Horse Slaughter Alternatives

Can someone out there help organize this topic? When I read the comments it is challenging to get past the defensiveness. What I am looking for is NOT the reasons why you should or shouldn’t support slaughter. I am interested in people submitting OTHER IDEAS.

We all seem to agree that there is a problem with overpopulation. That is a start.

I suggested euthanasia as an alternative. It was very interesting to hear the feedback of the costs involved in the vet fee as well as the burial. If you know what it costs in your area please leave a comment telling those numbers below.

Slaughter seems to have been discussed as an alternative because of cost.

Please propose ideas, or even better provide links, to places that have offered viable alternatives to slaughter. If you are proposing ideas please include at least a rough idea of where the money will come from as this seems to be the strongest argument for slaughter as of now.


  1. Sharon McCleary on November 6, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    I live in Garvin County Oklahoma and unfortunately have had to put two horses down and two others died. I didn’t have any idea that the county comes and digs the hole and assists with the burial until we lost the first one. They have been courteous and professional in out time of loss. I am so grateful to them.
    I am thankful to our wonderful veterinary for his reasonable fees of $75.00 each and the farm call fee (his prices may have changed for that so I won’t quote that). He even offered to hold them and allow me the option of not being present. Although heartbreaking, I told him “I was there when they came into the world, I’d be there when they go out”.

  2. Sharon McCleary on November 6, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    I live in Garvin County Oklahoma and unfortunely have had to put two horses down and two others died. I didn’t have any idea that the county comes and digs the hole and assists with the burial until we lost the first one. They have been courteous and professional in out time of loss. I am so grateful to them.
    I am thankful to our wonderful veterinary for his reasonable fees of $75.00 each and the farm call fee (his prices may have changed for that so I won’t quote that). He even offered to hold them and allow me the option of not being present. Although heartbreaking, I told him “I was there when they came into the world, I’d be there when they go out”.

  3. nancy mcmillan on November 6, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Sadly,the issue is both unbridled breeding AND slaughter. Slaughter provides and easy button and creates a disposable mentality. Paint not loud enough? off it goes. whoops, bred too many? off they go. Let me use recycling as a parallel. When dumps and landfills were plentiful, we threw away everything in one bag. We did not worry about the environment. We just bought more and repeated the cycle. This is what having horse slaughter available creates the ” Dont worry, we will just breed more” mentality. You may be too young to remember but this was how it went down.

    In the 70s, once recycling began there was push back. Not everyone believed that resources were limited. The public was in denial. Manufacturers accused the recycling promoters of being “chicken little”. said its the consumers right to buy what they want. They called the recyclers “tree huggers”, “hippies” and “granolas” much like the pro side refers to the antis as “ARs” and tries to create other unrelated associations-( Can you say humane watch anyone?) The sellers of products created fear in the consumer “oh no, its too expensive, we cant do that, your prices will go sky high” Your rights to do what you want are being taken away. But then a strange thing happened.Towns and cities realized that they WERE running out of space, there were other options and alternatives. They began mandating recycling.It became law in many places.

    Funny thing is that once recycling became law, the manufacturers started promoting themselves as sustainable. They started using it as a marketing tool. They rethought their business models. Biodegradable, recycled and made from post consumer materials is no longer a bad word. It actually now helps their industry sell things. Imagine that. the true horse industry could do the same if they can get past the fear tactics Change is never easy, but sometimes it is necessary.

    If the breed associations would create programs that offer easy access to low cost gelding programs (either via vouchers or clinics) this would go a long way towards solving the issue. Instead of using their membership fees to support horse slaughter, that same percentage could be used to support programs like this. If the registered horses were out of the rescue pipeline, that would free up resources for the rescues to offer similar programs to and educate the grade horses and their owners.Millions of dollars are spent by both sides annually. This money would go a long way towards solving the issues without the taxpayers ever having to get involved..

    I would also propose that the breed associations consider having “breeding” vs “non breeding stock” papers. These would be assigned according to how well the horse fit the associations definition. Any horses with the harmful genetic issues such as lethal white or hypp or other serious conformation issues would be issued “non-breeding” papers. That way how the breed is defined would be solely in the hands of the producers.

    I also believe programs like the TB associations 360 program have some legs too. Safety nets should be in place for all associations. Slaughter is not a safety net, its an easy button.

    For the current overpopulation, I believe if the breeders would reduce their levels to slightly BELOW what the market currently demands, their prices would rise. At the same time, each year a certain number of horses die from colics, accidents, old age etc. These two factors things combined would serve to reduce the horse population to what the market actually is looking for. It would also make people look twice at purchasing one of the currently “unwanted”. Some may need training- that would in turn provide jobs for those who are willing to put the time in. Just like the recycling movement, it is a matter of changing perceptions. It can come from within the industry or outside the industry (in the form of laws). In any case, something new and different must be done. Just like recycling,it will take time and a change in attitudes.

    • Erica on November 6, 2011 at 3:08 pm

      I like the way you put this.

  4. Dawn on November 5, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    I am so happy to see everyone’s ideas. If we work together we will come up with solutions other than Horse Slaughter by captive bolt! We don’t have much time left. Please email and call your representatives and ask that they do not fund the USDA for horse meat inspections which in turn we will have horse slaughter back here in the USA!

  5. Baba (@ukrainiansoul) on November 4, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Stacy, thank you for addressing this crucial topic. Humane euthanasia and gelding are certainly desirable. But as you said, there is an overpopulation of horses. I feel we need to address the roots of overpopulation. The majority of horses going to slaughter are, statistically, Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds. There is also an unacceptable number of Paints and Arabs. Their registries fervently encourage overbreeding with both promotional campaigns and “breeding incentives.” These breeding incentives are subsidized by the USDA. In other words, breed registries are paid by the government to over produce horses in order to CREATE “meat horses.”

    The average 1000 lb. riding horse fetches around $500 at slaughter. By the time his 600 lbs. of meat is sold in the EU at $20-40/lb., he is worth $18,000 in revenue to the government’s contracted, foreign-owned slaughter plants. Working class people who breed these horses are being used as assembly lines to produce meat for government coffers and foreign interests they contract to slaughter these horses. I hate to speak against the registries, as they promote healthy sport and produce fine horses—-but they get to keep not only their percentage of the breeding subsidies but 100% of registration fees. No matter how a horse meets its death.

    We do need to educate the backyarders, but the far greater contributors to overpopulation are breeders who are highly encouraged by breed associations to regard slaughter as their “garbage can.” We see this all the time in QH/Paint yearly herd sales, with prices as low as $250 for registerable horses with impressive bloodlines. Race tracks are making progress in banning owners from sending TBs to slaughter, but taking responsibility for race horses from birth to death must become universal. The track bans, I believe, do not touch the many horses who train unsuccessfully, or on stud farms that are routinely slaughtered, e.g. almost every TB and STB broodmare meets her end this way, after producing sometimes millions of dollars worth of foals. The entire industry needs an overhaul, and addressing the roots of overpopulation is a major route to a solution.

    • Erica on November 5, 2011 at 3:07 pm

      $18,000! That’s crazy! Honestly the government will do anything to make money! Its sick!

  6. Stephanie Billingsley on November 4, 2011 at 10:02 am

    My vet has always said if we could come up with a way to humanely and economically put down a horse he would be completely against horse slaughter. We send people to the moon why in the heck can we not figure out a way to do this? The slaughter industry has to become transparent and the days of the decietful horse trader need to be over. There needs to be some kind of tracking system for horses not only to protect horses that are stolen but to protect humane beings who are eating tainted horse meat. I could care less what happens to the horse meat after the horse is dead. However, if it’s been someone’s pet and given medications not intended for food animals then it’s WRONG to allow them to be sold for human consumption. You would think that someone out there could develop a use for the carcass. If every state had this then horses wouldn’t have to be trailered thousands of miles and it would give those who are financially strapped a way to get rid of their horse.

  7. Pony Lover on November 4, 2011 at 2:13 am

    I absolutely agree with Gwen. A shot in the head is far better than a long ride to ? Or a Vet with juice that makes the horse sufficate. But I don’t agree with burial unless the horse has had recent drugs administered. To fully realize the value and importance of their life, they should be used, not discarded. I have a crippled yearling. He is in pain and thin. He is not thriving. He will be shot, hung and gutted. The meat will feed my dog and the neighbors. I will remember him and thank him everytime I feed the dog. In this way, I pay tribute to him, and save him from further suffering.

    • Stephanie Billingsley on November 4, 2011 at 11:48 am

      I work with a horse rescue and we unfortunately have to euthanize horses that are unadoptable. Our vets do a very good job sedating them and then putting them to sleep. It’s not any different for them being sedated to have their teeth done. We have had two incidents where the horses were extremely wild and very hard to sedate and fought the euthanasia medication. It lasted less than a minute and admittedly it was hard to watch for those that were there. Otherwise, humane euthanasia by injection should be stress free for the horse if done properly.

      • Jane on November 7, 2011 at 12:12 pm

        Why choose to end the horses life by chemical euthanizing him and in return it renders him useless to feed other animals? And by killing him with chemicals it is also very harmful to our ground and water systems. What better way to pay respect for you horse than to give a use after he is gone.

  8. olmata on November 2, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    Ok, so the reason horses are sent to slaughter is because no one wants them, right? Too many people that just want machines in horse shape because they don’t realize that horses are HORSES! So here are my alternatives. Educate horse people, new, established, old, young, all of ’em, they need to learn to appreciate horses for what they are. Too many good horses are thrown out because people don’t know any better. Also, people need to work with their horses. You are getting a first horse and you want to be a good doobie and save one from an auction. There where two horses going to a slaughter barn and you wanted to save them but could only take one because you are to busy or poor for 2, would you choose the sweet, open-minded, trained horse or the one that kicks and bites and has a mean fire burning in it’s eye’s? Remember, this is your first horse and you don’t know a ton about horses. Honestly, which one? If everyone worked with their horses enough to make them better horses, people wouldn’t be so fast to turn their backs on them. Also, people get a pony for their kids and decide they want a foal, wouldn’t that be cute? But they don’t know that there are tons of sweet baby horses in auctions because people can’t afford them. Their kids wouldn’t have to wait for 11 months for their baby horse. This needs to change people! Fewer backyard babies! Don’t ruin your good horse by letting them just set in the pasture! Why can’t people think of this on their own!!!! What is the world coming to? ***screams and pulls out hair in frustration*** Please, do something to change this, you will be saving horses lives, SAVING HORSES, PEOPLE!

  9. Jennifer M on November 2, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Vets at UC Davis actually came up with a great plan that would work if people on both sides of the issue cooperated.


    “The system the group envisions calls for an “unwanted horse assessment station” that first would triage any unwanted horses brought in, determining whether they are adoptable or non-adoptable.

    If adoptable, they would be placed in one of four groups: rehabilitation required, immediately usable, needing permanent housing and retirement, or used for outreach education in equine care.

    If un-adoptable, the animals would be designated either for humane euthanasia with carcass salvaged for zoo feeding, nutritional use for animals or rendering; or for humane euthanasia, with the carcass disposed by tissue digester, composting or cremation.”

    • Angel Bailey on November 2, 2011 at 1:53 pm

      Jennifer—what a wonderful plan! Imagine this in all 50 states. It would make things so easy for us in the rescue family to take in the adoptable horses for immediate rehab and placement. No more crying over horses we work so hard to save only to have to put them down! The money is secondary. It is a consideration of course. But we would have more funds to rehab!

    • Jenny on November 2, 2011 at 3:16 pm

      Jennifer…fantastic post. And so glad to see DEFHR involved. They are by far the most reputable and caring facility I’ve ever witnessed. There are too many rescues only dealing with the immediate issues and not breaking ground for the future. This is a logical plan that I’d love to see come to fruition. Are there any facilities doing this at the moment, other than what DEFHR is already doing? I’d love for a vet to address the outrageous prices for euthanasia though. While horse owners aren’t the most responsible money handlers, the other side of it is that Vet fees are soaring and out of control in many cases. As are farrier and dental. My doctors bills aren’t as high as my horses in many cases. Euthanasia for one is off the charts, then calling a rendering service is even more costly. There is always the alternative to call a rescue but many of them are either full to capacity with waiting lists or they aren’t who they say they are. Anyone can get a non profit desigantion it seems.

      • Angel Bailey on November 2, 2011 at 7:22 pm

        Jenny—Voice For Horses has NEVER dumped horses off anywhere! We just took in 3 FROM the Humane Society 3 weeks ago. I don’t know where you got that info from, but they are dead wrong. I know each and every horse and all must go to approved homes–approved by the board of directors of which I am 1. And who is this Brian person? Never heard of him. He is not affiliated with Voice For Horses in Ohio

  10. May Snyder on November 2, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    The original premise — that horses are slaughtered as a population control — is flawed. Horses are slaughtered because there is a demand for horsemeat in europe. They will not destroy extra horses if they have no market for extra meat. Nor will they cut back on the number they process in good economic times when owners can afford to keep more horses. It’s a DEMAND-BASED industry: the demand for meat.

    Those who support slaughter claim the horses are “unwanted”. But when was the last time you were paid $200 or $300 cash for something nobody wanted? When was the last time caring animal people spend money to outbid kill-buyers at auction to save lives? Imagine how much more horse rescues could do if they only had to focus on animal control calls. Right now a good % of resources at some of these rescues is tied up paying the “ransom” for *wanted* horses in kill-pens. Or for helping owners who voluntarily ask to give the horse to the shelter so that the horse does not end up on a meat truck. Until slaughter is banned, no horse auction anywhere is safe.

    I have a hard time answering your question about the alternatives to horse slaughter because the alternatives need to be tied to the reason why the processing plant is killing them: because there is a legal and profitable market in some areas of europe and asia for a gourmet meat product which just happens to be made of our riding horses. Alternatives: consumers in Europe should be educated where the horsemeat comes from, the drug reside problems, and the connection to theft. They should be encouraged to choose other proteins. The EU should do a better job enforcing the laws already on the books for food safety, i.e. no longer allow tainted horsemeat. A horse given bute is not eligible for slaughter for human consumption in the EU; so if the vast majority of riding/driving horses are given bute at some point in their lives, why is europe turning a blind eye to this blatant violation of safety?

    Alternatives for horse owners: since no horse owner I know slaughters their own horses to feed their family, the issue is not giving them an alternative food source. The horse owner already has access to euthanasia, breeding control practices, and sales venues. If a particular breed is no longer in demand, common sense says just breed less of them. The only thing some horse owners fear they miss out on is that easy $200 cash at the livestock auction, and the responsible owners wouldn’t send their horses to a butcher for that $200 anyway. Sell him in a safer venue, lease him, give him away, or put him down. Nobody ‘needs’ to send their horse to a kill pen.

  11. Jenny on November 2, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    I’ve seen and read all of the info that exists as regards auctions and slaughter. I think I’ve read and viewed too much info perhaps. I’ve seen all types of horse people as well. Some I wish I hadn’t. I’m staunchly against slaughter but I’m also against human stupidity. I have two horses, one a well bred gelding whom I saught out from a local breeder. The love of my life. The other is a mustang mare who was pulled from an auction with a sure route on the meat truck if not saved. She’s a work in progress but I’m so in love. These horses will never leave my property, no matter what. Because I’ve calculated the cost, adjusted where I had to and am careful with my money, I will not ever take a horse to auction. The eventuality in these economic times is that either the horse will end up on a meat truck with a long and nasty journey to a holding area where they’ll surely starve and go without water for several days if not weeks only to be roughed up and perhaps severly injured on the way there or at the lot. Then when a horse walks up to the kill area and smells blood & hears the struggles….well that is a nightmare I would not wish on my worst enemy. No living creature should have to come to an end that way. I can not accept the argument that “it’s too expensive to have a horse euthenized”. Then you probably waited too long to make a calculated decision and you hesitated until you where at your last dime. Shame on you. While I agree that Vets charge rediculous fees for this service considering, I also feel that you should not take on a horse unless you have seriously considered whether you can care for it long term, come what may! Vet bills are expensive, duh!!!! Simple! Think before you make an impulsive purchase you should really sit down and “count the cost”. And don’t be led by bleeding heart testimonies of so called rescues either. Most of them are full of it, dealers in disguise! AC4H for example. In the end should you decide to take on the commitment of a horse, you have taken on a living breathing creature that can live for 30+ years…do right by it! I know that many people have run into unexpected whoas as regards the economy but were they really unexpected? Did you make good decisions in the first place. I think you need to ask yourself these questions before you up and decide that you’re out of money so all your animals must go to the highest bidder. If you’re careless with money….an animal shouldn’t lose it’s life over that! If you trace back to the root of where things went bad it’s probably going to be pointing at you and your spending habits. That being said, there is another cancer among the horse industry. Breeders! Shame on the breeders who are breeding without demand…..absolutely shame on YOU!!! This should be regulated, end of discussion. I once went to look at a certain mare of incredible breeding and she was up for sale…why? To make room for the next youngsters in an all black breeding program. This mare was impecably bred and guess what… buyers! No buyers = let’s do more breeding. Pure stupidity and greed. Her argument was that this bloodstock is rare…well what the hell good is that if you can’t sell the damn horse? I could go on but I think you get the picture. In the end, let’s be big girls and boys and be accountable for our choices and decisions. No person or animal should suffer for our bad decisions. So re-evaluate whether you can afford euthenasia, if you’re already in the hole due to you’re own ignorance then what’s another 300-500.00 bucks. Have a neighbor with a skid loader dig you a hole. Oh and perhaps you can jump in it with your horse. Just kidding…

    • Angel Bailey on November 2, 2011 at 12:45 pm

      Jenny–please don’t lump all rescues in the same category. Come visit Voice For Horses. Hear the stories behind each horse. We are NOT “dealers in disguise”. We care for each horse and will only adopt out to approved homes. And if that home doesn’t work, the horse comes back to us. The $300 adoption fee hardly covers all the feed and vet work we have done. And we have horses we give away! How can we be making money that way? Answer–we don’t. We are a charity group. We rely on donations and fund raisers. And never give up on any horse until the vet says we have to. Is my rescue an exception? No. Most are not. Thank you for being a responsible horse owner. Voice For Horses will be there for those who are not.

      • Jenny on November 2, 2011 at 2:04 pm

        VFH I saw your post and couldn’t help but recall the controversy of you guys dropping horses of at SPCA because you took in too many. I realize that they employ humane euthanasia at SPCA however you’re were closely linked with shady rescues and Brian Moore.

  12. Angel Bailey on November 2, 2011 at 11:57 am

    As a long time volunteer and now member of the board of directors with Voice For Horses Rescue Network in Toledo, Ohio, we have seen everything from abandoned to abused and neglected horses to PMU mares to perfectly healthy registered 2 year olds rescued from the kill pen. We take in ALL horses in need. From all over the country. Many rescues do the same. And sadly, some are beyond our help. We see that they are humanely euthanized by our vet and buried with dignity only after all options are exhausted. In my opinion this is the ONLY solution. Horses can be donated to 4-H, given away to families, retired to a sanctuary, surrendered to the Humane Society, or given to a rescue. There is NO REASON any horse should end up at an auction. We routinely pull wonderful healthy horses from them and find them loving homes. That is why rescues are there. A bullet is never the answer. If an owner was paying for the care of the horse, a humane visit from the vet will be cheaper in the long run if the horse is beyond help. And if they WEREN’T caring for the horse, the humane society should have been called in before it got that far. The fines for animal abuse are no way near what they should be. When we are caring for a horse in a court case all financial responsibility is on the rescue. We hardly ever get back the whole cost of keeping a horse until the court case is settled. But we do it for the horse. Gladly, willingly with love and patience. A rescue is the best way to go.

  13. Dawn Perkins on November 2, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Here in southern Idaho it cost about $150.00 for the vet to put a horse down. It was the middle of winter so we could not bury the horse. We had to take it to the landfill. The vet followed us there and put the horse down there. It actually went very well, but was extremely sad. My vet was even teary eyed when we left. (The horse was about 30 years old, had colliced, the vet worked with him for a week trying to get things going again, we kept him medicated for pain during this time, in the end we thought this was best for the horse. )

  14. Jill Pflugheber on November 2, 2011 at 10:35 am

    We were pretty lucky, as it were where I grew up in NNY. We had a mink meat farm that would come at no cost to pick up dead or dying animals. The dying animals were put down using a captive bullet there at home.
    As far as horses being sent to slaughter for cash, I would love to see a tax incentive in place for those who send their horse to a qualified rescue or perform euthanasia. I experienced a horse processing plant in the US years ago, and trust me, it’s not a place you want a horse to go, humanely treated or not. They know what they are there for and are terrified.

  15. We WASTE tax dollars on gathering what is supposed to be protected & then putting in holding pens our wild Mustangs. We now have more in holding than in the wild. This is done for financial gain by our cattle industry while we foot the bill & allow the destruction of our wild equine that is supposed to be protected from this abuse. These tax dollars could go a long way in helping our equine that are in distress. We have the land, we have the money that is now being used to drive our Mustangs to extinction. This resource could be used to aide our horses now deemed for slaughter & create American owned jobs to boot.

  16. Reesie on November 2, 2011 at 9:53 am

    I was very interested to read about this topic. While slaughter never was and -n e v e r- shall be an option in my mind. Over the years, we’ve rescued over a dozen horses who would have otherwise met their end at a slaughter plant and either kept them on with us as riding horses and companions, or sold them to excellent homes to make room for more rescues. If more people were interested in taking horses from the slaughter pipeline instead of breeding their own “wonderbaby” that will ultimately end up with “no future,” so many lives would be saved…

    It was a good read to see what the other options are out there. This discussion relates directly to me and my situation right now– I have a 20 year old horse whom we’ve owned for 15 years (another slaughter would-be victim). Over those years he has been loved and cherished and provided for the best that we can. The past 2-3 years, his soundness has been failing and he has a noticeable hitch in his stride and doesn’t appear comfortable, which breaks my heart.

    Our family has fallen on hard times and it is difficult to afford any “extras” in our budget. “Extras” at this point include oil changes/car maintenance, equine supplements, and anything other than bulk food in the house. So scraping together the funds to humanely euthanize him will be a difficult undertaking. Although it is extremely difficult to come to terms with (as tears are streaming down my face as I write this), if Snowman is comfortably laid to rest, when our financial situation improves the space he leaves will allow us to take in another slaughterhouse rescue when the opportunity arises.

    It would be wonderful if there were more low-cost euthanasia professionals and means of body disposal. I think it is a great idea for someone to be trained specifically for that job. And in this economy, it would create a solution for two problems- the lack of jobs and the surplus of horses.

  17. Diana Potter on November 2, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Wow! I am so happy to see folks coming up with so many creative and humane solutions/alternatives to horse slaughter! We don’t slaughter our homeless dogs/cats, and there is no need to slaughter horses. Back in the 70’s and 80’s, we were killing about 20 million “unwanted” dogs and cats annually in the US. That number has dropped to 4 million in recent years. While it’s still far too many, it does show that education and public awareness programs ARE having an effect on the overpopulation problem. Most shelters also offer a humane method of euthanasia for those who can no longer afford to care for a pet, and a chance for the pet to be rehomed as well. Why couldn’t we have something similar in place for horses? The money we would have spent attempting to regulate horse slaughter, which was never effective and it’s highly unlikely that it will ever be, could be spent on humane euthanasia for those who truly can’t afford it instead. Someone else mentioned a sliding scale for euthanasia for those who have fallen on hard times. There are so many things we can do to to eliminate slaughter as a perceived necessity, and we’re going to have to do this anyway. American horses are not raised as food animals, and pretty soon are going to have to follow regulations and rules in effect for all other food animals. For example, bute, a commonly used anti-inflammatory med used for horses, is 100% banned for use in all food animals, and is but one of many. Other drugs are permissable but may have a 6 month withdrawal period. There are no exceptions, that’s the law and it’s there to ensure food safety for the consumer. How would this law be monitored and enforced? It would be extremely costly and impractical to say the least. Horses will never be able to meet these requirements so we MUST find other alternatives, we really have no choice. Again, I’m so glad to see that caring, compassionate people are doing just that! Thank you!

  18. Diana VerHoef Bodensteiner on November 2, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Stacy this is a great way to bring ideas to one place, and so necessary. In 20 months kill buyers will loose most of their market for horses. We need to have something in place by then.

    Breeding does need to be cut way back so that more novice riders will opt for an older horse. I believe if breeders are to keep their operations going, they need to diversify. All breeders need to include teaching and training and probably boarding and leasing horses as part of their operation. These activities will bring more riders to them (and through teaching create more riders) so they have a market for their horses. Their horses that they market need to include horses they have sold in the past that need to be rehomed. Finally they need to buy horses in addition to breeding. It takes a year to get a foal on the ground and another two to three years to have it going will enough to sell to a rider. There is much less overhead in the purchase of a horse who’s rider has retired from riding.

    This was the business model of the stable I worked at 40 years ago when we had no unwanted horse problem. There were 15 – 20 lesson horses and ponies and about 125 boarded horses at various levels of board. Board was anything from a half lease on a horse to full care including grooming exercise and full care of horse and tack. (Rider made an appointment to ride and came to find a horse ready to ride.) The breeding program at this stable produced 1 or 2 owned horses a year and 5 to 10 outside mares were bred.

  19. Darla Clark on November 2, 2011 at 1:30 am

    Regardless of where you are – cost should not be an issue. Front Range Equine Rescue in Colorado offers a 50% reimbursement for all costs of euthanasia and body disposal – whether that is calling a rendering truck or hiring a backhoe. Here in Oregon, many ranchers will euthanize with a bullet if you are uncomfortable doing it. Local landfills will take a carcass for free. Whether you or agree or not – there are also many wildlife parks that use the meat on occasion – so – yet another alternative. Through our rescue, I have veterinarians lined up to donate at least a dozen euthanasias this winter.

    TRAINING is a HUGE aspect of the slaughter debate. If we spent a fraction of our time and resources getting these animals trained, they will have a safety net throughout their lifetime. Loose horses running through a sale ring don’t stand a chance. Horses ridden through, showing they are manageable (even basic groundwork helps) – have a chance at finding a home. Rescues are overflowing with healthy young stock that, when faced with the prices of training, got dumped by their owners.

    Thanks for this post Stacy.

  20. Gwen Confalone on November 1, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Jennifer, you are right, shooting is humane when done by a skilled operator in a controlled environment. The plants in Canada all use 22 rifles to “stun” the horse. The problem is, horses are by nature extremely sensitive and fearful. The “assembly line” mentality in the plants — “get em thru and get em chopped up” – does not lend itself to proper stunning. They hot shot the horses into the kill box, take no time to line up a good shot, just shoot the horse in the eye or the face, let him thrash while they take a bite of their sandwhich (I am not making this up – saw the undercover video), then go back and shoot him another time or two til the commotion is over. Another video shows the horse hung up still very much alive, so alive ke kicked the worker in the face hard enough to send him flying ass over teakettle. I do believe slaughter COULD be humane, but its just not going to happen, because the only interest in those involved in the business is in making money, not in improving the way the horses are “processed”. Improving conditions would cut into the bottom line, so thats out of the question. The managers and the workers in these plants are the bottom of the barrel of humanity. They have zero compassion and no pride in their jobs.

  21. Jennifer Kirschenman on November 1, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I hate to say, But I agree with TJ Williams, Peta is also a problem here aswell. I love animals. I have loved horses all my life, and would do my best to not to have to send one to slaughter, However I have seen horses, that even with the best handeling, they are just to mean to be around, Euthinasia is expensive, I agreee with Gelding, and finding a reproductive solution for Mares that is afordable. But Horses do need to be kept as a livestock animimal, and not classied as a pet, Even though most horses are used as a pet nowdays, removing the livestock label on horses, will only make the problem of affording them even worse. Like I stated I love horses, and would not choose slaughter for my horses, However It has its place, WE just need to monitor it, It could be done a lot more humane, and less painful for the horses, starting with transportation. They should force truckers to make sure they have a trailer tall enough for them, make sure they stop frequently to let the animals rest and have at least water, and make sure the have a quick and painless death at the plant,

    It is sad to say that people do use horses as a food source, and I do feel if they can be used for something good at the end of their purpose,, than let that be, Just make sure it is in a humane and pain free way. It can be done, If people care enought to processes them in a kind way.

    How animals are slaughtered is up to the processing plant, I have heard how even cattle go through bad experiences like horses, and I personally know of a plant near us, That use a properly placed bullet to put the cattle down, and it is a quick and painless death, Why can’t this be done for other plants, instead of the stun guns, us the real guns, and make it quick, and leathel, Less pain.

    This is just a thought. I know most won’t like, But it would help the market, without hurting the cost of owning a horse.

    Thank You for allowing me to comment.

  22. Gwen Confalone on November 1, 2011 at 8:35 am

    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 shouldnt 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 chearp. 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.

  23. R. C. on November 1, 2011 at 2:25 am

    SoCal prices for various services:

    Euthanasia $175 plus farm call usually $50-75 during the day upwards of $125 after hours, $175 + for carcass removal cash, no payments.

    Gelding – $250 and up depending on the age and whether or not a crypt. I’ve seen as high as $1200.

    I have been asked out to shoot horses for people but due to the legalities many times won’t do it. A plan should have been made BEFORE the legislature was put in place and even more horses now are suffering.

  24. Erica on November 1, 2011 at 12:33 am

    Why spay? Just get the studs gelded. Its an easier procedure&costs less.

  25. Felicia on October 31, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    When i was in college we had horses donated to the college to be used in class for vet schools, equestrian teams and class, this would be another alternative…one thing i do know the college i went to they lived a long good life with a job, and never left the farm…

  26. Colleen on October 31, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    All the people against slaughter can pay for the fillies to be spayed :0) Seems like a logical solution is you ask me!

    • Lori on November 2, 2011 at 2:07 am

      That seems a bit absurd, a filly or mare can only produce one foal a year whereas a stallion can sire hundreds in fact with AI etc. the sky is the limit. Spaying mares is both expensive and dangerous for the mare whereas gelding is far more affordable and less dangerous and would help the overpopulation crisis more

      • Erica on November 3, 2011 at 12:11 pm

        Nicely said Lori.

  27. Laurie Eagles on October 31, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    I agree: what it boils down to is stopping the problem where it starts….gelding and spaying. I made the decision 2 years ago to geld my 4 year old, extremely well bred, very talented, stallion, who had won multiple championships right from the beginning of his show career. My decision was based on many things I had to take a hard look at. Finally I decided in this economy many people were not breeding let alone buying young stock at a price that would make it feesible to breed, and keep broodmares. I also had to realize that there are many exceptional stallions out there of similiar blood (no one has a totally unique corner on that market) and it just was not worth breeding until the perfect cross was found, and experimented with. I truly took some flack for my decision, but I know have an amazing partner who can go and and play with the others and be a social animal. Not to mention the stress relief of not having to control and handle a stallion whether at home or away. There is not one minute I regret my decision. If I want another like him, I will buy one from his sire.

  28. Laurie Eagles on October 31, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    I agree: what it boils down to is stopping the problem where it starts….gelding and spaying. I made the decision 2 years ago to geld my 4 year old, extremely well bred, very talented, stallion, who had won multiple championships right from the beginning of his show career. My decision was based on many things I had to take a hard look at. Finally I decided in this economy many people were not breeding let alone buying young stock at a price that would make it feesible to breed, and keep broodmares. I also had to realize that there are many exceptional stallions out there of similiar blood (no one has a totally unique corner on that market) and it just was not worth breeding until the perfect cross was found, and experimented with. I truly took some flack for my decision, but I know have an amazing partner who can go and and play with the others and be a social animal. Not to mention the stress relief of not having to control and handle a stallion whether at home or away. There is not one minute I regret my decision. If I want another like him, I will buy one from his sire.

  29. Kelley Duboe-Blount on October 31, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    If someone can no longer care for their horse due to financial constraints..why not donate to a rescue place?

    • Stacy on October 31, 2011 at 6:08 pm

      Many times the rescues are full, that’s the general problem, I’m sure it is not true everywhere but it is a problem.

      • Marggie on November 1, 2011 at 12:54 am

        Again, I’d like to add the suggestion that there are many single horse owners looking for a low care companion horse for out in the pasture. Ask around.

      • George Brauneis on November 1, 2011 at 11:02 am

        Stacy, I work at Spirit Wind Horse Rescue, a small 34 horse rescue out in Crawford, CO and We are full to overflowing. Yet with the economy in such a mess, foreclosures through the roof, jobs being outsourced or just axed, the number of neglected, abused, and abandoned horses continue to rise. It’s so frustrating as well to see financial contributions drop as feed prices jump, along with dealing with hay shortages due to the double whammy of some areas having floods and others in sever drought. It’s going to be a difficult winter ahead.

        In past years we would average between one and two horses being adopted or fostered each month. This year as the economy continues to falter we’ve only had three horses adopted and have had a couple of horses fostered that I’m aware of.

        Just a couple of weeks ago we received a sizable grant from the American Humaine Society to offer low cost or no cost geldings to horse owners. This should help with the long term over population issues but it won’t help much in the short term.

        I’m including a link to Spirit Wind’s Facebook page for anyone that might be interested:

        Here’s a link to our Youtube page as well:

      • May Snyder on November 2, 2011 at 2:05 pm

        I am executive director for a non-profit horse rescue program based in Maryland. I would like to talk about what it means for a rescue to be “full”. Let me start off by saying that I try not to use that word because it implies a lack of physical space. However, there are enough acres in the US to house all the horses. “Space” is not finite. What is limited is funding. I feel the real issue goes to that of financial support to the shelters and an education issue to the owners.

        Here is something people may not know: while dog & cat population is addressed with taxpayer-funded Animal Control, horse shelters/rescues/sanctuaries almost never see a penny in government funding. What a Rescue organization is able to do is determined completely by the support given by the local community, the horse industry nationally, and the animal-organization funding foundations (i.e. grants). If the US horse community is really concerned with a lack of space at rescues, this a very easy problem to fix! The horse community needs to step up and increase financial support. I know some people do give generously. But, for the most part, most horse owners don’t give regularly to their local horse shelter. The big breed organizations who are promoting breed (for example AQHA) don’t give a penny that I know of to help rescue organizations. Individual trainers & horse businesses may choose to support rescues, but we need to see the businesses who are promoting breeding and/or who making a living with horses stepping up on a larger scale. Who do you think should pay for helping out horse owners in distress if not you, the horse community? It is YOU, the horse owners & the public, who decide how much “space” is at your local rescue.

        The other issue is owner education. I handle some of the incoming inquiries. In some cases, the owner is calling about a seriously unsound horse they’ve been unable to sell. However, when I explain that a severely lame or very ill horse (one with poor quality of life) will see a vet and could be a candidate for euthanasia, I’ve had owners get furious with me. Some owners do not understand that their 28 year old not-really-pasture-sound arthritic horse, while I am sure is sweet, is not going to be adoptable, curable, or possibly even comfortable. I’ve had people say to me they’ll send that horse to auction rather than see him put down because he’s “such a sweet horse” they’re convinced he will find a home with some buyer at the sale. They can sleep well at night because, in their mind, they imagine someone retiring their horse to a big farm with green pastures. For these people, it’s not affording euthanasia that’s the problem. Horse owners need to face up to the reality that nobody else is going to retire their lame, special-needs horses. They need to understand that a humane death on the farm is far kinder than the terrifying trip to auction, then kill-buyer lot, then collection station, then to eventual death in the processing plant. Death is just as much a part of horse ownership as is the cute little foal or the sleek prize-winning mare. Giving the horse away free on Craigslist is no better; I call tell you firsthand of seeing those horses again, when they appear in broker “kill pens”. For these horses, his/her last weeks are spent surrounded by strangers, in new surroundings, and sometimes handled unkindly. It’s weeks of fear, possibly no vet care, no pain management, and no protection from aggressive younger horses. Giving the horse a peaceful death with dignity on the farm must be better than adding a month to his life, where he spends it terrified and mistreated, isn’t it?

        And on a related note, owners need to understand they have quite a bit of control over what makes their horse marketable. An owner who gelds the stallions will have better luck selling them. Saddle or harness train all horses, even broodmares, because there will come a day when the mare can’t keep producing foals. If a horse has behavioral problems, a good trainer can help. (In all my years at Rescue, we have not yet had to euthanize a horse because of behavioral problems! Horses have an amazing capacity to learn.) If the horse is ill or needs surgery, the owner needs to address medical issues because buyers don’t want a horse who will need $2,000 in care before he might or might not return to soundness. Little things such as keeping Coggins, vaccinations, and hoof care current make a huge difference. Without a Coggins, transport will be difficult to arrange. When marketing the horse, he is doomed to remain unsold if his ad doesn’t state all important information (age, size, breed, gender, skill) and have a few nice photos. Brush him before taking photos. When shooting photos, don’t crop out feet or take the picture in a dark stall. Horse owners: if you didn’t already know what a friendly guy he is, would YOU go to the trouble of driving to a stranger’s farm to see this horse? Would YOU buy him?

        And this ties back into the issue of “space” at rescues: the owner even has some control over this. If the organization has the funds to take on one additional horse and they have several being offered, if both are equally in need, odds are they’ll lean towards the horse who is caught up on the most basic of care. If two male horses are being offered & there are only the funds to take one today, odds are the preference is towards accepting the gelding over a stallion. The horse owner CAN control how attractive their horse is to others. I wish I could tell all horse owners: please don’t keep putting off the most basic of care. You never know when your situation might change. By looking after him now when times are good, you’re insuring that it won’t be a crisis to find him a good home should things change suddenly.

        Overall, I do sincerely believe we could have a country where no horse goes abandoned or no horse rescue is “too full” to help. But it would just take some hard work & sacrifices on everyone’s part.

  30. TJ Williams on October 31, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    The ultimate solution is what PETA and HSUS is pushing and that is to end private ownership of livestock…First of all anyone can buy a horse just because they want one without any kind of process to determine if they have adequate facilities or abilities to care for a horse. In the last few years horses have become viewed more as PETS than livestock. The fear that I have is that sooner or later if horses are classified as companion animals rather than livestock it will remove horses from the farm bill. An immediate 7-10% increase will be added to the cost of owning a horse due to feed becoming subject to sales tax. Major players in the industry will lose the tax advantages that help keep them involved in horse ownership. Without terminal markets there is no way to establish an actual cash value of marginal animals.On a personal note I am weary of the way people perceive sale barn horse auctions. The public passes judgement on any horse being offered by bidding or not bidding. Then the horse traders pass judgement if the horse has any potential. The “kill buyers” are simply cleaning up whats left. I do agree that every attempt should be made to place a horse anywhere it possibly can to live a good life and terminal markets should be a last resort. But if we cross the line and make horses companion animals and declassify them as livestock I believe we are making a terrible situation worse. Further I do not believe anyone should have the right to tamper with fair market value of an animal…if you don’t believe horses should be slaughtered simply go and outbid the killer buyers and take them home. There is and always has been a system in place to prevent horse slaughter it it called bid till you win.

    • Gwen Confalone on November 1, 2011 at 8:10 am

      TJ — cmon — overbreeding is the problem. Anyone who took Economics 101 knows its a matter of supply and demand. There are too many horses out there, THAT is what is causing the cash value of so called “marginal” animals to go down, not someone arbitrarily classifying an animal as livestock vs companion animal. The AQHA is one of the worst offenders: I am not talking about backyard breeders either, I am talking about bigtime breeders of top quality animals who breed 1000 animals per year, select the cream of the crop to promote and sell, and “dump” the rest at auction.

    • Cyndy on November 2, 2011 at 11:45 am

      PETA/HSUS scare me more than anthrax.They are not the morality police and I cannot accept their contention that they should take away my ownership rights. Are there irresponsible breeders out there? Of course. We stil have not yet figured out how to legislate morality.

    • K Sarg on November 2, 2011 at 2:37 pm

      TJ brought out many good points! Horses are a Farm Business. I have seen a Farm breed horses and sell foals for meat. They tell me it “keeps the farm a farm”. As well, this same farm provided boarding, training, availability to take clients to shows, breeding other owners equine stock, boarding broodmares & eventually their foals. The Farm is an Agricultural business because the laws allow it. Overall, tax laws, business laws, career choices, Equine, Humans will all need to change. I agree the end result will not be good for the Equine. First step, encourage breeders to reduce stock. Second, laws should be rewritten so Equine can continue to support “Farm” Status without using Equine for meat. After all Equine are large animals requiring “land” to support them. Laws should be revised to support the Career choices of those involved in Equine without giving up Agricultural Status. Turning a blind eye to the Equine situation impacts quite an industry, i.e., feed dealers, trainers, show men, show-women, instructors, racing Industry, farriers, etc. Equine Industry is a huge industry and involves many, many Equine and Humans. Working on a solution certainly beats inhumane slaughter.

  31. Emmie on October 31, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    I work at a vet clinic in central Ohio… Here are our prices-

    Farm Call: $55
    Euthanasia: $90
    Other sedatives: $7-$20

    We suggest out to other companies for burial and cremation.. These are the prices for who we suggest.
    Buries start at: $175 (depending on location)
    Removals: $150
    Mass Cremation: $600
    Individual Cremation: $1000

    Spaying a Mare: $1800
    Gelding: $260

    • daphne on November 3, 2011 at 12:23 pm

      here is what it can cost in southern ohio
      Vet call If you do not use the ONLY horse vet in my county- and if you were smart you would NOT),300 for the farm call alone
      euthanasia- 100
      IF you are the lucky ones that can bury- if no friend has a back hoe, to rent its 300 down and another 300 for one day.
      to haul your horse to a dump- the COMPANY has to come and get it, 300-500, there is NO rendering plant in my area that will take horses.

    • Betty on November 3, 2011 at 2:03 pm

      I lost a gelding to colic 2 winters ago in Central ILLinois. It cost me $300 for the euthanasia with 2 farm calls and another $250 for a truck to come get him, We usually bury our horses on the farm but cant in the winter

  32. Sue on October 31, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    I wish those who are getting changes made in this industry and others would have to provide an alternative BEFORE they get changes put in place. Slaughter is the act of killing animals for their meat- it needs to happen. I’ve worked for vets and I’ve seen plenty of horses suffer horribly when the “killer drug” is administered to put them down. Transport and facilities need to be humane, but drugging a horse to put it down is not the cure all.

  33. Sheila Sperling on October 31, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    I live in B.C. and here, like everything else in Canada, it is incredibly expensive to dispose of the carcass. I have farm status so when we lost a rescue horse, we were able to bury it on my five acre property …..the cost of digging a hole was $200. ( vet fee around $200 ) However, my concern is that I have been told that if you don’t have farm status it is around $1000 to ship the carcass to Alberta for disposal. Our town has no such facility. This is a huge concern as I’ve attended auctions and watched beautiful animals go to dealers. This is just heart breaking.
    I’d like to think that most people would make an effort to find a friend with farm status or call horse rescue. I have very good friends that even helped pay for the vet fees for the rescue horse as they are animal lovers as well. Make the effort…..these wonderful animals deserve a peaceful end of life !

  34. susan on October 31, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    see the price does not matter as much as the ethical way it is done!

  35. susan on October 31, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    I am thinking of how many people would love to own a horse, however; can not afford the large payment! How about an organization that is comparable to what we do for other children in Ethiopia and such. You pay a monthly fee to have a photo of your horse and updates sent to you via phone or email! It would take sometime to get going, however you think about how many of us horse people are out there we could all send 5.00 per month and make a difference! Also, for those horses that a sound and safe and ride able, they could be used at therapeutic riding centers. Also, for everyone very against the slaughterer of horses, what about the horses that just are mentally unstable and can not be found a job or a place in life. I’m sorry but we have this situation in every aspect of life humans (street people, mentally unstable people, criminals Jails etc…) What we really need to do is change the way the slaughter houses are allowed to treat the inmate if you will, while they are there! We need a stronger ethical way to run these facilities. So that way, just as a human society would euthanize crazed unsafe dogs the same would go for equine, not all equine have a place. There should also be a standard not to euthanize the good ones! We need contacts….on how to get the regulations changed. If anyone knows contacts that’s the best way’to start.

  36. Erica on October 31, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    I would have to say that if a horse has been a faithful working companion the least a person could do would be having them humanely euthanasiaed(sp). Or if they don’t exactly have the money for that,have someone with a gun come out&do the dirty job. One good shot. As horrible as I think that is,I would have that done before ever having my horse sent to slaughter where they are in no way treated humanely. And we have tractor with buckets to dig holes&cover them over for burial because I would prefer my horse be buried where they lived so I know where their body went&that its not being eaten by humans. Also ,even if one person thinks that a horse can no longer be used,there may be someone else who may be able to use the horse for something. It could be used as a companion horse for a horse who gets lonely,or if it isn’t in shape to compete anymore,someone may be able to use it as a trail horse or a kids horse if its well broke&up there in age. And also there are rescues.

    • Erica on October 31, 2011 at 5:56 pm

      Also I had my stud(we bought him as a stud but not for breeding,we rescued him because he was in an awful situation) gelded a couple years ago,it was only $100. That sounds like a pretty fair price to me. Considering he now can’t be bred and add to the problem.

  37. Karen Bayerl on October 31, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    There are many viable alternatives to people sending their horses to slaughter. The above link is just one organization working to help people who have fallen upon hard financial times. I have worked in horse rescue for over 11 years now, and I find through our experiences that most of the horses who wind up going down the road to a slaughter plant do not wind up there because the owner didn’t have any other alternatives, they wound up there for many reasons, but not because there were no alternatives. At the root of the overpopulation problem is the lack of education regarding the overpopulation problem itself. Our organization works to help educate people on the overpopulation problem as well as many other organizations out there, but there needs to be more. There are still way too many backyard breeders and people breeding horses that should not be bred. Again, lack of education (and even a lack of caring on the part of many).
    Our organization takes in and re-homes horses for people who can no longer care for their horses, and there are a lot of organizations out there like ours. As Gwen mentioned above, the euthanasia clinics such as NorCal provides, as well as low-cost or no-cost gelding clinics are viable resources that many of us are working towards providing horse owners.

  38. Eddie Thomas on October 31, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    My experience with euthanasia is that the cost here in NE Texas is around 400.00 to have a vet take care of it and burial. If I am already having trouble feeding my animal, then where does this money come from? Many grade horses in this state and others as well. Their value is very low many times. So they go to the sale barn and often the seller spends more for coggins test than the horse sells for. This is a serious problem for lots of folks.

  39. Kate on October 31, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    Pay for burial? My horse will be buried in the pasture with all the other horses that have died on this place. Legal or not, noone has ever questioned this. We have a friendly neighborhood man with the equiptment to dig the hole and cover it back in. He does it for free for some and charges around 50.00 dollars for others. Check with other farmers and people in your area and see what ways others will be willing to help. It is amazing how people will rally at times. I agree with Alice, the situation is driven by greed of some and desperation of others. We all know when the time is near to have to put an older horse down. Be proactive and prepair. Even if you don’t have an older horse be prepaired and then you won’t feel desperate if an accident happens.

  40. Janet on October 31, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    The solution that seems to be kind of sort of working in the county that I live in Alberta is putting a cap on the number horses aloud per acre of land, as it stands right now we are allowed one horse per 3 acers, Which is great if the county would enforce the bylaw, but unless someone complains on their neighbor about quantiy of animals they have on their property nothing is really stopping the person from sneaking one or two more on the land. As far as euthanasia is concered up here we are looking at an easy 500.00 dollar bill, and then there is disposing of the carcous, because the bylaw states you are not allowed to bury them on your property you have to call in the meat wagon to remove it and your looking at another huge bill. I believe that one solution would be a license to breed, it may help the population of the animal and it would put a strain on the amount that are going for slaughter.

  41. Alice on October 31, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    As much as I love horses and hate the thought of a healthy, usable animal being killed, I would support legislation to legalize processing plants in the U.S., as long as it included comprehensive, detailed regulation and monitoring for the humane transport and handling of the animals. Until this happens, I am afraid the current horrific situation will continue, driven by the greed of some and the desperation of others, for whom spending $300 on euthanasia might mean no groceries for two weeks. Even if they could arrange a no-cost shooting death, they would still have to pay for burial.

    • McKenzie Morris on October 31, 2011 at 1:48 pm

      Another alternative is to try a horse rescue near by. Nobody says the horse has to be ‘put down’ at all.

      I know we had taken in a horse from a rescue that obtained her from a family that had to move and just left the horse ( a registered Tennessee Walker, we named Karma) in a round pen without telling anyone.

      A neighbor contacted the rescue who then located the owners by tracking them, got the papers and the mare that the owners left behind. This horse was a Godsend for our family.

      Even though she was over 20+yrs, she was very smooth and related well to my husband who has Parkinson’s. She would steady herself for him to mount and had such a smooth movement that he could ride her and stay balanced back then. The grandkids (who had never been on a horse) had also ridden her for their first rides.

      What one person sees as ‘no value left’ may be an immeasurable treasure to someone else. At least TRY the shelters and rescues (verifying they are legit) before resolving to cruelty and terror.

      • Marggie on October 31, 2011 at 2:42 pm

        I agree. If we truly care, we can find alternatives. My finances have totally crashed in this economy, but my beautiful Tennessee Walker, who turned 20 this year and is a vibrant horse, went blind from Uvitus, but I’m still praying for a God miracle to reverse it and am trying to keep him safe and active in the meantime. People have suggested I “put him down, quality of life is gone. He’s just a big expense”. Well, I believe any time we take on an animal, it’s care is entrusted to us. So be sure before you buy/adopt/rescue an animal that you are prepared for the expenses involved. If crisis happens, which I totally relate to, inquire about retirement farms or someone who might what a companion horse for one of theirs that is lonely. All sorts of options!

      • Lana on November 4, 2011 at 11:50 pm

        Great story McKenzie…. BUT those people who they did end up tracking down for the papers should have been charged & threatened with jail. That is way beyond seeing her as ‘no value left’ that is abandonment left to starve, is that not illegal? Like I said before if the owner can be found they should be charged & ordered not to have horses again. Thank god for that neighbor! Yes, they didn’t take her to an auction or call a kill buyer… It’s just heatbreaking, the wreckless behavior of people treating animals. There are laws & so they should be enforced.

    • Christine on January 11, 2012 at 12:29 pm

      If you can’t afford $300 for euthanasia, then how can you afford to own a horse? Hay, feed, bedding, vet care, teeth floating, farrier, etc. If someone truly can’t afford euthanasia, then they can’t afford the every day care a horse requires, and the truth is, they have no business owning a horse.

      • Beverly Levitt on January 12, 2012 at 8:34 pm

        AMEN Christine………Amen!!

  42. Emily S. on October 31, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    I would have to agree with these first three comments that it really does not cost that much to have your animal put down (by a vet with euthanasia drugs or an expert hunter with a gun) and I think that is more humane than what they would go through at a slaughter house. Additionally, there are usually many rescues that will take in horses if they have the room to do so, so I would try and contact them if you cant afford your horse and see if they will take your horse in. Slaughter houses are a horrible place, there are places in mexico that basically have to lift up and hang some horses so it looks like they are standing because they are to weak and malnourished to stand on their own, they do this there because they get more money for the animals that way. Horses on their way to a slaughter house or auction could end up dead due to many transporters use livestock semi haulers to haul the horses and the horses can even lift their head up not to mention them slipping and falling and usually getting trampled by the other horses, and I don’t know who would want their animal to suffer like that. Additionally, when most horses are at a slaughter house they are usually not killed instantly which does cause more pain and suffering of the animal. I don’t know if many have heard about this but it is called A.R.M. stands for Animal Recovery Mission and is run by Richard Couto who is trying to stop horse slaughter and to help protect the Wild Mustangs, to see the stories, video and pictures he captures, I could not imagine the type of pain and torture that these animals go through. A slaughter house/auction is definitely not the humane way to let your animal go.

  43. JM on October 31, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Euthanasia is great for a horse who is in pain/discomfort. If the owner is unable to care for the horse due to financial dificulties, it is much easier to sell the horse to a friend or for lower than the market value through free ads and making sure the horse goes to the right homes, than taking them to the auctions where you have to pay for hauling them as well as auction fees and you have no control over who buys the horse. It all comes down to the dollars and cents sadly. The best thing, in my mind, is to stop overbreeding. I know of people who breed just because the babies are cute, and they do nothing in training or working with the horse, thus, they end up with a “cheap” horse with no “future”. This is a sad but true case in a lot of instances, and I have rescued several “mixed breeds” where the genetics are so saturated, we do not know where one breed begins and the other one ends. We have also rescued horses heading for the kill market just because the bottom dropped in the value of these horses. In other cases, mishandling caused the horse to become dangerous to handle and thus, instead of spending money on a certified trainer, the owners decide to cut their losses and auction off their horses, so they don’t have to explain why their horse is so dangerous to handle. There are several reasons to why horses are being sent to slaughter…it mostly boils down to ignorance and indifferance. Just my two cents.

  44. Laurie Eagles on October 31, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Wondering if it would be possible to create a certified euthanasia technition (or some title like that) who is trained on the drugs used and proceedures,. Trained by a vet of course. That can offer this service at a cheaper rate than a vet, and able maybe to spend more time with the owner during this difficult time, and also help with buriels, cremations or other means of dealing with the body. It would take a special person for this job I am sure.

    • Stacy on October 31, 2011 at 6:05 pm

      Ooooh, another creative idea. I would support some version of this. The auction I visit (just to see what is really happening out there) usually has 3-4 horses that just need to be put down on the spot for reasons they could not recover from.

    • Gwen Confalone on November 1, 2011 at 8:15 am

      That is a GREAT idea, Laurie!

      • heartleads72 on March 14, 2013 at 11:39 pm

        While that is a good “idea” the drugs used are highly controlled and that would pose more issues. I think our vet charges 225 plus 37.50 farm call and if you choose animal disposal it’s around 150, in Oklahoma near OKC. We had rescued a few horses that were in sad sad shape and one went toxic. But there are more and more euthanasia clinics out there, hay and blanket banks, rescue facilities etc. okay here is some thoughts, and in my perfect world they would be: option 1. instead of the funding for a slaughter house we need the government, drug makes to provide lower cost euthanasia to all vets in good standing who will provide regular euthanasia clinics. 2. Stiffer fines for abuse and neglect of these animals, and that’s not really working here. 3. Government providing more grants and funds low cost, low interest for loans on properties for such non-profit rescues. Just lots of thoughts on this. Hubble72

  45. Laurie Eagles on October 31, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Wondering if it would be possible to create a certified euthanasia technition (or some title like that) who is trained on the drugs used and proceedures,. Trained by a vet of course. That can offer this service at a cheaper rate than a vet, and able maybe to spend more time with the owner during this difficult time, and also help with buriels, cremations or other means of dealing with the body. It would take a special person for this job I am sure.

  46. Bailey on October 31, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    “The Unwanted Horse Coalition, a broad alliance of equine organizations that have joined together under the American Horse Council, is concerned that some horses may slip through the various safety nets within the equine industry. Too many owners are unaware of, or do not give enough thought to, the available options, services and assistance available in the industry to help them ensure that their horse has caring and humane support throughout its life.”

    The members of the UHC are educated people (vets, college professors, etc) from broad backgrounds who are interested in working together to help horses. They have a lot of information about horse slaughter and other euthanasia alternatives, as well as uses for unwanted horses.

    In my area (Middle Tennessee) many horses are re-trained for other jobs, used as school horses (intercollegiate teams such as IHSA: Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, IEA: Interscholastic Equestrian Association and ASHA: American Stock Horse Association are growing and we need more horses!), others are used for therapeutic riding, research (this is monitored by the USDA), and embryo transfer for breed associations that allow it.

  47. Kim on October 31, 2011 at 12:51 pm!/profile.php?id=100002501258439

    A new State of the art horse crematory located in Durham CT. We are dedicated to treating every horse with dignity and respect.We are also dedicated to do everything in our power to handle all of the final arrangements from a gentle pickup of your horse,an intact private cremation , personal return of ashes or any special request that will help you through the loss of your friend.The crematory is owned and operated by Jeff Blaschke and Dom Gambardella horse people that know the heartache of losing a horse that is like a member of the family.

  48. McKenzie Morris on October 31, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Stacy- we just got our vet bill for the euthanasia of our horse that had to be put down due to a twisted upper bowel (aka colic). The vet costs were about $200 ( a little less) and that included pain meds before hand an an exam to determine that was what was really happening and teh euthanasia. The carcass removal of her remains was about $125.00 from the only company out here that does that. To me, it is far worth those costs than to sell to slaughter and knowing the terror the animal would go through. I would take this alternative any time. The cost for a little humanity goes a long way in my heart. <3

  49. Dana H. on October 31, 2011 at 9:40 am

    I live in east Texas and the price for a vet assisted euthanasia is roughly $100 for the farm call and drugs; then another $100 for burial (which to me is pretty reasonable). A perfectly placed bullet is even cheaper(get an expert hunter) for putting the horse down. There is no doubt in my mind that ANY horse would prefer being shot and killed almost instantly verses the horrific road to slaughter. We have low-cost spay and neuter programs all over the place for the dogs and cats so I would like to see that same thing for our horses.

    • McKenzie Morris on October 31, 2011 at 1:06 pm

      I agree whole heartedly- I forgot to mention our costs for the vet also did include the vet call to the farm. We also have a good rapport with our vet and they bill us for the costs when they have to come out here. Checking on payment options may be an alternative also, if the costs are a concern. We are in South East Idaho.

    • Marggie on October 31, 2011 at 2:32 pm

      Amen Dana H. Quit breeding guys! I hate hearing about putting a healthy horse down for any reason, but please, NO SLAUGHTER. They have feelings just like us. Give them dignity. Remember Auschwitz? Same thing, only horses.

    • Lana on November 4, 2011 at 11:39 pm


  50. Gwen Confalone on October 31, 2011 at 8:18 am

    Many folks state that selling a horse to a local livestock auction (frequented by kill buyers) are an owner’s only viable option for someone who can no longer afford to keep their animal due to financial hardship. I disagree with this statement.

    I support humane euthanasia as an alternative to horse slaughter. A great example of this is NorCal Horse Rescue in California. NorCal offers low cost euthanasia clinics for horse owners who are no longer able to provide care for their animals. The cost is on a sliding scale based on the owners ability to pay.

    Even if your state does not offer such a clinic, I would encourage every horse owner who has fallen on hard times to reconsider selling their horse to an auction. If you truly cannot afford to pay a veterinarian to euthanize your horse, consider having your horse shot by a friend, at home. Most of us know someone who hunts and owns a rifle, even if we don’t own one ourselves. If done properly by a skilled operator, death by gunshot is instantaneous and completely humane. Place a bucket of feed on the ground, wait for the horse to start eating, and shoot. Having your horse die at home in familiar surroundings eliminates the trauma of the auction, the trauma of the long trailer ride to slaughter, and the trauma of being killed in a place filled with the smell of blood and death and the cries of other terrified horses. Consider this your last act of kindness for your companion: don’t let him die at the hands of strangers who are at best indifferent, and at worst sadistic.

    • lacee on October 31, 2011 at 1:12 pm

      Amen Gwen!

    • adrain on October 31, 2011 at 6:00 pm

      I agree and support my veterinarians practice of using a bullet and shoot the animal for the owner if they can not afford “blue juice”.
      I know auctions that transport to the border to a holding pen and then transferred to mexico for less than humane methods are used. I feel that long walk for a condemned horse, whose only crime is that his owners have fallen on hard times, is just not a humane alternative for those that once carried us on their backs.
      Some owners will do the unthinkable and that is just drop the animal off and tie is outside an auction bar. Without proper papers, the animals are turned loose and left to wander. In the big city of Houston. 14 horses died on the road as a result of this practice. Unfortunately, an unsuspecting person fell victim to an unscrupulous owner and the auction barn when the horse went throughout the windshield and killed a father of 4 on his way to work.
      Some owners have felt an alternative is to release them to the wild, in our parks…these are domesticated animals that stand little chance in the wild as they do not possess the immunity or skill to survive on their own.
      The best alternative is to seek out a not for profit retirement home for unwanted animals and then support fundraisers for them.

      • Lana on November 4, 2011 at 11:36 pm

        I do agree with Gwen, to a point. However, that a horse’s life ends because of a person not being able to feed them or no longer for whatever reason does not want the responsibility does not justify his death – it is wrong. Not the horses fault…. I agree with Adrian SUPPORT THE RESCUES & OR RETIREMENTS. There are folks out there that want to help & do look to rescues & retirements for a horse to adopt or support.
        The BREED Assoc. should be putting $$ aside for this very situation, along with humane euthanasia for ones that are lame/sick etc. As well put a ‘cap’ on their breeding encentives. The indiscriminant breeding has got to stop. Killing horses or ‘unhomed’ horses is NOT the answer!
        People that do drop or turn horses loose need to be held accountable for that (if possible) just like the ones who starve/neglect/abuse them. I realize that some of those folks don’t want the horse to end up in the slaughter pipeline which is why they didn’t take them to auction in the first place & that is why ending the shipping of horses over borders to slaughter for human consumption MUST END! If you no longer can keep your horse(s) CALL a rescue & the rest of us support those rescues in anyway you can. $$ / feed/ volunteer, etc.
        If you don’t know what goes on at auctions, in transport, at feedlots then finally to slaughter houses, I suggest you get educated. It is, in a few words cruel, inhumane, torture!
        Visit Animals Angels who do investigation & with that info/video/pictures take to the authorities as well as letting ALL OF US know exactly what is going on. There is literally TONS of information out there if you so desire.

    • Molly O on November 1, 2011 at 12:42 am

      I absolutely agree with Gwen! As a volunteer for animal organizations, I firmly believe a humane death (however done) is better than a life uncared for and/or unloved.

    • spirit7d on November 2, 2011 at 10:39 am

      I agree. I also would add that few dog or cat lovers who have ‘fallen on hard times’ would have their friends shot. Almost all would work out arrangements with a vet when the sad time comes.

    • mary papini on November 2, 2011 at 12:00 pm

      I totally agree!!!

    • Animal Lover on November 2, 2011 at 9:48 pm

      Have you seen the video of the horse that broke his leg racing? Vet shot him 3 times in the head and horse did not go down. Vet then gave him a shot! So it’s not instantaneous!

      • Sophie33 on February 12, 2012 at 8:03 pm

        That depens on where you shoot the horse…the bone of is forehead is really stong and he is also the main reason people miss when they try to shoot a horse.

        • Dawn Flint on February 14, 2012 at 5:52 pm

          Hi Everybody, Stacy I would love it if you and your friends here would like to join my new page. I am Anti slaughter but we have a page that is anti/pro slaughter working together to put clinics on for horses and their people. Gelding, Euthanasia, shots, etc. The 2 rules on my page are no fighting and no anti/pro slaughter talk, warned once then booted off if it happens again. Please feel free to join this wonderful solution for our horses! Thanks, Dawn Flint

          • nancy mcmillan on February 14, 2012 at 6:50 pm

            Thank you for providing a place where both sides can work together. Everyone agrees no matter what side they are on, that things like gelding clinics, hay banks, euthanasia clinics and affordable disposable options are resources that everyone can use.

      • Lori on February 14, 2012 at 7:07 pm

        I am sorry Nancy and Dawn but this link to Logical Solutions for the Wild Horse Problem is most definitely NOT representative of both sides of the slaughter debate, it is severely skewed to the side of the PRO slaughter agenda, despite what they want you to believe.

        • nancy mcmillan on February 14, 2012 at 8:51 pm

          Lori- click on the link. It goes to positive solutions, not logical ones. They are two very different groups. I am not a member of the logical group. Even if you choose not to join the positive group, there is useful information that has been provided by individuals on both sides, including some current gelding clinic info, info on hay banks and several other useful documents for all horse owners

      • Lori on February 14, 2012 at 9:03 pm

        I stand corrected, but at the end of the day there are many members there too who are a bunch of hypocrits JMHO, thanks for the correction.

    • Elizabeth Sherstoff on November 10, 2011 at 12:39 pm

      Gwen. I think you are right on. It’s a tough subject, especially when considering young horses, but you are correct. This is way more humane. As horrible as this subject is, we should be looking squarely at anyone reproducing horses whose futures cannot be guaranteed. We should be looking at those who profit in this industry as the catalyst for overbreeding as well. Any purse awarded within the “inudstry” of horses ought to automatically earmark a healthy portion from the top to the well-being of all those horses who became a useless number.

    • Nuno Oliveira on October 11, 2012 at 3:35 pm

      Not being a veterinarian is something you do very well. Not being knowledgable about how to shoot a horse to kill it instantly is another!
      The trauma you so graciously purport to forgo is nothing compared to being shot in the head and not dying instantly from it. Being in familiar surroundings will only hurt the horse more, as he wonders why the person responsible for his well being has just inflicted pain and suffering beyond anything he could ever imagine on him. Euthanasia by gunshot is to be used as a last resort ONLY, when in an EMERGENCY situation, the animal’s suffering needs to be ended. It cannot be performed by just any redneck with a gun. The euthanizor must be trained in the procedure to avoid making things worse!
      There is no shortage of incompetence and cruelty in the horse world. You are a good example of both.

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