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In March of 2013, a disturbing video was posted by Tim Sappington. He said “To all of you animal activists. $#@% you.” He then shoots his horse in the head. I will not post the video. You can google it if you wish. I won’t and I won’t post any comments that link to it. I refuse to post a still photo of it.

To say I’m disgusted by this man would be an understatement. There are not enough nouns or verbs to describe my feelings.

noun. loathing – nausea – abhorrence – repugnance – aversion
verb. sicken – nauseate – revolt


He apparently did it as a protest to those trying to block the reopening of a horse slaughter plant. To prove his point, he shot and killed his own horse, butchered it and stocked his freezer. He had plans to eat it and probably has by now.

Why He’s Right

He has the right under law, to slaughter and butcher his own livestock (horses currently fall under that category – if they should or not is another debate). He has a right to then eat that meat. He wants horse meat, this is what he has to resort to in order to get it. If he can’t get it from the plant, this is his recourse.

Regardless of how much it may disgust the rest of us. As a generally meat eating public, we have to acknowledge where our meat comes from – once living, breathing animals. Their slaughter is something that we are removed from and we choose to turn a blind eye to. It’s upsetting and we don’t want to think of it.

By killing his own horse, he supplied himself with the type of meat he wanted.

I would assume that he knew the horses medical history. No one would knowingly eat drug tainted meat. So I would think, that the horse was free from any drugs that may have affected Tim’s health. If you can’t buy organic, the next best thing would be to slaughter your own, so you would be fully aware of how they were raised.

Defeated His Own Cause

What Tim unknowingly demonstrated was humane slaughter. Other than by lethal injection by a licensed veterinarian (which then renders the meat inedible), this is the only other humane method, under its current definition.

The horse (unknown if it was a gelding or mare) was calm. He was in good condition, seemed sound, well fed and hydrated. He was trusting of Tim, willingly being led. He was in a known environment. There were no other animals signalling the alert to cause a need to worry. Tim even gave him a pat as if to set him at ease and say good bye. There were no fast movements or loud noises. He raised his gun and with a single shot provided an immediate lethal blow.

What he demonstrated was the exact situation that commercial slaughter houses will never be able to replicate in order to be considered humane slaughter for horses.

Commercial Slaughter Fails

Horses are not sold directly from owners to the slaughter houses. They go through auction sales, sometimes multiple sales, before they are finally owned by a kill buyer. Strangers handling them, strange surroundings, being separated from their herd mates, other animals calling out, disease, injuries, lack of quality feed and often left without water. This is a very stressful time for these horses.

They can remain in this “limbo”, owned without having an owner, for weeks or even months at a time.

“R-CALF USA has members who have ceased marketing their unusable horses to Mexican horse slaughter buyers due to concerns that their horses would be subjected to undue stress during transit to foreign horse slaughter plants and then suffer inhumane slaughtering techniques once they arrive at foreign slaughtering plants,” said Bill Bullard, R-CALF CEO.

The same applies to Canadian Slaughter plants, so don’t fool yourselves into thinking they’re any better.

Once they arrive at the plants, often hungry, injured, dehydrated, weakened due to heat stroke, their stress is raised to alarm. Other horses are screaming. Many are now bleeding and lame, often being beaten to go into shoots. There is nothing calm or reassuring about this place. Even the handling is often brutal. They smell the death. They see the other dead or dying horses.

Their “fight or flight” behaviour is not congruent with commercial slaughter. Anything held by their heads causes panic in their heightened state. The “death blow” often fails. It has been documented that the “approved” methods of killing a horse often have to be applied again and again and again. This is horrifically abusive and torturous. Horses have been documented being butchered while still alive.

These aren’t isolated events. They have been documented over and over and over again. Even when the plant was sanctioned and promised to fix the issues – they continued to occur. Commercial slaughter of horses simply cannot be humane.

Sorry Tim

What Tim did is horrible. No one wants to see an animal die. Much less a trusting animal who he clearly had an affinity for or he wouldn’t have patted and reassured it. However he highlighted what it would take to humanely slaughter a horse. Calm, cool, collected, handled with care, demonstrating trust between man and horse.

Sorry Tim. You may have wanted to prove a point. That you were going to get your meat anyway and “animal activists” weren’t going to stand in your way. On that point, you’re right. You have every right under current laws to slaughter your own horse and eat it.

On the other hand, you failed miserably at proving a need for horse slaughter plants to reopen. In fact you proved why they need to remain closed. Your method of slaughtering your horse may have been shocking, but at least it was humane. Your demonstration proved the animal activists point. Horse slaughter cannot be humane at a commercial level.