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March 11, 2019
By Richard E. “Rick” Dennis

The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature, called an Eohippus, into the large, single-toed animal of today.  Humans began domesticating horses around 4000 BC, and their domestication is believed to have been widespread by 3000 BC.  Horses’ anatomy enables them to make use of speed to escape predators and they have a well sense of balance and a strong fight-or-flight response.  Related to this need to flee from predators in the wild is an unusual trait: horses are able to sleep both standing up and lying down with younger horses tending to sleep significantly more than adults.

Most domesticated horses begin training under saddle or in harness between the ages of two and four.  They reach full adult development by age five, and have an average lifespan of between 25 and 30 years.  Horse breeds are loosely divided into three categories based on general temperament: spirited “hot bloods” with speed and endurance; “cold bloods,” such as draft horses and some ponies suitable for slow, heavy work and “warm bloods,” developed from crosses between hot bloods and cold bloods, often focusing on creating breeds for specific riding purposes, particularly in Europe.  Today, there are more than 300 breeds of horse in the world, developed for many different uses.

Horses and humans interact in a wide variety of sport competitions and non-competitive recreational pursuits, as well as in working activities such as police work, the competition show pen, agriculture, entertainment and therapy.  Horses were historically used in warfare, from which a wide variety of riding and driving techniques developed, using many different styles of equipment and methods of control. Humans provide domesticated horses with food, water and shelter, as well as attention from specialists such as veterinarians and farriers. In the United States, the history of the horse is entwined in the founding of our nation and the very existence of our ancestor evolution and survival.


As Winston Churchill once stated, “The outside of a horse, is good for the inside of a man.”  Horses have played a central role in human societies for millennia.  To the horseman, the majestic horse is the epitome of grace and elegance. Simply stated, a horse embodies the soul of both man and woman. Horses possess character, intuition, a soul and emotions.  They anticipate storms and earthquakes. When they’re happy, they drop their heads, flop them high, maybe make a high and full skyward circle with their noses.  Their behavior is eager, interested, alert, playful and responsive.  They will reply to you with raised head, arched neck and their muzzle down. They’ll prick their ears forward and might even take off at a dead run.  When they’re angry, their ears will lie back and their tail swishes as if at a fly. When they’re angrier their hindquarters are tense, their ears flatten against their skull, they swish their tail more vigorously and their rear hoof raises slightly.

They show pride by prancing with their ears straight forward, nostrils flaring, tail up, head pointed downward on an arched neck. They show interest when their nose, eyes and ears, point straight ahead at an object of interest, circling with curiosity. Horses have a natural competitiveness built into their DNA.  They are kind and gentle creatures who have captivated our minds and hearts through time and memorial. Horses illustrate affection by being around and gently nuzzling their human counterparts. A horse develops life-long bonds with other horses as well as humans. After all, they are herd-oriented animals. In my opinion, horses aren’t meant for the kitchen table; however, it’s a fact that many of these majestic creatures are destined for the foreign slaughter plants once man discards them when they are of no further meaningful use to their owners.


Today, in the USA, the dilemma facing the horse is unequivocally “overpopulation”.  A myriad of reasons attribute to the overpopulation phenomenon. For example, an excess of wild horses is mainly due to catastrophic and ill-advised herd management plans implemented by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), to control the wild mustang populations on public grazing lands. More specifically, BLM devised a plan to remove predators from our public grasslands to accommodate complaints by domestic cattle and sheep grazers. Therefore, BLM created its own problems with a wild mustang overpopulation by trying to alter nature.  An article depicting the role the BLM is playing in trying to eradicate the wild mustang, via, the horse slaughter pipeline can be viewed by clicking on the following January 15, 2019 AP news link:

Click for article regarding eradicating the wild mustang>> 

Essentially, this ill-advised plan allowed wild horses to populate unrestricted due to a lack of predation which normally controls horse populations through attrition. The irony, in the foregoing Associated Press article illustrates how the Federal Government is using the tax-paid Department of Justice lawyers to fight to kill a protected species under the 1971 Wild Horse and Burros Act.  The other irony is:  President Donald J. Trump authorized this atrocity in his budget but was stopped by Congress.  Other contributing factors affecting over population are: Overbreeding, backyard breeding and  unorthodox breeding methodologies such as: frozen semen, multiple embryo transfer, cooled transported semen, etc. by horse association non-profits. They all contribute to the over population of horses.  Another contributor is non-profit horse associations with high-paying 3-year-old futurities and incentivized early-age horse races. 


A common denominator, in the U.S. horse industry, directly tied to horse ownership, is the economy.  In a good economy, investors and horse ownership spirals up and declines in a bad economy. The down-turn wake leaves a glut of horses on the open market with no one to care for them. It’s an inherent component, in the industry. Unfortunately, for the unwanted horse, sale pen locations are exactly where “kill buyers” sit idly by. They are likened to vultures waiting for their next meal, readily buying healthy and robust horses for the foreign slaughter house plants.  The unsavory aspect of “kill buyers” is that although it’s a disgusting profession, it’s not illegal in the USA to transport a trailer load of horses across our borders to slaughter houses in Canada and Mexico. However, there are currently no horse slaughter plants in operation in the USA, due to the fact it is illegal to slaughter horses in the USA “for human consumption”.


Extortion is a favorite tactic used, by “kill buyers” to sell horses to enhance their financial status.  More specifically, once bought, the “kill buyer” advertises sale barn-bought horses on their social media page(s), stating they have a number of horses bound for the slaughter plant and it’s going to cost X amount of dollars to bail them out of the kill pen before they are shipped out. To reinforce the direness of the horses position, the “kill buyer” uses psychological reinforcement to attract prospective buyers by appealing to each individual’s sense of charity, decency, pity and willingness to help the horses in distress. For example, the “kill buyer” usually places a time-line on the prospective buyers before the horses ships out to the slaughter horse plant where their killed, dismembered and butchered for human consumption in foreign markets. The psychologically induced time-line, illustrates the horses’ seemingly hopeless situation with an added sense of urgency.

Another favorite tactic used by “kill buyers” is to show a group of mares with foals or weanlings and yearlings, by themselves, to bait the buyer trap.  After all, mares with foals and young horses directly appeal to everyone’s sense of protection, rescue and charity, except the “kill buyers,” who are in the business for the money and nothing more. In my opinion, they could care less about the poor horses who finds themselves in such a deplorable state.  In essence, they laugh all the way to the bank.  One way or another, “kill buyer’s” are going to be paid.  Either at the foreign slaughter horse plant or from the individuals bailing them out of the kill pen.


The law of physics states, “For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction.”  Such is the same with horse-rescue types. Horse Rescues comprise two distinct categories:  Legitimate and Fraudulent.”  


The legitimate horse rescue is usually comprised of one of two categories: a Federal 501 (C) 3 Non-Profit or a State Non-Profit. The commonality for each is simple: To some degree, both receive a tax-exempt status. However, the public financial reporting and disclosure status is different. More specifically, the Federal 501 (C) 3 is required to report its financial status on the IRS 990 form, in conjunction with their annual filed tax return. A particular 501 (C) 3 Non-profit IRS 990 can readily be viewed on

Equally, each state-organized non-profit horse rescue is required to adhere to a particular state’s, public financial reporting and disclosure requirements.  To review a particular state’s non-profit public financial disclosure requirements, simply visit the state’s Secretary of State to ascertain public non-profit financial disclosure adherence laws. Legitimate horse rescues are actually “angels on their shoulders” who endure a lot of pain and suffering while rescuing abused, abandoned, unwanted or unaffordable horses.  

However, their devotion to the horses care and rehabilitation is unwavering.  Horse rescue operators endure long hours, arduous labor and, in some cases, very little, if no, pay for their efforts. Primarily, they do it for the love of the horse and the passion in their heart. In a litany of cases, the horse rescue owner is overwhelmed while dealing with rescued horses who are sick, abused or diseased horses requiring significant financial cash outlays for treatment, rehabilitation and recovery of the horses.  Once a horse is recovered, the owner of the rescue is left with the task of trying to re-home the horse. Statistics indicate that the largest hurdles for a rescued horse to overcome are psychological and physiological trauma caused by the abuse of unconscionable human interaction.

My research indicates that there’s only a few ways the horse rescue is able to sustain itself.  Private donations are: business donations, charging an adoption fee for rehoming a particular horse, charitable raffles, etc.  At the end of the day, if the horse rescue is blessed with a cash surplus the owner is allowed to take a salary for their timeless effort spent in the business but not a non-taxable profit. In order to acquire donations for the horse rescue, they need to advertise on a myriad of social-media platforms as well as other advertising sites. The key to running a legitimate horse rescue is absolute transparency, as required by law, in its business dealings with the general public.  

However, the horse rescue is limited in the types of disclosures they are required, by law, to make. My research indicated that the only types of disclosures a horse rescue are required to make, by law, are financial reportings derived from their annual tax return.  Other disclosures, such as: when a horse arrives, leaves and who adopted it, is not required as is opening up the horse rescue’s accounting books for general inspection. For example, the horse rescue’s financial accounting such as the chart of accounts, ledgers, balance sheets, etc., are closed, except on special occasions such as during an IRS audit, a state audit or an investigation with the issuance of a subpoena.  

The general public is not entitled to a general inspection of a horse rescue’s individual donations.  The exception to the foregoing, is predicated by specific state or federal statue requirement. However, the donor can request to view the horse rescue’s facility to observe how the facility looks and cares for the rescued horses in their care.  Most horse rescues readily accommodate the inquirer. My only personal experience with horse rescues happened during my Risk Analysis of the Rick and Sherri Brunzell “Dual Peppy Saga” in Colorado several years ago.  Two horse rescues that performed miraculously were:  Harmony Equine Center and Blue Rose Ranch.  Without their assistance, it’s very possible, none of the remaining rescued horses would have survived such a grizzly ordeal.


The fraudulent horse rescue is one that mimics the legitimate horse rescue in every respect, except their motive is entirely different.  Their goal is to acquire a horse by deceptive means for the sole purpose of selling the horse to the horse slaughter plant for a profit, instead of providing care and rehabilitation.  However, once their evil operation is made transparent by discovery, their demise is met with arrest, prosecution, conviction and imprisonment. It’s a high price to pay for earning a few hundred dollars selling a horse to a slaughter house.


Unfortunately, in the USA, the slaughtering of horses in foreign slaughter plants will continue until the overpopulation of horses is reduced and brought under control to a manageable level by changing the mindset of the general population.  The USA, unlike Europe, operates on the “Free Enterprise Market.” Therefore, horse breeding is open to anyone, for any reason. In Europe, some countries have breed wardens who control animal populations by limiting the number of authorized breeding animals and produced young, by permit.

Another mindset requiring change to reduce horse populations is the De Facto breeding practices of the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), as well as other horse non-profits offering futurities for 3-year old horses and incentivized “early age” horse races. It’s these early-age events that drive the annual breeding of potential participants.  Unfortunately, until the “almighty dollar” is replaced with compassion, sensitivity and respect, this archaic, “breed-more, kill-more” philosophy will continue and horses are going to continue to be disposable and “throw away items” in our society.

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

Richard E. “Rick” Dennis
Managing Member
Freelance Writer and Author
Phone: (985) 630-3500
Web Site:

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  1. This is the most dynamic article I’ve ever read on the plight of our horses. My heartfelt thanks. It’s sad, but true.

  2. Finally, someone has the guts to write what needs to be said. This article calls balls and strikes, if I’ve ever read it.

  3. Rick,
    This article makes me so damn mad I could spit nails. I can’t believe our own government, whose duty is to protect the wild horses, is engaging in this underhanded shenanigans. Shame on them. They should rot in hell along with the kill buyers. God Bless the rescues for helping these poor angels.

  4. Great article Rick. I’ll share this to all my friend groups so we can give the “rat bastards” all the notoriety we can. I agree, kill buyers are disgusting people. They could make a living doing something else. Those poor horses.

  5. Pretty snazzy article. Couldn’t help but wonder how you obtained the statistics on horse slaughter, but I’m glad you did. Very sad, that our society had reached such a disgraceful level. 

  6. WOW, a good read. Had no idea all of this was going on. Perhaps horse owners should boycott the NRHA, AQHA, NRCHA, NCHA, and the Thoroughbred race horse association.

  7. Great article Rick. I’ll share this to all my friend groups so we can give the “rat bastards” all the notoriety we can. I agree. Kill buyers are disgusting people.

  8. My name is George and we spoke briefly on the phone today. Thank you for talking with me and taking my telephono call. I live in Argentina and own and operate a horse and cattle ranch. My friend in US mail me your article today. It very good. As I say when we talk I was thinking about investing in cutting horses in US until I read your article. Oh the shock when I read for myself how the horse is treated in US. NOW I think not. Thanks for your knowledge. You save me a lot of money.

  9. Mr Dennis I found your article offensive in every respect. I am a kill buyer and all I’m doing is making a living and bringing horses to the slaughter house no one wants.


    • Well Jeremy first and foremost let’s analyze the situation and rebut your comment in the same correspondence. I agree your making a living and it’s legal what your doing, but it’s your tactics that I Adamantly and vehemently oppose, e.g., if no kill buyers were at an auction then there’s a very good likelihood the horse would be bought by someone and give it a good home, instead of it ending up at the slaughter house without your outbidding the other prospective buyers. Then, once acquired kill buyers put on this dog and pony show to sell the horse for a profit using extortion tactics derived from the illusion of a do or die dire state situation for the horse. This tactic allows kill buyers to elevate the price of the horse to make a profit. For the record, you don’t see many emaciated horses going to the slaughter pen, now do we Jeremy, or skinny cows for that matter. If my article offends you in every respect, it makes me proud to have performed an admiral job in every respect in crafting my article to such an offensive level for those of you in the kill buyer profession. Thanks for your comment.

      Ps: I’d get a new profession.

  10. Rick Dennis, this is the most dynamic article I’ve ever read on the plight of our horses. My heartfelt thanks. It’s sad, but true.

  11. It’s refreshing to read an article where the author takes a stand for “right” to tell the world of the plight of our horses. Thank you for being the “voice” of what’s wrong with our horses in our decaying society. 


  12. Loved your article. It’s sad how the horse has lost respect in certain horse circles. I hope things get better.

    Mary Beth

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