AQHA’s disingenuous position on horse slaughter, encourages membership to derail SAFE Act


It is surprising to some people when they learn that horse-related organizations support horse slaughter. Why would they do that?

The short answer is, it supports their industry interests, and their membership interests. That is the case for both the AVMA (vets), and the AQHA (quarter horse association). They then try to convince themselves and everyone else that they actually take this stance for the horse, not for their own interests.

Yes, slaughter is good for you, really ?

Anyway, I digress. I thought it would be interest to parse the statement from the AQHA, in support of horse “processing” (“processing” is surely more appealing than “slaughter”).

Here is a link to the AQHA’s complete statement: AQHA News Bits: Unsafe Consequences.

There is a preamble about the SAFE Act, and its rationale, that of food safety. The statement then avoids the food safety issue completely.

They then note that the ban of horse slaughter would “mean that thousands of unwanted horses will be sentenced to a destiny of starvation, abuse and neglect. It’s a hellish demise.”

There are two problems with this emotive statement:

1. while there may be some unwanted horses, to presume all horses that are purchased by kill buyers to go to slaughter are unwanted, is not accurate.

2. “slaughter” or “abuse and neglect” is not a binary choice. The third option, cleverly left out of the entire statement, is that of humane euthanasia.

Subsequent to the above quote, the statement then goes on to tie the number of horses that are slaughtered to the number of unwanted horses. Again, there is no proof that is the case. What is known is that the number of horses slaughtered is simply based on the demand for the horse meat from the customer, via the meat packers and the slaughter houses. Horses are slaughtered because there is demand for the meat, slaughter is not just a disposal solution for horses no one else wants.

The statement then goes on to discuss the increasing number of abuse and neglect cases, which may or may not be accurate. Whether it is or not has little to do with slaughter, because we are currently slaughtering plenty of horses (same numbers in recent years, so an increase in abuse cases is more likely an economic issue, or an issue of horses no longer being employed for whatever work they were doing).

The statement then examines the cost of taking care of all the horses that are sent to slaughter. A considerable cost indeed, but neglects to consider that some of these horses would be humanely euthanized, some would be diverted to new careers, and some would find other solutions. This ignores the idea of “owner responsibility,” and each owner doing the appropriate thing for his horse. Thus the burden on the government is, at least, exaggerated.

Then they discuss the “property rights” argument that surrounds the horse. The AQHA firmly believes anyone has the right to do what they want with their horses, which includes slaughter as an end of life option. “Salvage value” is another term that I have heard being used.

There is then some preamble that ties together the AQHA, AVMA and AAEP together in wanting to slaughter our horses domestically. Well, we know that each organization is pro-slaughter, sadly not so much “pro-horse.”

The statement concludes,

“As we celebrate the Fourth of July weekend with family and friends, I am reminded that this holiday weekend is not only about picnics, parades and fireworks. July 4th celebrates the birth of American independence, and because of our freedom, we have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others, including our horse.”

That statement seems disingenuous at best.

In summary:
The SAFE Act is about food safety, which is a genuine concern given the undocumented drugs that American horses receive, before they become a “food animal”. The response from the AQHA completely ignores this, and moves the conversation to an “unwanted horse” issue. They do this in a very disingenuous manner.

For those of you who want to learn more about the horse slaughter issue, and make a truly informed decision on what is the right thing to do, I ask you to review my video series. The better informed we are, the better it will be for our horses.

8 thoughts on “AQHA’s disingenuous position on horse slaughter, encourages membership to derail SAFE Act”

  1. I read the whole article when it came out. I was surprised to find out that rescues like the one I work with are full because the slaughter plants in the US were closed. We always struggle for space but the horses who come to USERL come from owners who are forced by court action to release them due to neglect or abuse. Most of these owners would never consider slaughtering their horses… They hoard them, breed excessively to sell and don’t , or think skeletal remains make good lawn decorations… Lol Anyway I don’t mean to make light of the whole situation. There ARE too many unwanted horses… People DO need to be responsible for appropriate whole life decisions ( instead of wanting to give away or donate old sick or lame horses to keep from paying their expenses ) … Rescues do need public support. Maybe AQHA could help make a difference by donating $1 of every registration fee? Can u imagine the possibilities if all horse registries did the same? Like the old saying goes… I cannot do everything but I can do something— if all those who cared about horses did something small the effects would be astounding.

  2. I noticed that the AQHA mentions nothing about excessive breeding. I know many Quarter Hirse breeders(and other breeds) who breed many, many foals each year with the plan if selecting a few of the best for themselves and “disposing” of the rest. This is a huge contributor to the unwanted horse problem. Bit AQHA would lose money if breeders cut back, so they aren’t going to address this issue.

  3. the definition of an “unwanted horse” is any animal that may be sick, injured or old. They may be unmanageable, unridable, or dangerous, or may have otherwise failed to meet their owner’s expectations. In many cases unwanted horses are healthy horses that become more of a burden to their owners than is manageable because of financial limitations, time constraints or other factors.

  4. The food chain should not be used as a dumping ground for “unwanted”, unregulated meat animals……The cattlemen’s association needs to recognize the fact that U.S. horse meat is a threat to their industry, as consumer confidence in their product falls……AQHA, without the option of slaughter would have to humanely provide for their culls…..Without the slaughter pipeline, horses in need would be left in their states of origin, spread out through the nation, not funneled toward border states by kill buyers…Each state could then support it’s own horses….Pressure would be felt by breeders, without the luxury of easy drop off and disposal at auctions and feedlots……Not until transport for slaughter is stopped, will breeders be forced to act humanely toward those they have created.

  5. This is why, after reading the AQHA article stating their position on horse slaughter, i wrote them a letter telling them that I would not be renewing my membership. I didn’t and have no intention in supporting any organization or person who is pro-slaughter. I have a gorgeous foundation QH, but will not promote the AQHA. My husband and I also did not attend QH Congress this year. The first time we’ve not attended since 1994, but it won’t be the last that we won’t attend.

  6. Ag organizations like 4-H don’t believe animals are anything but a means to earn money, if you have that mindset why would you care if a horse that didn’t win a lot of prizes would be worth their concern? Slaughter is an acceptable process for any project be it a chicken rabbit or steer. AQHA is an agricultural club for horses that have fine breeding but if not money winning – see ya. That is not the right thing to teach kids – that all that matters is the prize and the animal may stay around their 100 acre ranch but most likely he’ll wind up at the kill buyer,

  7. Slaughter houses here in the United States means we have a say in the regulation of how a horse meets their end. Once they cross an international border we can say and do nothing about how they are treated. A fact those who wish to close the American slaughter houses seem to ignore or do not a care about. Also how nice of the horse rescues to give the kill buyers a new way to make money without even having to put the horses on a truck.

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