Once Spain's Pride, Horses Abandoned by Thousands
Recession leaves former status symbol for dead—literally
By Ruth Brown, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2013 9:52 PM CDT
Spain's once-prized horses have fallen on hard times since the recession.   (AP Photo/Lilli Strauss)

(Newser) – Europe's horses haven't been faring very well of late, and their predicament is particularly dire in Spain, where horses that were once a prized sign of the boom are now being abandoned en masse in the bust—to the tune of 60,000 that passed through slaughterhouse doors in 2012 alone. "A few years ago, before the crisis, a lot of people thought: I'll buy a big car, a big house, and why not a horse?" the proprietor of a shelter in Spain's horse country tells the AFP. "They try to hang onto the car and the house, but the horse they just get rid of."

And those that escape the slaughterhouse don't necessarily luck out, with reports of desperate owners leaving their horses to starve or tethering them on a flood plain so they'll drown. The math is simple: While horses can cost upward of $520 a month to maintain, cutting one's losses by abandoning the animal is free, or the slaughterhouse might yield $200 per animal. The malaise touches all things equine: "There used to be lots of horses here, 50, 60, even 100. That's how I made my living," says one dealer. But, "now no one is buying them, the feed is expensive, and no one wants a horse."

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Showing 3 of 7 comments
Mar 13, 2013 11:28 AM CDT
Mar 13, 2013 11:19 AM CDT
As a lover of horses, it makes me sick to think of the sad end that these noble creatures are coming to. It breaks my heart.
Mar 13, 2013 8:38 AM CDT
In the Denver Colorado. in the 1950's on Collfax Ave there was a meat market that sold horse meat. I can remember people being lined up 3 deep to buy horse meat. Times were very bad, food stamps were unheard of. To feed your family some people bought horse meat. My mother did the same, yes we did eat horse meat, the meat was real red with no fat. It was not that bad either. I do think it is a cultural thing that makes horse meat looked down on. In India beef is on the same level as horse meat in the U.S. I do think horse meat gets a bad rap. Just because horses are considered pets,that should not dictate that horse meat should not be food for humans. I bet if we did not have food stamps and Bridge cards, people would be eating horse meat in the U.S.. Yes I do own horses that I use for working cattle and for my enjoyment. I still do not consider it a crime to eat horse meat. Just think people have pet rabbits, pet chickens, pet pigs, pet sheep, we eat all these animals. It is a wonder PITA has not tried to stop us from eating chicken. pork and Lamb.