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How Many Race Horses Get Slaughtered?

When one thinks of horse racing, they think of the glamour, the excitement, and the potential for great riches. But what many do not think about is the number of race horses that get slaughtered each year. The number of horses that are slaughtered is a sobering reality of the horse racing industry. Getting an exact figure on how many race horses get slaughtered each year is difficult, as reliable data is hard to come by. However, estimates suggest that around 10,000-15,000 race horses are slaughtered each year in the United States alone.


Race horses are bred and trained to be the best they can be, with the goal of competing to win races and the associated prize money. After a horse is past its prime and no longer able to compete, it is often retired from racing. This is when the problem arises. Many of these horses are unable to find a home and are instead sold to slaughterhouses, where they are killed and processed for meat.

Reasons for Slaughter

There are a number of reasons why so many race horses end up in slaughterhouses each year. Firstly, the cost of caring for a horse is quite high, and many owners are unable or unwilling to pay for the upkeep of a retired racehorse. Secondly, there is a large demand for horse meat in some countries, and race horses are seen as a good source of high quality meat. Finally, some owners are simply in it for the money and will sell their horses to the highest bidder, regardless of what happens to the horse afterwards.

Lack of Regulations

Unfortunately, there are very few regulations in place to protect race horses from being slaughtered. In the United States, there are no federal laws in place to protect horses from being sent to slaughter, and many states have no laws on the books either. This lack of regulation makes it easy for unscrupulous owners to dispose of their horses in the most convenient way possible.

The Slaughter Process

The process of slaughtering a race horse is a cruel and inhumane one. The horses are typically transported in cramped and unsanitary conditions, and when they arrive at the slaughterhouse they are generally not given any food or water. The horses are then killed with a captive bolt gun, a device that shoots a metal bolt into the horse’s brain and kills them instantly. The horse is then butchered and the meat is processed for sale.

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The Impact on Racing

The prevalence of race horses being slaughtered has had a detrimental effect on the horse racing industry. The public’s perception of the sport has been damaged by the knowledge that many horses are killed in the name of racing. This has resulted in lower attendance, lower betting revenues, and a decrease in the number of horses being bred for racing.

Rehoming Efforts

In recent years, there has been an effort to rehome retired race horses instead of sending them to slaughter. Organizations such as Retired Racehorse Project and Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance have been set up to help find homes for retired racehorses. These organizations work to match horses with suitable homes, and provide training and resources to help the horses transition to their new lives.

Other Solutions

In addition to rehoming efforts, there are other solutions that could help reduce the number of race horses being slaughtered. One solution is to increase the prize money for races, which would make it more profitable for owners to keep their horses instead of selling them for slaughter. Another solution is to impose stricter regulations on the sale of horses, and require owners to provide proof that their horses are going to a suitable home.


The number of race horses slaughtered each year is a sad reality of the horse racing industry. While the exact number is difficult to pin down, estimates suggest that around 10,000-15,000 race horses are slaughtered each year in the United States alone. This is a tragedy that needs to be addressed, and there are a number of solutions that could help reduce the number of horses being slaughtered. Rehoming efforts, increased prize money, and stricter regulations are all potential solutions that could help put an end to horse slaughter.


  • Retired Racehorse Project: https://www.retiredracehorseproject.org/
  • Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance: https://www.thoroughbredaftercare.org/
  • Horse Racing and Slaughter: https://www.horseracingwrongs.com/horse-racing-and-slaughter/
  • Horse Slaughter in the U.S.: https://www.aspca.org/animal-protection/horse-slaughter-usa