False Drums Beat On Horses and “Tribes” in New Mexico

There is an incredible force of New Mexico government officials, horse industry representatives, and special interests in New Mexico pushing for a horse slaughter house on US soil. Currently there is a bill at the NM State Legislature, HB90, that lacks about 10 votes to pass the House and could come back at any time, according to Representative Jimmie Hall. In order to garner support HB90 is apparently awaiting a story on “starving unwanted horses” on tribal lands.


These pro-horse slaughter forces have used the First Americans in a dishonorable and even slanderous way for years in pro-slaughter propaganda. This slander was evidenced from the statement that “Native Americans eat horses”, by then Executive Director of the NMLB in committee at the NM legislature in 2007, as well as the current drum beat of statements by the contingent mentioned above, of “thousands of feral horses on tribal lands, ruining the environment”.

No tribal official is ever named and no actual counts or environmental assessments are ever given as proven by a recent Inspection of public records request (IPRA) to the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, whose Director, Jeff Witte , is running a Task Force on Horse Overpopulation.


This Task Force (TF) on horse overpopulation was initiated by the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) and the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau (NMFLB) in a letter to Governor Martinez on April 19th, 2012. However, Jeff Witte, Director of the NM Department of Agriculture stated at the 1/18/13 TF meeting that he and Bill Sauble, a New Mexico Livestock Board member, came up with the idea.


The EUROPEAN COMMISSION (HEALTH AND CONSUMERS DIRECTORATE-GENERAL) (2011-8906) in 2011, shows that 19,203 horses were rejected from slaughter for human consumption at the Mexican border. This due to disease, pregnancy, being ungelded, and/or improper paperwork.

Nineteen Thousand Two Hundred Three Horses
Rejected at the Mexican Border in 11 months in 2011

1,522 breaches against the zoosanitairy requirements and 232 cases of the presence of live ticks were identified

This is a massive number compared to the meager 71 estrays (lost or abandoned) New Mexico horses. What does a kill buyer do with a trailer load of horses rejected for slaughter? DUMP!

In the Task Force initiation letter NMCGA and NMFLB state:
“horses are destined for slaughter plants in Mexico. . .”  “Mexico will not accept intact studs (males) or pregnant mares. . .” “Numerous unwanted horses are merely hauled to an open space — including private, federal, tribal or state lands. There they are either turned loose to fend for themselves or perhaps shot on-sight. These horses create grave concern for livestock owners and managers due to the potential for disease transmission. . .” “Because of New Mexico’s border with Mexico, the state is recipient of unwanted horses from the entire nation. “

Though counter intuitive, a horse slaughter plant is exactly what causes this dumping: not the economy, high hay prices, not even over breeding. Many of these horses were not diseased at the beginning of their trip.


In the KRQE story on the Task Force, Jeff Witte NM State Secretary of Agriculture states: “There are no hard numbers as to how many horses are wild, abandoned or feral in New Mexico, but some estimates are as high as 90,000 on the Navajo reservation alone.” “We’ve had estimates of tens of thousand of horses that have been released across the state either on Forest Service, BLM land or tribal land,”

Jeff Witte makes no mention of who is releasing these TENS OF THOUSANDS of horses in New Mexico. Instead of educating the public that kill buyers are dumping them, he withholds this vital information leaving it up in the air for people to assume that New Mexicans are abandoning “unwanted” horses, while he implies the biggest problem is the “Indians”. Masterfully, this administration plays on peoples prejudices they didn’t even have.

You might ask, are New Mexico government officials planning a raid on the Navajo’s to “rescue” their horses? No, they are beating the drum for a slaughter plant in New Mexico.

Interestingly, in this same KRQE story the Placitas Wild Horses are pictorially featured or rather “fingered”.


photo by Kevin Larson Free Mountain

New Mexico’s Senator Sapien is working to ensure that the San Felipe Pueblo does not regain their ancestral aboriginal lands by Placitas. If Senator Sapien succeeds, against the will of most Placitans, and the San Felipe Pueblo, the Placitas Wild Horses will be sent to federal holding pens rather than managed as wild horses, or worse, they will be deemed livestock and most sent to slaughter.

Incredulously, the week before HB90 was to be voted on in the NM House Appropriations and Finance Committee (HAFC), a “cattle pot” load of skinny and wormy Dumped horses landed on the border of San Felipe and Diamond Tail Ranch over 6 miles from the San Felipe Pueblo proper. Interestingly, this seems to have been a manufactured two for one story, to get HB90 passed, and to tarnish irreparably, San Felipe Pueblo, to try and end the massive Placitan support for the San Felipe Pueblo and the hopes for the Placitan horses as legal wild life. Investigations of these illegal activities are in progress.

In case the reader is worried, or has heard the slanderous rumors, these dumped horses were in fact not trapped, as fences were down in many places; contrary to reports by a representative of the Sandoval Signpost and a member of the pro-slaughter New Mexico Horse Council on Facebook, there were no dead horses, and these were not the wild horses that roam San Felipe. However San Felipe is assisting these horses with hay and water and they are recovering.

These were to be the Judas horses leading many others to slaughter in New Mexico, but now they too have escaped slaughter, and the San Felipe Pueblo has stated that: “Slaughter is not an option”.



  1. New Mexicans have a right to know the truth. New Mexico’s estray (abandoned and lost) horses average a mere 71 horses per year according to the New Mexico Livestock Board data base since 2005 by WHOA IPRA.
  2. Slaughter plant proximity is the cause of massive numbers of “unwanted” horses. We must end the transport of American horses to Mexico for slaughter in order to stop the horse dumping in New Mexico. Even when the US had horse slaughter plants, thousands of US horses went to slaughter in Mexico. For example in 2004 17,636 horses went to slaughter in Mexico per USDA FAS. Please Support US American Prevention of Slaughter Act.
  3. Additionally, New Mexico statutes allow for technicians, rather than veterinarians, to euthanize unwanted horses. NMSA CHAPTER 77 Animals and Livestock > ARTICLE 1B Animal Sheltering > 77-1B-6. Euthanasia technician; license.
  4. There are over 9 Million horses in the US. Of these, 900,000 horses/yr die and are disposed of humanely. These methods include; euthanasia, death, composting, rendering, and affordable group cremation.
  5. Horse Slaughter is not Humane Euthanasia in the US, in Canada, or in Mexico. Also, the recent Lake Research Poll shows that 80% of Americans oppose slaughter.
  6. Horses are not raised as food animals and they contain drugs not intended for use in food animals. These are dangerous and that is why the FDA does not allow the sale of American horse meat in the US.


  1. Livestock have no rights and are exempt from the Animal Cruelty Laws of New Mexico. They are subject to auction and slaughter. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/04/26/1086634/-New-Mexico-s-Shame
  2. Under WHOA’s plan the Placitas Horses will be recognized as legally wild animals with commensurate rights. This can be realized under the BLM’s or San Felipe Pueblo’s jurisdiction, through the current RMP public process, or through the court proceedings now in progress. The Placitas Horses would be administered birth control to manage their population in both cases. Excess numbers would not be subject to slaughter.
  3. Under Senator Sapien’s plan, the BLM would be transferred to the state of the New Mexico under the RPP&P Act, the horses would be considered livestock and be subject to culling, auction, and slaughter. Additionally, the Governor has given no promise to allow any of the horses to remain. This plan would also disenfranchise Placitans from the public NEPA process which is nearing completion after 5 yrs.
  4. The State of New Mexico has been working to block the use of birth control on the Placitas wild horses, using the pretext of their lack of an owner as a way to keep them from receiving birth control. In fact, the people of the United States and the people of New Mexico, own them. If the state was interested in these horses, or the safety of Placitans, they would authorize rather than block WHOA from administering birth control.


  1. HB90: Call Governor Martinez: (505) 476-2200 email: (gloria.marquez@state.nm.us)
    Tell her Slaughter is what is causing the unwanted horses in NM and a slaughter plant here will only make it worse.
    Call Governor Martinez: (505) 476-2200 email: (gloria.marquez@state.nm.us)
    Call Senator Sapien: (505) 765-5662 email: (john.sapien@nmlegis.gov)
    Ask them both not to disenfranchise Placitans by taking the Placitas BLM and/or deeming the Placitas horses as livestock.
  3. STOP HORSE SLAUGHTER IN MEXICO AND CANADA: Call federal representatives and request they co-sponsor and support The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act.

For most stats in this Diary, see Unintended Consequences of Slaughter for U.S. here.

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