John Hettinger: Where Would All the Horses Go?

When we started The Horse Fund the first and foremost issue we tackled was horse slaughter. One of the recurring arguments against banning horse slaughter especially from people within the horse industry was, where would all the horses go? They are still it asking now.

On the home page of our original website we featured John Hettinger and his White Paper, “Where Would All the Horses Go?”, published June 28, 2003.  It had a huge impact everywhere it was read, from advocates to politicians to the horse racing industry where he was widely revered.

When Mr. Hettinger passed away in 2010, Ray Paulick, of the horse racing site The Paulick Report, wrote how Mr. Hettinger had influenced his thought about the slaughter of horses.

No one fought harder to end the slaughter of horses in the United States than John Hettinger.

He was tireless and passionate about ending slaughter. He talked about it, wrote about it, did something about it. He was a man of words and of action. And he put his money where his mouth was.

Of all the things John Hettinger ever said or wrote about horse slaughter, there is one paragraph that has stayed with me. It came from an article he wrote in 2003 and asked me to publish in the Bloodhorse.

“How do we as an industry feel about our horses?” he wrote. “Are we horse lovers? Are these animals, who work for us in one way or another throughout their entire lives, sensitive and capable of trust, courage and generosity of spirit? Or are they fast cows without horns?”

Fast cows without horns? That line got me. Until then, I was ambivalent about slaughter, because I considered horses “livestock,” which, technically, they are. But that simple but brilliant observation taught me there are different kinds of livestock – the kind that are bred and raised for human consumption, and the kind that are bred and raised for sport, but end up in the food chain by unfortunate circumstances.

Thank you, Mr. Hettinger, for helping me finally understand what was so clear to you.

John Hettinger.


We wrote :

Through his numerous positions within the industry which include membership in the Jockey Club, Director of America’s oldest Thoroughbred Auction House—Fasig-Tipton, Inc., Trustee of New York Racing Association, Chairman of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and the owner of Akindale Farm, Mr. Hettinger has made the well-being of the horse his guiding principle.

With the assistance of his auction house, Mr. Hettinger founded Blue Horse Charities, which in its first three years of operation, has awarded over $200,000 for the retirement of Thoroughbreds. He has also donated one of his farms, Excellor, in New York to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, and fights tirelessly to end horse slaughter.

Asked how to explain his compassion, Mr. Hettinger is fond of reminding people that, “all of my best friends have four legs!”

John Hettinger — a true Hero for Horses.


If you are a horse lover or advocate of any kind, please read Mr. Hettinger’s paper, “Where Will All the Horses Go?” The same rhetoric — questioning what will we do with all the horses if horse slaughter is banned — is re-emerging yet again as it looks like the bills pending before Congress have a good chance of being successful and ending horse slaughter and the export for slaughter.

You will never find better answers to this question than in Mr. Hettinger’s paper.


Please contact your U.S. Representative re H.R. 961 and your two U.S. Senators re S.2006 today and ask them to please cosponsors these bills.

You can do it online, day or night. It will take about 10 to 15 minutes if that. Go here and get it done! »

Thank you horse lovers.


Popular hashtags are #HR961 #Yes2SAFE #HorseMeat #FoodSafety #NoToxicHorseMeat


Pdf version of the original print article »

Online version of the original article at our website »

Read full article by Ray Paulick here »

6 thoughts on “John Hettinger: Where Would All the Horses Go?”

  1. Thank you for this piece, my Grandfather was a wonderful man and I remember him taking me riding even when he was paralyzed on one side. My grandfather loved animals more then anyone I’ve ever known (with the exception of spiders, which he had a phobia of to the extreme), and seeing articles like this always bring a smile to my face. He touched the lives of many people and it was always weird coming home and seeing letters from people like Penelope Cruz and Willie Nelson…. He was a weird but lovely man thank you for remembering him so fondly.


  2. I turn that question back on the horse racing:
    what do you do with all the racehorses now after you are done exploiting and maiming them?
    Well, the Canadian Department of Agriculture statistics provides as a low approximate as to where their disposable gambling chips go: about 3000 per year, racehorses some with plates still on, racehorses who were specifically-bred to run in circles for $2 bets.
    All of this going on while this business boasts about record breaking sales and wagering profits.
    Their industry funded OTTB aftercare is a joke in comparison to the billions in profit that they make not including the obscene amount of taxpayers/casino money that they get.
    Furthermore, the industry is only responding to public pressure to provide a source of funding for their disposable trash, the racehorses, not due solely to an altruistic measure.
    In fact, most racehorses are rescued by people who didn’t breed or exploit them to begin with so that’s very telling in and of itself.
    In other words, the racehorses going to slaughter have always gone to slaughter so why would it be any different now?
    When this business gets shut down, and it will, then the racehorses won’t be bred for this cruelty and death ring.
    There would be eventually no more horses to exploit, dump, and subsequently kill.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Comment about where would all the horses go. The same logic was used by the humane organizations such as HSUS, and of course, the dog breeding associations, when the No Kill movement was started at animal shelters a few years ago. Where would all those pit bulls go if you can’t kill them? If you promote adoption, society steps up and adopts rather than going to back yard breeders and puppy mills. Less animals are bred because there is less profit in it. Society eventually does the right thing, mostly.

    Liked by 1 person

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