Milt Toby examines GAO horse slaughter report and overbreeding

Horse Meat Diagram


Milt Toby has examined the GAO horse slaughter report and the surplus horse population. Toby does not question that overbreeding is at issue, but questions how is it to be controlled.

In his post on, Toby states:

An overabundance of horses and the ongoing recession are obvious contributors to a slide in prices for horses and an increase in abuse and neglect. Closing slaughter plants in Illinois and Texas, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have been a factor. Ending slaughter in the States is an easy whipping boy when it comes to growing animal welfare problems, but the GAO numbers indicate that the cessation of slaughter here has had almost no effect on the horse population.

This doesn’t mean that overpopulation is not a serious problem; it is. But what should be done? A weak economy and the resulting drop in sale prices has caused Thoroughbred breeders to cut back and it makes some sense to expect the overall horse population to drop for the same reasons. Should legislatures and breed organizations take action to hasten the process along?

Beginning in 2009, the United States Trotting Association placed a restriction on the number of mares that could be bred to certain stallions. The books of Standardbred stallions which never had bred a mare or which never had a list of mares bred submitted to the USTA were limited: 140 mares for trotting stallions and from 160 mares (in 2009) to 140 mares (in 2011 and thereafter) for pacing stallions. As far as I know, there have been no legal challenges to the rule.

The American Quarter Horse Association was not so lucky when it tried to limit the number of foals produced through embryo transfer. A group of prominent breeders argued that a restriction on the number of registered foals produced from a single mare in a year was an illegal restraint of trade and violated antitrust laws. They sued the AQHA, asking for millions of dollars in damages. The lawsuit eventually was settled and the rule was changed to allow the registration of multiple foals produced from the same mare through embryo transfer each year.

Any attempt by a breed organization to limit the number of horses bred or registered is subject to a similar restraint of trade argument in court. And even if successful, such rule changes would not affect the vast number of unregistered horses produced every year. Federal or state laws aimed at controlling horse breeding also would have to pass free trade muster and neither the feds nor the states have shown any interest in this approach.

According to recent figures, more American horses are being killed for their meat in horse slaughter plants across U.S. borders in Canada and Mexico than when horse slaughter was conducted on U.S. soil. Therefore, it is difficult, if not impossible, to assess the true impact of the cessation of domestic horse slaughter on equine welfare, or the horse industry itself, including breeding practices, because the slaughter of American horses has never stopped. It just changed location.

Insofar as overbreeding, one could reasonably project that without the all too convenient disposal option that horse slaughter offers, breeders would be forced to control the number of horses they bring into the world themselves.

When you have a horse breeder who purports himself to be “typical” of his industry stating that he has to “breed 100 horses to get one ‘good one’,” it begins to give you an insight into breeding standards and how they impact both the surplus horse population and horse slaughter issues.

Would the outright banning of horse slaughter for human consumption of the American horse return horse breeding to quality over quantity? One would hope, and expect so.

Read Milt Toby’s full post here.


GAO_Report_Cessation_Horse_Slaughter_June_2011 pdf, 68pp

Milt Toby is an author and attorney with a lifelong interest and involvement in the horse industry. Toby is a past Chair of the Kentucky Bar Association’s Equine Law Section. His website is

8 thoughts on “Milt Toby examines GAO horse slaughter report and overbreeding”

  1. Mr Toby does not have a clue……AQHA the largest equine breed association has seen a reduction EVERY YEAR of mares on breeding reports minus 30-50 % and foals registered EACH YEAR of 30-60% EACH YEAR for the last 3-4 years. Therefore the responsiboe Quarter Horse breeders have responded……same results we have a devalued horse market. Due both to the economy and no processing plants in the US. This has caused unneeded suffering by these horses. We can knock horses humanely just like we do other food animals. As for US citizens eating horse meat….put Federally or State Inspected Horse Meat in the meat case… will be amazed at the positive response it will get. It is good and good for you……THe bleeding hearts, moat of which donot own horses or have a stake in this industry need to get a life or move to another country! Personally I am sicki of these SOB’s


    1. Fact : The AQHA is well known to be the most notorious source of horses for slaughter in North America – no question about it.

      Fact: Slaughter is NOT humane regardless of the animal or method – slaughter is slaughter, not euthanasia.

      Fact: The methods used to slaughter food animals in NA or anywhere else in the world for that matter are not suitable for horses.

      And if you think horse meat is good for you you are truly naive and uninformed.

      Fact: Horse meat is toxic and contains the carcinogen phenylbutazone in virtually every horse slaughtered here in NA, along with other routinely administered drugs.

      I think you are the one that needs to move to another country. Eat horse to your content. ingest those toxins since as you say – they are good for you.

      Bleeding hearts? I think not. Compassionate individuals who believe that the horse is NOT a food animal. Simple as that really.


    2. As for you Sir, I use the term loosely ! Your remarks here, dont warrant even an answer , May i suggest to you another site, where your kind of in the box thinking maybe welcomed, I wont even give you the name of it, I am sure you are well aware of the site I refer you to………………And one other thing, Dont refer to anyone here as a bleeding heart SOB…… Because you dont have a clue,or the knowledge to what horses are all about in the least, Dont waste our time or your own time, You make absolutely no sense whatsoever, Kindly be on you way, and waste your own time somewhere else……………………….


  2. SLaughter cannot even be called a business, it take no brains for this therefore it is not a business, It is the horrible act that should be abolished, it has no place in a society that deems itself to be humane and civilized , it is the useless horrible inhumane destruction of a innocent life……………..No Breathing creature should ever have to endure this kind of horrible death…………………..


  3. There has been an increasingly successful effort to expose and shut down puppy mills. Breeding 100 horses to get one “good” one seems like a “pony mill” operation. Isn’t the issue of outlawing excessive breeding really one of animal abuse prevention rather than restraint of trade? I bet if the general public were educated about this practice and flagrant cases were fully publicized, change in the law would soon follow. The tax code must be reformed to eliminate exemptions and provisions that inadvertently encourage irresponsible and unnatural over-production of animals. Breed registries are smart to limit the number of matings with any particular stallion — as well as embryo transfers. Otherwise, the resulting limited gene pool will doom the breed. Left unchecked, greedy persons ruin things because they are not in business for the long run. They’re in it for the quick buck. This needs to be stopped for the good of all concerned.


  4. The mass breeding of horses would drop like a rock if a ban on slaughter was the law. I will say it, and keep on saying it that horse slaughter is the very underpinning of the horse industry in the US. They can’t stay in business without it. As i have stated before we don’t need businesses like these.


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