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Do You Believe in Horse Slaughter?

Horse Slaughter

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What's everyone's opinion on horse slaughter? I believe that it is just wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Naturally, horses would never have to go through that and be killed by us humans! :-|:-?
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@Rascaholic, if we had a love option, I would have used it. <3
I know I get on the soap box sometimes, but I really can't abide the thought of animals, or people for that matter, suffering needlessly.
And thanks for that comment. I worried a bit before posting it, then decided I'd do me. And if me isn't acceptable, well it won't be the first time I have had a comment deleted on the net. :D and I am sure it won't be the last.
 

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Things are never black and white in life, unfortunately. I've spent a lifetime and a lot of money with horses. It would be nice to think I could keep them all for a lifetime but that's just not always possible. Especially as we get older, decisions have to be made. I'm coming 60 next year and it's not as easy as it once was to take care of them all. I am down to 10 horses, and for those that think "10 horses!", I used to run over 50 head just my operation and when my folks were doing their thing we had more than 100 most of the time. At some point you say, "It's time to cut back." and you have to start making plans.

One of my things is, every single horse will be under saddle before it leaves this property. That way, if it's not going to a breeder, it still has a use. It's one of the reasons I'm so adamant about temper and trainability. There's going to come a day when, even if I wanted to and had the room, I could not take a horse I had sold back. Planning for that day, they all get a lot of training and use time so that when they go, they are good, productive using horses.

I have worked with rescues and seen the absolute waste of money that some are guilty of. $25,000 for 3 colic surgeries on a 27 year old horse that was old and arthritic and not going to really recover anyhow. Why? Because the person in charge couldn't bear the thought of putting the "old girl" down. Thousands spent on a horse that was so lame from founder it would never be even close to sound again, and the money spent on all the medications to cover the pain. It can be very disheartening. Especially when 25 or more, young and healthy horses go through the pipeline because there's no money to get them or care for them because the money has been mismanaged. Sometimes the rescues need rescuing from the rescuers.

A friend of mine, very active in rescue, died suddenly and had 11 horses. She had no will, no plan. I went and got the horses and brought them home to see what I could do for them. They were a hair less than feral. One was flat out dangerous and pulled my husband down several times before I took him to the vet. Others I worked with and re-homed. The gal who told me that my friend had died and wanted me to go get her horses has not spoken to me since. Oh well. 10 of them went to good homes. The 11th was blind and not a kind horse, so I sent him to be with her (my friend that died), but the rescue person wanted me to keep him and just let him run on my pastures for who knows how many years. WHY? Every one of those horses was a rescue and when rescued was a young, perfectly usable horse. When I got them, they were 13 years old and up and NOT ONE had been put under saddle. NOT ONE! The re-homed ones were under saddle when they left here and a couple went on to belong to young kids and have taught the kids about horsemanship and riding. To do all this, I put my own horses on the back burner and trained up horses I then gave away and that's still not enough for the rescue. TOUGH. And why am I telling you all this? So you can understand why some people will just send them through the auction. The hassle I went through and the time and money I spent, was not worth it and I would not do it again. Where does that leave the next bunch of horses?

The slaughter and unwanted horse problem is not JUST an over breeding or lack of commitment issue. It's caused by people just like you and me who have kind hearts, love horses and want to do the right thing by them. And then get in past what they can truly support and then things start slowly going south. The farrier doesn't come out, the yearly vaccs don't get done, training doesn't happen and then something happens. Loss of a job, you die of a heart attack, you have a car accident. And you have a bunch of horses you can no longer care for and they have no worth to the vast majority of people who are looking to buy or take in a horse. Horses are a luxury and most people can't really afford the luxury of having them.
 

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Things are never black and white in life, unfortunately. I've spent a lifetime and a lot of money with horses. It would be nice to think I could keep them all for a lifetime but that's just not always possible. Especially as we get older, decisions have to be made. I'm coming 60 next year and it's not as easy as it once was to take care of them all. I am down to 10 horses, and for those that think "10 horses!", I used to run over 50 head just my operation and when my folks were doing their thing we had more than 100 most of the time. At some point you say, "It's time to cut back." and you have to start making plans.
I agree, and you are facing a reality you might not like, but you ARE doing what YOU feel is best for yours. Some folks won't even think about it.
One of my things is, every single horse will be under saddle before it leaves this property. That way, if it's not going to a breeder, it still has a use. YES! It's one of the reasons I'm so adamant about temper and trainability. There's going to come a day when, even if I wanted to and had the room, I could not take a horse I had sold back. Planning for that day, they all get a lot of training and use time so that when they go, they are good, productive using horses.

I have worked with rescues and seen the absolute waste of money that some are guilty of. $25,000 for 3 colic surgeries on a 27 year old horse that was old and arthritic and not going to really recover anyhow. Why? Because the person in charge couldn't bear the thought of putting the "old girl" down. Thousands spent on a horse that was so lame from founder it would never be even close to sound again, and the money spent on all the medications to cover the pain. It can be very disheartening. Especially when 25 or more, young and healthy horses go through the pipeline because there's no money to get them or care for them because the money has been mismanaged. Sometimes the rescues need rescuing from the rescuers. YES!

A friend of mine, very active in rescue, died suddenly and had 11 horses. She had no will, no plan. I went and got the horses and brought them home to see what I could do for them. They were a hair less than feral. One was flat out dangerous and pulled my husband down several times before I took him to the vet. Others I worked with and re-homed. The gal who told me that my friend had died and wanted me to go get her horses has not spoken to me since. Oh well. 10 of them went to good homes. The 11th was blind and not a kind horse, so I sent him to be with her (my friend that died), but the rescue person wanted me to keep him and just let him run on my pastures for who knows how many years. WHY? Every one of those horses was a rescue and when rescued was a young, perfectly usable horse. When I got them, they were 13 years old and up and NOT ONE had been put under saddle. NOT ONE!
THIS happens all to often! The re-homed ones were under saddle when they left here and a couple went on to belong to young kids and have taught the kids about horsemanship and riding. To do all this, I put my own horses on the back burner and trained up horses I then gave away and that's still not enough for the rescue. Again, people problems, not the horses best interest being the main concern. TOUGH. I agree! And why am I telling you all this? So you can understand why some people will just send them through the auction. The hassle I went through and the time and money I spent, was not worth it and I would not do it again. Where does that leave the next bunch of horses?

The slaughter and unwanted horse problem is not JUST an over breeding or lack of commitment issue. It's caused by people just like you and me who have kind hearts, love horses and want to do the right thing by them. And then get in past what they can truly support and then things start slowly going south. I agree. This is why I harp about careful planning. I would LOVE to have 3 or 4 horses!! But I know that the land I have and the finances will not support them. I know I don't have the time to care for that many. I know I can't do it! Does it break my heart to see all the young lovelies going through the auctions...YES. But I know in my heart of hearts I can't do it, so I don't. The vet fund is low right now. It was a consideration when I took Tobie. The farrier doesn't come out, the yearly vaccs don't get done, training doesn't happen and then something happens. Loss of a job, you die of a heart attack, you have a car accident. And you have a bunch of horses you can no longer care for and they have no worth to the vast majority of people who are looking to buy or take in a horse. Horses are a luxury and most people can't really afford the luxury of having them.
I work hard for my animals and the joy I get from them. I have dogs who were mainstream unadoptable. They take extra time and effort. To me, they are worth it. I also have a back up plan. There is money set aside to euthanize all of them if it came to an untimely death for me and no suitable home for them.
I took them knowing nothing in life is certain. IMO at least I owe them a quick and painless death if I am not here to care for them. In my life that is the best I can do for them. And they are all worth it.... to me.
 

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I also have a back up plan. There is money set aside to euthanize all of them if it came to an untimely death for me and no suitable home for them.


And that's my point, You have a plan. You have a number of animals that you can properly care for and have arrangements made for an untimely situation. My friend talked about having a plan, having money put aside and that she was going to leave her property to the person from the rescue. And guess what? She never did it, there was nothing in place when she died. Her family came out, buried her, sold the property and was going to send the horses through the auction but the rescue person talked them into letting me have them to re-home, as we both knew my friend wanted done. Otherwise? Every last one of them would have ended up in Mexico. Not at all what she wanted. If we have a problem with our horses ending up in another country to be slaughtered, it's OUR responsibility to make those arrangements and see to it that it doesn't happen.
 

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If you look at what leaves on slaughter trucks it is NOT old or sick horses (would you eat a sick horse?) it is young, healthy, and very good weight horses, most are stock/QH/paints (80%) with drafts and then TBs (12%) with mules etc making up the remainder.

I am against slaughter but for multiple reasons.

1) Responsibility - if you cannot feed your horse or it is lame/ill put it down, your horse deserves that last kindness for years of being a riding/useful animal.

2) Drugs - many horses are given drugs that are banned by both the USDA and the EU on food production animals. Whether you agree with the rules or not, rules are in place to keep drugs out of human food consumption and horses carry multiple lifetime banned drugs (bute is the biggest one). If you are responsibly breeding horses for food and keep drugs out, then that is different than unloading a sick/lame horse loaded up with bute for a person to unknowingly eat. Remember, the EU members believe our horses are drug free and kept to EU standards and they are not.

3) Humane reasons - horse slaughter is not the same as cows, horses fight until the very end with many horses needing multiple hits from the capture bolt and we witnessed one horse receive 6 yes 6 hits before it went down. Mexico is a slice through the spine and slaughtered while still alive, so yeah, there is nothing humane about slaughter as it currently is practiced.

4) Environment - Areas that had horse slaughter plants had tremendous problems with flies, smells, and vultures. Large ponds of blood stored without covers and many towns knew exactly what days the horses were slaughtered. Crime was also worse during slaughter plant operations than pre/post slaughter plants. Slaughter plants do not attract new businesses, who wants to put a business next to a fly/vulture stink hole?

Overbreeding is a major concern especially in the QH/stock world, where slaughter is considered a proper dumping ground for their undesirables. I pull Standardbreds and help with TBs at auction and I see first hand what sells to go on the slaughter truck (again young healthy QH/stock types in heavy muscle) versus what is picked up to sell on various "Broker lot" Facebook pages (decent riding horses or the skinny/sick ones that cannot ship to slaughter).
 

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And that's my point, You have a plan. You have a number of animals that you can properly care for and have arrangements made for an untimely situation. My friend talked about having a plan, having money put aside and that she was going to leave her property to the person from the rescue. And guess what? She never did it, there was nothing in place when she died. Her family came out, buried her, sold the property and was going to send the horses through the auction but the rescue person talked them into letting me have them to re-home, as we both knew my friend wanted done. Otherwise? Every last one of them would have ended up in Mexico. Not at all what she wanted. This is just so freaking sad! If we have a problem with our horses ending up in another country to be slaughtered, it's OUR responsibility to make those arrangements and see to it that it doesn't happen. I whole heartedly agree!!

No one can guarantee they will wake up tomorrow. BUT you can plan for that to the best of your ability. I hope I have. I know I have tried! And knowing I did the best I could for them, in this life and after, is a small comfort when I see the auction horses, and the euthanasia numbers for dogs and cats still climbing.
Will the slaughter stop? No. But if one thing I do helps lower those numbers or put better killing practices in place, then maybe I made a difference for one soul who would otherwise suffer more than needed.
I am going to hug all the dogs and work with Tobie. I think I'll add that saddle money to the vet fund. I can look at the ones I have and see if Tobie will go english or look for a nice used western one that fits. I'll just wear my old boots instead of spending a hundred on a new pair.
 

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Slaughter is necessary, horses are considered livestock and people still do eat them like majority of the population eat cattle and pigs. You won't be able to get rid of slaughter and to do so would be completely irresponsible. The one thing we can do is to change how it is done, where it is done and to educate on unwanted breeding. As to some of the things said about owning animals and needing to care for them for as long as you live. I come from a family where if you buy a pet you better take on that responsibility and you better be ready to give up everything for them! But things change, life changes, if it came down to it and I couldn't find my horses a home for whatever reason I personally would shoot them. But you can't judge someone unless you walk a mile in their shoes.
 

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I second @Rainaisabelle for the most part.
That's how I feel about slaughter as well. Yes it can be very sad, especially depending on how it's done. Really depends on the situation & the circumstances. It's a tough subject. :( Wish we could save all the animals, but sadly we can't. I don't like the idea of slaughter but unfortunately I doubt it can be stopped completely.
I do, however, think it's important to do what we can & rescuing horses/giving them a second chance always helps. One rescue can save that horse from the slaughterhouse.
 

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I really like @Dreamcatcher Arabians point; that people who run rescues that are funded by donations need to make reasonable management decisions on which horses are really not a good investment of the donated funds. they need to use the money, limited money, to rescue the most horses possible, and wasting it on horses that are very old or never able to leave the rescue and make room for a new adoptee, is a foolish decision and simply dooms one more good horse to death.
 

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As a person, equine slaughter strikes me the wrong way. But I fully understand the need for it.

I particularly don't love the idea of slaughtering horses for human consumption with no regard/idea of what kinds of chemicals they may have ingested over their lifetimes [bute, etc].
People say that bute leaves the system after a time, but I'm a skeptic. From my own life, I am violently allergic to corn and react to animal products when the animal has been ingesting corn - milk, most meats, and so forth. Technically my body shouldn't react because all identifiable corn has been removed from the animal via processing, but I, and many others, react to "corn-taminated" meat like we are actually eating corn - this leads to questions about how the body processes food and so forth.
The idea that it could be the same with bute and other medications makes me nervous.



My gelding that I currently own, and plan to own for the rest of forever, came out of the kill pen about a year before I became his owner.
His elderly owners had gotten very sick and probably thought they were giving him the best chance at a new life by auctioning him off. Instead, the auction he happened to be a part of was one with historically low horse numbers and few interested bidders - other than the KB.
He ended up being one of 4 horses [typically 15-20 are left in the pen at this particular lot] that the KB felt should get another chance at finding a person, before shipping. Most of the horses in that auction cycle went straight on the truck.

Out of those 4 leftover horses, only my guy and the horse he came in with found new homes. The other two ended up shipping.

BUT.
I've had my gelding for 3 years and the first two years were taken up not doing much riding and not enjoying the riding we did do [either because my gelding had a terrible attitude about it or because he was busy bolting off].
The last year has been taken up with discovering and attempting to work through his anxiety, caused by a recently discovered [in him] genetic muscle disorder, and doing absolutely no riding.
His genetic muscle disorder causes him to experience extremely high levels of pain whenever he becomes stressed or anxious, and it's incredibly easy to stress him.

I have to wonder how much simpler, and more pain-free, my guy's life would have been if he had gone to slaughter. He certainly wouldn't be dealing with the stress/pain of everyday life like he is now!
I'm beyond glad that I own him and he's teaching me so so much everyday, you couldn't pay me any amount of money for him...but was pulling him out of the kill pen really the right choice for my gelding?
 

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Well, if slaughter HAS to be done, I fine with it if it's humane enough. (you know what I mean?) Overall though, I just don't agree with it. On another forum, someone had started a thread that said, "Horse Slaughter. What's you opinion?" And I answered respectfully, but everyone kept replying to what I said and saying that I was "wrong" for my opinion. That is why I like this forum a lot more, and I'm glad to be off of the other!! :D
 

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I'd like to think that we should all allow people their opinions on things especially something as sensitive as this
In the past I have taken horses and ponies to a slaughter yard in the UK, have had that same company come to dispatch horses on the yard, had vets shoot horses with a free bullet and a human killer and had the local hunt shoot horses with a free bullet and I can assure anyone that when done correctly it is immediate and efficient.
The most distressing euthanasia I have ever seen - distressing for me and for the horse, albeit for just a very short time it seemed like forever - was when I had to opt for having my beloved mare put down using the lethal injection method. It was done correctly but was no way instant. My vet did warn me that sometimes a horse will react badly to it but it was far worse than I expected it to be.
It was still kinder to end her life though than to let her die slowly suffering and confused
 

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As someone who works for an equine charity, I've seen what the UK horse crisis (very similar to the situation in the US, I imagine) has done to the state of equine welfare in this country. For that reason, I am personally very for humane slaughter. Fly grazing and abandonment cases are always on the rise, and when you have gone on a round up and been met with the sight of 400 cob mares, most of them pregnant and some with a foal at foot, and a couple of stallions, all on one measly field with no grazing, no forage and knee deep in mud, all starving slowly and with bellies full of worms and feet full of canker - it makes you evaluate your viewpoint on what is in the horses' best interest. We provided a home for over 150 of these horses, but many of them had to be euthanised, as it was in their best interests.

Sadly enough, the owner of these horses seems to have a lot of support, not only in the UK but abroad as well, as he sells the "good stock" as premium Gypsy Vanner imports, while the rest rot in fields of slop in the UK.

It's a sad fact of the industry at the moment, that rescues like these are nothing new to us anymore. But my viewpoint on it is, there are much worse things for a horse in life than death, unmanaged suffering being one of them. Say what you will, but at least death is the end of the line for that horse, and it can't suffer any longer.
 

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If you look at what leaves on slaughter trucks it is NOT old or sick horses (would you eat a sick horse?) it is young, healthy, and very good weight horses, most are stock/QH/paints (80%) with drafts and then TBs (12%) with mules etc making up the remainder.

I am against slaughter but for multiple reasons.

1) Responsibility - if you cannot feed your horse or it is lame/ill put it down, your horse deserves that last kindness for years of being a riding/useful animal.

2) Drugs - many horses are given drugs that are banned by both the USDA and the EU on food production animals. Whether you agree with the rules or not, rules are in place to keep drugs out of human food consumption and horses carry multiple lifetime banned drugs (bute is the biggest one). If you are responsibly breeding horses for food and keep drugs out, then that is different than unloading a sick/lame horse loaded up with bute for a person to unknowingly eat. Remember, the EU members believe our horses are drug free and kept to EU standards and they are not.

3) Humane reasons - horse slaughter is not the same as cows, horses fight until the very end with many horses needing multiple hits from the capture bolt and we witnessed one horse receive 6 yes 6 hits before it went down. Mexico is a slice through the spine and slaughtered while still alive, so yeah, there is nothing humane about slaughter as it currently is practiced.

4) Environment - Areas that had horse slaughter plants had tremendous problems with flies, smells, and vultures. Large ponds of blood stored without covers and many towns knew exactly what days the horses were slaughtered. Crime was also worse during slaughter plant operations than pre/post slaughter plants. Slaughter plants do not attract new businesses, who wants to put a business next to a fly/vulture stink hole?

Overbreeding is a major concern especially in the QH/stock world, where slaughter is considered a proper dumping ground for their undesirables. I pull Standardbreds and help with TBs at auction and I see first hand what sells to go on the slaughter truck (again young healthy QH/stock types in heavy muscle) versus what is picked up to sell on various "Broker lot" Facebook pages (decent riding horses or the skinny/sick ones that cannot ship to slaughter).
If I may I'd like to add to your list.

My vet worked at a slaughter plant to explained the differences.His job was to assess the health of the animals & oversee humane treatment. He said he never saw the trembling fear/panic that horses exhibit.

Cattle & most sheep are handled differently from horses their whole lives. They are used to chutes & tight quarters. They follow along.
They are shipped with other cattle that they know (I'm generalizing as there are always exceptions).
They are in a neck lock at the end & a captive bolt actually works on them (kills vs stunning).
It's not the first time they are restrained in a chute.
Their necks are not as flexible as a horse's so it's an easier target.
The flooring is made for cloven hooves and modern chute designs keep the cattle quieter.

We all know how horses react so no need to explain that.
 

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I'd like to think that we should all allow people their opinions on things especially something as sensitive as this
In the past I have taken horses and ponies to a slaughter yard in the UK, have had that same company come to dispatch horses on the yard, had vets shoot horses with a free bullet and a human killer and had the local hunt shoot horses with a free bullet and I can assure anyone that when done correctly it is immediate and efficient.
The most distressing euthanasia I have ever seen - distressing for me and for the horse, albeit for just a very short time it seemed like forever - was when I had to opt for having my beloved mare put down using the lethal injection method. It was done correctly but was no way instant. My vet did warn me that sometimes a horse will react badly to it but it was far worse than I expected it to be.
It was still kinder to end her life though than to let her die slowly suffering and confused
I'm sorry you & your mare had to go through that.
I saw one bad death but that was a few decades ago before someone figured out to heavily sedate the horse first.
Nowadays, a standing sedation is administered, then an IV line is inserted to assure venous access. Once the brain is disconnected the final overdose is given & it is quick. The horse feels nothing and most importantly it's not afraid.

The UK has it right that they don't do it as a production line. Correct me if I'm wrong about that but from what I've seen it's one horse, one gun & done.
I'm OK with that.
 

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I'm sorry you & your mare had to go through that.
I saw one bad death but that was a few decades ago before someone figured out to heavily sedate the horse first.
Nowadays, a standing sedation is administered, then an IV line is inserted to assure venous access. Once the brain is disconnected the final overdose is given & it is quick. The horse feels nothing and most importantly it's not afraid.

The UK has it right that they don't do it as a production line. Correct me if I'm wrong about that but from what I've seen it's one horse, one gun & done.
I'm OK with that.
My mare did get the standing sedation first - that's the one that she reacted badly too and according to my equine vet the one that horse's do occasionally react badly too, he's only had a few incidents himself but as a vet who works closely with other vets and with Equine hospitals he's also had similar accounts from others
It was not the actual lethal shot that was 'disturbing' as she was completely out of it by the time that was given - though death was by no means instant as we had the people from the horse cremation service here and they won't start to load the remains until the horse is confirmed to be dead.
The bullet if done correctly is far more instant


I'm not sure what you mean by not a production line in the UK?
If the horse goes to a slaughter yard then its very much a production line if there are other horses going there at the same time - they have to go into an enclosed space on their own but there's a queue of others waiting their turn
 

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My mare did get the standing sedation first - that's the one that she reacted badly too and according to my equine vet the one that horse's do occasionally react badly too, he's only had a few incidents himself but as a vet who works closely with other vets and with Equine hospitals he's also had similar accounts from others
It was not the actual lethal shot that was 'disturbing' as she was completely out of it by the time that was given - though death was by no means instant as we had the people from the horse cremation service here and they won't start to load the remains until the horse is confirmed to be dead.
The bullet if done correctly is far more instant


I'm not sure what you mean by not a production line in the UK?
If the horse goes to a slaughter yard then its very much a production line if there are other horses going there at the same time - they have to go into an enclosed space on their own but there's a queue of others waiting their turn
Here they are/were driven into tight chutes, head to tail, prodded along. They can see, hear & smell everything. Nothing kind about it. Your way is better.

One can never predict how any individual person or animal will react to sedation. Yes, a bullet is instant if done right.
 

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Here they are/were driven into tight chutes, head to tail, prodded along. They can see, hear & smell everything. Nothing kind about it. Your way is better.

.
At the 2 slaughter yards that I knew in the UK the horses also had to move along tight 'chutes', they have to be tight to prevent them from trying to turn around and when those yards were busy (pre. Passporting days) the horses were 'nose to tail' - but legally they aren't supposed to be prodded or poked or hit by the workers there to make them keep moving. They can't see what's happening but they can smell and hear it.
 
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