About the Episode

About the Episode

Bucky B Lucky is the grandson of Seattle Slew and a winning racehorse himself. The four-year-old thoroughbred is recovering at a rescue facility in Monroe – after being saved by horse lovers, who spotted him at an Enumclaw livestock auction, where he had just been sold to a meat buyer, and was on his way to a slaughterhouse in Canada to be killed for human consumption in Japan or Europe.

So how does a racehorse go from the winner‟s circle at Emerald Downs to an overseas dinner table? In this episode of "KCTS 9 Connects," we examine the disturbing practices of the horse racing world, where after an animal loses its speed and youth, it is simply sold to the highest bidder – often a slaughterhouse.

Chapter 1: The Latest Deal by Lawmakers to Balance the Budget

Chapter 2: From Stable to Table

Chapter 3: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Forgotten Speeches

Chapter 4: Viewer Feedback on "Community in the Crossfire: Gangs and Guns"

Chapter 5: Insiders Roundtable Discussion - February 18, 2011

Watch Full Episode

Producer's Notes

Producer's Notes

A Horse of a Different... Flavor?

John Steinbeck once said, "It is in the things not mentioned that the untruth lies." In other words, when you don't admit something, it's pretty much the same as lying.

I thought of this quote when we first found out about Bucky B. Lucky, a thoroughbred racehorse rescued by some good samaritans. Bucky, a former champion who raced at Emerald Downs in Auburn and a descendent of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, was headed for the slaughterhouse and eventual sale for human consumption -- that's right, I said HUMAN consumption -- in Canada, Japan or Europe.

Okay, aside from the fact that I didn't know that they regularly eat horses in Canada, Japan and Europe, what I really didn't know is that racehorses from Emerald Downs and tracks around the country are sold for slaughter and consumption after their careers. I assumed they were "put out to pasture," so to speak - retired to live their lives comfortably on a farm, or perhaps giving pre-schoolers a ride around the stable.

But no. Turns out, racehorses do regularly end up on the dinner table. Keep in mind, a racehorse's career ends when it's about 3 or 4 years old. Horses generally live to be about 20. This would be like executing an 11 year old child because they weren't useful anymore. And then eating them. Bon appetit.

What's most bothersome about this story to me isn't that the horses are sold for slaughter. Despite this country's affinity for horses (exemplified by stories such as “My Friend Flicka” and “Black Beauty”), as animals go, horses don't quite hold the same sanctified status as dogs or cats, which are generally only put down for humane reasons and we wouldn’t dream of eating them. Like it or not, though, horses fall somewhere closer to cows, pigs and deer on the “Would-I-Eat-It?” scale.

No, what bothers me is that this is the sort of “dirty little secret” of horse racing. Not that I expect them to post a sign at Emerald Downs saying, "Be aware, some horses will be slaughtered and eaten after this race." But it shouldn't be a de-facto secret. It's true that no-one at Emerald Downs will deny it happens. But it’s not exactly common knowledge until a grandson of Seattle Slew almost becomes Seattle Stew.

Whether you think of horses as pets or livestock, riding companions or racing fodder, furry friends or food -- you deserve to know the truth. Full disclosure. It shouldn't be a "thing not mentioned."

Ethan Morris, Senior Producer

From Stable to Table - February 18, 2011


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I'm surprised that an educational channel would air a program that has some very wrong points of view on how to rehabilitate a horse and on horse development. One no horse is bred to be broke let a lone raced at a young age. The fact is they do it anyway, to take advantage of the horses youthful energy, the reality is, is that all of the horses that are broke and ridden or raced young will develop joint problems and have arthritis set in at an early age. And showing the public that taking a horse that has never been with another horse and putting that horse in with two other horses who are not familiar with that horse, is something safe and good to do, is just wrong and misleading. Those people are taking a huge risk of the horses fighting and breaking bones, causing the horse to be put down, or stitches from biting, that will take time to heal and possibly leave scarring, not to mention the danger to the humans if they try to intervene, in a moment of panic. this program was disturbing and I hope others out there don't go "oh that's a good idea lets try it ourselves" but we all know someone will and then will learn the hard way that it's not right. As far as slaughter goes I agree with the slaughter houses, i would rather have them slaughtered than starving to death.


If horses are going to be protected from slaughter then cattle must be protected from slaughter too. There is no difference in steak from horses or steak from cattle. Either we allow slaughter of both like in Canada or we ban slaughter of both cattle and horses.


If you have ever been around horses, you would know that there is a HUGE difference between horses and other livestock. Slaughtering horses is NOT the same as slaughtering sheep, etc.
This report makes it sound like all race horses go to slaughter which is simply not true! what you should talk about is how the medications regularly given to horses (racing or pleasure) make their meat unsafe for human consumption. The meat Europeans are paying $29/pound for is laced with cancer causing chemicals-I guess that's what they get. one more thing-the horses that go to slaughter-you will find pets, show horses, race horses, parade horses, every type of horse imaginable-NOT just "broken down old nags"!!


This is an important conversation, but I think some people are missing the point. The story isn't about eating horses. It is about taking responsibility for an animal that gives you their heart. Does the racing industry even know what happens to most of their horses after they don't race anymore? Do they keep records? No they do not. Whether they are sold to slaughter or euthanized by a vet or limping all their lives, they are not getting what they deserve. The auctioneer at least is honest about his part in reducing the numbers of unwanted, suffering horses.


Closing of the Cavel and Beltex slaughterhouses in the US have created the biggest flux of worthless and useless horses the US has ever seen. While I"m a lifelong horselover..I'm a realist.....While MILLIONS of dogs and cats are euthanized each year.....due to overpopulation, unwanted ect ect....Horses are no longer able to have the outlet of the slaughter option in the US...And now we have excess worthless horses, full rescues and tons of neglected, starving and abused animals with NO WHERE to go. Slaughter is necessary....If done humanely the same as humanely euthanizing the unwanted population of dogs and cats...What the heck is the problem with it going for pet food OR human consumption. At least then these unwanted, sick, old , agressive or useless horses would be worth a few bucks to dispose of instead of a huge burden on rescues...There are good horses that end up slaughtered..but most horses ending up at an auction and winding their way to slaugher are there for a reason...they are JUNK....Do all of you people with a pet kitty know what it costs to care for a horse for a year? To train it, to euthanize one if needed? NO, shut up all you bleeding heart tree huggers...Don't you think CATTLE or sheep or hogs go thru the same slaughter process??? And that's OK??? But not when it comes to old Dobbin?? Unless you are a vegan shut the f&** up and be realistic people!! Imagine if we spent all the dollars on this country's economy or CHILDREN...than these worthless resuce "nags" that could be going to slaughter instead of creating tons of dollars of NEED....what would be doing then? Wow educating children, pouring money into our economy, researching fuel alternatives...WOW...I don't think saving horses from someones dinner table is such a huge deal...wow when's the least time you saw a piece on a TV station about saving some poor fat angus beef steer from the butcher!!!! NEVER....how freaking ridiculous. Open the slaughter plants here in the US with STRICT standards for humanely handling these horses and transporting them...AND DEAL WITH IT or go VEGAN then you can rightly say " don't kill the animals "!!!!!!!!!!! FED UP in MidWest!!!


I found this comment to be extremely aggressive and unrealistic. There are way more people trying to put an end to the slaughter of dogs and cats then the slaughter of horses. It is fact that a majority of racehorses are sold to the highest bidder at an auction. In this economy, with the ever increasing amount of unneccessary backyard horse breeding, its the kill-buyers who get the horses. Now, its mostly the claimers and allowance racers who get auctioned off, not the grandson of Seattle Slew. That was obviously a rare occurence seeing the publicity Bucky got. Its the lack of empathy that you are showing that makes this world so hard to live in. These horses that are dying are childrens' best friends, very talented beings that simply took a misstep and have a strained tendon. Its sensless and those that are beyond repair have the option of euthanasia... not a metal rod being jammed through their temples and being strung up like a slab of meat. Please think before you speak next time, Fed up in the Midwest.

*Someone with a bit of compassion*


Very biased journalism to say the least. It would have been more responsible for the producer to investigate the whole story. Especially with regard to horses at Emerald Downs. The vast majority have second careers - if one does happen to slip through the cracks and "end up on the table" usually it is via a non racing person who swindled the horse by promising a good home to someone with good intentions. Why don't you do a follow up story - on all the successful retired racehorse stories. There are many many more of those... but would it sell to your viewers???


Not all horses are dispatched when their racing days are over. most live out full lives and many go on to sire new horses. I suspect there are fewer than 1% used for horse meat for human consumption


All this outrage over killing a HORSE to eat, but no problem with the systematic and cruel killing of other animals for human consumption.

Hypocritical, at the very least.


Thank you to all the folks at KCTS who helped bring this story to light. Your hard work has resulted in something quite beautiful and I am proud to have played even a small part it the tale.

As Lucky's initial rescuer, I always felt he was very special and to see him the way that others do, knowing he touches people the way he did me, makes me very grateful that I followed a series of "lucky" hunches that led to his rescue so that his story could be told.

I'm very hopeful that the key players will be able to work together in the future to create a more structured exit from the race track to the re-homing arena. We have ideas...all we need is a way to put them in practice.

If you felt moved by the story to help in some way, please stop by www.safehorses.org to find out how you can. There you can follow Lucky's story and meet other amazing SAFE horses with tales that will inspire you.


I am looking forward to this broadcast. Maybe SOMEBODY has a solution to this problem. While I am against the inhumane treatment of horses on their way to slaughter, I do think that slaughter is necessary. I have a hard time watching a cow be killed also, and I am not vegetarian. I have had horses all of my life and to me they more like my dogs and cats than a livestock food animal. Unfortunately shutting down the U.S. horse slaughter plants left a huge excess of unwanted horses. Somebody should have thought ahead about the consequences. When slaughter was in full swing, the price of any horse was a dollar a pound on the hoof. A riding horse started at around $2,000 and went up from there. It's hard for people to even give a horse away now because of the cost of keeping them. The humane society euthonizes millions? of dogs and cats that people just drop off at shelters without thinking about what happens to the ones who don't get adopted. What can we do as a society to help horses. I live in an area where there is no abundance of farmland. Rescue facilities are overflowing. There are things worse than death, and to some of the horses I see, starvation, disease, untreated injuries, and standing in your own feces while your feet rot off are just to name a few. What is the answer? And p.s. all the countries that are supposed to be eating horses seem to be against slaughter too, so who is eating horsemeat?


I agree that there is no reason to consider horses different than cows, chickens, rabbits as far as being food. My understanding is part of the problem with slaughter of horses was how inhumane it was. I know it sounds weird to say there are humane ways to kill animals for food, but after learning about the work of Temple Grandin in making cow slaughter more humane, I really think it is true. I think there is a happy medium but the meat industry needs to be willing to put the extra effort into treating the animals humanely.


If you would like to learn more about the horse, Bucky B Lucky (we call him "Lucky", not "Bucky"), please visit our website at http://www.safehorses.org. Lucky is a truly special horse and currently in need of surgery to remove the bone chips resulting from an injury he sustained during his racing career. Getting the surgery will greatly improve his prognosis for a future career as a pleasure, dressage, or trail horse, which in turn will help find him a permanent home.


Getting the facts straight - a LOT of thoroughbreds' careers do end when they are 3 or 4. Some even end at 2 years old after they are injured on the track or just too slow for the owner to keep them in training. Go to the track and add up the number of 2, 3, and 4 year old horses, and then go add up the number of horses over 4 years old. You will find that the latter is a very small perentage. Where did they go? Short answer: Career over.

The producer's notes are well written. I can't wait to see the episode tonight. I'd like to add that recognized horse rescues don't actually rescue many horses from the track. It is usually private individuals or smaller groups that take horses from the track and then rehabilitate them with their own out-of-pocket money. Hopefully the program will show the need for more horse lovers be become involved and help these horses get placed off the track.


One does not need to be a vegetarian to be against killing a horse.
There are cultures in this world that will eat things like shark fin,
which is used in soup. They also kill dolphins, or used to until it was discovered that dolphins have a very high mercury count. Also, on their menu are bear and tiger parts, seahorses, etc. I could go on but that is the general idea.
I am a Canadian living in the United States and have known about horses butchered and sold for human consumption for years. I have never agree with this practice. I am 100% against slaughtering the magnificent horse. I believe they should be put out to pasture and be able to live out their lives naturally.


For those who think that horses should be put out to pasture and be able to live our their lives naturally; whose pasture should they be allowed to use? There is a cost to keeping them, feeding them, veternary costs and finally, how to dispose of them when they die. As it is, we have a huge wild horse population overwhelming the lands where they live (Yakima, for example) and the problem is only getting worse. Horses are beautiful animals, but wouldn't it be better for them to be humanely butchered and used for pet food or human consumption than be a economic and environmental detriment to society?


A racehorses career does not end when they're 3 or 4. You might want to get your facts straight.


I assume you are a vegetarian then?

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