Accident Brings Horse Slaughter Issue to Forefront

Oct 31, 2007 12 Comments by

Young Belgian Rescued From Overturned Trailer

If you talk to horse enthusiasts, most of them would say, “Of course I’m against horse slaughter!” And they do mean it. But many, like me, have never taken it any farther than that. Without knowing details, I knew there are inhumane practices in the shipment and process. I would never consider eating horse meat, and I wish other people wouldn’t. I know there is legislation in Congress to prevent the killing of horses for human consumption. And that’s about it.

Then yesterday, I came across a news article buried on a horse forum about a double-decker trailer transporting 59 horses that overturned in northern Illinois on Saturday. This was a huge, inconceivable accident that brought together a community, yet we’ve heard nothing about it in national news. We all know Britney Spears was caught swearing outside a courtroom, but how many outside Chicago or a devoted horse world heard about this tragedy?

It caught my eye because there were 59 horses jammed in this trailer. That blew my mind. I mean, it’s hard enough to load three horses in a spacious slant load that’s made for horses to ride in comfortably. Besides having an unbelievable number of equines, the trailer was designed for cattle and pigs and most of the horses couldn’t even stand all the way up. And to top it off, they weren’t even sickly or old animals … they were young Belgian draft horses between the ages of 6 months and 6 years, and most were only in their first and second years. They were healthy, strong, and sound.

Young Belgians Jammed in Double Decker

18 of the animals either died in the crash or were euthanized afterwards due to their extensive injuries. The survivors were given refuge at a nearby farm where they continue to receive veterinary care, turnout, and a good supply of hay. The community rallied behind the stricken animals; it took hours of work to rescue the horses from the overturned trailer, half a dozen fire departments, and countless volunteers with horse experience.

Reports say that the driver of the trailer ran a red light and was struck by a pick up truck. He was going too fast and couldn’t regain control of the vehicle. The driver said that he was transporting the horses from Indiana to an auction in Minnesota where they would likely be bought by Amish farmers. The name of the owner has not been released, but he has been contacted and said that he is concerned for the welfare and safety of the horses (which I say is a load of bull since he had them transported like that!).

A Volunteer Sits With Injured Horses

However, the buzz in the horse world (and anybody who has half a brain) is that the unfortunate horses were probably bound for a slaughter house in Canada. Sure, they may have been going to the sale first where a few might have been bought into loving homes, but most wouldn’t be so lucky.

The three slaughterhouses in the U.S. (one in Illinois and two in Texas) have been shut down recently due to legislation banning horse slaughter on U.S. soil, but equines are still transported to Canada and Mexico. There they are killed and processed and shipped as a delicacy to Japan and some European countries. Though there isn’t concrete evidence at this point, many believe this was the fate of the 59 horses. If it was, the accident was a blessing in disguise. The community is rallying behind these horses, and it is highly probable that they will all be adopted into loving homes or rescue agencies.

Horse Slaughter in the U.S.
After reading everything I could find about this incident, I finally started researching more about horse slaughter practice and legislation in the U.S. It’s by no means a pretty picture.

I had always been under the impression that old, sickly, skinny, unsound horses were the ones sent to slaughter. But I’ve now learned that most of these ill-fated animals are actually young, healthy, sound, and in good weight, if not overweight. They’re more valuable as meat that way! I also learned that many of the slaughtered horses are babies born as a byproduct of the production of a drug called Premarin used to manage the symptoms of menopause and decrease the chances of developing osteoporosis. Premarin is made from estrogen found in the urine of pregnant mares. These horses are impregnated solely so they will produce this hormone, and the unwanted babies tend to meet their fate in a slaughterhouse. Many are shipped directly to Japan where they are slaughtered and distributed fresh. Some people are speculating that our 59 young Belgians were Premarin babies born as a byproduct and raised to be slaughtered. I don’t know if we’ll ever know for sure where they came from or where they are going, but it’s an incredibly likely scenario.

Horse Protection Act
There are bills in the early stages of approval in the House and the Senate that would amend the Horse Protection Act to “prohibit the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, and for other purposes.” Contact your representatives and let them know that you would like them to support these bills!

Useful Links:

What is the Horse Protection Act?
Horse Protection Act Amendment Bill in Senate (overview, supporters, and status)
Horse Protection Act Amendment Bill in House (overview, supporters, and status)
Sign Online Petition to Ban Horse Slaughter in the U.S. (deadline 12-21-07) I signed it, why don’t you? It’s a quick and easy way to get involved and help make a difference.

Horse News, Making a Difference

12 Responses to “Accident Brings Horse Slaughter Issue to Forefront”

  1. vicki says:

    We couldn’t have said it better! Kudos to you for taking the time to research and form an educated opinion. BTW-the baby pictured with the fireman was one of the horses that had to be euthanized. While it’s not making national news, it is spreading on the internet. Wadsworth has said they will not sweep this under the carpet. They’re investigating transport violations and we’re supposed to hear something next week. We can only hope those poor babies will be adopted and not returned to the owner. The driver did not have coggins or any heath papers so the story of going to an auction in MN is most likely not the case. We’re hearing it was headed straight to Canada.

  2. Jackie says:


    Thanks for taking time to fill in some of the details! I’m so sorry to hear that the horse pictured isn’t one who made it; he/she looks like a real sweetheart. I’m going to keep an eye on the situation myself, but please feel free to stop by with news if you want, or to share links with more info. I’m not the least bit surprised if it wasn’t going to auction, and I hope they find some evidence if that is the case.


  3. Sharon C says:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to look into the fate of at least 100,000 American horses per year.
    I do not believe that these horses were going to even be lucky enough to see an auction. I say this because if they were going to be auctioned, I do not believe they would have been jammed into a double decker where majority of horses come out with head gashes, they would not look appealing to a person looking to buy a horse.
    We are hearing this was the 4th trailer in a caravan of 200 horses, the other 3 where ahead of the accident. I am interested in hearing more about that story.
    You are right on the money, these horses I believe were more “by products” of Premarin.
    What galls me the most is pro slaughter will say America does not want their horses and yet, a drug company is producing all these foals and discarding the stallions and mares to slaughter when they cannot produce along with the by products and getting richer as a result.
    When will America stand up, this drug company has been sued, has to pay millions of dollars cause it is causing breast cancer, and yet they continue to sacrifice our horses for their gain.
    Thank you for stating the truth, be ready to be picked apart by supporters of slaughter, they keep spinning their lies.
    I too am VERY disappointed that this was not National News but then again, after years in this fight, it doesn’t surprise me to see our media dictate what we can know.

  4. Jackie says:


    These horses (and all others bound for slaughter) have a chance as long as there are people out there willing to fight for them. Even if it doesn’t make national news, we can spread it across the horse community and together help make a difference. You and Vicky are right, between the lack of health papers and conditions the horses were traveling in, it’s not at all likely they were headed for auction. I guess that’s the first thing that counts as evidence.

    Thanks for stopping by and for caring about America’s horses.


  5. Courtney says:


    These horses are beuatiful belgans, they are young as I know as well. I’m only in High School but I’m in High School for Equine Management & our teacher showed us the video of this horrific accident. I was crying so bad I decided to make a stand for the horses that are beign sent to Slaughterhouses and make sure all the petitions that are online to stop horse slaughter I made sure it woudl be banned. I own 3 horses myself, a Quarter Gelding, A tennesse walker mare, and a appy mare. I would never give any kind of horse up even if my life depened on it. I appreciate you summarizing it all up for me, i will be telling my teacher what really goes on. Thanks again for sticking up for those horses that need YOU! <

    Courtney from OHIO

  6. danielle says:

    horses today have suffered enough. horse have made the united states. horses were here before man kind. the united states was built from the sweat, back breaking work from thes horses. these young Belgian draft horses between the ages of 6 months and 6 years are only a child, if they were humans form. i think if some one descied to slaughter people. well us humans would want someone to find that person and prosaccute them. but since they are only horse people only think they are animals why care. you know what they have feelings to so thats why i am going to school for horses. horses are my passion and i will stand up for them thats what is right.

    danielle brown from jacksonville florida

  7. carly says:

    anyone who eats horse meat is just sick. i thought horses was the American icon? why are use killing off a great beautifully beast that can have many other uses. i know horses have to be killed if they are injured or sick but WHY ARE YOU EATING THEM!!! if only America knew about how they are killed.
    i live in Australia and over here horses are killed but it is illegal to eat them. they only get killed if they are injured or sick. they are given a needle which deadens there body and then are shot nice and quick. no pain, no fuss, no cruelty.
    America, you could learn from our country

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  9. Niki says:

    hi, i’m niki i would like a belgian draft horse.. i just love these horses but there aren’t any here (even though i live in belgium)

    the belgian draft horse doesn’t exist in belgium and i wasn’t able to fine one in the whole of europe.. the horses you find are brabander horses or ardenner horses who are also belgian, but it’s not thesame race..

    so if i wanted to buy one i would come there, buy one and tranport it home to give it a good home..

    so i don’t understand the last part.. especially ‘.. and for other purposes’ becouse i do want to give it a loving home.. and maybe some other people do.. i wasn’t planning on relocating 😮

  10. Nicole says:

    I was in my early teens, and doing a research paper on “Mustangs; Horse of America” when I stumbled upon the news of ongoing horse slaughter in America. It literally made me sick to the point where I threw up, and I couldn’t help but run out to my own horse and cry after I had read what awful things these animals were going through, and all because it was convent! Horses, they carried us through the early ages, and paved the way for our country, they are one of the many symbols of America. Not to mention they end up being sometimes our greatest friends. I couldn’t understand how anyone could think that it was ok to pass a law like that or even think of eating one. I am very happy that horse slaughter has stopped in America but it is absolutely appalling that they are allowed to be sold here and shipped to another country for meat. I’ve read many things over the internet, interviews, on how slaughter houses in the other countries claim to be killing horses in a “humane” manner, but they’re not and frankly, it’s disgusting what these people do. The issue of this hurts my heart deeply as I am a horse lover and have been blessed to keep mine for the past twelve years of my life. I can only pray that the selling and shipping of horses for slaughter will end soon and I will do anything to help protect them. It’s not fair for horses, or any other animal, to be treated this way.

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