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☛ Over breeding, over population & horse slaughter 3-19-16





By Rick Dennis
March 20, 2016

 As a breeder of American Quarter Horses, the question I’m asked the most is: “Should I breed my mare this year?” In answering the question, I try to be as knowledgeable and persuasive as possible. First I ask, “Is the breeding an absolute must or can you find the bloodlines you want in horses already available for sale on the open market with other breeders?”


As a stallion owner, I’ve determined it’s my duty to try and contribute to reducing the number of unwanted horses in our industry by reducing my own breeding program. As we already know, our industry is inundated with an over population of unwanted horses and continuing to breed at our existing rates will simply contribute to this over population.



There seems to be a growing misconception among the populus that effective Jan. 1, 2016, all animal-abuse arrests will result in felony charges. Quite the contrary. Effective Jan. 1, 2016, the FBI will track animal abuse arrests in four distinct felony categories for reporting and tracking purposes. However, currently there are only 13 states that impose a felony status to animal-abuse violator arrests. Bear in mind that FBI felony-reporting classifications are different from state-to-state animal-abuse arrest classifications when criminal charges are imposed. Following is an article by VICE News designating the classifications:


The FBI Now Considers Animal Abuse a Class A Felony

By VICE News
Jan. 7, 2016 |

In a move seen as a big win for animal rights activists, the FBI has added animal cruelty to its list of Class A felonies, alongside homicide and arson.


Cases of animal cruelty fall into four categories: neglect; intentional abuse and torture; organized abuse such as cock and dog fighting and sexual abuse of animals. The agency is now monitoring them as it does other serious crimes. Starting Jan. 1, 2016, data is being entered into the National Incident-Based Reporting System or NIBRS, the public database the FBI uses to keep a record of national crimes.


The FBI’s decision will not only be a way to stop cases of animal abuse but also can help to identify people who might commit violent acts, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Psychological studies show that nearly 70 percent of violent criminals began by abusing animals and keeping statistics on such cases can help law enforcement track down high-risk demographics and areas.


“Regardless of whether people care about how animals are treated, people – like legislators and judges – care about humans and they can’t deny the data,” Natasha Dolezal, director of the animal law program in the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark College, in Portland, Oregon, told the Associated Press. For additional info click on the following link:

Click for article on animal abuse>>


However, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit law organization that aims to protect the rights and interests of animals through the legal system, all 50 states now have felony animal cruelty provisions.

Click for article on all 50 states>>



 One of the avenues of disposal of unwanted horses is the slaughter industry. This controversial subject has given rise to a debate on both sides of the aisle, i.e., those for slaughter and those opposing slaughter. The Safeguard American Food Exports Act (Safe) Act would, if passed, prohibit the slaughter of horses in the United States for human consumption, as well as the export of live horses for the same purpose. However, one aspect of this illogical practice is perfectly clear.


The kill-more, breed-more mentality is certainly not a viable option to the ever increasing problem associated with the over population of horses. As we can see from advocates on both sides of the aisle, horse slaughter has definitely become a divisive factor in the horse industry. Not only has it become a main staple employment opportunity among many but the ever-increasing number of horses being slaughtered for food consumption in Europe is alarming.



 One of the travesties of horse slaughter is visualized in the types of horses entering the horse slaughter market. More and more, this industry is filled with horses of all breed types and performance categories. The appalling aspect of our generation is that it seems horses have become a disposable item, especially when they are of no more value to the owner. As with the adage, “One Man’s Trash, Is Another Man’s Treasure,” the types of horses going to slaughter are contrary to the type we are lead to believe.


Slaughter-bound horses are not old, crippled, sick, or dying. Most are healthy, robust and usable horses. Case in point: Thoroughbreds with a long history of running on the track are showing up in kill pen sales simply due to the fact the owner has no more use for the horse. Another contributor to the horse-slaughter market is our economy. When necessity of a family surviving versus the care of the horse, it’s understandable the family takes precedent. Still another contributor to the horse-slaughter industry is horses crippled by unscrupulous training methods by trainers looking for the quick fix in training techniques. As a professional trainer, I can assure you there are no quick fixes in training a horse. Only a gentle steady hand, hard work and wet saddle blankets are the rules for the successful trainer.



 An avenue available to the general public for unwanted horses is a horse rescue.  Overall, these facilities are usually very generous in caring for unwanted horses.  However, there have been repeated reports of horse-rescue owners being criminally charged with horse abuse. It’s essential for the horse owner seeking to relinquish their horse to a group of this type to perform a due diligent investigation into the available groups’ reputation, including interviewed referrals. Some rescues rehabilitate the malnourished or abused horse and in-turn adopt the horse to a forever home for an adoption fee. Verification of this humane process can seen in the Dual Peppy case, where the well-known Quarter Horse stallion was taken away from his owner due to abuse and given to a very reputable horse rescue operation in Colorado, who found the stallion a “forever home.”



 One of the most controversial topics to raise its ugly head in modern times is the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) involvement in removing our wild mustangs and burros from federally regulated public land and sending these animals to slaughter under the ruse there’s an overpopulation of this species. Documented facts have proven over and over again this is simply not the case. It’s easy to create a ruse of overpopulation when the testifier doesn’t completely tell the truth, or in this case reveal the entire facts.


The Wild and Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 requires the protection, management and control of wild, free-roaming horses and burros on public lands. So how does the BLM sidetrack this law? In my opinion, this is done by restricting the available land to wild and free-roaming horses and burros while, at the same time, introducing more cattle to fill the void that was previously available to the endogenous species. Therefore, the BLM creates a mathematical shell game to justify its actions. After all, these ranchers only contribute approximately 2 percent to the overall beef production in the U.S.A.


ROOT-CAUSE ANALYSIS EXAMPLE: The real analysis in this equation can be realized when the BLM restricts an endogenous species like wild mustangs and burros to a specific area of land to appease cattle grazers who are using our federal lands for grazing their cattle. Therefore, BLM uses the reduced available land numbers to justify a reduction in the endogenous species by simply stating the current land allotment is unsustainable for the existing endogenous populations.


However, BLM uses the endogenous species removal as an opportune time to increase the cattle populations among ranchers. BLM leases public land to cattle grazers for a nominal fee. However, the adverse effects to the endogenous or natural species is devastating. What the BLM is really doing is playing a mathematical mind game at the public’s expense as well as the expense of the mustangs and burros being removed from their home range and sent to slaughter to make room for more cattle.



 The adverse effect to the economy of the U.S. can be derived in the simple fact that most public land grazers are receiving some type of government subsidy checks from the American taxpayer. These government subsidy checks are not simply limited to individually owned ranches but also include major corporations and millionaires and some from other countries, who have tapped into loopholes in the system with their own public land leases. Some of these ranchers have adopted the theory that this is their individual right to use this land as they see fit which is nothing more than a whimsical fairy tale. These federally protected lands were set aside for the public taxpayers of the United States. The Bureau of Land Management is the overseer, nothing more.



 Approximately $500 million annually.



 The BLM spends millions of dollars each year on predator control to safeguard cattle on public lands. One of the adverse effects of predator removal is the non-controlling of wild mustangs and burros populations occurring naturally if left untouched by human hands. Simply put, the BLM has been a significant contributing factor in the removal of mustangs and burros by tampering with the natural balance of nature by caving to the demands of cattle ranchers, the beef industry as well as lobbyists and special-interest groups.



 For the most part, a significant amount of revenue of an equine association is derived from the annual registration of new foals, stallion breeding reports as well as genetic-panel testing. An association also makes revenue on transfer reports derived from the sale and transfer of ownership of a horse and membership dues from those involved. A reduction in breeding would most definitely affect an association’s bottom line. However, the breed-more, kill-more theory is not a viable resolution of the overpopulation problem that our industry is faced with. Therefore, it’s vital that equine associations become more involved in devising program adjustments to help reduce horse overpopulation numbers.



 One of the areas contributing to an annual explosion of new horses is equine association futurities that are available for 2- and 3-year old horses of various performance categories. As a veteran participating in futurities, I’ve personally had two horses compete in the prestigious National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Reined Cow Horse Futurity in Reno, Nevada. Performance horse and breed specific associations realize a tremendous amount of money from futurities as does the general community in which the events are held. If these entities were eliminated, there would be a definite adverse affect on the horse industry and local communities.


However, futurities create the hurry-up trained horse whose joints, bones and minds can’t take the pressure. After the event, many become crippled and throw-away horses that end up as breeding animals only or slaughter-house candidates. If elimination is too costly for the associations, how about futurities raising the age of futurity horses from 2- and 3-year olds to 4 and 5 year olds when the horses can better handle the wear and tear to their bodies and minds?



 Individuals who have horses for non-intended performance purposes could do well by gelding all non-breeding stallions on their property. This will eliminate accidental or non-intended breeding of horses.



 In my opinion our industry is facing a crisis that will only escalate if we, as horse owners, don’t take action to try to control the already out-of-control horse population problem. It’s also my opinion that the slaughter industry is not the solution to the problem. Our country’s heritage is too closely aligned with the noble horse to seek this route as an advocacy of controlling horse populations in the United States.


As breeders, we can do our part by reducing our own breeding programs and become responsible breeders. Horse owners can do their part by limiting breeding of their mares and gelding non-breeding stallions. Trainers can do their part by adjusting their training methods to reduce the risk of crippling a horse during training. This will eliminate horses from becoming yard ornaments or prospects for the horse-slaughter pipeline. And associations can move up the age of futurity horses for those same reasons.


Mare owners can do their part by seeking a specific breeding line from stock already on the ground instead of breeding their own stock. Mare owners can also help reduce the overpopulation by eliminating multiple-embryo transfer from their breeding program and adopting an every-other-year breeding strategy. If members of the horse industry come together, we can reduce the population of unwanted horses and perhaps eliminate the slaughter industry all together.


“Until Next Time, Keep ‘Em Between The Bridle!


Richard E. “Rick” Dennis
Managing Member
(985) 630-3500
Web Site:


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  1. We are a new group and trying to make a difference at some point. I totally agree with you on this whole article. If you can help or give any advice we would sure love to hear from you.

  2. Please contact the LA congressmen and urge them to cosponsor and pass the SA
    FE ACT bills S1214 and HR1942. Slaughter is enabling neglect and over-breeding by paying the neglecters and over-breeders, and butchering the horse victims, in a cycle of ever increasing disaster for the horses. Here is the list, LA is currently at 0% support for the bill:

    LOUISIANA (0%)


    LA — * Cassidy, Bill * —– (202) 224-5824
    LA — Vitter, David ———- (202) 224-4623

    House of Representatives

    LA-1 — Scalise, Steve ——– 202-225-3015
    LA-2 — Richmond, Cedric —— 202-225-6636
    LA-3 — Boustany Jr., Charles – 202-225-2031
    LA-4 — Fleming, John ——— 202-225-2777
    LA-5 — * Abraham, Ralph * ——– 202-225-8490
    LA-6 — Graves, Garret ——– 202-225-3901

  3. This is a very well constructed report that tells the whole story! Well done!

  4. Thank you so much for this article. Thank you for offering solutions to the horrific slaughter industry. Please keep your ideas alive. Praying for an end to our horses’ nightmare!!

  5. Good for Rick Dennis! We need more breeders and trainers like him in this endeavor. Most people with a stallion are happy to take as many breeding fees as they can get their hands on and crank out as many babies as possible. Rick’s a reputable horseman with the right attitude about breeding.
    Elaine Nash

  6. I have shared this article as well….excellent to see in a ‘cutting’ mag!! He speaks the TRUTH!
    Lana Marie

  7. I want to stand up and cheer! I agree with every point in your article. God bless you for standing up for responsible breeding and training practices that support doing what’s right for our horses instead of focusing on maximizing profits.

  8. Love the way you guys stand up to the BLM and tell it how it is with the truth and facts. Love all Rick Dennis’s article series on horse abuse and horse slaughter. In my opinion, is an award-winning magazine. Your articles are heads above the rest. thank you!!
    Mary Jo

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