There have always been a wide range of ways to care for and use horses here in Humboldt County and through out civilization. There always will be. One thing is for certain they, like all of us, must leave behind a mass of flesh and bones at some point.
We would all like to see these magnificent creatures lie down in a green pasture and peacefully die at a ripe old age with all their friends gathered round. The trouble is there are not many pastures left for them to die in, and most are now kept in rather expensive stables or boarding facilities. Once they are to old or lame or dangerous to be exercised they often are rarely taken out. This is not good for their mind or spirit, obviously.
There should never have been a ban on horse slaughter facilities which has resulted in some of the consequences outlined in your story. With the costs and time required for properly caring for and enjoying these splendid creatures being so high we are limited in the number of horses we can keep. The ones that are truly dangerous or cannot be appreciated any more should have a humane exit and be allowed to be used for food. That can then allow another equine into the life of a horseman or woman who can then continue the partnership we have had over many milennia with these beautiful, powerful beings.
They want to feel useful and appreciated. That's what's in it for the horse.
Uri Driscoll, Arcata