basically knee-high; Ontario has a lot of that so it's almost impossible not to. We're not farming people but we certainly like to pretend we are.
Earlier this year, the OLG (Ontario's gambling regulation board) decided to end the agreement that allows slots at Ontario racetracks
. Because so much of a racetrack's revenue is brought in via gambling-- whether it's at the slots or betting on the race-- almost all of the province's 20-someodd racetracks are looking at having to cut down their racing capacity, or in some cases, close the track entirely (which happened most notably in Fort Erie
this past April).
The slots closing is bad for a number of different reasons which I won't even attempt to summarize, but the reason I'm going to be talking about is the horses.
The farm industry in Ontario is bad right now. If you own a racehorse and there's nowhere for you to make use of it and bring in money for yourself, and horseracing is your primary source of income, which it generally is if you're in the racing business, you cannot afford to maintain your racing horses
right now in Ontario.
This isn't just a racehorse thing. Owning a horse is damn expensive, even just for a casual, non-competitive rider, even if people are paying you to ride your horse, even if you own a stable
and rent out stalls
. Livestock auctions in Ontario have swelled massively because so many people can't afford to take care of their animals anymore. Some of the horses sent to auction are absolutely beautiful racehorses; others are emaciated foals, pregnant mares, and sick geldings who've all but been shoved at the auction house just to make a few hundred dollars off them. Horse auctions happen by the pound: bidding starts anywhere from 10 to 30 cents per pound, depending on the size of the horse, and goes up from there. The average price for a thousand-pound horse is currently around $300, which is ridiculous
I live about an hour away from one of the province's most popular auctions, the Ontario Livestock Exchange (or OSEX), which takes place in St. Jacob's, our biggest farmer's market. On the last Saturday of every month, the OSEX runs a horse auction. This is sort of confusing, because if you go to St. Jacob's on a Tuesday in the middle of August, you can watch and bid on horse auctions. Which, you know. What?
The horse market has become oversaturated. Horse owners no longer have the money to take care of their horses, and no one wants to buy them. Every week-- every single week since the beginning of the year-- dozens of horses are brought to the OSEX, all of them covered in mud, some so underfed you can count their ribs.
These horses are not being purchased by riders. They're being sold for their meat.
I have intentions of rescuing a horse destined for slaughter. You can read the rest of the post and get donation information here.
If you are in any way capable of donating, even if it's just a few dollars, please, please do. All the additional information is in the post, including how much I need to collect and what I'm offering in return.
Please spread this around if you can!