AVMA — Horse slaughter exports to Mexico decrease

Published on February 26, 2020

Last year, 53,947 horses were shipped from the United States to Mexico for slaughter. That marks a 26% decrease from 2018 when 70,708 horses designated for slaughter were transported across the southern U.S. border, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market News Livestock Export Summary.

Although Congress had made several attempts to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption, the practice didn’t end until the nation’s three horse meat processing plants closed in 2007. Two Texas facilities were closed by court order; the Illinois plant shuttered after state legislation against horse slaughter was enacted.

Efforts to open new horse slaughter plants have been unsuccessful, partly because of legislation denying funds for federal inspections of such operations.

Nevertheless, thousands of U.S. horses have been exported to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada.

Canada and Mexico are two of the main exporters of horse meat to Europe, according to Humane Society International. At least 85% of horses slaughtered at European Union–approved Canadian horse slaughterhouses originated in the United States, and 50% of the horse meat produced from those animals was exported to the EU.

Federal data on the number of horses transported to Canada annually aren’t available. However, the advocacy organization Animals’ Angels estimated that 12,273 U.S. horses were imported by Canada for slaughter in 2017.

California, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas, and New York have enacted laws against horse slaughter and eating horse meat.

Related Reading

US horse slaughter exports to Mexico increase 312%“, JAVMA NEWS, 14 Jan 2008

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Field Guide to Horse Fencing

AMONG THE MANY investments you will make when rearing horses, fencing will be one of the most prominent ones. Fencing is a major investment, thus it requires careful planning before any form of action is taken. Fencing is crucial to keep horses on the property and unwanted animals off the property. There are also many other nuances to fencing as it should be constructed to aid facility management by allowing controlled grazing and segregating groups of horses according to age, sex and value.

For some, fencing is a do-it-yourself project while others prefer to hire a professional contractor to construct and install the fence. Regardless of how you choose to install your fence, make sure you have a plan that will guide you through the steps of constructing a good horse fence.

Good planning attributes for all fence types

Planning includes more than simply selecting a fence. It involves the aesthetics, efficiency, management practices, safety, proposed gates, fence lines, paths, traffic routes for horses and handlers, routes for suppliers and access to mowing equipment. A good plan also involves the financial aspects of fence construction.

A good fence should be at least 54 inches above ground level with round corners. Make sure that the top of the fence is at withers heights to ensure that horses don’t flip over the fence. A 20 cm clearance at the bottom will leave enough room to avoid a hoof getting trapped, and will discourage a horse from reaching under the fence for grass.

Fence post selection

The strength of a fence come from the posts, hence they are the foundation of the fence. Posts need to be strong and properly installed. Traditionally, wood is used for fence posts but some horse owners use concrete to set corner assemblies when using wooden posts. Others choose pressure-treated lumber as high-quality wood may be scarce of very expensive in their area. This manufactured lumber is treated with chemicals that resist rot, fungi, and insects. Look for treated lumber posts that are certified for in-ground use.

One con of using wooden posts is that it is time-consuming and requires hard work when installing the fence, but this hard work is not a waste of time because the wood has a highly sustainable.


Often, gates are made of wood and metal tubes because they should be as strong as the fence. Gates shouldn’t have diagonal cross-bracing because the narrow angles can trap legs, feet, and possibly heads. Gates and fences should have been equal in height, to discourage horses from reaching and attempting to jump over the gate, but wide enough to allow easy passage of vehicles and tractors.

Often, gates are located toward the middle of a fence line where horses get in and out of the enclosure. By placing the gate in the middle, horses don’t get trapped in a corner near the gate.


The inner side of the fence must be smooth — regardless of the fence material and design. Rough posts can cause injury to horses that run down the fence line. To avoid this exposure you might use an electric fence wire to create a psychological as well as a physical barrier.

Visibility also plays a major role in safety. Horses can easily see a white plank fence of wood or PVC post, but the wires are almost invisible to unruly horses or horses who are in a state of panic.


Barriers are the functional parts of fences and are made of different materials. When deciding on which barrier to using, keep in mind that it should be safe, easy to maintain and aesthetically pleasing. Here are the most well-known barriers:

1. Wood board fence: most commonly used, low in cost and maintenance and are the most aesthetically pleasing.
2. PVC board fence: is liked by many horse owners because it is low in maintenance and gives the appearance of a wooden board fence.
3. Smooth wire: these are basically barb wires without the barbs and are the least expensive of them all.
4. V-mesh: Is praised by horse owners as the best fence material. However, its biggest downside is cost as it is the most expensive of them all.
5. Electric Fencing: these fences are both a barrier and dispense a shock that keeps horses within the enclosure.

In closing

In order to build a strong fence, a well thought out plan must be in place even before the first post is even placed in the ground. Thoughtful fence planning and layout will help make daily chores and routines more efficient. Fences differ from facility to facility, however all fences must meet the same goals and objectives: provide a strong barrier and safety. For optimal result, horse owners may combine electric-fence systems with other materials such as wood, PVC plastic, wire mesh, or high-tensile.

Author Bio

Sistine Capoy works as a content specialist in Horse Fence Direct and a pet owner. Featured image supplied by Sistine Capo.

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Horses in Film: Equine Mechanics — The Digital Horse


In the last two years 38 films have required cuts to remove “instances of real animal cruelty” in order to make them legal for release in the UK. These include horses made to fall using techniques likely to result in serious injury as in House of Flying Daggers, and horses ridden off cliffs and illegal falls in The Trail Beyond or Paradise Canyon, horses being goaded to leaping around and falling by the manipulation of wires attached to their heads in Janbaaz and cruel treatment of a horse in Never Say Never Again.

In many cases the American versions were released uncut. Even in the UK where the scenes are acknowledged as cruel and removed, this is not seen as a grievous enough crime to ban the film. Do we really still need to be this barbaric?

I am currently developing a new tool which will allow the realistic simulation of horse motion and could remove the need for live horses on film sets altogether, making this sort of film cruelty a thing of the past.

Many films and computer games today feature scenes using horses, some of them in complicated stunts and some just standing around, adding the right atmosphere. Horror stories are told the world over of how horses have suffered and even died for our art in the past.

Recently many institutions including the American Humane Association, legally responsible for animal use in American films, have been making great progress in improving standards. Specially trained stunt horses are increasingly used for scenes which contain bucking, rearing or falling, and digital animals are beginning to cut down on the use of live ones, but there is still such a long way to go.

The use of digital horses is a valuable means of reducing the need for horses on set and in particular horses in dangerous or cruel situations. Battles scenes can have as many horses as you wish, behaving however you want, and no horse need be at risk, frightened, overworked, tripped, hurt or even bored. It is only limited by the animators’ ability to produce realistic horses. In the film industry I produce a lot of work with motion capture – the technique used to create Gollum in Lord of the Rings.

This uses specially designed cameras to record the real motion that can be used by animators to produce digital horses with the level of realism required by today’s audiences. In the last year I have provided the horse movement for such films as King Arthur (2004), Alexander (2004) and Kingdom of Heaven (2005, Ridley Scott).

Motion capture allows movements to be filmed in controlled safe environments and to be linked together creating a realistic sequence that the horse did not actually perform. However it is not possible to provide the movement for sequences such as a horse falling or rearing unless the equine actor actually performs this.

To solve this dilemma I have begun to create a very complicated bio-mechanical tool called the Digital Equine. This will allow horses and their movements to be completely computer simulated, replacing the role of horse motion capture in the film industry and even removing the need for real horses altogether.

Why do I think I should be able to do this? I am a bio-mechanics expert with a PhD from the University of Oxford, a First Class Degree in Equine Science, currently based at a prominent equine biomechanics research group. However I am also an ex-professional horse rider, licensed to supervise, train and exhibit performing animals and so I have not just an academic knowledge of horse anatomy, bio-mechanics and locomotion but also a practical knowledge of horses and their behaviour. I work with my Husband, a physicist and animator, and together we head Equine Mechanics (www.equinemechanics.com).*

To enable the highest quality of motion to be simulated Equine Mechanics’ Digital Equine model of the horse is painstakingly bio-mechanically correct including bone shapes, joints, tendons, muscles, ligaments, mass and inertial properties. It provides real motion as it effectively uses a virtual horse musculo-skeletal system. It can then be adjusted for breed and type and riders can then be added or not at the animators whim. The only thing it does not include is the component of behaviour. This has the advantage of allowing the director to choose the horse’s response but as with all film-making techniques does require a certain amount of behavioural knowledge by the operator. Would the horse have been scared? How would it have reacted?

There is a simulation product on the market at the moment. There are no horse specialists however a company has tried to produce some equine simulation tools. Sadly their horses do not move convincingly, are not anatomically correct and do not behave in a realistic manner and so have never really been applied in the animation market. So far these simulations have only been designed to replace dramatic death scenes and not general horse usage and so have not been well received by directors. What is needed is a simulation tool where the horses do not just move right they also stand right, even fidgeting and twitching realistically. This is what I hope to provide.

The software would only simulate the horse movement and, as with motion capture, animators will then need to be used to create the final look, lighting, shading and compositing. Filming with live horses is actually a very expensive technique, mostly in terms of crew time, and this pipeline should be a competitive alternative even once the cost of animation is included. Motion capture is currently the most appropriate and humane method to capture large scenes or difficult animal stunts, but whereas motion capture is prohibitively expensive, and therefore underused, I expect this technology to be much cheaper. Of course, it also has the advantage that, unlike real horses, it can be made to do whatever you want it to do!

The intention is to release the technology to the movie industry in two stages: Firstly the offer of a ‘simulation’ service, to include an optional animation service, and secondly the release of the software as a product once it is seen to be developed enough that anyone would be able to use it and still get good results.

It has been suggested that the American Humane Association increase its number of inspectors, or ban animals on set altogether, however this is neither likely nor practical. And even the American Humane Association cannot stop cruelty in films like the House of Flying Daggers which was filmed in Asia.

As we enter the age of high-technology films I hope that this sort of progress in computer graphics can mean that soon all films can carry the “No Animals Were Harmed. . .” ending credit disclaimer without so much as an inspector on set.

Many people have stepped forward to call for an improvement in the horse’s lot. This time we are going further: We are offering an alternative.

* Link no longer active.

Written by SIAN LAWSON, February 15, 2005.

1 Animal killing producers of House of Flying Daggers: Bill Kong and Zhang Yimou
2 The Trail Beyond: Horses driven off cliffs; Director Robert Bradbury; Producer Paul Malvern
3 Carl Pierson directed the horse torture in Paradise Canyon
4 Janbazz Producer: Gajendra Singh
5 Irvin Kershner, Director, Never Say Never Again 

From the Int’l Fund for Horses (fund4horses.org website) archives.

THF 2019 Logo. ©The Horse Fund.


Horses in Film: Abused for Entertainment? »

Emergency Evacuation Tips for Horses

How to Prepare

• Microchip your horse.

• Include phone numbers of out-of-area friends or family in your microchip registration. It’s a good idea to include alternate contacts in case you can’t be reached.

• Train your horse load into a trailer.

• If possible, make prior arrangements for boarding at stables outside of your city. Locate and record the information.

• Store important documents and paperwork in cloud storage or several hard drives. It’s a good idea to give one to a friend or family who lives outside of your community.

• Paste a rescue alert sticker visibly on one of your home’s windows with the number and species of animals in your household. (If you evacuate with your animals, write “Evacuated” on the sticker.)

Make An Evacuation Kit


  • Drums or barrels of water, enough for at least three days.
  • A list of all medicines and their doses and if possible, an extra supply of medication. Make sure to check their expiration dates regularly.
  • Rope and leather halters. Don’t use nylon halters. They can melt from extreme heat and burn the animal.

Documents and Paperwork

  • Copies of ownership records
  • Vaccination and health records
  • Microchip paperwork

Additional Identification

  • Photos of brands
  • Photos of any distinctive marks or tattoos

It is never recommended that you leave your horse behind or let your horse loose during an emergency. The Department of Animal Services offers assistance for large animal transportation.

If you absolutely can’t evacuate with your horse and have to set him loose, the National Fire Protection Assn. suggests you make sure to mark or attach your contact information on him by:

  • Shaving it into his coat
  • Braiding an identification tag into your horse’s mane or tail or attaching it onto a neck band
  • Writing it on your horse’s side with spray paint or a livestock marker

Be Prepared

Be sure to have an evacuation kit ready and stored within easy reach.

THF 2019 Logo. ©The Horse Fund.

See also Disaster Preparedness for You and Your Horse »

Daughters of Premarin®: The Generics


FURTHER to the reference of generics in the “Alternatives to Drugs Made with Pregnant Mare’s Urine”, I think a separate word on the availability of generic Premarin® and its daughter drugs is warranted to clear up any confusion for those seeking to avoid products manufactured from the urine of pregnant mares.

Premarin has a long and interesting history when it comes to FDA approval of generics, a history mired in the ruthless and bloodthirsty battle of Big Pharma patent wars.

Many years ago, in 1986, the effectiveness of Premarin®’s, and other short-term acting estrogens, ability to diminish bone loss associated with osteoporosis was granted approval by the FDA. What was once a drug that was prescribed for the relief of menopausal symptoms now became the panacea for a long-term chronic problem. [1]  And with this came a huge untapped market.

At this time there were certified generics that were interchangeable with Premarin®.  However because of the ramifications of long-term use, the science behind the drugs prevailed.

While Premarin® provided slow-release bioavailability, the generics were immediate release. This disparity in mode of release would turn into a long battle between the generic manufacturers, Wyeth-Ayerst and the FDA. [2]

To make a long story short, the outcome of detailed analysis showed that the bioavailability of generic versions was not equivalent to Premarin® and in 1991 the FDA withdrew approval of all ANDAs (Abbreviated New Drug Applications) proclaiming that none of the synthetics on the market could be considered generic versions of Premarin®. [3]

Because of the lucrative market potential, two generic manufacturers – Duramed and Barr – set out to develop products that solved the bioavailability problem and submitted ANDAs for FDA approval. Both met the requirements of adsorption efficiency however Wyeth had been conducting its own research and contested FDA approval on the grounds that the generic drug lacked one of the estrogens, called delta 8,9 (dehydroestrone sulfate), present in Premarin®.

Nevertheless, in 1994, the FDA unanimously ruled that delta 8,9 (dehydroestrone sulfate) was an impurity and not a required ingredient of a generic version.

Duramed applied for FDA approval of Cenestin in September 1995, and Barr followed the next July. [4]  

What happened next effectively blocked any competitor from manufacturing a generic Premarin®. Propaganda and political persuasion tactics were used to coerce the FDA and in 1995 Wyeth-Ayerst successfully petitioned the FDA to require the presence of delta 8,9-dehydroestrone in any generic version of Premarin®. [5]  Together with Wyeth-Ayerst’s patent on synthetic delta 8,9-dehydroestrone, this shut out the competitors.

Eventually Duramed filed a NDA (New Drug Application) for its synthetically derived estrogen Compound Cenestin which is still available on the market today along with a variety of other synthetic products, none of which contain pregnant mare’s urine.

Premarin® lost its patent in February 2012 and the patent for Prempro® held by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, does not expire until early 2015. 

Despite Premarin’s® patent expiration there seems to be no interest in manufacturing a generic version from pregnant mare’s urine. [6]  In any case, it would be challenging for another pharmaceutical company to synthesize a medication that is similar enough to Premarin® to receive the approval of the FDA, similarly so for Prempro® as it contains the same natural conjugated equine estrogens as Premarin®.

The so-called Premarin generics are the lab-synthesized versions manufactured from plant sources not pregnant mare’s urine (see “Alternatives to Drugs Made with pregnant Mare’s urine). [7] 

As a reminder, these drugs carry with the same serious risks as the Premarin® family of drugs.

Some will say that generic Premarin® is available online without prescription, particularly from Canada. However be wary of any medications that tout themselves as being a safe generic version of Premarin®. Congressional testimony from the US FDA points out the dangers of inadequately regulated foreign Internet sites which have also become portals for unsafe and illegal drugs. This excerpt specifically targets Canadian generic websites: [8]

“A recent example illustrates some of the dangers associated with the purchase of prescription drugs from rogue pharmacy sites. Within the last six months, FDA has examined two web sites having identical web pages headlined “Canadian Generics” which were identified through spam e-mails sent to consumers.  FDA has purchased prescription drugs from both of these sites, and has found that these drugs and the manner in which they are sold pose potential threats to the health and safety of consumers.

There is at least one Canadian flag on every page of these sites, as well as the words “Canadian Generics.”  The web sites say, “Order Canadian to get the biggest discounts!”  Both of the URLs from which the orders were placed suggest the sites are located in, and operated out of, Canada. Despite these representations, however, we determined there is no evidence that the dispensers of the drugs or the drugs themselves are Canadian. The registrants, technical contacts, and billing contacts for both web sites have addresses in China.”

There is currently no therapeutically equivalent version of Premarin® available in the United States.  In other words, there is no approved generic for Premarin in the US.

The drug policies and generic approval practices in other countries may vary. What is a generic in one country may not be approved as one in another.

Fraudulent online pharmacies may attempt to sell an illegal generic version of Premarin®. These medications may be counterfeit and potentially unsafe.

If you purchase medications online, be sure you are buying from a reputable and valid online pharmacy. [9]

Consult Your Doctor

Always consult your doctor before embarking on any change in medication


[1]  http://pubs.acs.org/subscribe/archive/mdd/v03/i08/html/kling.html
[2]  Same as at 1.
[3]  Same as at 1.
[4]  http://www.sagepub.com/jowett5estudy/cases/77821_c2.pdf
[5]  Same as at 4.
[6]  http://www.drugs.com/availability/generic-premarin.html
[7]  http://www.horsefund.org/pmu-alternatives-to-cee-drugs.php
[8]  http://www.fda.gov/newsevents/testimony/ucm113635.htm
[9]  Same as at 6.


The Quest for a Generic Premarin – A Bitter Pill to Swallow, By JANE ALLIN, Tuesday’s Horse, Nov. 14, 2014 »

Pregnant Mare’s Urine Images


PMU farm in Xinyuan County

PMU Farm in Xinyuan County, China (2012). Slide 1.
PMU Farm in Xinyuan County, China (2012). Slide 2.
PMU Farm in Xinyuan County, China (2012). Slide 3.
PMU Farm in Xinyuan County, China (2012). Slide 4.
PMU Farm in Xinyuan County, China (2012). Slide 5.
PMU Farm in Xinyuan County, China (2012). Slide 6.
PMU Farm in Xinyuan County, China (2012). Slide 7.
PMU Farm in Xinyuan County, China (2012). Slide 8.
Chinese version of Premarin cream.


There are no longer any PMU farms in the U.S. However, there are a reported 19 “pee farms” remaining in Canada although NAERIC’s website states:

“There are 24 family-owned equine ranches that are members of NAERIC and contracted by Pfizer to collect pregnant mares’ urine (PMU). These equine ranches are located in the Canadian provinces of Manitoba (19) and Saskatchewan (5). All ranches are within reasonable proximity to Pfizer, in Brandon, Manitoba, where the initial PMU processing occurs”.

While there are no images available to the public of what the inside of these farms look like that we can find, here are some of the byproduct horses.

Belgian horses awaiting shipment to Japan from Canada to Japan for slaughter. Live horses exported to Japan are killed for a specific foodstuff: a kind of specialty sashimi called basashi.
Horses loaded and waiting on the tarmac in Canada for live transport to Japan for slaughter for human consumption. Canadian Horse Defence Coalition image.
Activist photo taken at the Calgary Airport in 2017 show four draft horses per crate, a practice which was banned by the CFIA five years ago. Canadian Horse Defence Coalition image.
A PMU mare and her foal.

Vintage Images

Sanitized picture released by the USDA.
A “Pee Line”, Canada. Brenda Hunter photo.
PMU Farm. Winnipeg, Canada.
PMU Farm. N. America.
PMU Farm. N. America.

Featured Image: Grey Draft Horse. Horse Illustrated.

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