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Unwanted Horses – Where do they come from?

     The slaughter industry relies on a continual stream of inexpensive horses. The majority of the horses sent to slaughter originate from the following sources:

~ Racing (both thoroughbred and standardbred racing)

~ Mares and foals who are by-products of the production of the drug Premarin (pregnant-mares-urine, used to treat menopausal symptoms for which there is a synthetic alternative)

~ Over breeding and “backyard” breeders

~ Irresponsible owners who inadvertently allow their horses to be acquired by questionable buyers through auctions or free on Craigslist.

~ Changing economic times and the lack of buyer/owner education about the lifetime cost of horse ownership

     The horses routinely sent to slaughter range from racehorses, pleasure horses, show horses or just backyard pets. Horses bound for slaughter are often viewed as less viable working animals. Durfee (2009) reports these horses typically have poorer body condition, are older and have more severe behavioral problems. Yet, the USDA reported that more than 92 percent of horses slaughtered are in good condition and considered to be usable riding horses (Goydon, Raymond, & Kindel, 2008).    

     Brokers travel throughout the area responding to Craigslist advertisements for free horses, visiting riding stables and individuals who have an immediate need to rid themselves of the responsibility of owning a horse.  Most horses collected by these brokers land at public auction where they are purchased by individuals, rescue organizations and ‘killbuyers’. For most horses, public auctions are a funnel system to slaughter.slt2

     Slaughter is a demand-driven business. Horses are simply part of the supply chain. They are the raw material required to keep the slaughterhouses in production. Kill-buyers typically have a contract to deliver a certain number of horses to the slaughterhouse each period. Kill-buyers and brokers are in the business for profit. To them, a horse is a commodity. It makes no difference whether the horse goes to slaughter or a rescue organization, as long as they receive revenue in the exchange.