Is Prison Catering to Kill Buyers?
HOUSTON, (Horseback) – In documents obtained by the animal advocacy group, Animals Angels, and provided to Horseback Magazine,61 Texas prison horses sold for between $102 – $852 each at a Huntsville, Texas auction.
One buyer and his son bought 37 of the horses and took them to his holding pasture near Waco. It is unknown if the horses have been transported to Mexico for disposal. The buyer has served time in a Texas prison operated by TDCJ, a prison official confirmed. Other horses were bought by a handful of other indiciduals and some are being advertised for sale on the open market.
The horses sold for a total of $31,155, with an average sale price of $510 each.
Last year the TDCJ equine program had an annual budget of almost $1.5 million managing at least $1,600 horses to serve their mounted guards who oversee prisoners in the fields and take part in manhunts. The horses are a majority three quarter Quarter Horse mix crossed with Percheron draft horses. The horses are bred stout to eaily support 300 pound prison guards during an eight hour shift in the fields.
In a 2004 story in Texas Horse Talk, prison officials said the 1,600 horses serve 76 mounted corrections officers. Asked last week to confirm that figure, a TDCJ spokesman said he was unable to provide Horseback Magazine with the exact number of uniformed prison guards routinely mounted on TDCJ horses for guard duty.
Horseback has asked for a detailed budget summery of the prison horse program but only totals for 2009, 2010, and part of 2011 have been provided. Those numbers include only salaries, the cost of feed and forage, and “other operating expenses.”
Forty of 61 horses owned and bred by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s tightly controlled equine breeding program were sold to two longtime kill buyers for the slaughter industry. The sale took place July 11, at the Huntsville Livestock Auction near a TDCJ concentration of prisons near the East Texas college town of Huntsville.