For the project I am working on, Horses, Sports, Culture and Slaughter, I have wanted to get a better understanding of the history of horse slaughter, in the United States. Finally, after a lot of searching, I found this resource: White Paper by Allen Warren.
For those of you who are interested in the history, in some detail, read from:
The first of the three men mentioned at the beginning of this paper who drastically altered the ancient relationship between humans and horses was Henry Ford. While snipping the ribbon to open his first Model T automobile assembly line plant in Detroit on October 1, 1908, Ford’s comments to the press included the following statement: “My goal is to relieve the American farmer of the burden of horse care.”
A post script to this story is that another U.S. industrial giant, Quaker Oats, better known for its breakfast products, bought out the struggling Ken-L-Rations operation just before World War Two and continued to slaughter horses, although in much smaller numbers and selling a few carloads a week of Chapel’s original pickled horse meat in eastern cities where immigrants from Europe since the first world war had eaten it before and couldn’t afford to buy beef or pork at war time prices
Basically the history details three key protagonists:
Henry Ford: Invented the technology that displaced the horse which, in turn, created a supply glut of horses.
Phillip Chapel: Exploited this supply glut by initially buying up horses for the WW1 effort. When that market ended, he supplied horse meat for Europe because it lacked the agricultural infrastructure to feed itself after the war. When that market ended, he pivoted again, this time to supply dog food on a massive scale within the United States. He began his operations in New Jersey, shifted to Illinois, and then set up a presence in Montana to exploit the wild horse population.
Frank Litts: First animal activist, the “Cowboy Bomber” who tried to put an end to Chapel’s slaughter business, first through fair means, then through trying to blow up Chapel’s operation in Miles City, Montana.
Some fascinating stuff along the way. Very well worth a detailed read for anyone interested in the issue of the horse’s relationship with man.