Proposal would brand horses treated with Bute

Donna Keen shares a moment with an equine friend. Photo by Terri Cage

Donna Keen shares a moment with an equine friend. Photo by Terri Cage

Texas-based T’bred advocate Donna Keen recently announced an innovative idea to save horses from the slaughter pipeline, long before they’re endangered.

The CEO of Remember Me Rescue is proposing to both industry leaders and influencers alike, that identification be painlessly branded on the left, front shoulder of any horse treated with one of 17 medications routinely given to horses, which are that are banned in meat consumed by humans.

Keen argues that branding, which was an idea put forth by California-based Thoroughbred advocate Deb Jones in a conversation between the two, would prove unequivocally that a horse has been treated with substances, such as phenlybutazone (Bute), a substance that remains in the horseflesh long after it is administered, and is considered dangerous in humans.

Says Keen, “The people in Europe don’t want to eat meat that has been treated with substances like Bute, but in some cases they’ve been lied to and told that their meat is safe, when it isn’t.”

She proposes that racehorse owners place an indelible “freeze” brand on their horse the very moment the animal is treated with a substance that is banned for human consumption, and that the information be stored in a national database that would detail the horse’s name, tattoo number, provide photos of the animal, as well as the name of the attending veterinarian, the date the drug was administered, and the name of the owner at that time.

Donna with a gentle friend

Donna with a California-bred Yeah Me Do, age 30

The branding process would be voluntary, and already at least one racing company has promised to brand all of its horses, she says.

Keen notes that MidWest Thoroughbreds owner Richard Papiese has already indicated his enthusiasm for a branding system.

The idea is being proposed to Thoroughbred industry representatives, and a database developer has been retained to start building a website, Keen says.

“People need to look at it as a badge of honor to keep their horse from being slaughtered,” Keen says. “People will try to get around it. But a brand is going to slow down the number of horses going to slaughter, from crossing the border, or being purchased by meat buyers.”

Noting that there are 17 legal medications commonly given to racehorses that are banned from human food, Keen says a brand given at the time the first drug is administered could save that horse from the slaughterhouse.

“Any horse that has ever received even one dose of Bute is banned for life from being slaughtered for human consumption,” she says. “I personally do not know of a horse that has not ever been treated for a high temperature, a mild colic, or given Bute as an anti-inflammatory. Track veterinarians tell me that most horses at the racetrack have been given Bute.”

Next steps in developing a brand for horses treated with banned medications will involve raising awareness within the Thoroughbred industry, and gathering support for the idea, she says.

If the idea is brought to fruition, Keen plans to create a fund from the sales proceeds raised through the branding process to help rescue endangered horses.

39 responses to “Proposal would brand horses treated with Bute”

  1. Barb Jagger

    Race horses are not the only horses rec’g Bute…pleasure horses also receive it as a temporary anti-inflamatory and mild analgesic…I checked with my vet and was told it does not enter the muscle of the animal and therefore is safe for human consumption…check with your vet if you want further info

  2. bloopy

    Yeah, great… and what does KY Derby winner Mine That Bird’s co-owner have to say about bute in testifying for Valley Meats in favor of a horse slaughter plant in NM?? Hey – get with it. Who cares what they’ve consumed?

  3. Another Country

    I am sorry to say this but I think this idea is just out right idiotic. Makes zero sense.
    The only thing this will do is have perfectly good horses shun by perceptive buyers.(Non meat buyers). This will make the horse seem less valuable to a great deal of buyers. You want to put a permanent marking on an animal that has medication that is not much more then an Aleve or Ibuprofen. Not to mention the branding will cause more pain to the animal.
    Believe it or not bute leaves their system. A brand does not. It is kind of like branding you child for failing a test. They can bring the grade up.
    I do understand that you believe this will stop some of these animals from going to slaughter, but it will also stop them from going to loving caring homes as well. It will just make their value go down where the meat men can get them even cheaper.
    I have truly heard a lot of off the wall ideas coming out of people but this one is at the top of the list. Who are you trying to protect the horses or the people EATING them???

  4. Mary McLaughlin

    I’m afraid the slaughterhouse owners/operators won’t care if the horses are branded or not. They will slaughter them regardless. As they slaughter anything that comes thru their doors now! It’s best to just ban slaughter completely for all horses. It’s barbaric and inhumane and if you ever saw how slaughter is done, you’d want it banned too!

  5. Janet

    This might also cut down on horse thieves who steal and sell to slaughter buyers for a quick buck!

  6. Kris

    This is another step in the right direction which could save some of the millions of horses that are routinely shipped off to die by their owners. It is a nice idea and if it saves one horse it is worth it. We are also hoping that the branded horse will only encounter people who will follow the new protocol and not ignore the brand and send the horse down the kill shoot anyway. It is worth a shot in the effort to save a life. However, we still are ignoring the source and cause of the horse overpopulation problem in the U.S. The massive numbers of unwanted horses that have poured into the kill pens for the past 50 (+)years demonstates loud and clear that horse breeders in the U.S. are vastly unqualified and beyond irresponsible in their actions. THEY HAVE NO CLUE WHAT THEY ARE DOING NOR DO THEY CARE WHAT THEY ARE DOING OR ABOUT THE PROBLEM THEY CREATE. While European nations strive to require limits on breeding and invest years of careful study to produce a single well bred horse, the truth is the U.S. allows any idiot to breed horses. Sadly, there are alot of idiots and many breed horses. As evidenced by the sheer number of horses in the slaughter pipeline, the majority of U.S. breeders have absolutely no clue about the science of what they are trying to do. Slaughterhouses are by NO MEANS a necessary evil and I am really sick & tired of having my intelligence insulted by those that wish to drink that koolaid because it is a convenient excuse to murder . Slaughterhouses are an abomination beyond comprehension, invented by a species that finds it a more convenient option to murder by the millions than simply impose restrictions on the irresponsible and abhorant behavior of breeding massive numbers of unwanted horses. IF THEY WILL FINALLY STOP, LIMIT OR REDUCE THE HORSE BREEDING IN THE U.S. BY RESTRICTING “ALL” HORSE BREEDERS THEN YOU WILL STOP THE DECADES OF MASS MURDER OF INNOCENT EQUINES.Unfortunately, no one wants to hear or deal with the real problem at its source, “HUMANS CREATING THE PROBLEM.” Until horse breeding is controlled and reduced the mass murder will continue.

  7. Brenda B.

    It sickens me that the subject we are discussing is even an issue. There should be NO horse slaughter at all. I know that if a bunch of educated people put their collective minds together, horses, wild and otherwise, could be managed and controlled. Kill buyers as far as I’m concerned “don’t care” about the horses they have in their pens. They are simply a paycheck. The horses are treated cruelly and inhumanly from start to finish and if and if anyone thinks any different, they’re crazy. If the people saying “yes” to slaughter could see this process from transfer to slaughter, they would be horrified and more than likely realize that this is wrong! Tattooing horses will make no difference, I agree. It sickens me that the US can condone such out and out abuse of such beautiful majestic animals. I have zero tolerance for abuse of any animal and I think tougher laws and fines should be mandated. I don’t know what we can do, especially when the ignorant president doesn’t care either. It needs to stop.

    1. jon

      But it still comes to the issue is what do you do with the horses that no one wants. The Federal government does an appalling job with the wild horses and burros that it collects. Most government run programs are failures and run by incompetents.My wife and I have had 12 OTTB’s over the years. In reality most people have no idea which end of the horse bites and which end kicks. Since horses live long lifespans, most people do not have a large turnover at their barns. This limits how many horses can go into private hands.

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  9. Susan Crane-Sundell

    There are so many good and worthy ideas being suggested here. Sadly I have to agree with Kelly that the integrity of the whole slaughter industry is in question and most facilities are not overly conscientious about FDA rules and how they apply. As most slaughter plants are in Canada and Mexico, the FDA rules don’t apply at all! So although this solution might work if the domestic slaughter industry were to become more prevalent on American soil, it bodes no alleviation of the problem internationally. If domestic slaughter were reconvened, perhaps this would alleviate SOME of the safety issues with consuming horse meat.

    IS THIS WHAT ANYONE WHO CARES ABOUT HORSES REALLY WANTS? To give an argument that will further the cause of domestic slaughter operations resuming?
    Essentially this idea would be playing directly into the hands of slaughter advocates who want to perpetrate slaughter plants on US soil. The upholding of this policy couldn’t be enforced elsewhere.

    Truthfully,we can’t even make the Charter of Human Rights work internationally and I hate to say this but even The World Court at The HAGUE has limited powers when prosecuting internationally cited war criminals. They are ineffective at enforcing their own convictions.

    Do we think that any organized body will govern the use of banned drugs in cheval?

    Have you ever seen a slaughter plant in Mexico? It’s absolutely the most abominable hell hole on earth. If anyone would be so gullible (and I mean that in the nicest way possible) to think for one minute that anyone employed at these facilities is even going to look for a brand on a horse, think again!

    The kill buyers aren’t going to care and there is really no way to hold them accountable. These facilities aren’t regularly policed by law enforcement. Once a horse gets on that trailer southern bound…NO ONE CARES.

    Kill buyer auction houses are not the pinnacle of places where laws or even basic rules are upheld. Neither are meat processing facilities. Just take a look at videos that have recently circulated regarding the inhumane treatment of pigs by Tyson. Why does one think that Smithfield Farms expanded its operation of pig factory farms into Mexico over the last six years? Remember the swine flu pandemic that broke out several years back? It was traced to a Smithfield operation facility in Mexico.

    Do you think that these trailers will be stopped at the border and every horse will be inspected on the hoof before the trailer leaves the US border and departs to Mexico? Will there be the manpower to care that the “papers” are in order? COME ON, we don’t currently have the money to keep FDA inspectors in facilities that require the inspection of livestock carcasses before human consumption in the US plants that are run by multi-million dollar corporations. When the government “shut down” this past spring, the safety of meat product inspection was immediately called into question. Will homeland security border patrol officers be partly responsible for enforcing this practice as horses are shipped across borders? They are far too overtaxed as it is.

    The fact that meat may be unsafe for human consumption doesn’t seem to worry the captains of industries who are making money off of meat processing. This was a useful problem that we used to our advantage to stop the opening of the two domestic plants whose operations are only temporarily halted with going forward due to a court injunction that will expire any day! Personally that lack of inspection funding problem helped me and so many other anti-slaughter advocates make an argument to the US government that it should proceed with caution and bought us time.

    Just the other day two other anti-slaughter advocates and myself were looking up information regarding unsafe trailering practices to the southern border and hunting for information regarding traffic and safety violations on horse “trailers” being sent to the southern border. We couldn’t find or notate any incidents of unsafe trailers en route being cited for the last two years! We have all seen these trailers. Many of them would not pass safety inspections.

    All these arguments aren’t ones that I need to justify my own considerations. I believe horse slaughter is terribly wrong based simply on the idea that it is not a humane practice, I love horses with all my heart and I would never eat any meat!

    This idea is not at all persuasive to lawmakers however and promoting an idea that could be construed by the slaughter industry to give them a reason to promote domestic slaughter is not something that I can encourage.

    Until the time comes when horse slaughter is deemed nationally illegal and the domestic export of our horses is disallowed due to concerns for animal welfare and well-being, I shall continue whining, sending my money to slaughter house rescues and doing whatever I can to help our horses who have been heartlessly discarded.

    Yes I sound jaded but I have worked with systems management way too long to expect voluntary practices to have any serious effect on industries and government. The changes being promoted require government enforcement and international cooperation, training, and agreements of acceptance and understanding. This would take eons to come to pass even at its most perfunctory level.

    Let’s keep the ideas coming!

    1. Beverly Moore

      Unfortunately, I have to agree with you completely because this is reality. The other thing that occurs to me is that in at least some of the Florida horses that were stolen and slaughtered (not in slaughter houses), the brand was obliterated as I remember. If the heartless kill buyers can take out an eye of a horse, who is to say they won’t do something to obliterate the brand or cut out an implanted microchip? These people and their cohorts in the slaughter houses don’t care about these things; they only care about money!

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  11. RJ Willoughby

    I think one idea that never seen discussed is having the Jockey Club approve stallions and mares for breeding – most Warmbloods have this process.They are tested for soundness, movement, and temperment . There are many horses who win a few races and are immediatly sent to stud and do not enhance the breed . Testing and approving would greatly reduce the amount of “weedy” thoroughbreds crowding the claiming ranks and supplying the slaughter pipeline – it may also keep stallions like War Emblem from being shipped to Japan when they fail to cover

  12. uniqueygirl

    I have thought that if you could only register a foal from a mare every other year it would make a huge difference. With no foals from the same mare being able to be registered within 730 days of each other. If the breeders double the mares to get more foals they will be doubling their costs. You may not think this would make a difference, but it would. First, it would help with the nurse are foals, as many are a result of mares being shipped out within weeks of foaling. It would also have a huge impact of depleting our surplus of horses and would raise the price of registered horses. As well, with less registered horses on the market, more grade horses would get homes. My thought is to stop the problem at the source instead of trying to catch all the overflow of resulting problems.

    1. Gay Glazbrook

      I couldn’t agree more. If the Jockey Club, AQHA limited the number of foals that are registered out of each mare that would help stop the over population. Unfortunately, too many people make money from the excessive numbers of horses.

  13. LHRA

    Best of luck with this program, I really hope it works. LHRA has proposed a parallel action using an existing identifier. The rfid number on a microchip currently required by most states at the time of a required annual EIA (equine infectious anemia) test could easily be placed into a national database. Any veterinarian or horse owner could log on to the database and input medications given to any specific horse. A few things that would have to happen would be for microchips to be mandatory for all breeds, a database be formed, and some enforcement at local sale barns be initiated. The system is already in place in many states, it just needs continuity. We have proposed this to the Louisiana Dept. of Agriculture and are pushing for implementation of this plan. LHRA re-homed 93 horses in 2012, we are a 501(c)3 and can be found at or on facebook under

  14. PK Training

    Here is the list I found regarding which drugs are banned from horses going to slaughter for human consumption. Ivermectin is on there, as well as Acepromazine, omeprazole, and Furasone. Even if a horse has never had Bute, it has probably been dewormed at least once in its life.

    1. Another Country

      PK there will be a lot of branding going on. Poor animals will look like a billboard…

  15. Lisa Suphan

    I think it’s a great idea and a step forward – but I also believe it needs to be a unified approach and that ALL horses, not just OTTBs should be branded. Personally, I would brand mine in a heartbeat even though I have no intentions of ever selling him. However, if the TB racing industry jumps on board, hopefully others will be influenced to follow suit.

    1. jon

      It is a nice pipe dream, but it will not stop kill buyer from finding a willing outlet for horsemeat. Look at the recent problem in Europe with horse being labeled as beef. Once the animal is butchered can you really tell what you are buying? As long as there are scumbags in the food chain, there will be miss labeled or miss represented products out there.

  16. Lynne Jones

    Donna, God Bless You. I wish I could help in some way. I’ve saved six horses, two of wish had to be put down, one for laminitis and one for breathing problems. I cry everytime I have to do it, but I know it’s being done for the love of the animal, not the brutal way slaughter is done. I hate those that have anything to do with this practice and I think you have hit on a very valuable method to start saving all of our horses from this horrible ending. If I can help in anyway, please let me know. I do work and spent time with my horses on the weekends, sixty miles away from my home, but anything I can do to help I would be honored to do it.

  17. Gay Glazbrook

    Perhaps bute manufacturers would consider funding the program.

  18. kelly Crawford what Kelli n Maxine said makes a good statement but I feel you should proceed also for the sake if health reasons to people mostly. It seems that we have to look out for ourselves anymore…This should have never been allowed in the first place knowing all the toxic chemicals in them. Greed in the country is uncanny. How can I help..

  19. Giacomo Fatolla

    Adele: You might contact Kathy Mcbride at (518) 226-0028 and she may be able to give you some ideas about volunteering. She is with the TRF, and they have about 25-30 retirement farms in maybe 20 states and 900-1000 horses to care for. It’s been around for 30 years. Their web-site is I know that they have spots for volunteers, as I have volunteered!

    Hope this helps –


  20. Adele Giambrone

    What can i do to help? I can fly and volunteer pretty much anywhere as i worked for an airline and can fly free. i love horses, a new passion and wud love to help if you can give me a chance to pitch in. Thanks.

    1. Dr. Lester Castro Friedlander,BA,DVM


      My name is Dr. Lester Castro Friedlander,BA,DVM. I am a Former New York State Horse Racing and Wagering Board Veterinarian. I am also a Former USDA,Food Safety Inspection Service,Supervisory Veterinary Medical Officer and I was the USDA Veterinary Trainer of the Year. I am President of a Not For profit Organization called,”Citizens Against Equine Slaughter.” Our Web site is I travel across the country speaking against the slaughtering of our Horses for Human Consumption.I also speak about the Shade and Shelter that is needed by the Wild Horses and Burros that are held at the Long and Short Term Holding Facilities that are managed by The Bureau of Land Management. That is very kind of you to volunteer your time to help the horses. There are many Protest,Animal Rights and Welfare Conferences and Meetings that you could attend to help educate the American People about the plight of our Domestic,Wild Horses and Burros. There are numerous Radio Talk Shows where you can call in to voice your opinion about how the Horses are being Abused, Inhumaely Mistreated and Abandoned. If you want this information,please contact me thru One of the most powerful tools we can do to help the Horses is to Educate the American People.

    2. Donna Keen

      Please email or call me 817-689-1214.

      Feel free to give my number to anyone who wants to help with the project.

  21. Maxine Letarte

    I have for years fought long and hard to find a way to take care of unwanted horses, and its a toss up between off track horses whether they are Standardbreds or Thoroughbreds, many are just yearlings that for some reason they just do not qualify to go on to race. But in my own opinion, the real bulk of horses going to slaughter are the so called back-yard horses.
    A person or persons decide that they would like to have a horse to ride in their back yard, or somewhere they can keep a horse, it does not make a difference whether its a nice big pasture or a 10×10 foot enclosure. They have a horse, until its gets winter and the water freezes or they have to go out and get hay and maybe some grain, then its gets to be a hardship, not like the summer time of play. Or the Economy drops out and the income they had before is not there to take care of a horse, so what happens? The number one thing, the horse is sold off to someone, who knows this someone, and who cares where the someone will take it or what they will do with it—Its a common story that every real horse person knows well.
    In the end the loser is still the well behaved horse, who has never done any wrong, loves people and is forever forgiving, ends up going from home to home to home to home! Until the day the Meat buyers pick him or her up either privately or at an auction, and its at this time, a brand would save a horse like this, because many backyard horses as well as racehorses or performance horses are treated with medications. If the horse does not carry this unique brand, he may be sold again to another person wanting a nice horse, or he is gone, off on the trail of no return—-lost to all that might have had some kind of nice memory of him at one time. But in the end –all suffering is gone, and his spirit is over the “Rainbow Bridge”, and he is finally in God’s Hands to rest in Eternal Peace Forever.

  22. kelli snow

    I have mixed feelings about this…While I agree it is a step in the right direction, it obviously has it’s flaws. Unless there is a dedicated, non-corrupt person at each and every slaughterhouse to identify the brand, it won’t make a difference. Your average kill buyer isn’t going to give a hill of beans about the brand because he knows that there isn’t a monitor at the end of the line. So, I think that employee at the slaughterhouse has to be implemented prior to any branding. If that employee can be secured and can guarantee a branded horse will not be slaughtered, then that is a HUGE accomplishment.

    The brand should be mandatory too, if it is to be successful. Unfortunately, we all know people who wouldn’t feel comfortable doing this, so if they HAVE to do it, it is more powerful. Keep in mind, I have NEVER known a horse that didn’t get bute so you are going to have A LOT of branded animals.

    I also agree with Jon that there will need to be another outlet for unwanted horses. Not everyone cares enough to keep their horses from beginning to the end, be it financial or just treating them as a commodity. So, what happens to all of these unwanted horses. There are not enough rescues so you are going to have a lot of suffering animals again.

    As much as I detest slaughterhouses, it is a necessary evil. However, they are cruel and need to be revamped. Why do the trucks have to be so overcrowded, why does the facility have to be so gross, why do the employees have to be heartless? Again, it comes down to regulations there as well, which we all know that the funding never comes through for it. Who would want those jobs?!

    In the end, I commend the idea and hope that something comes of it. Any little step that can save a horse or any animal from a horrible death is an asset.

    Breed less, MUCH LESS, know who you sell or give your horse to, do the right thing. It’s a group effort and I think we can get there. Thank you Donna for all that you do.

    1. Janet Schultz

      Well, this is the same argument when “humane” handling is promised by law. None of our careful endearing thoughts for the proper “slaughter” of our dear horses amount to a hill of beans during transport, holding or the actual slaughter.

      It is best to ban it altogether to ensure our dear horses never are exposed to the cruelty that we all know awaits them.

      Suppport the passage of the SAFE Act which will ban the transport of horses to slaughter and the slaugter. We have to do better.

    2. Suzanne Moore

      “Unwanted” horses get bute too. So does a horse that becomes “unwanted” get slaughtered anyway because your nitwits have swallowed so much pro-slaughter Kool Ade that you can’t think of anything but slaughter?

      Horse owners are responsible for their horses. If they don’t take care of them properly, prosecute them to the limit of the law instead of the slap on the wrist they get now.

      There are not nearly as many “unwanted” horses as those of you who will believe anything have been conned into believing. It’s pro-slaughter’s Big Lie.
      How the GAO Deceived Congress About Horse Welfare After Closing of US Slaughter Plants:
      White Paper: How the GAO Deceived Congress About Horse Welfare After Domestic Horse Slaughter Plant Closings:
      GAO Accused Of Fraud As Horse Slaughter Plants Fight To Open:
      GAO on Horse Abuse:
      The Fuzzy Math Being Used to Justify Horse Slaughter in the United States:
      Evidence Shows GAO Horse Welfare Report Fraudulent:
      Grand Opening Of Horse Slaughter Plants Foiled Again: http://000Xi3465IHK

      I and my horses were in Dallas, TX when there were two horse slaughter plants in TX – one in Ft. Worth, about 45 miles away; and another in Kaufman, about 30 miles away. You cannot even imagine the nightmare we went through. Almost every day brought news of more horses stolen. People were afraid to sell their horses because the kill buyers stop at nothing – besides stealing, they purchase horses under false pretenses – I have heard story after story recently about people who thought they were selling to a good home and had even done their homework on the prospective buyers only to find out their horses’ “good home” turned out to be a kill box. Fraud is the normal business plan of the international horse slaughter industry. And they DO NOT CARE whether the horses are safe to eat or not.

      Back in Texas when we were panicking about the safety of our horses, we had the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers’ Assn. come to our barn for a meeting with horse owners in the area – this was back when we thought cattlemen were on our side. Foolish innocents that we were – THEN. Our speaker recommended branding, BUT he also stated that branding was no guarantee – that in a group of branded and unbranded horses, the killers MIGHT take unbranded over branded, but then again, they might not since no one at the slaughter plants gives a hoot in hell if a horse is stolen or not. “Documentation” – IF needed – is forged by the killers anyway.

      I lived with this for 15 years. Four of my personal friends had their horses stolen and butchered. People were hiring guards at night for their horses that lived in paddocks. I left after they came into our boarding barn and took three horses right out of their stalls only a few yards from where the Foreman and Owner were sleeping! They took the horse in the stall next to mine, the one across the barn aisle, and another a couple of stalls down. I just couldn’t take any more.

      Do you actually believe anything has changed? These were domestic horse slaughter plants on American soil. They weren’t ONE BIT BETTER than the ones in Mexico and Canada! The USDA/FSIS “supervision” and “testing” aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. The USDA took hundreds of pictures of egregious cruelty in transport to all three of the American horse slaughter plants, but never DID a freakin’ thing! Plenty of well documented info here written by those who lived it – including ME.

      Branding is a waste of time unless a COMPLETE overhaul of the international horse slaughter trade comes to pass. Yeah, right.

  23. BHumane

    Susan, that’s certainly something worth doing. Raising awareness on the hazards as related to meat from US-based horses is something that everyone can help with. Communicate it wherever you can. The media is also essential in this, and yet nothing’s been done to prevent US horses from shipping to slaughter for human consumption in other countries.
    This unsafe, unfit product taints the entire US food supply. Who would trust any US entity to produce adequately-regulated, safe food products?

    93,643 US horses have been shipped to slaughter in Mexican slaughter plants (YTD 11/23/13), and the numbers shipping to Canadian plants are similar. Act now: tell your two US Senators and one US Congressman to support the current bills banning horse slaughter: S.541 and HR.1094, the Safeguard American Food Exports Act of 2013
    Breeding as if there’s no tomorrow must end. Prohibiting horse slaughter and its bulk transport will close the monstrous outlet of horse slaughter for human consumption. That will bring quality back to breeding, and it will dispel those who go for quantity. It’s economics.

  24. jon

    But I ask, what happens to the horses that are not wanted by their owners? Who would care for these horses? The rescue and rehoming organizations can only place and re train so many horses. Thoroughbreds are not the only horses going to slaughter. They are competing for a limited number of people that want horses and can care for them. Many owners keep their horses until their last day. Of the 5 OTTB’s my wife and I have, 2 are totally retired, 1 is semi retired and the other 2 are actively being ridden and trained for eventing. In the last 2 years we lost a 33 year old OTTB my wife owned since he was 4. My OTTB mare was 3 when she came off the track and lived until she was 28. Both of these horses were kept and given long honorable retirements long after they could not carry a rider. To us it is the right thing to do since these horses carried us over ground and fence with great care. But these horses still needed resources dedicated to them. Special feed, vet care, hoof care and resources for their needs. My wife and I are fortunate that we can provide lifetime care to a horse that comes to us.
    A huge part of the overbreeding problem comes from the breeders trying to recoup their investment of millions of dollars in syndication rights for any given high performing stud. Both the Thoroughbred breeders and other breed bredders are guilty in this endevour. I think we need to return to a day that we bred to make fewer better horses instead of using a shotgun approach to breeding.

    1. Janet Schultz

      The age of a horse is not known? I think the reality of who has been a bleeding heart for the suffering of the horses will come out of the woodwork. Breeding horses and “dumping” them to allow yourself the pleasure of riding when your companion of former riding has passed its prime is going to be a decision of horsekeeping that MUST be addressed. Horses are due our respect and care until their natural life ends. Imagine a world with no horse slaughter. The doomsday machine and wringing of hands are falling on deaf ears – there are solutons of course. Find them, if you care to partake the relationship of horse.

    2. PK Training

      Branded horses could still be shipped to Mexico where they would be slaughtered and made into things such as dog food and not specifically labeled for human consumption. Branding is a step in the right direction, but it would just designated horses be sent to Mexico instead of Canada (where the majority are packaged for human consumption). I’d love to see what is on the list of banned drugs.

    3. Debbie Olmsted

      Horses that cannot be rehomed deserve a humane death at the hands of a qualified veterinarian. Not a horrible, cruel death at a slaughter house.

      1. GASafeHorses

        Agreed! If you cannot give your horse a humane death at the end of its life you do not deserve the pleasure of one in your life.

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