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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Horse Slaughter - Saving the Standardbreds

Salon has an article about horse slaughter and how inhumane it is. While many think horse slaughter for human consumption has ended, it has not. Many of these horses are being sent to Mexico and Canada to be slaughtered. As the article indicates, their death is anything but humane. Some people claim the slaughter of horses in the United States is more humane but that has also been disproved.

Think horse slaughter is humane? Rest assured, if someone was caught killing a dog or cat the same way they would be thrown in jail. If you still have any doubts, go check You Tube and watch a video or two regarding horse slaughter.

What does this subject have to do with a harness racing blog? It is simple, anyone that thinks some standardbreds don't end up meeting their end this way are in denial; likely the number of standardbreds which meet their fate in a Mexican or Canadian slaughterhouse is far greater than we would like to think. If there is any one issue which will cause racing to go the way greyhound racing is heading it is the problem of unwanted race horses.

People who race horses have an ethical responsibility to take care of their race horses to make sure they don't meet such an end and the industry needs to devise a way to ensure the horse's interests are being protected. Here is a proposal to ensure our horses are protected.

When a foal is registered, the breeder would have to pay a $500 surcharge to the USTA. When the horse becomes a yearling an additional $500 surcharge would be paid to the USTA. A final $500 surcharge will be due when the initial eligibility certificate is issued. Hence, by the time the horse makes their first start there will be a $1,500 balance in a security account. The security account will belong to horse; it will transfer each time the horse's ownership is transferred.

If the owner has to euthanize a horse due to a catastrophic injury, upon certification of a racing commission veterinarian, the owner may be reimbursed out of the security account for the expense involved with euthanasia and disposal up to the amount on deposit or they may donate the funds to an approved rescue group.

If and when the time comes a horse is no longer able to race, the owner will have the option to surrender the horse to an approved standardbred rescue group. When the horse is retired to a standardbred rescue group, the owner will have an option of claiming $500 of the security account as residual value with the balance going to the standardbred rescue group or the owner can donate their share of the security account to the rescue group (perhaps in lieu of the rescue group covering the shipping expense). Once ownership of the horse is transferred to an approved standardbred retirement group, they will be credited with the balance of the security account to help ensure the upkeep of the horse. By doing this, we can ensure the horse does not end up in a slaughterhouse.

Some people will argue that by assessing these fees it will be harder for a breeder to make a profit and add unnecessary expense to owning a horse. If a breeder is unwilling to help ensure the welfare of their horses then perhaps they don't belong in the breeding business. As for the owners not wanting to pay their share of the surcharge, I would suggest if they can't afford the surcharge to ensure the horse is taken care of when they can no longer race then I suggest they have no business being in the business.

We owe it to our equine stars to look out for the welfare throughout their lives.

Any thoughts on the subject?


M said...

Thanks for bringing up the issue of Standardbreds going to slaughter. So many times I read about the rescues being at some of the horrible auctions, they're always looking for OTTB's, hardly ever rescuing a Standardbred. They might mention that there were many of them in the kill pens etc., so sad it's like they don't count.
I really like your idea about the 500.00 cush for the horse, any good breeder would welcome this idea. Keep up the good work. Thanks.

Craig said...

Thank you for your practical proposal for caring for our equine athletes after their careers are over. I have an essay in an upcoming horse publication saying that slaughter has made us complacent and stifled creative solutions for solving the "unwanted horse" problem. It's far easier to just throw them to "the meat man."

Pacingguy said...

Thanks for the comments. Craig, if your article gets posted online make sure you let me know of the link so I may direct people to it.

droop_rb75 said...

I am looking at the view of someone wanting to adopt or take over a retired horse. I have 3 standardbreds now and 1 half standardbred pony. What my problem is if you go to adopt a horse you got so much red tape to go through. I would do anything for my horses I have soled tools to pay for a vet to fix a horses leg. I wont let any horse suffer just seems like they dont really , if they are feed and took care of. The way I see it would rather a horse be feed and took care of than sent to slaughter house. I like the comments keep up the good work, my wish is no horse has to go to slaughter.

Pacingguy said...


While you are to be commended for the way you take care of your horses, there is a need for the red tape. For example, SRF requires a periodic report from a vet on the status of the horse. Some people run into problems; while they may bne well intentioned they may not be able to take care of the horse anymore and they don't want to admit they are unable to fulfill their obligation to the horse. Hence, the horse suffers from un-intentioned abuse. A periodic vet report helps prevent this from happening.