I am a horse person, a true horse person. I get up every morning at the
break of dawn, put on my coveralls, boots, hat, gloves, and winter parka
to trudge across the snowy yard to take care of my horses. I feed them,
water them, turn them out, clean their stalls, and give them the love
that they deserve.
Dr. Lisa Carter and her beloved companion, Black Diamond.True horse
people are responsible horse owners—but not all horse owners are
horse people. Some people treat their horses like a commodity. They ride
and feed their horses, pay for veterinary and farrier care, and brag
The big difference between true horse people and horse owners is the
long-term responsibility they take for their horses. True horse people
care about their horses, even when they no longer own them or they are
no longer "useful."
I currently have a 27-year-old Arabian gelding that I showed
competitively on the Class A Arabian show circuit. We won many ribbons
and reserve championships. Over time, he became old and arthritic,
insulin intolerant, and I was no longer able to ride him.
The easiest manner of getting rid of this responsibility would be to
ship him off to an auction house where he would be sold for slaughter. I
would make about $200 off the deal and be rid of this high-maintenance
But I am a true horse person. I take the responsibility of horse
ownership seriously and know that it is a lifelong commitment. I know
that when my geriatric horse's quality of life is gone, I will humanely
euthanize him by chemical injection. It is the least that I can do for
this wonderful animal.
Easy Way Out
Some horse owners take the easy route to rid themselves of "useless"
horses. They send their horse to an auction. He or she is left in a pen
for 12-24 hours without food or water, packed up into another trailer
(sometimes a double-decker cattle trailer), and hauled hundreds of
miles—still without food or water—often incurring injuries
during the ride due to the overcrowding.
An American horse enters the kill box at a Mexican slaughter
plant.©The HSUSThese horses arrive at a slaughterhouse, which is
designed for cattle, in deplorable conditions and are forced into the
plant to endure a terrible and painful death.
If they are lucky, they will only be struck in the head once with a
captive bolt before their subsequent death. Most are not so lucky. Some
very unfortunate horses end up in Mexico, where they are stabbed
repeatedly in the neck in an effort to sever the spinal cord. These
horses are paralyzed while being butchered, but still fully conscious.
Options are Available
I realize that not everyone has the financial ability to keep a horse
that is no longer useful or is in poor health, but shipping a horse off
to a slaughterhouse for a quick buck is simply wrong.
There are many options for people that are financially unable to care
for their horses—they can relinquish their horse to a rescue
carefully vetted private owner, donate their horse to a riding center,
or have a veterinarian humanely euthanize their horse.
What You Can Do
As well as being a true horse person, I am also an equine veterinarian.
I cancelled my membership to the American Association of Equine
Practitioners (AAEP) because I do not agree with their pro-slaughter
stance. Their position on slaughter mirrors that of big money making
organizations like the American Quarter Horse Association, whose members
often use slaughter as a quick and easy way of disposing of "useless"
horses while making a quick buck.
Currently there is a bill going through Congress, H.R. 503, known as the
Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act
horses for human consumption overseas, as well as ban the export of
horses for slaughter.
I beg all of you, especially true horse people, to contact your
urge them to pass this bill. Horses deserve to be treated in a humane
manner—H.R. 503 will make this inhumane manner of horse disposal a
thing of the past.
Dr. Lisa Carter is a veterinarian and avid horse enthusiast and owner.