They Eat Icelandic Horses, Don't They?

July 24, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

The horses depicted in this black & white portfolio are Icelandic Horses; which are recognized for their extra long flowing mane and tail hair.  In addition to being raised as show-horses and used for recreation, they are also raised to be eaten minced and as steak, as well as to be used in stews and fondue.  The horses are prized for their strong flavor, which is a distinguishing characteristic in these foods.  Their meat is usually salted or smoked, but eaten raw it is richer, sweeter, and pinker than beef, some say.  The export of horse meat is also a growing export in Iceland, most notably to Russia and parts of Europe, and for the locals of Iceland, it is one of their cheapest meats.  For those lucky to bypass the slaughter house, the Icelandic horses are long-lived and hardy, and have been recorded to live as long as 56 years.  They have few diseases and Icelandic law prevents them from being imported into the country; and should they be exported, they are forbidden to be allowed to return.  

 

The methodology used to slaughter horses is that similar to cattle, processing them in industrial abattoirs (slaughter houses) in similar fashion to cattle.  Typically, a penetrating captive bolt gun or gunshot is used to attempt to destroy the animal's higher brain tissue.  The blow is intended to either kill the horse instantly or stun it, with immediate exsanguination (bleeding out) being used to both ensure death and begin the process of meat harvesting.  This method is controversial in that horse welfare advocates have raised concerns that the particular physiognomy of the horse cranium, which is thicker than cattle, means that neither the penetrating captive bolt gun nor gunshots are reliable means of ensuring that the horse is in fact killed or stunned, and that the animal is more likely to be simply paralyzed, and to therefore experience the full pain and awareness of being skinned and butchered alive during the final phase of the slaughter process. It is my intention to capture these majestic animals through photography and to raise awareness of these concerns and conditions.  The Equine Research Foundation has been conducting scientific research into the intelligence of these animals, and their studies show that human kind greatly underestimates the intelligence of these animals.  


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