Do you have a horse budget? Will that help reduce slaughter?

One point has come up several times in the slaughter discussion which I think is an important one in general. It is the idea of having a budget for keeping horses.

Jesse and I have been through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace classes and live by his principals. Even before this process when we lived by many of the same ideas, but with less of it in writing, we knew the importance of keeping our ‘herd’ in line with our money.

As one of the leading arguments FOR slaughter seems to be based in finances it does seem logical for responsible horse owners to have a budget for their horses. Gwen Confalone posted the following under slaughter alternatives and I think it is worth re-posting here:

“Predictably, this is a hot topic. I’d like to add one final thought. Not everyone should own a horse.

Just as most folks would agree that you shouldn’t have a child unless you can provide for it, one needs to realistically asses ones current and future financial resources, including the fact that this animal is likely to live at least 20 years. Horses are not cheap. Buying a horse is the cheapest part. Keeping it healthy and thriving throughout its life is the costly part. I understand that people may suddenly fall upon hard times such as the loss of a job or unforeseen health problems, but it seems to me that some forethought should go into planning for just such situations. The cost of death is part of horse ownership, regardless of whether it comes after a long, healthy life, or sooner and unexpectedly.
When purchasing a new horse, or breeding one, regardless of its initial cost, the horse owner should establish a separate bank account which covers it’s expenses. That bank account should contain enough money to provide basic care for the horse for six months. I’d estimate that to be around 1,000 dollars. If that owner is suddenly left without income, they should use some or all of that 1,000 to humanely destroy and bury or render the horse. If you cannot afford to keep 1000 in the”kitty” at all times, you should not own a horse. There are plenty of other ways to spend time with horses other than owning one – spend time at a local farm or boarding stable, or volunteer at a rescue.”

Will this slow the number of horses sent to slaughter? Maybe. It would make people realize that they have a problem BEFORE they are completely backed into a corner. Either way it can’t hurt. Do you have a ‘horse budget’? What amount do you think would be reasonable per horse?


  1. Alexis on November 12, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Why sell them to slaughter…..Aren’t ranches or rescues able to take them?

    My friends mother found great homes for the horses she owned when she could no longer care for them. She sold one and gave away the other.

    I go see them every once in a while.

    Before you judge – I grew up on a farm. Slaughtered cows, chickens and ducks. I am not a vegetarian, nor am I an animal rights extremist,

    Just confused and wanting to understand…..

  2. CanAmFam on November 8, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Stacy: The direct quote from the report is this: “USDA Study of Equine Slaughter Facilities
    In 1999 I studied 1,000 horses at slaughter facilities and found that 92% of the horses that were presented to slaughter facilities were in acceptable condition. Eight percent of these horses had some sort of significant welfare problem, including trauma, or emaciation.”

    Here is the link to the report:

    • Sarah on November 9, 2011 at 5:21 pm

      Another thing to be said about the conditions of the horses studied… was this before or after they arrived at the plant? Many perfectly healthy horses break their legs or are mildly to severely injured during transport to slaughter, mainly when transported in double decker trailers. Just wondering.

  3. Terri Anderson on November 7, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Ohhh, I like that one! It may not work in a lot of circumstances, but I have seen several successful arrangements. That is how is was able to have my first horse! There are a lot of kids that would love to have a chance to have a horse 4-H project for starters…I have also seen a friend that was unable to have her farm anymore, adopt her 4 horses out to good homes. I have also seen a mess when the details were not spelled out correctly. Definitely something that should be considered!

  4. Alice on November 7, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I am 41 and have never owned a horse, because I have never had the budget to responsibly care for one. But I have always managed to be around them, volunteering at camps and stables in return for lessons, and leasing when finances allow.

    Someone facing disaster might consider offering a lease or half-lease on your horse. Of course the potential for a difficult situation exists, but you could include the caveat “experienced riders only,” and reserve the right to decline offers. Responsibilities (such as sharing chores), privileges, release of liability, and the right to terminate the agreement need to be clearly outlined in writing and signed by both parties. Has anyone had a successful arrangement like this?

  5. CanAmFam on November 7, 2011 at 11:13 am

    May – I think you hit the nail on the head with the following:

    “Some owners don’t see it as something they SHOULD afford. If choice #1 (slaughter) puts $200 cash in their hand, even if they can afford euth/disposal, the euthanasia doesn’t make them any money. Sending the horse to slaughter does. They rationalize the greed with statements such as “people need to eat”, “circle of life”, “why waste good meat”, or “it’s no different than shipping cattle”. Even when euth/disposal is offered to these people free of charge, they will not take it. They don’t have the moral conscience that you and I do about horses.”

    I listened to an undercover investigation detailing the fancy trucks and trailers dumping horses at auction that went to kill. I am convinced it’s not out of desperation that the majority of owners and trainers are sending horses to slaughter, nor are the vast majority of these horses (92% according to the USDA) in need of being euthanized. It’s purely selfish.

    When owners knowingly send horses to slaughter it’s because they can make a few bucks rather than spend the time, effort and potentially money finding the horse a legitimate home; putting in training so the horse has some value; or, in the rare cases where the horse needs to be put down, shelling out the money for humane euthanasia.

    • Stacy on November 8, 2011 at 6:48 pm

      (92% according to the USDA) I would like to read more about this, can you provide a link?

  6. Jo-Claire Corcoran on November 7, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Staci, I have to thank you for looking at ways of eliminating slaughter as a choice for horses. FInancial stressors are hard enough to weather but add to that the stress or not being able to provide for your beloved horse makes the physical and emotional symptoms even worse.

    Many people now, with this economy, are faced with having to make difficult decisions on a daily basis and while this addresses the real horse owner, the person who truly cares about horses it doesn’t address those who are pushing to bring slaughter back to this country. The real reason they are pushing to bring back slaughter is money, not because they have lost their job, but because they want to profit by selling horsemeat that is tainted to other countries.

  7. nancy mcmillan on November 7, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Well said May, Gwen & Stacy. I fully believe that you should have a “horse fund” set aside in your budget. If you own horses, you realize the least expensive thing about them is the purchase.. I board 3 of them, so I make sure I have funds set aside in case something happens either to me or them. We all know that even if we bubble wrapped them, they would still find a way to get into trouble. Watching your horse suffer is stressful enough. Personally, having to make care decisions or end of life choices based solely on if I could afford it or not would be devastating. I choose not to put myself in that position, so I make sure I have a plan b and a plan c.

    May perfectly described the most common statements of why some people are pushing for slaughter as a disposal option. There are some out there who just want the 100$- 200$ and feel it is a final return on their investment. Only a total ban on horse slaughter will change that mentality. However there are many others who do not realize the implications of what they are doing. Many supporting horse slaughter as a disposal options say “I would NEVER send mine, I just want the people who cannot afford it to have it as an option”. The words about what will happen to their horse are candy coated with such names as “humane slaughter” “harvesting” “humane processing”. Even several of the breed associations use these terms. If you have ever seen any part of the horse slaughter pipeline, you know these are not kind, gentle, humane acts. There is nothing altruistic about horse slaughter. It is a business.. They do not have the best interests of the owner or the horse in mind. People are in that business to make a profit. Period.

    So now back to the original question. What to do- owner education is key. Many do not have any idea that the price of hay and grain go up, you have farrier & vet bills (among others). There are emergencies.There are annual shots. If you have no wiggle room in your budget, horse ownership may not be a good choice at this time for you. That does not mean you cannot be involved with horses. Among your options do a half lease, volunteer or foster or start saving up. Personally I like to have at least a couple months board set aside for any emergencies that may arise. I also try and keep a full loft of hay for the winter. Responsible ownership is expensive, but the piece of mind is worth it.

    Another thing that would be helpful for all owners trying to make a choice are region based affordable disposal options. I have seen some exciting studies on the disposal of large farm animals. These include composting & biodigesters. Rendering is also an option in many areas as are burial. Although more expensive, cremation is an option in several areas as well. Maybe if horse owners and associations were to form a co-op of some sort, these options could become even more publicized, accessible and affordable. Clearly increased awareness is needed.- there is nothing worse than having to make choices without a plan in place. As with all things in horses, and life, it boils down to proper financial planning and owner (and prospective owner) education.

  8. Ida Marie Panella Carlough on November 7, 2011 at 8:25 am

    I am very wary of people who stop by to look at our horses and then tell us they can get a horse for $500 at an auction. If you cannot afford the price of a good horse ($3,500-5,000 for instance) how can you afford to keep it? I make the assumption that someone who is only willing to pay $500 for a horse sees a horse as a disposable commodity. Horrses do cost money to maintain them. You can’t just turn them out on a pasture and ride them whenever. I wish more people would consider the cost of ownership when they buy horse.

    I was in a situation once with a herd of 20 horses living on a 84 acre farm working a full time job and no help to take care of the horses. I remember walking out to the middle of the pasture with the herd surrounding me and telling them that they would have a home with me for the rest of their lives as long as every horse stayed reasonably healthly. That was 7 years ago and God has provided me a husband who loves the horses as much as I do, the financial resources to feed and take care of their health and when they die the ability to bury them on our farm. We have also been able to sell at least one horse each year to a very good home!

  9. LINDA on November 7, 2011 at 8:06 am

    I follow Dave Ramsey as much as possible, hard to do a lot with $500/mo. SS check. However, I make do and use most of it to care for my horse. We do have credit with the vet for emergency. I would not think of sending my girl to slaughter if she became sick and unaffordable. A $1000 in bank for horse emergency would last about 2 daily vet visits if she were to colic which is worst scenario for us.

    We have decided not to get ill. LOL

  10. May Snyder on November 7, 2011 at 7:16 am

    It’s a wonderful idea to keep an amount in the owner’s savings for at least $500 – $1000. If not for euthanasia, for an emergency after-hours vet call. There are many other ways to afford euthanasia, even if you don’t have the cash in your pocket today: credit cards, Care Credit, a payment plan with a vet. Given the choice between shipping to slaughter versus an instant death on the horse’s farm, these owners could still choose a properly placed bullet. How much does one bullet cost? Not everyone can afford paying someone to remove the carcass, and burial may not be an option for some. But anywhere there are livestock farms, there are ways to dispose of large animal carcasses. Dairy and hog farmers have to deal with large carcasses, and yet they find ways to afford it: sometimes removal services. Sometimes composting, using special methods for carcasses.

    Some owners don’t see it as something they SHOULD afford. If choice #1 (slaughter) puts $200 cash in their hand, even if they can afford euth/disposal, the euthanasia doesn’t make them any money. Sending the horse to slaughter does. They rationalize the greed with statements such as “people need to eat”, “circle of life”, “why waste good meat”, or “it’s no different than shipping cattle”. Even when euth/disposal is offered to these people free of charge, they will not take it. They don’t have the moral conscience that you and I do about horses. You can’t change peoples’ beliefs. But you can change laws: ban it.

Leave a Comment




100% Private - 0% Spam

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

No one taught you the skills you need to work through these things.

Riders often encounter self-doubt, fear, anxiety, frustration, and other challenging emotions at the barn. The emotions coursing through your body can add clarity, or can make your cues indistinguishable for your horse.

Learning these skills and begin communicating clearly with your horse.

Click here to learn more.



Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get the latest content and updates by email.