November 18th, 2011 was a very bad day for horse lovers in the U.S. It was on this day that President Obama approved the lifting of a congressional ban on domestic horsemeat inspections. By doing this, he raised the possibility that horses could be legally slaughtered for human consumption in the U.S. for the first time in years.

But that was not the only effect he had on horse lovers. He also high-lighted a major clash of cultures because for many of the Native Americans of this country, horses remain indispensable to the their way of life. To a horse loving Native American there is nothing humane about slaughtering and butchering a horse for consumption.

Horses are not viewed as just animals to the Indian tribes that are of the original horse cultures. They are viewed as sentient creatures to be cherished and cared for. Although horses are raised by Native people as a way to be self-sufficient, they are not in it for the money but rather as a way of life with respect and admiration for the horses. Many feel their horses are trusted and sacred animals that they have learned many lessons from.

Not every Native American feels this way though and it is true that the horse overpopulation has also effected some tribes and their land quality because of the trampling of their rangeland forage by free-roaming horses, which is needed to feed livestock and to retain the soil. Some tribes feel that turning these horses into food might be a solution and it has even been suggested that opening slaughter plants on reservations could provide economic benefits for certain tribes.

But most Native American tribes do not feel this way and instead are looking for positive solutions to deal with the overpopulation issue. Many use adoption, gentling and horse training to reduce the numbers. They are also researching youth programs and partnerships with local community colleges. And they have experiential horse programs that deal with at-risk youth and veterans. These programs have proven to be very beneficial to those who are suffering from depression and hopelessness in the Native American communities.

Altogether, Native Americans are working together to develop many innovative techniques and programs to save one of nature’s most majestic animals from ending up as just another dinner entrĂ©e on a plate.

VIDEO: Spirit Horses Music by John Trudell

Responses to "Native American programs for their sacred horses offer positive solutions to the overpopulation problem"

  1. Anonymous says:

    Horses have been my way of live for all of my life and I hope that the programs work. I would hate to see horse slaughter plants open again. Horses are majestic and have done so much for people in the past and still are. They deserve better, then to be killed for food.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful video. When you are on the back of a horse your spirit is free and you become one with the horse.

  3. Anonymous says:

    as a trainer of horses, we need to stop the killing of these wonderful animals. i have worked and trained horses for over 35 years and it's more then a job, it's becoming one with the animal and learning to turst each other. also as a native american horses are part of our histroy and that should be keeped close to our hearts.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Check out the efforts to save Sioux horses in North Dakota at I own a Nokota and he is amazing!

  5. Anonymous says:

    killing any animal for meat is wrong

  6. Anonymous says:

    Absolutely beautiful pictures of (mostly) Arabian horses... my favorite. I do believe that some sort of alternative method of keeping the wild horses from destroying some lands could be found if enough people put their minds to it. Hopefully, that will happen in our lifetime. A'Ho.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Yes, why not pics of the mustangs who are being targeted? Not glossy arabians. --disapointed mustang partner.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I feel the same way about wolves; though it is not common to see wolf meat on the menu in North America, there may be some people who hunt them for food. However, wolves have been hunted in this country since it was invaded by Europeans out of fear for themselves and their livestock, and the population has been dangerously decreased. I have equal similar respect for horses, and I hope we can get the ban on consumption of horse meat reinstated.

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