U.S. Horse-Slaughter May Begin This Week

In dismissing a lawsuit brought by the HSUS et al. on Friday, U.S. District Judge Christina Armijo opened the door for equine slaughterhouses to resume bloodletting in the U.S. (closed here since 2007). Plants in New Mexico and Missouri are at the ready. To many advocates, this is a crushing defeat. But as a practical matter, the court decision is neutral, neither good nor bad for horses.


A narrow focus on banning U.S. slaughter is misguided. It can’t even be argued that allowing it here will result in more deaths: In the last five years that American houses were operational, the average number of butchered American horses (both here and abroad) was 106,831/year. In the five years since (2008-2012), the average comes in at 132,593. Last year, 176,223 American horses were strung up and slashed on foreign (Canadian and Mexican, mostly) soil. Here or there, nothing changes unless both domestic slaughter and export-to-slaughter end. But what matters most – all that matters, really – is supply and demand.


On this site, we are mostly concerned with the racehorse part of the chain, which at roughly 19% (Thoroughbreds, that is) of the American slaughterbound is not insignificant. But equally in need of a voice are the tens of thousands of wild horses (who should be sterilized), spent beasts of burden (someone needs to tell the Amish that that era of equine servitude ended over a century ago), old trail horses, suddenly inconvenient backyard pets, and “retirees” from other “disciplines” who join racing’s refuse on the kill floor.

On demand, if people want something, business obliges. But if the supply is strained, the price will rise, perhaps discouraging at least some French and Japanese consumers. In the meantime, this is a reminder for horsemeat connoisseurs…

Slaughtering horses is neither necessary nor inevitable. From auction to dinner plate, it is simple commerce; it has nothing to do with humanely ending the lives of unwanted equines. The advocacy group Veterinarians for Equine Welfare says that slaughter is never an acceptable way to end the head-shy, flight-inclined horse’s life: “Rather than aiding horse welfare, as slaughter proponents contend, horse slaughter results in very tangible animal cruelty and suffering while engendering abuse and neglect.” USDA oversight (dubious as that is) or not, nothing can be done to sanitize slaughter. Nothing.

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  1. The bottom line is money. Some will sell their souls for the almighty dollar. It is nothing short of the dark, and disgusting side of human nature.

  2. Brilliant article! Thank you! We now have a new problem that I would welcome your input as well. And I am sure that TB’s will be ending up here as well. As you know, there will be a slaughter plant opening in the near future in Gallatin, MO. Just a few miles from that slaughter plant is a facility that is holding captive 119 Mares in order to milk them. Calledhttp://www.oohlaleche.net. You can read more here as well. http://shedrowconfessions.wordpress.com/

    • The problem , I fear is that once these slaughterhouses open, and it looks like there are numerous ones at the ready, it will be very difficult to stop.
      Obviously the “owners” of these abattoirs were pretty confident they would prevail. They had information to support that, it would appear. The catalyst for this was the restoration of funding for USDA inspections being restored. It was attached to an other bill signed by Pres. Obama. It was the work of Senator Baucus D of Montana. And since there is no line item veto power this was ideal for passing something that could not stand on it’s own merit. We will probably never no the truth of whether Obama was/is in favor or not. There should be line item veto power because it would be a way to judge the honesty of politicians on both sides of the isle…so for that reason it will not be a reality anytime soon !
      I don’t know if there is any chance of defunding the inspections ?
      It is sooo outrageous that a relatively small group of influential people with lots of money and huge lobbying power can manipulate the system to get their way, in spite of most citizens disapproval.
      I do believe this “plan” has been in the works for quite a long time. Years ago, I read in the, now defunct, Thoroughbred Times of plans to sell horsemeat to the prison system. I wonder where the money to build and modify these abattoirs is coming from. One can learn a lot by following the money ! I also believe there is a ready market for this meat besides Europe and Asia and the ultimate goal is a horsemeat market here.
      It is a sad commentary on our society and our humanity. It is a return to barbarism as far as I’m concerned.
      In closing, the Thoroughbred Industry is guilty of collusion in this as the supply of 70% of all foals born will continue unabated and may even increase if the market supports more breeding.
      PS I suppose it is not news that several states are preparing to pass laws that would criminalize so called “whistleblowers” responsible for trying to document violations and cruelty in slaughterhouses. Sounds pretty ominous to me.
      How can this whole debacle be derailed before it is securely entrenched ?

  3. This behavior is despicable. I own a TB rescue who owns my heart. I do not understand how anyone could sanction this. I’ve learned how expencive it is to own a horse. Shrinking budgets, lost jobs et all play a part in the equasion, but nothing, nothing compares to this industry in racing because they continue to breed and discard horses like they were made of plastic.
    What can we do to stop this slaughter? How many letters can I send? Who is organizing this and how can I lend my voice to aid?
    Nancy Sgroi.
    Jacksonville Fl
    Thank you for this informative post.

  4. Read the article. More American horses were slaughtered with out U.S. slaughterhouses then with. So like it or not slaughter is going to happen. Next question what should we do?? Should we continue to send the horses (Roughly 81% NON THOROUGHBRED) to other countries, outsource it, if you may and send thousands of jobs out of the country or open them here, regulate them, and have jobs for Americans??
    I do not like slaughter. I would not send my horses to slaughter( If I had any) nor would i work in any kind of slaughter house, but I do feel it is necessary.
    I have a question. Would you feel the same about horse slaughter if you were raised eating horse?? Some or most of you were brought up eating cows, pigs, and chickens and they are slaughtered everyday with little to no protest. YES “Rose Smith” I am bringing other animals in to play again so answer, how do you eat other meat when you know the animals are treated horribly and then slaughtered??? Oh and kind of the same thing. You drink cow’s milk?? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!!! Cow’s milk is for baby cows!! Now that is disgusting..
    Ok so 19% of slaughtered horses are TB. I feel that number is high, but what do I know? What are we going to do about the other 81%?? NOTHING.. Do you want to know why? First of all you would have to do a little more research then pick up a lip. If TBs didn’t have tattoos 95% of you could not pick one out of a herd of paint horses. Secondly you would not get the publicity. Not the “IN” thing, so we will just let them be slaughtered….
    I hate asking this question because I know you will totally ignore the others ,but were are they all going to go?? Not just TBs. That is only a small slice of the pie. Drafts,quarter horses/quarter horse crosses, paints, Shetland, welsh. Do i need to good on?? The other 81%….

    • No torture is ever necessary.
      And to answer your question…euthanize. And when those guilty of overbreeding have no slaughterhouses in which to cull their herds and it starts to hit their pocketbooks – negatively- they will at last breed more responsibly.

  5. Why so angry ?
    You may be surprised to know I do not eat meat of any description. But even if I did, I would still speak out against the slaughter of horses and I’m not alone. I and many, many others do whatever we can to gain improvements in the treatment of all animals.

    No it is not a ” perfect world” as so many who support or “accept” horse slaughter are fond of using in their arsenal of excuses. But, it would be a lot more imperfect if people did not speak out against the wrongs including the cruelty and mistreatment of the voiceless.

  6. UPDATE ! : Soon to be ex senator, Max Bacus (D) Montana will be the next ambassador to China ! As we know, he is a strong proponent of horse slaughter and was responsible for the rider that got USDA funding for horse meat inspections.
    I have been curious about the huge push for horse slaughter from such government officials, Bacus, Wallace, O’Neill and others. Is there an agenda here, such as a China market ??
    Could that be possible !!! ?

  7. Skaughter plants will Not be open here&wont be funded for inspections&Obama is against horse slaughter.He was against New Mex opening a plant, it was denied so valley meats will not open&congress made sure they wont be operating them here.its also tranport horses out of country for the purpose of slaughter,they to police this crap big timesneaky kill buyers seem to think they can get with it,hence strong policing is called for.why should we slaughter&ship overseas,screw them

  8. This still makes me sick to my soul that these killings are done 24/7 in Canada and Mexico. It’s wrong and inhumane to any creature.

    If owners and breeders would stop producing so many fos every year then maybe someone can help stop killing horses.

  9. The inhumane treatment of a racehorse in the kill box can be seen on YouTube. It’s horrific.
    The bolts more often than not don’t do the trick the first time around.
    The horse is fully conscious knowing that the next bolt is coming at them.
    Sometimes they are conscious while being eviscerated.
    We had to move heaven and earth to get the Department of Agriculture to investigate, and lay charges.
    However, the slaughterhouse just paid the fines, and continued business as usual.
    It should be mandatory for these racehorse breeders, owners, and trainers to work in a slaughterhouse for 1 day.
    I know this is impossible to enact, but just saying.
    Aside from the moral degradation of the racehorse being slaughtered, the environmental devastation of a slaughterhouse is well-documented.
    For example, a few of us went to the largest horse slaughterhouse outside of Calgary, Alberta years ago to see for ourselves.
    This was back in the day prior to them implementing electric shock fences around the perimeter replete with closed circuit cameras.
    Back then we got close enough to see the horrors of a horse slaughterhouse.
    From an environmental perspective, the smell of blood permeates the air for miles.
    There are huge blood ponds, pits where horse body parts lay.
    The ground surrounding the slaughterhouse is so contaminated that a dirt sample came back with high levels of carcinogenic material.
    These blood and dirt ponds seep into the ground water for miles.
    Yet, the Canadian government allows this to continue.
    I find it so disgusting that our government refuses to address taxpayers concerns when it comes to the funding of this cruelty circus, and death camp.
    From start to finish it’s nothing but a taxpayer money pit from the racetrack to the slaughterhouse.
    There isn’t anything good about the exploitation of racehorse that lays dying in the dirt or a slaughterhouse.
    A country like Canada can’t claim to be a civilized nation when these antiquated business models are not only allowed to continue, but do it at the expense of the taxpayers.
    Of course the voiceless, and defenseless racehorses are the biggest victims.

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