I took this picture some 10 years ago. It was a random moment; I was driving down a lane somewhere near our home….I can’t remember exactly where it was or I would be tempted to return there….when I saw these two horses in a field close to the roadside. They were not distracted from their shared contemplation by the sound of the car’s engine, the opening and closing of the doors, nor by my clumsy antics while I attempted to frame them in the camera’s viewfinder. I left them as I found them but they don’t seem to have left me.
Today, as I scanned through pictures that might be suitable for the Food Photographer of the Year competition, my eyes once again settled on this haunting image. It brought to mind the scandal and debate that surrounded the possibility that horse meat might have found its way into packaged meat products that declared themselves to be 100% anything but horse. The description of “omnivore” is not entirely accurate when applied to the fickle creatures that we of the Western world have become. “Picky” and “omni” are at variance with each other. We, the pickyvores, have a problem with horse meat and, indeed, dog meat. Man’s best friends are subject to the very worst excesses of abuse and mistreatment by their clearly not mutual best friends, but they are safe from being eaten. I think we are less appalled by human cannibalism than the thought of someone eating a dog for Sunday lunch. These prejudices are as deeply and irrationally entrenched in our psyches as are all our other ill considered prejudices. Interestingly, some of the tested products were judged to have no meat content whatsoever. I’m not sure for whom that was a victory.
Maybe it’s a coincidence, but since I took this picture, I seem to have eaten less and less meat. In the original picture there was a fence of several strands of barbed wire, separating the horses from the green shoots behind them which, particularly on this day of Holocaust remembrance, had a grim significance. However, although I veer more and more towards vegetarianism, I feel that there is a strong argument, as voiced by HRH Princess Anne, for a properly controlled market for horse meat that would encourage horse owners to give better care to their animals, in the knowledge that they had a value after death, and in so doing reduce the number of welfare cases.
Sadly, I shall not be able to use this picture in the competition as one of the conditions of the competition is that each entry must have been taken by the entrant in the last two years.