(HORSES/ANIMAL WELFARE) The Sundance Kid rides again! Iconic actor Robert Redford and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson are fighting to protect horses, and people are finally listening. The Navajo Nation dropped their support for a domestic slaughter plant. The group has suspended horse roundups, and is now working with Redford and Richardson’s “Foundation to Protect New Mexico Wildlife” in favor of finding more humane, long-term solutions to the problem of overpopulated feral horses.
There are reportedly seventy-five thousand uncared for animals roaming Navajo land and drinking from their water supplies. In the past, the answer was to slaughter these beautiful creatures, but now with the help of horse advocate agencies like the Foundation, the tribe will have the resources to solve this problem more compassionately. Read on for more about New Mexico’s horse population debate and the more humane options for managing these animals. Let us know what you think should be done in the comments section below. — Global Animal
Mustangs captured on federal rangeland earlier this year by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and confined at the bureau’s Palomino Valley holding facility about 20 miles north of Reno, Nev.
Mustangs captured on federal rangeland earlier this year by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and confined at the bureau’s Palomino Valley holding facility about 20 miles north of Reno, Nevada. Photo credit: The Associated Press, Scott Sonner

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Navajo Nation says it will end its wild horse roundups and reverse its public support for a return to domestic horse slaughter following talks with former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly said Tuesday that he met with Richardson over the weekend and they agreed to work together to find

Robert Redford directed and starred in the 1998 film "The Horse Whisper," and in real life his passion continues. The outspoken activist and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson created the Foundation to Protect New Mexico Wildlife to help stop the slaughtering of horses./Photo credit: thehorsepedia.com
Robert Redford directed and starred in the 1998 film “The Horse Whisper,” and in real life his passion continues. Photo credit: thehorsepedia.com

more long-term and humane solutions to the horse overpopulation problem.

Richardson and actor Robert Redford created the Foundation to Protect New Mexico Wildlife this summer to fight efforts by a Roswell, N.M., company and others to slaughter horses.

Shortly after the foundation was announced, the Navajo Nation came out in support of the company, saying it has 75,000 feral horses drinking wells dry and causing ecological damage to the drought-stricken range. It has also been rounding up and selling horses, knowing some would likely make their way to horse slaughter plants south of the border.

But in a statement issued Tuesday, Shelly said the tribe will pull back its support for the plant and suspend horse round ups while it works with the foundation and other groups to develop and implement alternative policies to manage feral horse populations. Possible solutions include equine birth control, adoption, land management and public education.

“Our land is precious to the Navajo people as are all the horses on the Navajo Nation. Horses are sacred animals to us. Both the land and the animals must be responsibly managed,” Shelly said in a statement. “For too long this issue has gone unaddressed putting us in the situation we are today where chapters are facing real problems with uncared for animals damaging local land and domestic livestock. I am thankful we can partner with agencies that have resources to help us find real long-term solutions.”

Richardson said that persuading Shelly to change his position on horse round ups and slaughter

“is exactly the outcome horse advocates, such as myself, had hoped for.”

Robert Redford from "The Horse Whisperer." Photo credit: Picturebugs.blogspot.com
Robert Redford from “The Horse Whisperer.” Photo credit: Picturebugs.blogspot.com

Congress effectively banned horse slaughter by cutting funding for plant inspectors in 2006. The ban was lifted in 2011, and Valley Meat Co. has been battling ever since for permission to open its converted cattle slaughterhouse. The USDA issued a permit this summer, but litigation by animal protection groups has delayed its planned August opening.

The return to domestic slaughter has divided horse rescue and animal welfare groups, ranchers, politicians and Indian tribes about what is the most humane way to deal with the country’s horse overpopulation. Much of the debate also focuses on whether they are companion animals or livestock.

Supporters of a return to domestic horse slaughter argue that it is a more humane solution than shipping unhealthy and starving animals south of the border to facilities with unregulated and often cruel circumstances.

Opponents have been pushing for a ban that would also outlaw the shipment of horses across the border.

More Associated Press: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_HORSE_SLAUGHTER_NAVAJO

Related stories:

U.S. Saddles Up For Horse Slaughter, Activists Say ‘Neigh’

New Mexico Tramples On Animal Rights

Horse Slaughter Houses : A Realty In New Mexico

White House Proposal to End Horse Slaughter

End Horse Slaughter in the U.S.




  1. American slaughter plants were shut down because of the horrendous ABUSE. It's not just Mexico and Canada where horse slaughter plants are ABUSIVE . . . it's ALL OF THEM!! THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS HUMANE SLAUGHTER FOR HORSES! And the horses that are being slaughtered are NOT old and sick . . . they are beautiful, vibrant, majestic animals!!

  2. Kudos to all who stand up for those beautiful animals. Perhaps what could be done is train the animals for riding with physically challenged and mentally challenged children and open ranches across the states to facilitate a healing bond between these children and these horses. Charge a nominal fee to help support the program and care of the animals and perhaps the government may step up, show a little humanity and pitch in financially.

  3. KUDO's to all responsible people who stand up to protect the majestic animals they call the Horse. Now lets see if any pro slaughter groups such as AQHA, Farm Bureau, AG, AVMA or the AAEP are going to help out at all.

    More than likely not because they wont make any money at it.. Its not about the welfare of the horse its about the money..