Equine Progressive

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The Tack Room Medicine Cabinet

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Canada recently released new safety standards for the meat of horses slaughtered for human consumption. Each horse will have to be accompanied by identification and six months’ worth of health records. 

The identification form, chillingly, has room for the horse’s name. Really? Talk about your food having a face. This seems different to me from naming your 4-H pig “Pork Chop,” but perhaps I’m just indulging in a rare fit of sentimentality. 

As Alex Brown continues his study on the reported percentage of racehorses receiving bute on race day (it stands somewhere between 90 and 100%), his essay published at Paulick Report points out what should be obvious to everyone who has ever walked into a tack room: horses are not intended for human consumption. Oh it happens – but not on purpose! 

At least, not in the United States. 

This isn’t an argument about the cruelty of slaughter, or civilization’s debt to the horse, or the question of unwanted horses. I’m not going to get into ethics. I’m interested in food safety. 

Now, I’m not a scientist, and my knowledge of toxicities is limited to Google searches. But I do have a tack box of horse meds, and while I’ve gone pretty natural and it’s not as colorful or interesting as some I have had in the past, some of them make the banned list. 

So, here is what I could find in my little tack room which contains some version of the old stand-by “Not for Horses Intended for Slaughter.” As if any horse ever bred was ever intended for slaughter. 

The first two items are on the banned or six-month list: 

    A banned substance in every tack room.
  • Phenylbutazone. Banned. Everyone gets bute at some point. Oh, you have a swollen eyelid, must have a bee-sting. Have

    some bute. Oh, you’ve got a big bang on your leg. Have some bute. It’s like giving children chewable aspirin. It’s even fruit-flavored most of the time.



  • Nitrofurazone. Banned. Including the very brand that I have, Furall aerosol spray.     

  •  Acepromazine. Six-month withdrawal period. Useful around here for: loading onto trailers, veterinary work in uncomfortable places (like, say, the inside of a yearling’s stifle.) My vet also uses something more hard-core for breeding work. And one of my broodmares, Ontherightwicket, had surgery and was absolutely pumped full of tranq and meds for months. While pregnant. She is officially inedible. And, I wonder, does that make the filly inedible also?

The list of other items that will be permitted, including feed additives, after a certain manufacturer-stated withdrawal period, will be released in April. All these items, which are in my grooming box, have warning labels but aren’t yet listed on the Food Inspection regulations. 

  • Betadine
  • Banixx – An antifungal/antibacterial spray
  • Swat – the insecticide ointment
  • Ivermectin
  • Regu-Mate
  • Smart Tendon – a joint and tendon supplement. It contains MSM – could that be the withdrawal substance?

And what of the off-label items? We all do it. I have DMSO, Lysol, and bleach in my tack room. Are these fit for use on horses intended for human consumption? And if not, who would ever know? They’re not drugs, so they’ll won’t show up on a list of restricted substances. 

How can you regulate an industry that pulls its product almost entirely from people’s backyards? My argument for years stands yet: There are no horses intended for consumption. There are show horses, race horses, pleasure horses, pasture horses, even Premarin horses, who are pushed into slaughter because they fell through the cracks, or no other options presented themselves in a timely manner. Six months off of the withdrawal-limited drugs will never make up for the fact that most horses have had bute, furazone, ace, or a host of other banned substances in their systems at some point. 

It will be interesting to see how Canada deals with these facts of the slaughter industry. Yay or nay on slaughter, you have to admit, keeping the food chain clean and safe seems impossible. And it sure makes you want to grow your own veggies and avoid meat, just thinking about it…

What’s in your horse’s medicine cabinet? Go on, I bet there’s some interesting stuff in there… spill it, we want to know!


Written by Natalie Keller Reinert

March 4, 2010 at 11:15 am

Guardedly Optimistic, the Horses Trot On

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With a good response to the weekend’s open house, frequent editorials in the Orlando Sentinel, and local television news coverage, Freedom Ride can feel “guardedly optimistic” that they stand a chance of continuing their mission of helping Central Florida’s citizens with special needs.

This morning I spoke with Robin Baker, Freedom Ride’s Volunteer Coordinator. The more people that are paying attention and showing support, she says, the better the outlook for Freedom Ride is.

Many people who came to the Open House had no connection to horses at all. “People just came out to support us, from what they’d read.” People were generous with donations as well, and in promising to wear the free “Freedom Ride” hats and shirts to publicize and show support for the non-profit.

The tidy shedrow sits just a few miles from downtown Orlando.

Discussions are going on this week within City Hall that could determine the future plans for Trotters Park. In the meantime, the online petition is still collecting signatures, and the media continues to cover the mayor’s comedic waffling.

From mid-February, Scott Maxwell, the Sentinel’s political columnist, shares Orlando’s colorful history of inside deals and croneyism, illustrating with Orlando’s Safety Council:

For two decades, the council has operated in a city-owned building near Orlando Executive Airport, offering classes on everything from safe driving and workplace safety to victim awareness.

Then somebody else decided they wanted to use the Safety Council’s building. And that somebody happened to be a high-ranking city official: Deputy City Attorney Jody Litchford.

Apparently Litchford’s co-workers thought her idea was a dandy one. So they booted out a rent-paying tenant — eight years before the lease was up – for one that would move in rent-free for the first few years.

The deal was done with no fanfare, no announcements, no bidding – and losing rents costs the city about $200,000 over 3 years. A drop in the bucket for a city that is cheerfully laying off police, fire, and education professionals; the city insists that the space, now occupied by a charter school, will eventually turn a profit. Because so many charter schools are successful? Hmm.

Freedom Ride’s story isn’t new in Orlando, the City of Who You Know. But the decision to pick on the disabled is even lower-class than usual. As long as Central Florida, horsemen, parents, anyone who believes that people with special-needs deserve better than to be kicked out for non-existent ball field, maintain the pressure on the city, Freedom Ride can be a success story, instead of one more victim of Orlando’s exclusive City Hall.

Written by Natalie Keller Reinert

March 3, 2010 at 11:39 am