On Friday, a federal judge halted, at least for the time being, the opening of horse slaughterhouses in New Mexico and Iowa. While this represents a small victory for equine advocates, the larger issue – where the slaughterbound come from and how we can stop it – receives secondary coverage at best. Polls show 70-80% of the American public opposes horse slaughter, but why is there not a similar distaste for one of slaughter’s primary suppliers – horseracing? This is where Robert Redford, Bill Richardson, and the like can have a greater impact. This is where their outrage should be focused.

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Roughly 19% of the 175,000 American horses currently being shipped to foreign abattoirs are retired Thoroughbreds. And while definitive studies on the former Quarter Horse and Standardbred athletes butchered are lacking, it’s a good bet that the combined number either equals or exceeds the Thoroughbred count. So yes, continue to protest these hellholes, both here and abroad, but go after the source too. Oh, and don’t forget to remind the Europeans how their delicacy is produced. In the end, it’s the flow, not the site, that matters.

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According to the Equine Welfare Alliance (from USDA statistics), in 2012, 176,223 American horses were shipped to Mexico (110,202), Canada (59,812), and Japan (6,209) for slaughter. 176,223. That’s a 32% increase from 2011 and the most American horses slaughtered since 1993. A Wild for Life Foundation study found that roughly 19% of the horses shipped to slaughter are Thoroughbreds. In other words, about 33,000 Thoroughbreds met cruel and violent ends in abattoirs last year.

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Now consider this: The Jockey Club estimates the 2012 foal “crop” at 22,500, meaning significantly more American Thoroughbreds were exsanguinated than born. Bustling butcher lines. Is this, horseracing industry, what you mean by “responsible aftercare”? Something to ponder as the annual pilgrimage to Saratoga continues…

How they die (from the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition):
2010 undercover video of two Canadian slaughterhouses

2011 undercover video of yet another Canadian slaughterhouse