Why are horses sold for slaughter? Unlike farms with cows, pigs and chickens, no one in the US seems to be breeding horses specifically for slaughter, so where do the horses come from? When looking at horse owners, the issue is sometimes a change in financial circumstances or certain individual horses who are no longer wanted for various reasons. On a macro scale, the issue is overbreeding:
To some, horses are a pet; to others, a living piece of farm equipment. To the horse-racing industry, though, the thoroughbred is a lottery ticket. The racing industry breeds thousands of losing tickets while looking for its next champion. "Horse slaughtering deeply divides racing, breeding community," Rick Maese, Orlando Sentinel, May 28, 2004
Horses are not always knowingly sold for slaughter. An article in Daily Racing Form explains:
Owners, breeders, and trainers frequently do not vet out the people who offer to take unwanted horses, sometimes because of a willful ignorance of where the horses might end up. It's the racing industry's version of "don't ask, don't tell."
However, being a champion is not always a ticket to a pampered retirement:
Decorated racers like Ferdinand, a Kentucky Derby winner, and Exceller, who won more than $1 million in purse money, were retired to stud. But after they failed to produce champion offspring, they were slaughtered. "Horse slaughtering deeply divides racing, breeding community," Rick Maese, Orlando Sentinel, May 28, 2004
Some racetracks, including Suffolk Downs and Churchill Downs, now ban owners and trainers who sell horses for slaughter, but the Daily Racing Form reports, "Typically, the country's smaller tracks have undocumented reputations as feeders for slaughterhouses."