So who really wants horse slaughter?

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August 20. 2013, Jerry Finch

AQHA World Show

American Quarter Horse World Show

Almost a year ago I published a series of articles on horse slaughter, delving into everything from the history to the money trail. The last part of that series took aim straight at the American Quarter Horse Association and spelled out the exact reason for its continued promotion of horse slaughter. Other than a few faces, nothing has changed in the past year. Inside the Beltway the lobbyist continue their rounds, visiting politicians, promising votes, helping with reelection fund and telling everyone who will listen the often repeated lies about “unwanted horses,” while the folks back at the main office push and promote the AQHA registration of foals. Seventy percent of horses sent to slaughter are QH’s, yet the connection is never made in the minds of AQHA supporters.

The influence of the AQHA is far and wide, and very heavy handed. Sister organizations such as the APHA and Farm Bureaus in all fifty states fall in line, many never once questioning their membership. Yet the promotion is backed up with blatantly false propaganda. Broken down into three main points, the entire argument is that (1) there are 150,000 “unwanted” horses every year, (2) the kind and most humane option is slaughter and (3) horses are private property and the government has no right to tell anyone what they can and can’t do.

I’ve always been amazed that the number of “unwanted” horses usually exactly matches the number that are slaughtered each year. The propagandists tell us that all these horses will be left in fields to starve to death or dumped inside a state park, yet the proven fact is that 90% of slaughtered horses are “good to heavy” in weight. Ignored by the propagandists is another fact: that equine slaughterhouses are not here to help the poor horse. They want fat, young and tender horse flesh to sell. Slaughterhouses are owned by foreign meat companies and are for profit businesses that preys on the overbreeding programs promoted by the AQHA. The AQHA needs slaughter to cull the herds.images

In 2006, the American Horse Council said there were 9.2 million horses in the US. In the last seven years, that number can reasonable be expected to have increased to at least 10 million. A little pocket calculator can turn those numbers into this fact – horse slaughter accounts for the death of 1.5% of the total number of horses in the US. Any industry, no matter how small or large, can absorb a supposed 1.5% and never bat an eye. If horse slaughter disappeared tomorrow, no industry would collapse, no horrible event would happen. A few people would suddenly realize that they were responsible for their animals, a few vets would see an increase in calls for euthanasia, but the net effect would be zero – except for the horses. For them, it would be like closing the gates of hell.

Know your enemy. In case you have any doubts, here it is straight from the AQHA’s website: (Note – parts of this page were deleted to save space. To see the whole article, visit their website)

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The American Quarter Horse Association continues to increase its role in public policy and advocacy concerning the American Quarter Horse and all horses. Learn how AQHA is taking an active role in the political, legislative and regulatory process. In addition to increasing advocacy of the American Quarter Horse in public policy, AQHA continues to keep the horse as its foremost concern by providing programs to members promoting the health and wellbeing of their America Quarter Horse. 

Political Action Committee or Q-PAC

AQHA has established a Political Action Committee with the goal of educating members of Congress about the size and scope of the American Quarter Horse industry. The PAC is a campaigning method that is funded only by donations. With the AQHA Political Action Committee, members have the opportunity to contribute funds to ensure AQHA’s voice in Washington, D.C., is strong and powerful. The PAC’s aim is to secure resources to make an impact on the horse industry and those who are involved with it by supporting elected officials in Washington, D.C., or candidates seeking federal legislative offices. To make a contribution, call AQHA at (806) 376-4811 and ask for the public policy department.

Q-Contact Program

Q-Contact was created to develop a key contact system to enable AQHA to expand its efforts in national public policy work. Q-Contact advocacy is based on select industry leaders developing a strong working relationship with lawmakers and their staff. The Q-Contact program goal is to identify and empower at least 50 members – at least one in each state – to develop key constituent relationships with selected members of Congress who might be in a position to advance policies and regulatory goals of AQHA. Q-Contacts are working to become a reliable resource and expert partner for lawmakers and their staffs.

Horse Processing

images-2The following is AQHA’s position statement on legislation concerning horse processing:

“First and foremost, the American Quarter Horse Association unequivocally supports the humane treatment of horses and vigorous enforcement of reasonable state and federal laws intended for that purpose.

It is this fervent dedication to the welfare of the horse that drives AQHA to address the difficult issues related to humane care, transportation and disposition of all breeds of horses.

Therefore, AQHA supports and joins with the Unwanted Horse Coalition whose mission is to reduce the number of unwanted horses and to improve their welfare through education, and the efforts of organizations committed to the health, safety, and responsible care and disposition of these horses.

End-of-life issues for horses are personal and should remain the right of the individual horse owner.

AQHA opposes abolishing the option of horse processing until there are other provisions to take care of more than 150,000 horses that meet that end each year.  Consistent with positions established by the American Association of Equine Practitioners and American Veterinary Medical Association, AQHA supports the humane, USDA supervised end-of-life process as a much better option than starvation, neglect or inhumane treatment inside or outside of the United States.

To date, no proposed state or federal law has addressed funding of care for unwanted horses, long-term placement of affected horses or established guidelines for standards of care at retirement and rescue facilities. Failing to address these core issues adversely affects the welfare of horses.

Additionally, horses as livestock are personal property protected under the United States Constitution. Any law that would result in “taking” of personal property without just compensation or valid purpose is a violation of an individual’s constitutional rights. Furthermore, it is a violation of the Commerce Clause to unreasonably restrict interstate trade of property.

Therefore, AQHA continues to oppose the provisions of state or federal legislation intended to: (a) prohibit the humane end-of-life processing of horses; and (b) prohibit the humane transport of horses that may be destined to processing plants.” 

To contact AQHA regarding horse processing, please use our online contact form.

Owner Responsibility 

AQHA believes it’s the owner’s responsibility and, ultimately, their choice regarding decisions concerning the welfare of their horse(s). The Association encourages responsible ownership practices and management that will reduce the number of unwanted horses. AQHA recognizes that the processing of unwanted horses is currently a necessary aspect of the equine industry because it provides a humane euthanasia alternative for horses that might otherwise continue a life of discomfort and pain, or inadequate care or abandonment. AQHA has actively supported legislation to ensure the safe and humane transportation of horses that are bound for processing facilities and backed guidelines for how horses must be treated at the facilities. AQHA supports other choices for unwanted horses, including euthanasia by injection, life in an equine retirement facility, donation to a college or university, or other options.

AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
37 Comments
  • Terra Pennington

    You forgot the BLM… They are in the mixed..

    August 20, 2013
  • Valerie W.

    They are DISGUSTING, & a DISGRACE to horse breeds & registries everywhere! We own a registered solid bred Paint horse, who is actually half quarter horse & half Paint. The original owner/breeder, only registered him with the APHA, which I’m happy about. We’d love this horse regardless of being registered or not. But we do keep up his registry, & our daughter is a member of the AjPHA. We do NOT condone or agree with horse slaughter, for ANY reason or excuse, PERIOD!!

    August 20, 2013
    • D.K.

      Please ask your U.S. Senators and Representatives to support the Safeguard American Food Exports act. Safeguard American Food Exports act is S. 541 in the U.S. Senate and H.R. 1094 in the U.S. House of Representatives. This website makes it easy to contact your elected officials: http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

      August 21, 2013
  • sherriey

    ….and the big-wigs of the AQHA are…..??????…why, the big beef ranchers!!!
    and…the big oil ranchers!!…and where do they have their cattle grazing???? why, on BLM Mustang land!!!
    1 + 1 = 2

    August 20, 2013
  • sherriey

    ….and how do i know all this????
    i am a AQHA member and i read their JOURNAL!

    August 20, 2013
    • sherriey

      ….a member only…and not very proud of it most of the time!…but i like to keep informed on their actions and being a member is a good way to do it.

      August 20, 2013
  • Emily

    It is time for people to become guardians of horses not owners, I have registered Paints and am an APHA member because they are my passion. I support my local horse rescues and even adopted a yearling who was saved from the meat man. I try and do my part as an individual and that is all anyone can do to really make a difference as well as putting pressure on local government officials who could actually help change the way all animals are treated.

    August 20, 2013
  • Susan Humphrey

    I own three grade horses. My family has always had horses and I bought my first pony with money I’d saved in 1972. I’ve never been without one, or more, since. I believe in animal welfare of all species, and I think we have good laws against abuse and neglect. All animal slaughter should be as humane as possible, including horse slaughter. 170,000 horses from the US went to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered in 2012. It would be better for those horses to be slaughtered in a US processing plant under US regulations. Unlike the thousands of unwanted dogs and cats in this country killed in shelters on a daily basis, at least some good can come from unwanted horses as there is a market for horse meat. My parents survived the Great Depression with the help of horse meat, which is a cheap alternative to beef. Millions of Americans are using food stamps, so there are hungry people in this country that would buy horse meat if it became available in markets. Wasting a really good source of protein because of a cultural bias against doesn’t make sense.

    August 21, 2013
      • Ziggy Pope

        Yes they do read from the same old dishonest script. Why is one reason why I so disrespect those who simply echo the PR messaging points. No critical thinking or self educating.

        August 21, 2013
    • My parents survived the Great Depression too, and they never took ONE BITE of horse meat! It wasn’t in our food stores either. In fact, I’ve NEVER heard anyone but you pro-slaughter propagandists even mention eating horse meat during the Depression or WWII.

      You also “forgot” the food safety issues. But then, you slaughterphiles always forget that one.

      August 21, 2013
    • sherriey

      ….and Susan…”wasting a really good source of protein……”?????????????? have you not read about all the drugs we pump into this great protein source? drugs that even say not for animals meant for human consumption????
      why would you want to even believe that this is a good source of human food????? do you condone poisoning the poor?…that would be those on ‘food stamps’? what is wrong with you?
      you need to go back and read up on this subject a bit more….hell, a LOT more!
      shame on you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      August 21, 2013
  • Sarah

    To help end slaughter in this country, there needs to be an euthanasia bank to help those financially strapped afford to put their horses down humanely and dispose of the body. It is very expensive. It just cost me $550 to euthanize and bury a horse a few weeks ago. That was a huge hit in my budget, but I would never have dumped her at an auction to end up in a slaughter plant. To have the carcass picked up by a rendering plant is about as much as burying one. This could be a major step towards helping to end slaughter, but no one seems to want to step up and organize such an enormous task.

    August 21, 2013
    • Ziggy Pope

      many state rescue organizations have started them along with cheap, really cheap gelding clinics.

      August 21, 2013
    • sherriey

      ya know…i too just had to put down one of my mares. but…here is the key to doing it:
      1) when you take on the responsibility of having animals…any animals…know the cost of their food, their care, their life span, then their end of life.
      2) be responsible for what you take on. they are living breathing loving souls. they are YOUR responsibility, no one elses, for the rest of THEIR lives.
      3) plan on the fact that they will get old, maybe sick, but will die or require a humane end of life…again YOUR responsibility!
      4) put away a source of available money…credit card, savings fund…whatever…to cover the impending costs.
      i took out a special low interest credit card for just this. i have used it now 3 times. i pay it off within 6 mos and never pay a dime of interest on it. its for the horses only. for when i have to make that heartbreaking decision. it cost me $360.00 to put her down and $85.00 for the farmer up the road to dig a hole with his backhoe. i paid the $85.00 out of pocket. the $360.00 is interest free if paid before 6 mos…which it will be. i never use this card for anything else….that way i know my horses will be covered when the time comes and my budget won’t be messed up.

      i’m so sorry for your loss. thanks for doing right by your horse. God bless.

      August 21, 2013
  • Kope

    I have no problem with eating horses. However, the year my Magic and 47 other horses were starving, and a dozen horse corpses were scattered about her farm, Magic’s owner received over three thousand dollars in AQHA incentive funds. She had five stallions running around with the mares, unsupervised. The woman was broke, the market had dropped out of the horse market (along with everything else that year), and she couldn’t afford to STOP breeding, even though she couldn’t afford hay.

    AQHA wanted hundreds of dollars from me to register my rescued horse. I spent the money on horses instead of an organization.

    August 21, 2013
    • Uh, if she couldn’t sell the horses she already had for a profit, how would breeding even more that she couldn’t sell for a profit help?

      August 21, 2013
    • sherriey

      what do you mean she couldn’t afford to STOP breeding???? horse pukey! to stop breeding would be an easy fix to most of her problems….less horses, less feed needed! duh! this is really stupid…..you expect us to have sympathy for this idiot? get real!

      you can bet the good ole AQHA was an encouraging factor for her to keep breeding….IF that indeed is true!

      August 21, 2013
      • sherriey

        ….and you have “NO TROUBLE EATING HORSE MEAT”?????????
        soooooo….that means you have no trouble eating toxic poisoned meat?
        you are sick!

        August 21, 2013
  • Linda

    Great article–telling it like it is! I live in Colorado and the “Colorado Unwanted Horse Coalition” tries to convey the image of caring about these horses. I’m sure other states have local organizations to spread the grass roots effort to promote horse slaughter.

    August 21, 2013
  • Mustang man

    I wish there was just one pro slaughter person that really has spent more then 3 minutes reading the 2nd, you do not have a right to do what ever you wish with your personal property, you have never had that right and what right you do have is revocable at any time by the government. Drive your car drunk, get caught, what happens to your car? Its impounded and it cost you so much to get it out, if you are allowed, that you may never get it back. I can add at least 100 everyday examples of private property being taken without reimbursement from the govermnment, regulated as well. dont pay your property taxes is another quick one. Learn what you quote all the time before opening your mouths.

    August 21, 2013
  • Debbie Knebel

    Below is the note I sent AQHA this morning – As a former member and owner/breeder of AQHA horses, all which have lived out their lives at my farm, my one remaining 26 yr. old will live his final days here. As a responsible owner and FORMER member, I INSIST that AQHA rethink their position on Horse SLAUGHTER and until they make a change in their position I will not re-join nor participate or endorse ANY AQHA activities and will express my displeasure at their stance – harming the very thing they have created. I see it ONLY as GREED to rid themselves of horses that have not WON in the ring or track in order to promote the price of those horses remaining! I am DISGUSTED and FINISHED with this organization until I find changes are met. I am deeply saddened by AQHA’s decisions and hope and pray that more reasonable minds will prevail.

    August 22, 2013
      • Rachel D.

        My family’s decision to leave the AQHA was just motivated by money – we decided to spend our limited financial resources actually taking care of our QH and her two pasture-mates rather than keeping her registered with an organization that did NOTHING for us – but now that I know about AQHA’s disgusting pro-slaughter stance I’m very glad we no longer support them in any way. They won’t be getting another penny from us.
        We’re also doing our small part to fight ‘overpopulation of unwanted horses’ by not breeding; we bought Daisy when she was too young to breed and have only used her for riding and companionship, and both our male horses were gelded so there wouldn’t be any ‘accidents’.
        Sadly one of our geldings passed away a few years ago from a combination of old age and Cushing’s disease. It was the first time we’d ever dealt with a horse’s end of life issues, but we did our best to help him fight as long as he could. When the vet finally told us it was time to say goodbye to Taylor, we made sure he was put down with a painless injection and found a very nice man to help with the burial. Taking care of a horse, or any animal, near the end of its life is very painful, but at least we can sleep at night. I don’t know how anyone who sends their horse to slaughter can.

        August 23, 2013
    • sherriey

      God Bless YOU! i applaud your stance!
      even tho i still belong, i too have quit breeding and did so for the sake of the horse.
      i have in the past wrote several letters to the AQHA, not unlike the one you wrote, stating my stance on their pro-slaughter attitude. i got nothing, no reply, in return. but at least i said what my heart felt and it must have been read by at least one person….hopefully!
      if more of us took up your position, then maybe it would effect them some. i do know that their membership and registrations are down….(LOVE IT!) hopefully they will go down even more.
      like you, my horses are here until they pass…and they will when the time is right, humanely, where they have spent most if not all of their life!
      thanks for being a good responsible horse owner.
      God bless!

      August 22, 2013
      • Sharon

        God bless you Ms. Knebel. I, too, applaud you for standing up to the AQHA and telling them like it is. I hope you can convince fellow members of that disgusting organization to follow your lead. You have a beautiful heart and soul.

        August 22, 2013
    • KathrynW.

      Good for you, Debbie!
      Funny (not) that this AQHA rant in support of horse slaughter fails to mention that the AQHA is one of the wealthiest breed associations in the US, if not the world. We know and they know why they’ve achieved that status: artificial insemination. More horses born, more revenues to AQHA.
      In contrast, North American Thoroughbreds must conceive via live cover in order for the resultant foal to be eligible for registry in the Jockey Club.
      The AQHA wants its profits, as it refuses quality, responsible breeding, and humane handling/disposition. No wonder AQHA’S goal is to see the federal horse slaughter ban bills in Washington fail….their fees and registration revenues would plummet as people breed their horses responsibly.
      Make no mistake that every Quarter horse foal is a cash machine for this breed association: that foal will be registered with AQHA, and then a lifetime of fee revenues to AQHA for every class entered, for annual dues … year after year, horse after horse. AQHA rakes in the cash gained via that money stream.
      Who wouldn’t fight to keep that money stream? Right, responsible horse owners.

      August 28, 2013
  • terri russell

    thanks Jerry For Ding This Rebuttal. I’m Sick Of Bull, The SlaughterPhiles. I’m Sick Of These Pro Slaughter Congressional Idiots, The Livestock Ranchers, The BLM And The Damned Forestry Service. I’m Sick Of The cattleMenS Association, And Especially The Meat Packers (How Can Pork Producers Know Anything About Horses?) I’m Especially Sick Of The Unwanted Horse Coalition, The StaTe Horse Councils (All Are Slaughter Promoters). I’m Sick Of The Breed Associations And Will Not Support Any Of Them Until They Change Their Stance On Horse I’m Sick Of People Who Make Ignorant Comments That Don’t Bother To Read Or Listen To Anything In Regard To This Issue. With All The Attention That Has Been Paid To This Issue, I Don’t Believe That People Are Ignorant. I Have No Tolerance For Ignorance Because There’s No Excuse. The Information Is Out There In Your Face. I Knew About BuTe Before It Became A Hot Button Issue Because I Picked Up A MeRks Manual And Looked It Up Out Of Curiosity. I Read Labels On Packaging Before I Use It. It All Makes Me Sick That There Are Still Lemmings Amongst Us.
    Thanks Again Jerry For Trying To Educate People On This Subject. Oh, And I Don’t Buy That Can’t Afford To Feed It Excuse. That’s Not Why Most Horses Are Dumped Into The Slaughter Pipeline. It’s Pure Greed Nothing Else.

    August 23, 2013
  • The problem is a business model that assumes horses are disposable products with a three year life span and requires horse slaughter to make their profits. These kind of crooks won’t respond to emotional outbursts, but calling them on their lies can put them out of business. Please read:
    http://saraannon.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/lies-damn-lies-statistics-and-horse-slaughter-3/

    August 23, 2013
  • Margaret

    You know I was talking to someone about this a couple weeks back. I think she hates slaughter but she backs the idea of private property. I’m not sure what to think on that one little sticky note. The rest of it is as abhorrent as is the day is long.

    August 23, 2013
  • skip shoulder

    I feel that all these breed associations should be STOPPING ALL THE EMBRYO transfes . And go back to what mother nature is an that is ONLY ONE FOAL PER YEAR TO BE REGISTERED. And the Government to step up and STOP ALL COLONING OF ALL ANIMALS. The people that run these Ass. all they think of is the money. If you could get these things stopped you would not have no wares near the number of horses. That you are talking about.

    August 23, 2013
  • Lin

    I think the biggest concern other than tainted meat(humanitarians concerned for human consumption that sends toxins to the cellular level) is the horrific execution style designed for cattle (e.g the bolt gun which sounds like a giant horn fly & terrorizes) from viewpoint of the equine lover community & others. It will take a horseman to figure out a less stressful way to euthanize an animal that will be used for consumption. While I side with both groups of this undesireable end for these beautiful creatures~ a potential heavy duty guilliotine effect from behind with a bin full of alfalfa to divert attention from the nano-second action would be a more merciful, albeit unsavory advancement.All the legislation in the world will not change the greedy self serving killers who only want to see the cash~so work around them and identify a means that is less torturous for our beautiful equines. Anyone saying just let them live out their lives is unrealistic, unless they have thousands of acres of lush grass and are prepared to geld everyone and tend to them. Madeline Perkins does it for the mustangs but not everyone has Madeline’s money. Final thought~tiny rescue centers (not the scammers such as AC4H who just got raided by FBI for conning thousands of dollars from the public)often function on a pittance because of their financial out of pocket situations. If you want to at least help the immediate situation, instead of just talking about it, get out and offer your equine experience,grooming,mucking, & just lovin to the rescue horses.The exhaustive efforts of the dedicated cause many to go belly up. Or if u have no equine knowledge~send them money.(But do your research) Or buy a rescue horse that suits your needs. Even a dollar goes toward buying something like wormer,grain,hay,meds. My personal favorite is Mane Concern Horse Rescue in Harford County Md.(They have a FB page. These kids both work 50 hours a week and still bust ass to help the starving unwanted.I donated 4 months unpaid 2x daily feed/turnout/barnwork 7 days a week for the joy of seeing these horses return to good health, but my health fails me & I had to step back. Reach out & help.Even one days’ assistance brings hope to those who make it their life’s endeavor. Your life will never be the same and you will be better for it: along with the terrorized animals who have suffered the indignities of the cross country auction trail.When we all do a little, it makes a difference. Peace to all~Namaste <3…

    August 24, 2013
  • LNorman

    If you have any “Farm” Bureau insurance you are also supporting pro-slaughter lobby. Tractor Supply is pro-slaughter. Know thy enemy.

    August 30, 2013
      • Nancy B

        Will be looking forward to the answer regarding Tractor Supply. Thanks!

        August 30, 2013