The two sides of the slaughter debate


Horsetalk has carried two important pieces this week on the wider issue of horse slaughter.

Both are notable for their quality and provide both sides of this emotive debate with much food for thought.

Dr Tom Lenz has written on the international implications of the unwanted horse and John Holland has replied with a piece exploring the very definition of the term “unwanted horse”.

Both sides of this debate touch a raw nerve with many people.

A majority of those opposed to slaughter find the whole concept abhorrent.

Many in favour of a slaughter industry believe it to be in the best interests of horses, amid a strongly held belief that a worse fate otherwise awaits such animals.

It cannot be denied, however, that on the pro-slaughter side of this heated debate there are some who are driven by money. This fuels the emotional side of the debate on the pro-slaughter side.

Horsetalk often receives reader feedback on stories on slaughter – the current two pieces are no exception – and some has been vitriolic.

One reader took particular exception to Lenz’s piece and felt it should be removed immediately.

Whether you agree with Holland’s slaughter politics, there is much to be admired about the way in which he lays out his arguments, and the manner in which he explains his position with measured language.

The Lenz piece is likewise a quality piece of writing, as one would expect from an article which formed part of the proceedings of the last World Equine Veterinary Association conference.

Both present the kind of face on which the fate of this important issue will be decided.

It is not a debate that will ultimately be won with emotion, personal attacks, nor, one would hope, by the amount of dollars spent on lobbying.

Holland believes that definitions in this debate are important, and he takes major issue with the term “unwanted horse”.

He suggests that definitions are important because it ultimately comes down to precisely what you are arguing over. Holland prefers the term “excess horses” because be believes it touches more accurately on issues around overbreeding.

Overbreeding and poor quality breeding decisions are not problems confined to the United States, but one has only to look at the dominance of quarter horses and thoroughbreds in the analysis of US horses going to slaughter to realise that the business models that ultimately feed the industry have serious shortcomings – at least you do if you object to otherwise healthy horses meeting their fate at a slaughter plant.

Horsetalk appreciates that Lenz and Holland provided us with the opportunity to publish their pieces.

Information – as they say – is power, even if the message isn’t always to your liking.

» More articles on this topic are here

6 thoughts on “The two sides of the slaughter debate

  • February 12, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    First, kudos to for having the guts and professionalism to post Lenz’s and Holland’s posts.

    I want to start after the kudos, just to say that while it is reasonable to assume that a person with the credentials of a leader like Lenz, that all he wrote is correct is a mistake.

    His footnotes may be correct, but his extropolation as a source to justify his “unwanted horse” mantra and slaughter of equines is not.

    To begin, the T. Gradin footnote is strictly bovine, swine…not equine as a point of researched reference. And that is just for starters. I’ll be back, but until then remember…. Dr Lenz (who took an oath) did not address drug exposure of human consumption slaughter bound equines.

    Just another slip in the convenient mind lapse of the meat industry advocates? Nope…very well calculated.

  • February 12, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Just a note to let everyone know I am here if you wish to contact me or ask me anything. I also want to thank for allowing both sides of the debate and for providing this wonderful forum!

    I will check posts as often as possible but that may not always be immediately due to my work load. Feel free to email me and ask me to look at the forum if I seem to have missed something.


  • February 8, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    This is what i thought when i saw the billboard Stop Slaughtering Us

    I read on SSHS web site were it called horses noble creatures., were in reality they are noble knights that have carried us on their backs with no questions asked for war .work, and fun . It is sad that these noble knights’ are treated with such disrespect That’s the way people in the USA treat noble knights that includes are soldiers that go to war for us. Surprised people in the USA haven’t thought of a way to slaughter them when they come home from serving us and are broken and have no us for them

    Sign should say why are you doing this to us we did everything you asked

  • April 20, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    I have a neighbor who ownes almost 100 horses. Those horses stand on dirt pastures and wait for their hay to come, meanwhile produce more babies, who will stand around and do nothing and wait for their hay to come, and produce more babies.

    In another area of this neighbor’s place, stands two stud horses. These two studs are in a corral that has 40 year’s worth of manuer, broken-down fences and caved in shelters. I was told, by the Deputy’s office, (when I called to file a complaint) that these studs are now breeding daughters and grand-daughters.

    And who is going to want those horses? Certainly not a capable and knowledable horse person who wants a well-bred, good looking horse.

    I’ve been a horse trainer and instructor for the past 20 years and through that time I have seen many a horse, some of which need to be taken out of the gene pool because of poor breeding, confirmation, lameness, sickness or just down right mean-ness. I agree with the blogger who said “you can’t fix stupid,” and I would like to add, “but you can stop it from reproducing.”

    Slaughter houses, I’m certain, could incorporate more humane ways of doing business, and I for one, vote for an avenue to rid the horse industry of untrained, unwanted and uncared for horses.

  • October 20, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    I reckon the horse population has declined so much because of slaughtering. For many reasons it is unnecessary to kill such magnificent creatures, even one girl I know (who will not be named) sent her standard-bred there because it bucked. The owner used a whip and never seeked professional advice, being me it never deserved to die for a mistake the owner made. Especially since every horse and pony bucks from pain, excitement or annoyance, even mine. That horse would have been amazing if she’d been given a chance.

    But the worst is race horses. They run and train for around three straight years and all they receive as an award is to be a dogs next meal. Many standardbreds and thoroughbreds are champions but are never recognized for their talent.

    I hope someone see’s that they need to shut these down for the horses sake because pretty soon we wont have the decency to stop before its too late.


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