From Movie Set To Dinner Plates? Heartland Horses Dispersed In Kill Buyer Attended Auctions

Kevin Rushworth High River Times QMI Agency photo


Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

John Scott has had a year of highs and lows – since starting into the movie business in 1969, he has balanced his own cattle, horse and buffalo ranch with work on Academy Award winning movies such as Unforgiven, Lord of the Rings, Legends of the Fall and Days of Heaven, along with other films and series such as Hell on Wheels, the 13th Warrior, Klondike Gold, and the family TV series Heartland. Earlier in 2014, he was awarded a 75th anniversary ATB Agriculture buckle (awarded to farmers and ranchers), and soon afterwards it was rather abruptly announced in the July/August 2014 issue of Horse-Canada magazine that he was no longer wrangler for the TV show Heartland.

The Heartland show is a series chronicling the highs and lows of ranch life and it is filmed in Alberta – feedlot capital of Canada.  The Facebook page is filled with perpetually optimistic fans pleading for better love lives for the characters, and it’s a place where “True Heartlanders” are never bored with reruns.  As far as I know, the closest this series has come to treading on the topic of slaughter is an episode where a dozen wild horses are found in a “feedlot,” which the scriptwriters tell us is a “place where they keep cows before they kill them.

In late 2012, Animals Angels photographed a stock trailer belonging to John Scott Productions at the Bouvry Slaughterhouse in Fort MacLeod Alberta. The feedlots nearby and the Bouvry slaughter plant map of albertawere part of an investigation by Animals Angels; you can read the full report here.  There is also additional footage of the various Alberta feedlots by the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition as part of “The True Faces of Horse Slaughter” investigation.

When I wrote my original Heartland blog in March 2013, speculating on whether JSP horses were being sent to slaughter on that day when Scott’s trailer was observed at Bouvry, we didn’t know and still don’t know what species of animal had been taken to the slaughterhouse. Previously, the Heartland show, via their Facebook page, denied that any horses featured in the show had ever gone to slaughter.

But since the announcement that Scott was no longer wrangler for Heartland, it was noticed that horses advertised as being from the series were showing up at various auctions throughout Alberta, in fairly close proximity to the Bouvry slaughterhouse, and usually where kill buyers were present. As well as being a supplier for movies, Scott is also regarded in Alberta as a horse trader.

In addition to the two auctiotop hat tip to Lonin sites mentioned, he also brings horses to the Innisfail auction north of Calgary, where kill buyers are also in attendance. In May and August of this year, John Scott Productions had two partial herd dispersals at Hebson Arena and Irvine Tack and Trailer. The owner of Irvine Tack & Trailer is Scott Irvine – a well known and very active kill buyer in the province. Having auctions of any animal on a kill buyer’s property puts money in their hands and enables them to slaughter more horses in the long run – it’s the same argument some people use for refusing to purchase brokered horses directly from kill buyers.

These two sales, which disposed of dozens of horses and mules, represented a large number of Scott’s usual 150 head of horses. Quarter horses, appys, paints, grade horses, and mules were variously described as having been used as as driving horses (2up, 4up and 6up) reining horses, bucking horses, and used in parades and blacksmith competitions, the Calgary Stampede, various movies including Heartland, and in ranch work. One horse was advertised as being an RCMP horse. Most were in their early to mid-teens, with others being described as “smooth mouth” horses who could no longer take heavy work.

Hebson Arena Sale,  Okotoks,  Alberta



Irvine Tack and Trailer Sale,  Crossfield, Alberta



After what appears to have been a lot of hard use, most of these well-broke horses deserved a soft landing  – to new lives as lightly-ridden trail horses for beginner and heartland2intermediate riders. Many of these horses should have been able to bring at least $1,000 each, but obviously Scott would have included some horses who didn’t work out for him or could no longer do heavy ranch work, and therefore aren’t as desirable on the market. Typically the horses described as “best for occasional trail use” don’t do well at auctions because they are often not completely sound.  So it’s unknown how many of these horses went on to new homes and whether any may have been sent on that final trip to Bouvry,  not far from either of the sites.

In any case,  I think it’s wishful thinking to accept the statements of the TV show at face value – “No horse that has ever appeared on Heartland has ever been sent to a slaughterhouse.

Fort McLeod is the capital of horse slaughter in Canada.

“an unacceptable way to end a horse’s life under any circumstance.”


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About heatherclemenceau

Hopefully as I've grown older I've also grown wiser, but one thing I've definitely become cognizant of is the difference between making a living and making a life. Frequently outraged by some of life's cruelties, and respect diversity. But.....I don't suffer fools gladly, and occasionally, this does get me into some trouble! I have the distinction of being the world's worst golfer - no wait, I do believe that there is a gypsy in Moldavia who is a worse golfer than I. Nor am I much of a dancer - you won't see a booty-shakin' flygirl routine from me! I'm also not the kind of cook who can whip up a five-course meal on a radiator either! And I've never figured out how to get an orchid to bloom a second time. I love to discuss literature, science, philosophy, and sci-fi , or even why Seinfeld is funny on so many levels. Words move me. I'm very soft-hearted about most things, especially animals, but I have a stoicism about me that is sometimes interpreted incorrectly. I do have a definite edge and an often "retro-adolescent" sense of humour at times. I'm a big advocate of distributed computing projects to advance science. Check out if you want to find out more. I'm an eclectic plant-based eater, and as such, it's a personal practice of mine to seduce innocent meat-eaters into cruising the (salad) bars at every opportunity. You would be powerless to resist. I was recently surprised to find that a computer algorithm concluded that I write like Dan Brown, which is funny because I didn't think Dan Brown could actually write. Check out your own style - Oh, and I love impractical shoes and funky hats.

63 responses »

  1. This is horrible that people use animals hard to make their living off them and then don’t give a damn what happens to them when done with the poor critters. Nobody wants to admit they do that though it seems.

      • They aren’t talking about taking the horses to the auction…they are talking about the show lying about horses used on it never going to the slaughterhouse, which is obviously a lie. The horse slaughter industry is a repugnant shame for anyone who participates. Go read about how horribly the horses are tortured and open your eyes.

      • Yes it is “fluffy” to actually have compassion for what is at our mercy. Use them up and throw them away to a horrific death….. I guess that is the mantra of you soulless types. And everything Hitler did was “legal” it does not make it moral,ethical or right. Thanks for the reminder of how little the soulless types care – about anything, but themselves.

  2. Why not offer them to good homes instead of slaughter??? I’m sure there are good homes waiting for these horses if offered!! Obviously this man, (and I use the term man lightly) has made goobs of money from the use of these horses in the movies. He can afford to give them to good homeskk.

    • We don’t have any proof that any went to slaughter, only that they are being offered for sale in the presence of kill buyers. I”m sure that many horses did go on to good homes, but we also know that sometimes kill buyers will deliberately out bid legitimate bidders because they have quotas to fill.

      • Umm.. MOST auctions in Alberta, if not ALL, have kill buyers present. I think rather than singling out ONE kill buyer and this man, you should’ve listed all of them or none.
        p.s. Perhaps this wouldn’t have happened if Heartland had kept John Scott on as their wrangler? Nobody seems to be pointing fingers at them.

      • Scott’s horses have been observed for some time at various auctions, including Innisfail. I’m not singling out one kill buyer – I’m drawing attention to the fact that an auction is held on a kill buyer’s premises. I am also highlighting the fact that so many horses, who according to their own bios, are easy-going, well-broke, sound, and multi-skilled, are deemed as disposable within the movie and indeed the horse industry.

      • As I mentioned in the previous blog, Heartland is not responsible for the actions of their contractors. They can only require them to adhere to the terms of their contracts.

      • I do, I have the receipts and registration papers for a yearling Appaloosa that was outbid from a meat buyer at Innisfail auction. He had been beaten so badly by the other horses in the pen, that he died the day after we got him home from multiple head fractures. So as much as you want to defend these people, I am afraid it is true. You can also contact bear valley rescue to view the other heartland horses that were outbid from the meat buyer at the auction and the can tell about the ones they couldn’t save.

  3. According to people who attended the auctions, the Heartland horses went to private buyers for an inflated price. Any horse that has the moniker ‘a Heartland horse’ usually sells for a high dollar, simply because of that association. Also, the most recent episode of Heartland dealt with rescuing wild horses to keep them from going to slaughter. While the show isn’t perfect, the message is clear that they are anti-slaughter. I think you have bigger fish to fry here and Heartland isn’t one of the fish, so to speak.

    • That remains to be seen. I think any horse at an Irvine auction is in a precarious position, but I would be thrilled if I knew definitively that they went to good homes. However, not every horse at this auction is advertised as a “Heartland” horse – some are merely advertised as “ranch horses” who can no longer do hard ranch work. Some others are advertised as “needing finishing or miles.” Older ranch horses are probably at the greatest risk because the implication is that they might be less sound than other horses. Heartland is a series set in Alberta and its animal wranglers no doubt are used to working within the Alberta horse slaughter mentality. The will or ideology of the producers of a TV show does not necessarily reflect the reality of the business. I went to University in Alberta – although at the time I didn’t have any horses and wasn’t even aware of horse slaughter, I recall the mentality of the Calgary Stampede well. Even without checking IPs, I’m pretty sure the objectors in the comments section are all from Alberta and are pro-slaughter.

      • Heather, i am a wrangler working on movies made in Alberta. I do not have this “horse slaughter mentality that you speak of, nor do any of my coworkers. So feel free to stop with the assumptions. John Scott’s horses are still being used for the Heartland series. The two dispersal sales did feature many horses used both on the show as well as the ranch. Both sales averaged very well. The first sale was held at Irvines Tack due to the size of the venue and location. With prices that high, you can bet no one bought them for slaughter. ..and i personally know this. Saying that “kill buyers were in attendance is very misleading, and i am dissappointed with the amount of ignorance you have shown in writing this article. The presence of known kill buyers at a sale means nothing when the horses go for top dollar…that’s common sense. I’ve worked with horses in this industry since i was ten years old. You are more than welcome to ask me any questions but please leave the assumptions at the door, because that is all they are.

      • Currently, there is no way to prove whether these particular horses have or have not gone to slaughter – the issue is that they are exposed to kill buyers and that they seem to be so easily considered as disposable. While I believe that most of his very broke horses would go to private individuals, i’m hardly convinced that they all do. And insofar as “horse slaughter mentality” goes, in Alberta it’s rampant.

        For instance, in addition to Alberta being the slaughter and feedlot capital of Canada:

        We have the culling of wild horses with no real scientific justification, which consisted most recently of the arrest of protesters – one of whom was elderly and used a walker – police decided she needed to be cuffed before she was put in the back of the police cruiser

        Bill Des Barres of HWAC, who is a paid rep for Claude Bouvry promoting horsemeat, horse slaughter as being “more humane than euthanasia”

        Calgary Stampede with its annual injury list, including horses who fall off bridges while being driven to the Stampede

        Stampede bucking stock sold for slaughter

        Stampede food – 2 foot long sausages, bacon wrapped corn, bacon wrapped pork belly on a stick (you’re nothing in Alberta if you don’t eat a considerable amount of meat)

        An SPCA that falls in lockstep with the Stampede mentality

        Meat horses from Alberta going to Japan via YYC

        A feral horse advisory committee that consists almost entirely of pro-slaughter people and groups including:

        Alberta Equestrian Foundation & Alberta Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada
        Alberta Farm Animal Care Association
        Alberta Fish and Game Association
        Alberta Professional Outfitters Society
        Alberta Veterinary Medical Association
        Alberta Wilderness Association
        Capture Licence Holder
        Livestock Identification Services Ltd.
        Rangeland Expert at the University of Alberta
        RCMP Livestock Investigator
        Rocky Mountain Forest Range Association
        Spray Lake Sawmills
        Sundre Forest Products
        Wild Horses of Alberta Society

        ………and, we have a general population of horse owners who defend a lot of these practices – maybe you’re one of them? You should also read comments from the previous Heartland blog – and people I know have told me they’ve seen some go for meat – “skinny and weak” were some of the comments.

      • I think perhaps you should actually attend some of these auctions (Innisfail and Irvines) and get a better feel for what actually goes on there. Generally the horses that go for meat are the yearlings & two year olds from breeders that have “production sales” at these locations, horses that are lame, thoroughbreds/standardbreds and horses that are simply run through with little to no information.
        When the horses are advertised in this manner, generally they attract some attention and there are always people out there looking for a horse for their grandkids or just a nice trail horse. So I’d say, by advertising the sale in this manner, it gave the horses a LOT better chance than if they had simply hauled them up to Innisfail or High River and run them through. Guaranteed many would have gone to slaughter.
        These kill buyers aren’t quite as evil and nasty as you make them out to be. I don’t agree that it’s a distasteful thing. But these guys aren’t out to “outbid” someone who’s trying to buy a horse. Generally if they see someone bidding on a horse that’s going to use it, they won’t bid or they back off. There’s no benefit to them to bid against someone else, they want the horses for as cheap as possible or they don’t make any money. That’s the whole point.

        You can crucify these people all you like. However in my mind, there’s only one way to prevent horses from going to slaughter. Get off your computer and perhaps go buy a couple. Can’t afford to? Well that’s too bad. Or offer to help sell the horses in a better manner. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. And bitching on the internet isn’t going to solve the solution.

      • If you don’t believe that kill buyers are nasty or that horse slaughter is distasteful, then you are on the wrong blog. And they absolutely do outbid regular people and rescues and there is no shortage of evidence to that effect. I suggest you google Cactus Cafe and Canuki to see exactly what lengths were taken to keep these horses from a good private home. In addition to those horses, there were desperate attempts to recover a horse named Backstreet Bully, who had belonged to Frank Stronach, to no avail, even despite pleas from Stronach’s own office.

        Some kill buyers also offer horses for sale at highly inflated prices, so while this does occasionally give some horses a second chance, it’s a dance with the proverbial devil. There are a litany of personal accounts made by individuals who have dealt with kill buyers and their reps offering brokered horses, and many of these consist of accusations of mis-representation of the horses, substitution, over-inflated prices, and last minute decisions to fill up a truck, leaving prospective purchasers without the animal they were in the process of purchasing. Kill buyers are the only individuals in North America who have no licenses and do not raise the horses they sell to the plants, but nevertheless have input and control over the food system. And that’s without even touching the business of misinformation on EIDs.

        And you know nothing about me or what horses I’ve purchased and owned in the past. That’s all.

  4. Does anyone have a link to the author who wrote as Lauren Brooke, HEARTLAND’S author? I believe people would listen to her voice and I know that Scholastic Books, the publisher could get to the bottom of this story because, in a legal sense, it could impact their profits and that would give them standing in court.

    • Michelle, this technique is used widely in the U.S., too. One female kill-buyer is known for out-bidding wild horse advocates on mustang mares and their foals (always sold separately) and then selling them at an even higher price. If you’re interested in seeing two of our wild foals that ended up in the slaughter auction, you might look here:
      To those who say many horses go to good homes, please check out the last auction photo at the above link. Number 170 flashes above the young filly. Why? The floor of the auction ring is a scale, so kill buyers can determine their per pound profit.

    • I bid against a kill buyer at auction on a weanling colt. He didn’t even have papers but he was the only weanling at the sale, no one else was bidding, and I couldn’t let him go for a mere $20 for slaughter. I paid $90 for him. The kill buyer even gave me a sly grin. He may have upped his price a bit on me but none the less he didn’t bid as much as they would normally go for. Not all kill buyers will up a price on a colt. And me being a young adult female you think he would have taken advantage. But nope. I paid fair price for that colt and he’s one of my best horses in the field now. He’ll be coming two years in June or July and he hasn’t grown into his full size that he should be but he’ll make an awesome kids horse.

  5. I should clarify, my post was meant to say “I don’t disagree that horse slaughter is distasteful”. ie I’m definitely not a fan of it.
    However when it boils down to it, I have yet to see a VIABLE, reasonable, well thought out, un-emotional idea that replaces the need for horse slaughter. Seriously, what can we do with all of the horses that are deemed “unwanted”? You can’t force people to keep them. You can’t tell them they can’t sell them. Who’s going to buy them and pay for them? We’d love to be able to save them all, same as the huge number of cats and dogs that are euthanized at the SPCA every year.

    Could the process be changed and improved? Absolutely. Should it? Absolutely. Should it be humane? Without a doubt. But banned? I’m not sure that’s the answer. Not yet anyways.

    There truly is a LOT of misinformation on your blog and I think while you do have some very valid information, a lot is not or it has been spun to your advantage. ie Telling people that the person at the kill box will “Casually re-load while a horse has it’s eye or ear blown off” is completely ignorant. They don’t use a “gun” that needs to be reloaded. They use a captive bolt gun. Look it up. Can mistakes still be made? Yes. Are the same mistakes made in the cattle and swine industry? Yes. Does that make it ok? Absolutely not. These processes should be highly regulated to ensure that mistakes are minimized, however, when a human is involved, we can’t remove the risk of a mistake altogether. We ALL make mistakes. Even you, I’m sure.

    One of my biggest peeves is the level of ignorance in relation to the wild horse issue. A highly emotionally charged issue. In reality, they are feral, not native and don’t entirely belong there. Would I ever want them to completely remove them? No, definitely not, they are incredibly neat to see. However the population MUST be controlled. Why? Because if we don’t, we endanger a very valuable and irreplaceable natural area – our foothills fescue grasslands. These grasslands take thousands of years to develop and can’t just be reseeded like your lawn. If they are overgrazed, we face a myriad of other issues, namely erosion and sediment contamination of the watershed. We need to look at the WHOLE picture here, not just think about the horses. And before you start in on “Oh but they should just leave the horses alone and remove the cattle”… technically they were there first. Remember the massive herds of buffalo that used to roam N.America? Yeah those guys. The cattle there have taken the place of them in the ecocycle. Native grasslands DO need to be grazed, without question, however they have to monitored (and they are) and highly regulated for overgrazing (which they are) or we face irreparable damage.
    Does that mean I want to see these wild horses go to slaughter? Heck no! But realistically, how many people that you know, would actually have the knowledge and ability to “adopt” a wild horse and tame/break/train it (whatever term you find more palatable)? Not many that I know, most would get their heads kicked in. But is it possible to save these horses from slaughter? Sure. Did you know that *anyone* including you and me, can apply for a permit to capture wild horses? So why not get out there with other wild horse aficionados and capture them yourselves and then resell them to people you know won’t take them to slaughter? It IS possible… Yet I haven’t seen anyone step up to the plate on that one.

    Just food for thought. Not saying you should suddenly become pro-slaughter. Just saying you perhaps need to think of the whole picture here.

    • There are many viable alternatives, too many to go into here, and many need further buy-in and development from both animal welfare associations, private individuals, and government. They’ve been explored, proposed, etc. etc. Many are listed in the blog roll on the right. So I don’t have time to cover them all here yet again.

      Where have I written anywhere about horses in the kill box with their eye or ear blown off? The CHDC videos on youtube revealed the true accuracy rate with stunning, so it’s not really in dispute.

      Captive bolt guns are no longer used. The CFIA urged slaughterhouses to switch to a rifle, and this was confirmed in a response to an order paper submitted to the Canadian government.

      Cattle and bison/buffalo are not the same species – their chromosome counts are one off. Cattle are poorly adapted to long range migratory travels over dry steppe and prairie, and poorly adapted to the normal winter weather of ordinary bison habitat. So, if you are distilling it down to “rights” then horses have a greater right to existence than the cattle. They were already here. I refer you to –

      Your assumptions about wild horses are also incorrect. Horses were indigenous to North America. The genus “Equus” comprises modern horses, zebras and donkeys, all of which progressed about 4 million years ago (during the Pliocene era). Only modern horses, wild asses, zebras, and donkeys survive today, but many other lineages in the horse family have become extinct over the last 50,000 years. The Przewalski’s wild horse has never been domesticated and remains a truly wild animal today. It is a subspecies of Equus ferus, and possesses 66 chromosomes, compared to 64 in all other horse species, so it is morphologically a distinct animal. DNA analysis shows that the species diverted from the modern horse lineage over 100,000 years ago, and thus remains the closest living “ancient” relative to the modern horse.

      It’s largely irrelevant whether horses are indigenous to North America, or an introduced species, since they satisfy an ecological niche. But there are basically two positions that can be considered when it comes to deciding whether horses are indigenous to North America:

      1) That a continuous lineage of horses survived in small groups in North America up until the reintroduction of European horses, or…..

      2) That horses disappeared from North America during the late Pleistocene (“Ice Age”) era – 10,000-7,000 years before present but were brought back by other cultures in pre-Columbian times.

      Horses share their ancestry with rhinoceroses and tapirs. Over 50 million years ago, horses had several odd-numbered hoofed toes and looked more like tiny rhinos or small deer than anything resembling the majestically regal horses as we know them. These small mammals gradually developed into “intermediate” horses, which were a somewhat heavier version weighing several hundred pounds. By about 20 million years ago (during the Miocene era), these intermediate horses had adapted well to the changing environs of the open plains, and gradually developed prominent middle toes and long legs, better enabling them to follow their compulsion to graze and to quickly run from predators that could easily spot them once they ventured from the forests into the open plains. Larger, more athletic horse-like animals made their appearance, including one called “Parahippus,” or “almost horse.” They were evolving to reach weights of around 1,000 pounds, nearing the size of modern horses. “Hippidion” then appeared, considered the most successfully evolved horse, as evidenced by its migration from North America to Africa and Eurasia.

      At the end of the Pleistocene epoch, the geological period roughly spanning 12,000 to 2.5 million years ago, many of the world’s large animals, such as giant sloths, saber-toothed cats, dire wolves, and mammoths, vanished from the geological record. Extinctions often seem dramatic and sudden in fossil records, but an extinction event may mean that an imperiled species survives in smaller and smaller numbers until eventually disappearing completely. Evidence suggests that some large species such as the horse became extinct in North America but persisted in small populations here and elsewhere, having crossed a land bridge into Asia.

      Recent discoveries have the potential to re-write the fossil and taxonomic records, and also confirm that horses were here all along, and are a re-introduced species, rather than a new species brought to North America.

      Recent revelations in the horse fossil record include:

      1) The discovery of a horse that lived 700,000 years ago in Canada’s Yukon Territory. The DNA discovered from this ancient horse is 10 times as old as any DNA retrieved to date, and is considered to be the world’s oldest genome of any species. An international team of researchers deciphered the genome of the horse from the Middle Pleistocene (the “Ice Ages”), along with those of a 43,000-year-old horse, a modern donkey and five contemporary domestic horse breeds. Using those data, the researchers pushed back the emergence of the ancestor of horses, zebras, asses and donkeys to about 4 million to 4.5 million years ago.

      2) Also of note was the discovery by scientists excavating an Ice Age mammoth skeleton from the Tule Springs area north of Las Vegas, Nevada, uncovered the remains of a second animal that was perhaps more interesting than the original find: a skull and lower jaw of an extinct horse species. Horses are not uncommon in the Tule Springs fossil record, but this one differs from all those discovered there before, according to the San Bernardino County Museum scientists. The new fossils belong to the extinct species Equus scotti, a large horse common in much of western North America during the Pleistocene Epoch. The species has never before been reported from Tule Springs or Nevada. The site was dated to approximately 12,000 years in age, making the fossils among the youngest records of Equus scotti anywhere in North America. And the new discovery is forcing scientists to revise their understanding of horse evolution and extinction at the end of the Ice Ages.

      3) Researchers who removed ancient DNA of horses and mammoths from permanently frozen soil in central Alaskan permafrost dated the material at between 7,600 and 10,500 years old. The findings suggest populations of these now-extinct mammals endured longer in the continental interior of North America, challenging the conventional view that these species (mammoths and horses) disappeared from the continent about between 13,000 and 15,000 years ago.

      4) Archaeologists also uncovered another nearly intact skeleton of a horse and donkey thought to have been buried ritualistically, that may have lived and died 50 years before the Spanish began their conquest of California. The finds are significant because native North American horses were thought to have been extinct much earlier, and the remains are older than the recorded conquests by the Spanish. Radiocarbon dating of 340 years, plus or minus 40 years, puts the death of the horse sometime between 1625 and 1705. Therefore, the horses died at least 50 years before San Diego Mission de Alcala, the first of the California missions, was founded in 1769. The bones of the horses and the donkey showed no signs of having been shod, an indicator that the horses were not brought by the Spanish, who fitted their horses with iron shoes. The possibility exists that the buried equids were brought by the Spanish in an expedition that was subsequently lost to history, or the burial is evidence for domestication of the species that had not completely died out at the end of the last ice age.

      5) Scientists examined 35 equid fossils from South America, Europe, Asia, and South Africa – analysis that ultimately filled in many evolutionary gaps about equid evolution and the nature of extinct species. A new species of wild ass was also detected on the Russian Plains and appears to be related to European fossils dating back more than 1.5 million years. Carbon dates on the bones reveal that this species was alive as recently as 50,000 years ago. The significant of this finding is obvious – it casts doubt on the theory that horses exist in North American only by the introduction of Europeans during their colonizing expeditions of the 15th and 16th centuries. The genetic results suggest that megafaunal extinctions at the end of the last ice age may not have been as extensive as previously believed.

      6) The species known as Equus lambei, named for Canadian paleontologist H.M. Lambe, otherwise known as the Yukon Horse, when radiocarbon dated, turned out to be 26,000 years old. Equus caballus is genetically equivalent to Equus lambei, a horse, according to fossil records, that represented the most recent Equus subspecies in North America.

      Now, having said all that, I wonder why you think *I* should rethink my stance on slaughter? I think you’re quite presumptive in assuming that after all this time and 140+ blog posts on the subject, that’s I’d change my perspective because of one very inaccurate comment in my blog………

    • While I freely admit I’m no expert in Canada-specific research, you’re looking at old data as far as most North American wild horses are concerned. As Heather noted, there have been updates in tools, techniques, and even locations. Speaking of time, how do you define “feral” ? If >100 generations past domestication aren’t enough to consider an animal wild, how many generations are required?

    • The three major plants, LPN, Richelieu and Bouvry are using a .22 single-shot rifle. If you can work up the guts go the CHDC video report from Richelieu Meats, owned by Bouvry Exports in Calgary. Many times the shooter there would shoot a horse very poorly, the horse would be thrashing in the kill box with a bullet or two in the head while the shooter would appear to slowly re-load. Here’s a link to the video.

    • So many fallacies in this post I wouldn’t know where to begin. Another apologist for intensive farming who doesn’t know anything at all about the history of the horse in Canada. No doubt she feels the “information” here is anything that is opposed to horse slaughter.

    • honey you need the whole picture: there are many videos on youtube that capture horses being shot with a fifle multiple times-for macleod, slaughterhouse in quebec & pleasant valley slaughter is saskatchewan. don’t be afraid to be educated

  6. You forgot to check your facts. And you seem to have singled out one kill buyer, although they are generally referred to as meat buyers, because they are buying the livestock for it’s meat. “Kill” buyer, a term to generate unwarranted negativity. Have you seen what happens to the horses that can no longer to sent to slaughter in certain state? Have you seen what happens when they are dumped off in the dessert to fend for themselves and die a slow death from starvation or a faster one from prey animals? I guess not. I’ve noticed “journalists” seem to have forgotten the “who, what,when, where and why” of their profession and the 2 source rule rather than speculating. “Hay have been sold to kill buyers?” Should you not have confirmed one way or the other, rather than speculate? Oh yea, you’re not a journalist. You’re a blogger…and the kind that gives bloggers a bad name.

  7. God, here we go again with the “abandoned in the desert” drivel again. It has been reported that a large number of these abandoned horses were horses rejected at the Mexican border and dumped by kill buyers who, rather than try to put some effort into re-homing, chose to dump them in the desert. Many of them still had auction tags on them.

    • If nothing else, the pro-slaughters in Alberta have had a rude awakening – they’ve now realized that there’s an anti-slaughter movement in Canada. Hopefully, they’ve also read the evidence for horses being native to North America, so they can stop whining about needing to control our wild horse populations, which are extremely low relative to the non-indigenous cattle grazing the same areas. Every time a horse changes hands it puts them at risk. Since they believe there’s nothing wrong with slaughter, then why are they so offended about the prospect of it?

  8. John Scott is to be commended for protecting the future of the horses he could no longer use. So many horses are sold or given away to people who don’t know how to look after them. He made sure they would never be left to starve or stand in a paddock, crippled and neglected. Wake up and realize that horses are not pets. They are livestock. You can’t take one, buy a few bags if pet food and later, leave it at a shelter when you no longer want it. To call an Order Buyer a kill buyer is seriously demeaning. These people attend at auction markets to buy livestock for others who order them, and many of the animals they buy head for ranches, farms, feedlots or someone’s backyard. It’s the livestock in the backyard, rescued by some bleeding heart that you should be worried about.

    • Terry, I happen to disagree with you that auctions “protect the future” of horses. And I see you are as uninformed and unenlightened as most of the pro-slaughter, washed-up rodeo stars and minor cast members of the Alberta film industry inundating this blog lately. And congratulations for just discovering that there is an anti-slaughter movement in Canada. Pro-slaughters are free to believe whatever nonsense they wish about horses not being pets – horses aren’t raised to be food animals and veterinary drug contamination in horsemeat is a serious enough issue to cause the EU to cast a jaundiced eye on Mexican and Canadian horsemeat imports. Experience has shown us that we cannot allow kill buyers (not “order buyers” but that’s another euphemism I’ll have to mock at a later date) to have any input or control over the food supply. What I can’t wrap my head around is the fact that so many pro-slaughters claim that they won’t euthanize because they don’t want to contaminate the water supply but they have no problem contaminating the food supply!

      “He made sure they would never be left to starve or stand in a paddock, crippled and neglected.” Why would they be? By all accounts he looked after his horses, so why are you suggesting that the only way to prevent them from starving to death was to take them to an auction?

      • I am neither uninformed or unenlightened, thank you. As far as I’m concerned, you’ve just described yourself. I’ve been raising cattle, dogs, cats and yes, even horses for the better part of 45 years. Oh, I even raised some hogs while in high school so I would have some spending money. I spend at least 2 days a week at local auction markets throughout the fall, buying calves that will eventually, believe it or not, end up in a feedlot, and after that? on someone’s plate. I personally know at least a dozen “order buyers” and they are never known as “kill buyers”. It is a business to buy and sell livestock and yes, they’re in it for the money. It’s how they make a living. If I happen to sell a cow because she is not useful in my operation because of, lets say, a bad udder or bad feet or bad temperament, an order buyer can buy her and sell her to someone. Maybe she goes to a “packing plant” such as Cargill or JBS where she ends up in a McDonalds hamburger or maybe she goes to a farmer who is willing to take a chance on getting another calf from her. That’s entirely up to the buyer and I take the money to invest in another bovine or equine. In my horse breeding business, some have gone to the “horse packing plant” in Fort McLeod. Take for instance, the beautiful paint gelding I called Ghost. I am no stranger to horses as I raise them, train and sell them. Well, I started Ghost at a Colt Starting Clinic. He seemed ok. I did a lot of groundwork with him and rode him on probably 6 occasions, never really feeling confident with his personality. In 2013, he showed his true colors. Riding outside in the small arena at our farm with my daughter on her seasoned gelding, Ghost came unglued. He gathered himself and ran right into my daughters horse, started to buck violently and I ended up on the ground, and this was serious. He continued to buck without me until he ran into a gate and finally stopped. I was transported to a rural hospital and sent by ambulance to the Trauma Center of a city hospital. I had a punctured lung, broken ribs, broken collar bone, fractured vertebrae and spent 4 days in trauma. During that time, I had some time to think. Before I left the hospital, Ghost had an appointment to be delivered to the “order buyer” and he was destined for the Bouvry Plant in Ft McLeod. Now I could have talked myself into keeping him, because he was so pretty and so nice, etc. I could have advertised him and sold him to some unsuspecting person who would have ended up in the hospital, also. I did the RIGHT thing and sold him as the”meat” horse he was. You may think it distasteful to eat horse meat and so do I, but I’m not going to judge people who find it quite edible. This horse was 4 years old. He had maybe 20 years ahead of him. Years he could have stood around in the pasture, getting fatter and fatter and eventually foundering on green grass. When the lamanitis set in, he could have hobbled around the pasture in serious pain, eating more grass until the day he couldn’t hobble any further. Then he could have stood there
        starving to death as the fat melted away and age took its toll. You know what? He went where he didn’t have to suffer a life of “nothingness”. This is just one story of many and when you see a horse being sold through an auction, think about its past and realize this may be the only future it has. As far as euthanising them? I’ve done that too. My old friend “Dolly”, who heard every problem I had growing up and lived to 30, is buried on my property. “Old Bob” was my daughter’s best friend growing up and my granddaughter knew him as her horse for 7 years. He’s buried on the property with a rock for a tombstone. “Mindy”, who taught both of my kids how to ride is buried in the field and she was also euthanized. Before you judge horse sellers and horse buyers and those who eat horse meat, learn a little bit about life. You seem to be lacking in that area.

      • Your’re a back yard breeder who actually considered keeping a dangerous horse because he was “pretty.” I wish I knew why so many pro-slaughter advocates had such “rank” horses that they must kill – especially when they raised them and need to take some responsibility for their outcome as riding horses. If you had any compassion you would either euthanize him or use a well-placed bullet. There are more than two options – horse slaughter or allowing a horse to get fat and laminitic, or conversely, starve to death. And google the term “kill buyer” and you’ll see how commonly used it actually is. The fact that few people promoting horse slaughter can verbalize or write the word “kill” shows that in reality, they aren’t comfortable with it either.

      • I was working with a horse for a friend of mine. She was an ex barrel racer that had been left on pasture for 3 years and had become quite spoiled. My friend bought her in hopes she would be her next barrel horse but had continually bucked her off. This mare had also chased her friends out of the pasture, teeth bared, ready to kill. I knew I was working with a special case but not quite as special as I thought. I figured a good few sessions of lunging in a round pen would help with the naughty behavior, and let her release pent up energy. First day I was out there the mare knew little or was just too lazy to move so I had another horse in with her to get her moving. Once I thought she had a grasp on what I was doing I removed the other horse. My friend showed up just in time. I turned to my friend and was telling her what I was about to do and why. I was far enough away from the horse… but that horse also knew what I was about to ask her to do and moved just close enough and turned her back end towards me. I seen her move and looked just in time to receive a kick to the face. I received nearly 5 hours of surgery, and now have two titanium plates and 15 screws in my head. Had she kicked me just a little bit over either way and I would be dead today. And I hadn’t asked her to move, never touched her with a whip, never slapped her or anything. But holy heck did she ever receive a crap load of inventive swear words when I got off the ground. She was lucky enough to be sold to an old man for breeding. But I hope he never tried to put a halter on her or anything. She was one you just wouldn’t trust ever again. And to breed her… a shame. Her with a young colt… I wouldn’t even approach in a field. She was dangerous and personally I believe she was one that should have been put down. However when you pay $2000 for a horse you have to make a buck somewhere. I would have understood if she went for meat. I hate the thought of any horse going there but when I almost loose my life… I could care less for that horse, especially when other’s lives are in danger.

      • I wouldn’t have sold the mare for breeding under the circumstances. I would cut my losses and euthanize her. I once found a job for a mare that wasn’t particularly a good riding horse as a “nurse maid” for some foals bought at auction. She was especially good at it, having been a brood mare, so it became her vocation. Then I retired her at a facility that was fairly inexpensive because they had no area or riding nearby.

      • to paige re the mare she was about to lunge. horse handling 101; never become complacent when handling or being around horses. PAY ATTENTION. you turned you head to talk to a friend; if you had paid attention you would have caught onto the horse’s tntentions. so 50% of your injury was your fault and the mare paid the price

    • My goddamn horse is not livestock. He is my companion animal and an endless joy to me and others around him. Just as the cats,dogs, present and past that have been in my life. Anyone who takes on the responsibility of these animals and then dumps them at a shelter, auction house etc. when they become “unwanted” had no business owning them in the first place. As far as backyard owners, most that I have seen are quite nice. This bleeding heart does not eat her companions, and nobody else will either.

  9. “After what appears to have been a lot of hard use, most of these well-broke horses deserved a soft landing – to new lives as lightly-ridden trail horses for beginner and intermediate riders”… so where were all the buyers to accomplish that?….where are all the folks who are against horse slaughter? … please, feel welcome to step up and walk your talk…and what if SCP trailers were seen at Bovray’s?…his and the trailers of countless other ranchers in the area who rather see the horse be destroyed, rather than languish in a pasture can likely be seen there too. Do folks have any idea how many are out there on ranches, put out in the back pastures, left sight unseen, out of sight, out of mind and where they never get as much as a hoof trim, deworming, teeth floated…even a brush?Left to themselves to literally starve and die? Much rather ship them off to Bovray.

    • Where are the buyers? I thought all Mr. Scott’s horses were snapped up at high prices? And you’re the second person that claims that horses have to go to an auction otherwise they will languish in a pasture, sight unseen, and out of mind. Clearly, this happens a lot in Alberta, perhaps more than many people want to admit. Have you heard of humane euthanasia? It seems I have to remind you that withholding necessary food, water and veterinary care isn’t an excuse, it’s criminal behaviour. Rescues step up all the time, and unfortunately, they often have to compete with kill buyers in order to secure a horse. And it’s Bouvry, not “Bovray.”

    • I will tell you what we are doing. We are doing what we can. Be it supporting the local rescue, offering different solutions to slaughter, in which there are several options, and of course begging people to stop breeding everything with a vagina, just because.

  10. well written and very enlightening. I am a huge opponent of horse slaughter, what the horses must go through even BEFORE being shot with a captive bolt in the head (which often does not work and the animal is put through sheer hell not to mention an unbelievably painful excruciating death) is nothing short of disgusting and heart-breaking. These majestic creatures serve their owners unconditionally & this is how they’re repaid for their selfless service? And yes, I am a longtime horse owner. Thank you Heather for writing this:)

  11. in the last three years between my friends in the United States and Canada fighting hard to prevent horses going to slaughter. It’s about educating people that when they think they’re selling their horse and hoping someone will buy it, what they’re really getting told is what you don’t know is anybody else’s guess they’ve gone to slaughter.

    • And NO solutions from the anti slaughter side! There is a way to stop the slaughter…..just go to the sales and buy the horses and take them home and care for them yourself! Problem solved….oh right you want everyone else or the government to pay for your wishes and desires! FYI there are 3 old tired horses retired in my pasture eating hay and costing me money! I have shared meals with order buyers so I guess I should not be allowed to own horses either according to you and your anti slaughter people!

      • Actually, there are many solutions, many of them already exist, others need to be expanded upon. And we’d better do something about it, because after Mexico, Canada will be next –

        How did you arrive at the conclusion that I wanted the government to pay for my “wishes and desires?” People purchase horses from auctions regularly, unfortunately, they sometimes have to compete with kill buyers (not order buyers) who have quotas to fill for the slaughterhouses. Also, if people didn’t view horses as disposable, there would be less of a need for anti-slaughter people to constantly rescue them.

        Even if no horses go to slaughter, real horse lovers (not the people who send horses to slaughter) would cast a jaundiced eye on having an auction at a kill buyer’s place of business, presumably putting money in his pocket, enriching him with the ability to purchase more horses and send them to slaughter. This is why some Albertan horse owners, who knew about the kill buyer in this scenario, indicated on Facebook that they refused to shop on his premises long before I was even blogging.

        Insofar as resources go, you can start with this partial list –

  12. I’ve seen a heartland horse in the auction ring in Innisfail myself. Two of them. Both sold for over $3000. Most riding horses go to good homes, some people show up specify to buy a heartland horse, but there are those few that don’t get that and end up in the meat place. Very unfair.

      • Yup it is a shame. Some people buy from the auction, give the horse 30 days riding and send them back to the auction, whether or not it’s the season to buy. And that’s also why I tell people to buy young. If you have a weanling colt from auction, you’ll grow up with it and it will learn to trust you. Riding will be simple if the horse trust you and you have a simple knowledge on the basics of training. And they will be your partner for life, no bad habits yet and you’ll be much more willing to keep a horse you raise and are prepared for to keep. Plus you’ll probably be saving a life and giving it a chance at life that it never had from the beginning. It’s quite sad that a lot of riding horses go for meat, and I can understand some peoples perspectives when they say oh well it probably has bad habits or its at the auction cause it’s a bad horse. Cause I have bought a few that I’ve had to get rid of some bad habits. Some of them just needed to be a horse for a while and learn to relax. But so far in the auctions I’ve attended here in Alberta, most riding horses, or at least those ridden at auction usually find a home, not saying all do and I don’t attend auctions regularly or I’d have more horses than I could handle and afford but from what I’ve seen this is my understanding but I do acknowledge good riding horses end up in that horrid place.

  13. And btw just to put it out there in Canada (or atleast alberta) the spca does not adopt out their horses. They take them, fix what needs to be done and sends them to auction where they could end up on someone’s plate. There are very few lucky ones that end up at rescues.

  14. all I can saw is they’ve been doing all this crap since forever. Horses are my favorite people (if they are neutered) My grand-daughter has a double registered quarter horse mare. whatta sweetie. Since they are herd animals….her best friend is our Herford. They’re hysterical together. We plan on inseminating the cow this year..I am always watching our for horses that do appear to being abused and call the correct people to check things out. Kathleen Hall

  15. Heather, I have just read through Post after Post after post. I agree with you Kill Buyers are KILL Buyers. I am deeply saddened by the post of that person who sent their horse to “horse packing plant” by the “Order Buyer”. I would like to know if Terry PLace has seen the Brutal way they murder these horses. You have the patience of a saint.
    I think that Terry Place should go to a slaughter house and see how truly evil it is and then Terry would understand (I hope) why these people are called KILL Buyers.

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