The Ugly Truth:
We promise not to traumatize you too much (at least we will try not to).
We will never show the horrendous pictures of how horses are treated once they've entered the slaughter system on this website. I do this mostly because I cannot look at them myself and feel scarring people's minds will not help the horses in the long run, but only make people not want to visit our website. We will also try to not be too graphic in how we are about to try to explain the process either. There is a fine line in how to explain what happens without being too graphic, but also to state enough information so that you understand fully what is happening. I have decided the best way is to just make an itemized list. This way the outline speaks quickly without a lot of attached emotions. Click here to read an excellent article in Forbes. I want to you know that because I am trying to error on the side of caution in order for this page to be read, that this information merely touches on the subject. Please know it is much worse than what I have included on this page.
Where do the horses come from?
- Most horses come from horse breeders: This is one of the largest suppliers of horse meat to the slaughter industry. Horse breeders, usually race horses or pedigree horses, are sent to slaughter each year. The horses are "throw aways" that did not make the grade for some reason. They might not genetically throw the right colors or markings, they may not have the conformation required for their breed, they may have outlived their useful (money making) days as brood mares, or as in the horse racing industry, the horse did not produce enough winnings. Breeders will reduce the number of horses in their herds (culling the herds) sending many horses to their death.
Please read more here: Why so Many Horses?
- Pharmaceutical companies. Horses also come from the Premarin pharmaceutical industry in the form of old brood mares and the unwanted byproduct of young foals and colts.
Please read more here: Why so Many Horses?
- Homes, where people cannot afford to keep their horses or elect not to have them any longer. They then deliver them to a killpen/feedlot.
- People will also send horses to the auction not realizing the meat buyers purchase a high percentage of the horses. If these folks would put a reserve amount (a minimum amount they are willing to take for the horse - not less than $300.00) many horses might be saved. The killpen/feedlot horse meat buyers won't spend money on a horse they can't make a profit on. What the typical family horse owner doesn't know is that the next step for their family friend is the slaughter truck and after that there is pretty much no hope for the horse.
- Many people will list their horses for sale for less than $200.00 or free in newspapers, craigslist, etc. Meat buyers pose as horse lovers and will buy a horse for cheap or take the horse for free from these unsuspecting folks. If you want to sell your horse inexpensively, please ask many questions, ask for pictures once the horse arrives to his new home, get an address for follow up visits. If the buyer hesitates, you may want to rethink letting your horse go to them.
- Livestock auctions sell horses. They sell the horses to individuals who want to have a horse as well as to the meat guy. They don't care either because they get their commission either way. The highest bid wins. The good news is most meat buyers will only pay up to $200.00 to $300.00 dollars for a horse. Sometimes more if it is a draft horse because it weighs more - horse meat for human or animal consumption is sold by the pound just like beef is.
- Old, young, sick, physically hurt, or disabled horses from all of the sources above.
What is wrong with using horses for meat?
- Horses are domesticated animals, meaning they are not raised like a cow without much human contact. Often they are our beloved family members. Because of this there is trust built with humans and when they are sent to slaughter they go trustingly. This trust makes them easy targets to be treated so poorly both on their way to to the slaughter houses as well as once they've arrived there.
- There is no USDA food inspection on horse meat. This means people and companion animals like dogs and cats are consuming the meat without any protection for diseases or chemical and drug levels. The horse's high priced meat is served up as a delicacy in different parts of the world. If they only knew the terror the horses faced and the lack of regulated inspections they may not be so tempted to spend their money to eat horses.
What happens to the horses?
Depending upon where the horse comes from (the auctions, people or breeders who deliver them to the lots, the meat guys who buy them from various places...) the trip can vary for a horse. Due to the difference in how the horses initially get to the kill pen/feed lot we'll begin our journey from the kill pen/feedlots.
- Once horses are delivered to a lot they are put into corrals with other horses. The numbers of horses in a pen can be in the hundreds. These horses may be sick, injured, old, very young, pregnant, aggressive, or perfectly healthy. ALL are scared. In the winter months most horses will become sick with Strangles. This is a contagious illness that horses get from another sick horse. Even though Strangles is a terrible illness it usually does not kill a horse unless it's already in a compromised state of health or is young and may not have the immunity to fight it. The one thing Strangles does do for a horse though is it keeps them from being shipped to slaughter. On a side note, if you choose to purchase horses from a lot in the fall or winter months be sure to quarantine them away from other horses you may have until you are sure they haven't picked up anything.
- Slaughter trucks are then arranged by the people who own the lots usually when they can fill a truck. These are cattle trucks where the height of the enclosure are not made for the extra height of horses. This may not sound like much of an issue and wouldn't be if there were only a few horses but the horses are packed into the trucks. They are scared, moving a lot, sliding on the flooring, stepping on one another, etc. Horses arrive to the destination injured, maimed, dead, under fed, extremely tired, depressed, and extremely scared.
- Often the truck will deliver the horses to another holding pen where they are let out with even more horses. The previous experience on the feed lot is revisited with even more horses.
- When a horse arrives at the slaughter house they are herded into holding pens. It is here they wait to be killed. The smell of death is everywhere. They sense, can smell, and hear other horses being killed. They see other horses being killed. They are terrified out of their minds.
- Depending upon whether the horses are going to slaughter for human consumption, or if they will be used for animal consumption they can be killed in different ways.
- Human consumption: Horses are shipped to Canadian slaughter houses. These places usually use what is called a bolt gun. A bolt gun is a large mechanical device that resembles a large impact wrench (think of the air wrench used on the bolts for car tires). They use bolt guns to "stun" the horse so that when they bleed the horse out the heart is still pumping, thus pushing the blood out of the slitted throat and legs. The problem with the bolt guns is the bolts used were created for use on cows. Cow brains are much closer to the skull than a horse. Often the horse wakes up within 30 seconds of being shot therefore fully experiencing a horrendous and brutal death. Another option used for killing the horses is a regular gun without much better success.
- Animal consumption: Horses are shipped to Mexico. In Mexico they use various methods of killing the horses including stabbing them to death.
What can be done?
- Contacting elected officials with emails and phone calls telling them about slaughter and that you are not for it. Ask them to help change the laws to stop horse slaughter in the USA. See the Contact elected officials page that contains a list of websites with contact information. Send them emails and make phone calls telling them about horse slaughter and that you would like the practice to cease. Ask them to help change the laws to stop horse slaughter in the USA and outlaw the export of horses for slaughter. See the Elected Representatives link for help in finding contact information on elected officials.
- Spread the word about the atrocity of horse slaughter in every way possible. Many people, even folks who have horses don't realize horse slaughter exists much less what it entails. Spreading the word will help get laws made to change what is happening.
- Lobby to put taxes in place to deter over breeding in all facets of the horse production industry. If the breeders are taxed per horse that will help to limit the number of horses that are dumped into the slaughter system.
- Put laws in place to make horse owners and breeders responsible for rehoming or euthanizing their own animals. Make sure they are not able to take the easy way out to rid themselves of their unwanted horses, let alone get paid meat prices to boot.
If you have information to add or correct on this page, please contact us. We want to make sure we get it right.