Transferring Horse Ownership: Ensuring Future Care

It is typical of a horse’s life that he or she will change hands several times. When a horse is transferred from one owner to another there is a moral obligation to the horse by both parties. It is typical of a horse’s life that he or she will change hands several times.

The current owner’s responsibility to a horse is not done until the horse is safely in a proper home receiving care and humane treatment.

The new owner is assuming responsibility for care and treatment for the long term and must be prepared for all that entails and ready to meet that responsibility.

Unprepared Owners

Escalating costs of hay and feed coupled with a downturn in the economy means more owners looking to rehome their horses when they can no longer afford them.

This leads to fewer homes for a larger number of horses. To say that is the only reason for the large number of homeless horses would be naïve. A contributing factor is while suitable homes are harder to find over breeding continues. Over breeding causes an excess number of horses depressing the price to purchase a horse while at the same time cost of ownership is going up.

When it cost $1500 or more to have a chance of buying a horse it made a more realistic approach to the cost of ownership. Now you can easily find horses for sale in the $200 – $500 range in most markets and “free to good home” is not uncommon. These are people who can no longer care for a horse and want the best for him, yet are unknowingly making the problem of finding a good home worse.

Yet, there are many people with good intentions who would love to have a horse. However, when presented the opportunity to own a horse for free or for such low amounts they think this means they can afford one. Many do not understand that the annual care may well be 3x what they pay for the horse. Compounding the situation, they purchase or take ownership of the horse before even setting up a stable or shelter for him, with no previous experience with equines and awareness of their needs.


It does no good to chastise horse owners who got in over their heads after the fact. Experiencing financial difficulties can and does happen and cannot always be avoided.

Telling somebody who can no longer afford to care for their horse that they should never give their horse away or sell him to a new owner “too cheap”, or at a livestock auction where predatory buyers lurk acting as middlemen for horse flesh, comes across as not helpful.

If equine rescues have no room, these owners may end up trying to hold onto their horses hoping for the best and end up neglecting their care, or perhaps even abandoning them.

Still, the obligation of the responsible owner is not to see the horse get into a trailer and be driven away but rather to know he is being taken to a good home.

Creative Answers

There are new approaches to rehoming a horse to a safe environment that have merit.

One example we saw of was a “seller” who gave the horse for free upon verifying a $500 prepaid veterinarian and $250 prepaid farrier for that specific horse. This ensured the new owner would receive qualified guidance and provide basic needed care for the horse for the first year at least. It also gave prospective owners a realistic look at some of the associated expenses. The horse was not “priced out of local market” (he was free), there is no way for a profit to be turned at an auction, and some level of care is ensured.

Gelding all colts and horses being sold or transferred as companion animals is another step. This is similar to what is done in rehoming other companion animals such as cats and dogs where a neutering is part of the adoption or rehoming process. It may help reduce backyard breeding by both the unknowing and the unscrupulous.

With new or first time owners arrangements can be made to allow then to access cost of care and long-term interest. Allow them to spend time with a horse and get to know him while they purchase items needed for his care. Refer them to a place like Vale Horse Stables and have them purchase an adequate shelter. Start and fund an account with a vet and farrier. Purchase a supply of high quality supplements like Equiform Nutrition.

If potential new owners are willing and able to do this over the course of several months — it is a reasonable assurance they understand the expense of a horse and are committed and financially able to provide for him. Then letting go of the horse at very low cost or for free is not perpetuating the problem. It is educating prospective horse owners while ensuring to the best extent a potential good home for the horse.

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Horse Meat Images



At the Butcher Shop

Horse meat. Source: From “The European Horse Meat Scandal—It is Your Fault“.

Horse Meat Switzerland. Photographer Unknown.

Ground Horse Meat. France.
Minced Horse Meat. Source: From “How it became impossible for Americans to buy horse meat“.

At the Table — Raw Horse Meat

In countries where horse meat is considered a delicacy, diners often prefer it raw — particularly Japan. Click any image to enlarge.


At the Table — Cooked Horse Meat

Cooked horse meat is often served up as stews and burgers. Click any image to enlarge.


Horse Meat in the News

Russia to drive horse meat production out of depression
by Vladislav Vorotnikov | Global Meat News
21st May 2019

The Russian Government has prepared a draft program of horse industry development, with a special focus on an increase in the population of meat breeds – the segment where production performance has been shrinking over the past few years. Read more »

Featured Image (Top of Page): “Inside France’s Fading Love Affair with Horse Meat,” by Emily Monaco, 12 March 2017.

THF 2019 Logo. ©The Horse Fund.


Horse Slaughter Images

Warning: Graphic Content Ahead


Illustrated Chart of the Horse Slaughter Process.
Illustrated Chart of the Horse Slaughter Process.

Images from Inside Domestic and Foreign Horse Slaughter Plants


USA (4 images)

CAPTIVE BOLT GUN. A pressurized gun which is held up to the horse’s forehead and shoots a 4-inch piece of metal about the size of a roll of quarters into the brain. Horses don’t like things near their heads, so when a worker reaches over the railing with a bolt gun, they often swing their heads around, causing the gun to fire in the wrong place. Workers sometimes need to shoot three or four times before the horse stops moving.

Captive Bolt.

KILL CHUTE. The stunned horse is dumped in the kill chute from which he can be hoisted and strung up by a back leg.

Kill chute.

BLEEDING OUT. The horse is drained of all his blood caught in a bucket to be disposed of. Horses have often been seen partially conscious during bleeding out if they were not “stunned” properly.

Bled Out.


The horse’s head and legs are cut from his body in preparation for the butchering process.


The above photographs, as you can probably tell, are vintage images from the Humane Farming Association (HFA). Horse slaughter is no longer taking place on US soil.


Below, the horse’s carcass has been skinned before the lower parts of his legs were removed. Much of his neck is also remaining.


Below, the butcher at his work, cutting the horse’s carcass into steaks and chops etc.



The following images are from “I Followed Horse Meat from the Slaughterhouse to the Butcher Shop“, by Based in The Netherlands, the horse meat produced here goes mostly to France and Belgium.

The process begins with a bolt that’s fired into the horse’s head. The bolt is supposed to destroy brain activity, which is marked by the 600 pounds that suddenly crash onto the concrete floor.


Then, the horse is pulled and hung by a back leg. One of the butchers cuts the carotid artery to bleed the horse out, catching his warm blood in a big black tub, which will be later picked up by a company that specializes in animal waste.



Once drained of his blood, abattoir workers remove the horse’s head and legs. Small incisions are made into his skin so it can be slowly, but artfully, removed. “Nothing goes to waste,” a worker explains. “The skin is sold for a few euros and they make expensive shoes out of it. I own a pair myself. They cost me 300 euros, but they are incredibly comfortable.”

The legs are used by aspiring farriers. The parts not fit for human consumption end up in animal feed. All of the organs are also used.

Once the head, intestines, and legs are removed, another butcher starts sawing the carcass in half.



Now that’s done, the carcasses are ready for the cooler.


From cooler to the local butchers.



THF 2019 Logo. ©The Horse Fund.

Horse slaughter is criminal again in Texas

New Orleans, Louisiana (Jan. 20, 2007) — Horse slaughter is criminal again in the Lone Star State.

A three-judge appellate panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Louisiana, ruled unanimously yesterday that horse slaughter plants operating in Texas will face criminal charges if they slaughter horses for human consumption.

The ruling overturned the decision handed down in 2005 by Texas Federal Judge Terry Means in favor of foreign-owned Beltex of Fort Worth, and Dallas Crown, Inc. of Kaufman, who in 2002 filed for injunctive relief from a state law dating back to 1949 prohibiting the slaughter of horses for human consumption, stating that the state law interfered with federal trade regulations.

The two Texas horse slaughter plants have two options. They can either call for a hearing or apply for an appeal with the Supreme Court. It is highly unlikely they would have any success.

Elimination of horse slaughter in Texas leaves one horse meat plant in operation, Cavel International in DeKalb, Illinois.

According to USDA records, more than 100,000 horses were slaughtered in 2006 for their meat in the Texas and Illinois plants.

“Closing the horse slaughter plants in Texas will save 50,000 to 60,000 equines from a brutal and terrifying death this year alone,” states Vivian Farrell, President of Houston-based Int’l Fund for Horses.

“This ruling, however, does not ban horse slaughter in the states where it is not illegal, nor does it prohibit the trade of our horses across U.S. borders where horses are routinely slaughtered for the foreign meat market,” adds Farrell. “A federal mandate against horse slaughter is imperative to bring it to a full end for US horses.”

Federal legislation banning horse slaughter and export for slaughter was introduced simultaneously in the House and Senate on January 17, 2007. The bill numbers are H.R. 503 and S. 311, respectively.

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(800 x 600; click to enlarge)

Horses awaiting slaughter, Dallas Crown holding pen, Kaufman, Texas.
Horses awaiting slaughter, Dallas Crown holding pen, Kaufman, Texas.

Offal from slaughter horses, Dallas Crown, Kaufman, Texas.
Offal from slaughter horses, Dallas Crown, Kaufman, Texas.

THF 2019 Logo. ©The Horse Fund.

Memory of horse deaths mars opening of Flicka the movie

Image of horse that appears on Flicka the movie poster.
Image of horse that appears on Flicka the movie poster.

LOS ANGELES, California (Oct. 17, 2006) — “Flicka” is a feel-good movie about a wild horse and the teenager who tries to tame her. However, the making of the movie was anything but feel-good for the horses killed during its filming.

The American Humane Association, who oversees the safety of animals on movie sets, had four representatives on the set of “Flicka” from the first day of production, and pre-approved all activities planned for the horses. It was under the AHA’s oversight that two horses were killed within the span of two weeks.

On April 11, 2005, the AHA reported that a horse broke his leg and was euthanized. In a studio briefing dated April 25, 2005, the AHA disclosed that a second horse broke his neck and died during the filming of “Flicka” two days earlier.

Observers of the second event were quoted as saying that the horse was one of four who were galloping around an arena trailing 30-foot ropes and fell when his back legs became entangled in the ropes. Others reported that two horses stumbled, presumably over the ropes, and collided.

An eyewitness account sent by email to the Int’l Fund for Horses alleged that in creating a wild horse race for “Flicka,” a group of horses were “released into an arena with wranglers jumping on the terrified horses, biting them, dragging them down and otherwise assaulting them.” The horses panicked and two collided heavily into each other. One of the horses did not get back up, sustaining a broken neck, and died. There were conflicting reports on whether or not the horses were trained rodeo horses.

“It doesn’t matter if the horses were trained or not. Trailing long ropes behind galloping horses, intentionally frightened to boot, is a recipe for disaster. A terrified horse will fight or flee, and injuries are bound to happen,” states Int’l Fund for Horses President, Vivian Farrell.

The Screen Actors Guild pay the AHA to monitor animal use in films and award the “No Animals Were Harmed”® End Credit Disclaimer according to standards set by the organization. After the deaths of the horses, the AHA did an internal investigation and concluded the deaths were “unavoidable” and that there was proper oversight on the part of the group. However, they agreed that the movie would not be given the usual “No Animals Were Harmed”® credit at the end of the film.

“Whether or not the deaths were unavoidable I cannot state without reservation. However, it is crystal clear that animals were harmed, harmed to the point of death,” comments Farrell.

Fox 2000 Pictures releases “Flicka,” the long-awaited movie remake of Mary O’Hara’s treasured novel, starring Tim McGraw and Alison Lohman nationwide on October 20th.

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