The number of American horses that are slaughtered is driven by a demand in some other countries for horse meat, where it's usually a pricey delicacy. The demand has dropped dramatically over the years from a high in 1989 of 348,400 horses to 134,059 horses slaughtered in 2008. In 2009-2010, demand has dropped even more. In Europe, in particular, demand in the past year has dropped as consumers have learned of the shocking cruelty of horse slaughter in North America.
The demand for American horse meat may soon plummet and end altogether, especially in the European market. Indeed, the second largest grocer in Belgium and Holland pulled American horse meat from the shelves.
But there's more good news for our horses and those calling for an end to the slaughter. Beginning July 31, 2010, the European Union will begin enforcing restrictions on the sale of meat from horses that have been given certain drugs and steroids. This means that, where horse meat is destined for the E.U., Canadian or Mexican slaughterhouses (where U.S. horses are sent for slaughter) must obtain veterinary records of all drugs or medication provided to the horse in the preceding six months. By 2013, all horses to be slaughtered for human consumption in the E.U. must be accompanied by veterinary records from birth that show the horse has never been given banned substances.
This is impossible for American horses.