Horse News

The BIG DEAL about Horse Meat

Source: Letter to Editor of The Berkshire Eagle from Barbara Kellogg

horses are administered not only antibiotics, but a pharmacy of drugs banned from the food chain…”

Monday April 22, 2013

The April 5 op-ed by Peter Albertson, “Why the fuss about horse meat?” missed the key reasons why there is indeed a ruckus: primarily that horse meat is profoundly toxic and inhumanely produced.

Horses — particularly racehorses, an estimated 60 percent of whom end up at slaughter — are walking pharmacies. “Eating them is about as healthful as eating food contaminated with DDT,” says Dr. Nicholas Dodman, professor of clinical sciences at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

Antibiotics used in cattle have been approved for use in food animals. By contrast, horses are administered not only antibiotics, but a pharmacy of drugs banned from the food chain, including hormones, steroids, coagulants, sedatives, parasiticides and potent painkillers. Horses are raised as athletes and long-lived companions; they are liberally medicated to enhance performance and address injuries and chronic conditions.

The other major reason 80 percent of all Americans and 90 percent of Massachusetts residents surveyed are opposed to horse slaughter for human consumption is the inevitable suffering inflicted on an animal that has spent its life serving humans. To most it is considered the moral equivalent of sending former service dogs to dog meat factories.

To get Albertson’s “dry, soft meat,” horses suffer unspeakable cruelty from auction to feedlot to transport, then during the kill process itself. Two USDA responses to FOIA requests produced horrifying images — including a 900-page report of violations — of horses arriving at former U.S. horse slaughter plants dead (sometimes trampled to death), or with limbs torn off, broken necks, and eyes bludgeoned (sometimes admittedly gauged by transporters to reduce fighting).

Due to equine physiology and temperament, it is difficult to slaughter horses humanely in factory settings, as the organization, Veterinarians for Equine Welfare, has testified. According to Dr. Lester Castro Friedlander, a former USDA Supervisory Veterinary Medical Officer, equine brain placement, which is further back than bovine’s, requires a precise and penetrating shot to render a horse unconscious. As video investigations have shown, this rarely happens on the first shot — in violation of the 1958 Humane Slaughter Act — and results in multiple shots; terrified, thrashing horses; and many horses being vivisected while still conscious.



The writer is a horse owner, horse rescue volunteer, and the chair of the Massachusetts Equine Welfare Council. She is also a member of the Berkshire Disaster Animal Response Team.

Please click (HERE) to Comment on Barbara’s Letter

10 replies »

  1. Absolutely to the point! Tho I respectfully suggest revising one word: “Due to equine physiology and temperament, it is difficult to slaughter horses humanely in factory settings …”, where ‘difficult’ could be replaced with ‘impossible’. Contact Washington, DC in support of S.541 & HR.1094 now, and ban horse slaughter. No excuses.


  2. Very precise and to the point. Pro-slaughter people always take such a utilitarian approach to this issue as trying to simply state it as just another meat-source and even leaner and healthier than beef. With the ever-shrinking horse meat market abroad, I am still baffled why there is still such a push to bring horse processing plants here. Where is the market?


  3. I wanted to read the original article—the guy got a lot of withering remarks for his vapid and poor “journalistic” skill in getting this piece placed. What a doofus… it is hard to believe some people are so blindly willing to justify their ignorance in public. Hope the link does not deny this post–


  4. Great information for those unaware of all the inhumane conditions, brutal practice that’ inflicted on our equines and the health issue on consumption of horsemeat.


  5. Horse slaughter is NOT humane euthanasia!

    With the captive-bolt, which was developed for use on cattle, stunning is ineffective over 40% of the time when applied to domestic, trained horses (the ones full of prohibited drugs and medications.) This is due to the fact that horses’ heads cannot be restrained as cattle are and accuracy is very difficult. Horses will routinely break their own necks if restrained. The captive-bolt is ineffective at stunning wild, untrained or under-trained horses nearly 100% of the time. Everyone who knows horses and has any experience at all with wild horses knows that it is near impossible to get anywhere near their poll which is a very vulnerable area to every horse. To get near a wild horse’s poll with a captive-bolt apparatus and have an accurate shot is technically, practically and virtually impossible. This is the reason why we find so much carcass evidence documentation of severe abuse to slaughtered horses. The captive-bolt process itself is so ineffective that many horses are shot multiple times or vivisected while conscious. This is a definite violation of the Humane Slaughter Act which mandates slaughtered animals to be rendered “senseless with one (1) shot.”

    Please visit this website for more information and important action items YOU CAN DO TODAY to help U.S. horses avoid horrible abuse in the future:


  6. Not too much to say here. He is right on the money..Its very sickening..Those that support slaughter have no concept of horse anatomy or do they even care…All they think they see are $$$$$$$$$$$$
    Whose buying the product?? Is there another motive for the horses, like some sort of research?


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