Horse News

Absence of Logic

Editorial by Vicki Tobin ~Vice President of the Equine Welfare Alliance

It is said that you cannot teach someone Common Sense

This is the case with the mantra of illogical statements we hear from horse slaughter supporters. The statements, spoken with such authority, in fact either lack common sense or amount to nothing more than finding a piece of Jello they can nail to the wall.

The “unwanted” horse stories would lead the country to believe that millions of horses are running loose in our streets. Every sound bite and every article warns of unwanted horses. Another favorite is to start articles with; “since Congress banned horse slaughter” or “because of the slaughter ban.”

When the unwanted horses are combined with the ban on horse slaughter, it provides a powerful statement in favor of horse slaughter. That is, until you look at the facts. One need not be a horse owner to see the lack of logic behind the statements of slaughter supporters.  This illogic is as easily detected by a New York apartment dweller as a seasoned horse owner.

In a recent article, Horse Welfare Wars: When Emotion and Fact Collide, by Tom Lenz, the former head of the Unwanted Horse Coalition and American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), he defines unwanted horses as, “horses that are no longer wanted by their current owners because they are old, injured, sick, unmanageable, or simply fail to meet the owners’ expectations.”

The reader must keep in mind that slaughter supporters frequently cite Tom Lenz and Temple Grandin as authorities with their words as gospel. Yet, statistics from Temple Grandin’s study on horses arriving at slaughter and the United States Department of Agriculture have proven that over 90% of the horses going to slaughter do not meet the Tom Lenz definition of unwanted horses.

Therefore, the statement by horse slaughter supporters that the horses going to slaughter are unwanted is unfounded by their own definition. The data does not support their statement.

Combine the unwanted horse myth with the fact that Congress has not banned horse slaughter and you have a statement that is totally false. A quick look at the statistics of US horses that are slaughtered in Mexico and Canada quickly quash the mythical ban. American horses are still filling slaughter houses, just not in the US.

What is truly a sad commentary on today’s society is that people actually believe these statements without question. Many that call themselves journalists happily repeat the statements over and over. Perhaps it is the lack of staff and being overworked but the days of actually investigating information before going to print, for many of these journalists, are long gone.

Lenz claims that the AAEP is not pro slaughter but Lenz himself testified before Congress on behalf of AAEP against the legislation that would ban horse slaughter. More words with contradictory actions.

A quick Google search of Lenz will produce numerous articles. Every article has references to “horse processing” ending, usually with overtones as the driver for neglect and yet, not one article mentions the drugs present in US horses that make them ineligible for human consumption. By profession, Tom Lenz is a well respected veterinarian. In all the years of practicing veterinary sciences, surely he must have read at least one label of the medications he has prescribed over the years.

While Lenz’s most recent article has shown more emphasis on responsible horse ownership, there is still the overtone of promoting horse slaughter and still, no mention of food safety.

In a recent communication with Horseback Magazine, Wyoming State Representative, Sue Wallis, has proclaimed herself a scientist and has changed Federal Drug Agency (FDA) and European Union (EU) regulations. Wallis’ source to back her scientific evidence is backside track gossip from trainers of Thoroughbreds.

Equine welfare advocates do not deny a rise in neglect but it is not unique to horses. It is prevalent in cats, dogs, livestock and to an extent, humans. It is increasing in countries such as Canada and the UK, further proving that there is no correlation to the availability of slaughter.

The economy has taken a toll and instead of using a little common sense and a bit of research, the slaughter supporters follow and support the baseless claims like lemmings.

As the “unwanted” horses are being slaughtered this year, one would think, the “problem” would correct itself but alas, as I write this, the crop of unwanted horses for next year are being prepped by the breeders that produce them, year after year. We are asked to believe that there is no relationship between kill buyers buying horses and breeders breeding more.

Next time you read about how the mythical ban on horse slaughter is resulting in “unwanted” horses and an increase in neglect, ask the author to give you the data sources that back the statement. Chances are you will never receive a response or if you do, they’ll ask if you live in New York City.

25 replies »

  1. A Silent Tear

    Stand proud wild horse of the desert plain
    Do not let them your spirit claim
    Stand tall, stand firm, do not give in
    Though domination men seek to win.

    God made you strong and gave you heart
    And set you free right from the start
    To roam the valleys and the hills
    Yet your freedom men seek to steal.

    Don’t they know or can’t they see
    This is where you were meant to be.
    Other beasts of burden cannot compare
    Nor your beauty do they share.

    If we listen we might hear
    The thunderous roar, the silent tear
    Of slaughtered ones from the past
    And understand your plight at last.


  2. Good piece.
    The past 30+ years has seen a growing presence in the hollowed halls of veterinary science of vets that no longer subscribe to the long held mainstream notion that the best way to maintain healthy dogs, cats, horses etal is to vaccinate vaccinate and vaccinate some more along with plying them with as many or more pharmaceuticals as humans often imbibe. Often with dire consequence.
    The notion that our familiars can be raised and maintained with a minimum of intrusive chemicals is becoming more and more the commonly held belief. However, many vets cling to that cash cow with all they’ve got after all, if you are caring for your animals with high quality and natural foods, herbs and little out of their office……you are not making them any money. Funny how we always seem to get back to the dollar bill in this and many other issues.


  3. Good points Vicki. Just once I would like to hear a breeder state that “yes there is a horse population problem and I am the cause” instead of asserting that they hope this years “crop” of foals gleans one good one (the rest of course will most likely be throwaways.) Just as in the world of addiction until you stand up and state that there is a problem and you are it there will never be a solution. On the up side I do know of a few backyard breeders who have come to this realization and have discontinued breeding. This would only account for 5-10 horses that won’t end up on a feedlot awaiting rescue. Its small, but its a start.


  4. ahhhhh common sense its a wonderful thing , but unfortunately not all use itm, I believe we are all given it from birth, but some have no idea how to use it , Not once have i ever seen bob abbey use or any of the people associated with the BLM , with the exception of Dean Bolstead but now even he has lost it………For many years the horse has been persecuted by greedy people with only lining their pockets, from the blood of the horse……To them this is easy money, they cannot ,talk or defend themselves, Through the years, advocates had to fight tooth and nail for what little bit they have gotten for them, Their have been many Champions also for them…. This is a battle that we can win , I see the light at the end of the tunnel for them, we must not stop for even a minute , as i have said many times the horse is a wonderful gift to us, we must learn how to except this beauty , we are here to save him from these greedy bastards who cannot seen to understand his worth to all of us, he was created out of beauty and love , he is here for our pleasure , to teach us , to show us how to love , to have pride, to trust, and give us hope , those of us who cannot understand or except this can only be pitied for their lack of acceptance of this lovely gift…………We advocates are here to bring this to light for all……… All here are doing that, we have created Laws to protect them, which are not being followed , by the very people that are paid by the people to do so…..Hence we must find the way to prosecute them ……………and dissolve their agency !!!! and form one of people who can and will take proper care of them….. This takes common sense………..


  5. The truth is that slaughter houses don’t want sick, old or injured horses. They want overweight, young horses with tender flesh. Horses will stand around in feed lots putting on weight before being shipped to slaughter. The shorter the time period in the feedlot, the greater the financial profit. The folks who own these feed lots don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars getting old or sick horses up to weight. There’s no profit in it. Not to mention that they don’t want sick horses on their property that may infect the healthy horses or that they, by law, will be required to treat for medical issues.
    Like Vickie, I see that there are thousands of dogs, cats, etc. that are thrown away in shelters — but we don’t eat them simply because breeders keep cranking them out.
    Pro-slaughter folks always say that horse advocates never offer solutions. Well, here are a few: Breeders should be held to a higher level of accountability. Whether a backyard breeder or one who breeds a hundred horses to get one “good” horse, it makes sense to institute higher breeder taxes/licenses to cover the consequences of over-breeding. Instead of putting horses through the terror of shipping and slaughter — instead of trying to sell off contaminated meat — why not use funds raised by breeder taxes to offer low cost euthanasia and animal removal? This, I think, would cost far less than re-opening and inspecting horse slaughter plants. And it doesn’t involve unresolvable food safety issues.
    There are plenty of vets who offer low cost services, including non-profits. These are primarily for cat/dog spay/nueter programs, etc. But I think there’s an avenue for equine vets to offer similar low cost services for humane euthanasia.
    Just my thoughts …


    • Some of your thoughts echo my own, Nora. Especially the part about the vets being more proactive in helping their clients deal with the end of their horse’s life. I think vets should make it a priority with every new client to discuss end of life issues – what to expect, how much euthanasia is likely to cost, what to do about the body in their area since laws differ. And, it goes without saying that vets themselves should stay current on all these issues so they CAN help their clients. I’ve had some great equine vets over the years, but NONE have ever opened a conversation on these subjects.


  6. I’m incensed whenever I hear “failed to meet the owner’s expectations”! The professional breeder’s and exhibitor’s “failed expectations” are well-know, but what about the amateurs?

    I know of a flashy buckskin gelding that “failed to meet the expectations” of a girl who “used him up” running barrels, pole bending, and goat roping at 4-H and high school rodeos. He’s a QH/Arab cross, that, through no fault of his own, ended up with a stout body on thin legs. This ignorant girl chose a horse unsuited, by conformation, for what she wanted him to do!

    Though he tried his best, he didn’t win, and winning was more important to her than the welfare of her horse. When he finally came up lame, she “wanted him gone” so she could find another poor horse to torture.

    Fortunately, she contacted a rescue before sending him to the sale barn, which she said was her ONLY other option. I was there when he was picked up, and she couldn’t even load him, although he loaded easily for another person. He KNEW not to trust this girl.

    After a short rehab, including a couple of rounds of natural balance trimming, the vet pronounced him sound. Soon after, he was adopted by a loving family. He now enjoys a useful career as a trail horse, which should have been his “job” all along!


    • Thank You Linda Horn , It is a great Story with a Happy Happy ending, I hope there are many with more with such a great Happy endings for the Horse !!!!How we love those awesome Happy Endings………All that is needed is insight !!!! Just like Common Sense it is always with us , we need to use it………………………. When applied many Wonderful things transpire when we think all is lost !!!!!! It takes the Horse to show us how doesnt it !!!!!! Again his contributions endless……


    • And if you know of anyone – child or adult – who wants to compete, but may not have the expertise to choose a horse suited to a particular discipline, please try (diplomatically) to put them in touch with someone who can help them make a good choice. Winning can’t be guaranteed, but responsible ownership must be stressed, especially with those blinded by blue ribbons and prize money.


  7. People are just like Horses , they will give themselves to you completely , if they feel what your asking them for is fair……………I think the ASPCA maybe would have the Funds for a tv commercial………………. Just think we can present one that is for real !!!!!!! All in one sweep we can reach the Entire USA…………………… All will know the Plight of the Wild Mustang !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not one person will not be informed !!!!


  8. There are thousands of large horse breeding ranches that each breed 100-300 or more! foals each year. Arabians, TB, standardbred, many breeds and backyard breeders aswell.

    If only 1,000 of those silly horse ranches would stop breeding like maniacs the kill-jobbers would have to steal more than the reported 50k(stolen each year). Kill0jobbers would have to lie to more kids that they are giving ‘Nellie’ a good home…..when they are trying to ‘make a slaughter load’

    I hate the horse-eaters like Sue Wallis and those Vet buddies of hers…. who would LIE just to kill horses and give people cancer, rather then try to help.


    • Louie, it is much higher than that. The AQHA alone has registered over 135,000 foals every year. That is but one breed registry. TB registries are usually in the mid 30,000s and Paints in the 20,000s. The other breeds combined are in the 40,000s so right there are over 200,000 registered. Those were 2008 registered numbers so just think of what the count must be with horses that are not registered.



    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Government officials say the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has mishandled a mandate to exchange land with the states of California and Washington.

    The Government Accountability Office report released Monday says the BLM has been selling some properties and purchasing others, rather than completing the straightforward trades they’re permitted to perform.

    It says that doing so circumvented the U.S. Congress’ authority, since it bought land outside of Congress’ appropriations process.

    The GAO also says the agency may have missed out on revenue by directly selling land to interested buyers instead of putting it out to competitive bid.

    A BLM spokesman did not immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press seeking comment.

    (© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


    • So where are the “independent” media White Papers on all these DOI/BLM wrongdoings? Where are Anderson Cooper, et al, when our country needs them?

      Unfortunately, I don’t think anything substantial will come from calling for an investigation of the WH&BP alone, but when combined with other evidence of past and present DOI/BLM shenanigans, it might encourage the new Congress to at least hold hearings.


  10. Absence of logic=greed and profit. I read the article about a week ago and I don’t care how scientific this vet is, he needs to do some research. Like that will ever happen, he’s to busy making profit. I would better guess he is tied to some horse organization that breeds to kill, such as AQHA. In my neck of the woods almost all the vets are except the old timers but seems all the young new ones on the block are. How do I know? I own a thoroughbred saved from slaughter! I’ve been around the block on this issue and vets. I’ve heard it all.


  11. Savewildhorses posted this link–here it is–more info on the same report:

    GAO: BLM mishandled land trades with Calif., Wash.
    LOS ANGELES The U.S. Bureau of Land Management overstepped its authority to exchange federal land in California and Washington state by buying and selling properties outside of Congress’ appropriations process, according to a government audit released Monday.
    The Government Accountability Office report said the BLM’s land transactions completed since 1995 in Washington involved the sale or purchase of properties, rather than the straightforward trades that the agency is permitted to perform.
    In California, where the BLM worked on land deals in conjunction with the U.S. General Service Administration, all but two transactions since 1995 involved buying or selling land, the agency said.
    “BLM’s actions circumvent the carefully crafted statutory framework governing the sale, purchase, and exchange of public land – a framework designed to protect the public interest,” the GAO report said.
    A BLM spokesman referred questions to the bureau’s parent agency, the U.S. Department of the Interior. Interior spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said her agency was reviewing the report.
    A phone message left with the GSA was not returned Monday.
    The report details seven transactions involving the sale or purchase of land in Washington that the BLM completed with Orofino, Idaho-based Clearwater Land Exchange, a private business that helps facilitate property swaps for government agencies.
    Carla Laws, a Clearwater partner, said all of its transactions with the BLM have been exchanges, although some “phased exchanges” involve holding money from sales in escrow until new purchases can be made.
    The report did not specify the number of transactions completed in California, but detailed several deals where the BLM appeared not to have completed simple exchanges.
    One identified as the “Dixon transactions” showed the BLM and GSA bought land from California, rather than offering federal land as a trade. In another series of transactions, the GSA was accused of selling surplus federal property to third-party buyers at the BLM’s direction.
    Phone messages and e-mails left with the Government Accountability Office seeking details about the number of California deals and the locations of the purchases in both states were not immediately returned.
    In its report, the accountability office also faulted the BLM for not depositing money from sales into an account designated for purchasing new property, which was thereby depleted “of amounts it should have received to fund qualifying land purchases.”
    The BLM instead used Treasury deposit fund accounts, a type of account that is designated for money not controlled by the government.
    The office said the BLM currently has at least $7.9 million from sales in California in a deposit fund account. The report did not specify a figure for sales in Washington state.
    The accountability Office also said the BLM’s practices could have cost revenue, since it sold land directly to interested buyers instead of putting it out for competitive bids.

    Read more:


  12. We have become such a disposable society….not only is ‘common sense’ a rare virtue…..but so is commitment. Horses have made many people money, served them well….and they can justify ‘disposing’ of them when it becomes inconvenient. What a sad commentary to what this society has become. Blessings to all the advocates who have fought this battle for the horses…….we are not in it for money, notoriety nor anything other than to save the suffering . BLM,Temple Gradin, Slaughterhouse Sue, nor Deadhorse Dave D could not say the same.


  13. IMO, a prime factor in this whole business has been pretty much overlooked. It can be summed up in two words – TAX BREAKS! I know BLM grazing and Ag in general gets massive federal/state support. I sure would like to find out how much goes directly to the horse industry. Do breeders/owners/trainers of purebreds reap the most benefits?

    And does anyone know how many acres/horses qualifies an owner for an Ag tax break? I seem to remember it’s 10 acres for (how many?) cattle, which is why folks with “ranchettes” keep stock whether they know anything about proper care and management or not.

    Before any Ag folks jump down my throat, I don’t oppose support for ligit operations.
    That being said, I WOULD like to see equids put in a special SUB-CATEGORY under Livestock. I think that would allow people to better address “welfare” (not “RIGHTS”!!!) issues without depriving the industry of its tax breaks.


    • Linda…absolutely correct about the “TAX” situation. It is the prime driver of breeding overproduction in the equine world. Additionally, qualifying as a business that shows, competes or races equines for tax purposes is a flaming nightmare. So the path of least resistance is the breeding shed. It needs to be fixed pronto. Sadly, Congress just gave another frontend, accelerated depreciation deduction to racers. Now, does anyone think that helps or contributes to the living longevity of the equine? I don’t think so.

      Thanks Vivki…good essay/op.


      • Sorry…I meant to say “….deduction for owners of racers…” The equines could give a rat’s pahtoot less about taxes.


    • I don’t claim to know a LOT about this situation, but I do know that for the IRS to consider your horses as a “business” instead of a “hobby” you have to prove that you intended to make money. You don’t have to actually turn a profit, you just have to convince the IRS that you intended to.

      Always thought that was a bit fishy, but since I never intended to make money off my horses, what do I know?


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