Bo Derek and Willie Nelson, Horses of a Different Color

That lunatic fringe that we call the House of Representatives just passed a bill that prevents ‘horse slaughter.’
263 to 146 they bravely put their ‘aye’ votes out there for horses.
Darfur, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq are slaughter-houses of a kind
they seem unable to handle.

Bo Derek is the lady who defined ’10,’ in a movie of the same name
decades ago. Willie Nelson has defined whole landslides of things but
‘10’ wasn’t among them. Yeah, she’s kind of a palomino and Willie’s a
grizzled old work horse.

I have great respect for Willie, have seen him numerous times in
concert and respect his uphill battles as well, from Kinky Friedman to
But he’s wrong about horse slaughter and so is Bo.
Which didn’t stop that lunatic fringe that we call the House of Representatives from passing a bill that prevents ‘horse slaughter.’
263 to 146 they bravely put their ‘aye’ votes out there for horses.
Darfur, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq are slaughter-houses of a kind
they seem unable to handle.
I know, the comparison is apples and oranges. But they are relevant
all the same as an acknowledgement of the mindlessness of Congressional
One of the many interesting things about America is the way we humanize
those portions of the natural world we find ‘cute’ or that are
holdovers from the misty-eyed days of youth. Bugs Bunny is a great
cartoon character and we don’t eat much rabbit, nor do we slay the
excess deer that terrorize our close-in neighborhoods because of the
‘Bambi’ factor.
In Europe, where I am often to be found, horse is found in the fine restaurants and the
butcher shops, along with rabbit, venison, wild boar and elk. Europeans
value and love horses and horse-riding as in America, but they’re less
flinchy about what they eat. And horse (almost entirely delegated to
dog food in America) is highly valued on the plate.
There was an almost frenzied effort in the House to get a picture
with Bo Derek and the rhetoric flowed at a 10 as well for the faded
star who watched from the balcony.

‘It is one of the most inhumane, brutal, shady practices going on in the U.S. today,” said John Sweeney (R-NY), a sponsor of the ban. Sweeney opined that the slaughter of horses is different from the slaughter of cattle and chickens because horses, such as Mr. Ed, Secretariat and Silver, are American icons.
Not to be out-Republicaned, John Spratt (D-SC) pontificated, ”They’re as close to human as any animal you can get.” 
Christopher Shays (R-CT), ”The way a society treats its animals, particularly horses, speaks to the core values and morals of its citizens.”

who won’t lift a finger to alleviate the suffering of illegal
immigrants dying in the Arizona deserts ought to redefine inhumane, brutal and shady.
Spratt has obviously never spent much time around horses and Shays
could make some useful comparisons to those deserted in the desert as
well. At any rate, the cumulative palaver of these nitwits doesn’t rate
10 out of 100, much less a Bo 10, but she applauded and they beamed.
Lining up those for and against, we find both the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Equine Practitioners
on the side of horse slaughter. It’s not likely you could find a group
more uniquely focused on the welfare of horses. Nor a group who sees on
a daily basis the difficulty attendant to ‘no place to go’ for owners
of animals that, for whatever reason, can no longer care for their
horse. Standing with these veterinarian groups is the American Quarter Horse Association.
Standing with Bo and Willie, National Thoroughbred Racing Association as well as the Humane Society of the United States.
I happen to know something about racehorses that will not run (fast
enough), having bought a number of them over the years for riding or
showing. Struggling through lower and lower level claiming races, these
young thoroughbreds (by the time they become available) are usually
subject to all kinds of leg injuries. Training-wise, they know how to
do one thing and one thing only—go like hell and turn left.
They are, for those who have the time and interest, each of them a
years-long project of infinite patience. Unfortunately, most
horse-dealers have neither time, nor any interest other than economic.
Thus these creatures are likely to be found on drugs in various ‘riding
schools,’ or virtually abandoned in backyard stables, where their lives
are far from idyllic. No wonder the Racing Association wants no public
reminder of horse slaughter. They depend upon the public image of
horses ‘free as the wind’ while offloading their also-rans to anyone
with $2,500 and a trailer.
What do Bo and Willie have in mind as an alternative?
There are somewhere between 22 and 25 million horses in the United States. Even if they all lived out their full lives, a million a year are dying. Probably twice that.
The three slaughter-houses noted in all the frenzied rhetoric,
account for 88,000 horses slaughtered for human consumption last year.
Another 900,000+ were done away with elsewhere or dragged off dead, at
the end of a chain to become dog-food.
Those who liken the ‘building of America’ to the horse, fail to give
much credit to the ox and mule, each of which contributed more to
America’s early centuries. Draft horses being too expensive and
carriage or riding-horses the choice of the wealthy, it fell to oxen
and mules to do the work.
In any event, the cry against horse slaughter is misplaced. That call, united for all
animals, should be for humane and regulated slaughter. That will not be
accomplished by an overwrought pleading among horse-lovers for a halt
to the necessary slaughter of their singled-out species.
Indeed, they may well set back the conditions under which tens of millions of animals each year are slaughtered, without sufficient moral or ethical standards, in the United States.
Other writers and media on the issue:

9 thoughts on “Bo Derek and Willie Nelson, Horses of a Different Color

  1. this for all the people who are for horse slaughter. how would you like to be shoot until you are dead. how would that feel? horses have been there for us. what did george washington ride in battles, not cows! i might be young and in my teens but horses are like people. do you know what they do with pregnent mares? they cut out there babies and throw them in the trash. how would you like your baby thrown away? think about it. horses need to be free! leave them alone!!!

  2. There has been very little talk about expanding the amount of adoption facilities available for unwanted horses. Where are all these unwanted animals to go. Based on what I know, the horse adoption agencies are already packed.

  3. It doesn't surprise me that certain people such as yourself are actually for horse slaughter. You're presented 1/10 of the facts. We live in a country that gives horrible criminals a slap on the wrist and let people out to commit more horrible crimes, why would most of us actually CARE about animals? We don't even care about each other most of the time, just watch the news.
    You are also ignorant to the issues of illegal immigrants and apparently believe we should just let everyone in (I know people that have come here and WORKED hard to get legal status on this country and even they don't support people just coming into this country just because they feel like it).
    If people were to stop being greedy (I know, hell would freeze over before THAT happened) and not over breed animals of all kinds we wouldn't have horse slaughter which fuels the industry (it also allows people to profit for their carelessness), nor would we have thousands of dogs and cats euthanized every day at animal shelters. You probably haven't done your research either and don't realize that horse slaughter promotes horse theft. Many horses that are slaughtered were stolen.
    If you want to know the truth, we have way too many people (yes, us over important humans) in the world but nobody will ever say that, we just give people money (welfare, etc.) so people can continue to have even more children they can't afford. Sorry, you can say what you want but I am in favor of saving innocent animals over condoning and paying for human stupidity and OUR over population.

  4. If Bo Derek & Willie Nelson would turn their attention toward making it illegal to race horses until they are four or five years old, the need to SLAUGHTER horses would be greatly diminished.
    What we need is HUMANE slaughter. Check out Temple Grandin's website:

  5. HI

  6. you bitch and complain about all people who own horses and yet you do nothing.Your just some jackass with to much time on his hands who needs to feel a little bigger about himself so he attacks whoever he can.What willie and bo are doing is the greatest thing in their lives.They are standing up for their beliefs and seeing through with them.No horses are not meant for food.We have enough ways to give ourselves nutrients that we need don't need to slaughter innocent creatures.And trust me there are more cats and dogs that are homeless.And a lot of the horses from riding stables and racing farms can find homes.Through the owner or a adoption place.You seem more the type that likes horse meat and not the horse

  7. 'Where in this world can a man find nobility without pride,
    friendship without envy, or beauty without vanity.
    Here,where grace is served with muscle, and strength by gentleness confined.
    He serves without servility, he has fought without enmity.
    There is nothing so quick, nothing more patient.
    England's past has been borne on his back.
    All our history is in his industry.
    We are his heirs, he our inheritance.'
    -Ronald Duncan-
    I know it says England, but it sums up the respect the horse deserves, and Anna Sewell would be shocked to see how it continues. Keep up the good fight! Here in England we wouldn't dream of eating them, so please don't lump us in with the Europeans!

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