So who really wants horse slaughter?

Jerry's Take

August 20. 2013, Jerry Finch

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.

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)


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

The 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.

POST DATE: 08/20/2013