Much has been said of the traditional (cattle, hogs and sheep) species of the livestock industry, but there is little reference to the inclusion of horses; especially thoroughbreds.

Not many of us have had the pleasure of being served a palomino steak or the like, but it is common-place in some parts of the world.  There are actually feedlots dedicated to horses, but for the most part modern day horses are considered pets; making them almost repulsive for edible consideration, and a target of the animal rights movement.

Though there was a time, not so long ago, that horse were the mainstay source of horse power, they are now mostly bred for pleasure, competition, and speed.  So is it any wonder that a threat of the demise of any segment of the horse population would be cause for concern?

That’s exactly what will happen if special interest groups and weak spined legislators have their  way.   Groups like PETA and selective gambling factions have turned a blind eye to humane mortality and the necessity of gambling revenue to support the thoroughbred racing industry.

If the Racino gambling act is voted down in Minnesota, it actually could mean the end of horse racing in that state, as well as others that are barely hanging on.  According to Rick Osborne, former board member of the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association and current member of that states Breeders Fund advisory committee, it would possibly put him and others like him out of business. The Osbourne  Thoroughbred Farm has been serving breeders throughout the entire US, as well as other parts of the world for many years.  But, because of its location in Minnesota, the efforts to block Racino Gambling would be a devastating blow to this breeder who has put his heart and soul into producing the best and the fastest.  As Mr. Osborne was quoted as saying on the ABC TV network, channel 5 out of Minneapolis, MN “I’ll just have to buy a fishing pole and go fishing if the Racino bill is shot down.

But of the equal importance to that of the demise of thoroughbred farms across the country, is that of the humane and equitable demise of the horses themselves.  Because of animal rights activists across the country, horses that no longer have tangible value are left to the fate of homelessness and starvation.

The last US slaughterhouse that butchered horses closed in 2007 in Illinois, and animal welfare activists warned of massive public outcry in any town where a slaughter house may open.   This caused our weak-kneed congress to put the ban on funding horse meat inspection. However, after realizing the error of their ways they have now (some five years later) lifted that ban, but have no way to fund it.  Now that these inspections appropriations have been taken out of the Federal  Meat Inspection budget, it may be difficult to ever get them reinstated. In the meantime, what was supposed to be a humane movement has turned into a disaster for the horse industry.

Horses have been turned loose to fend for themselves, much like that of the thoroughbred racing industry. If Racino  gambling is not approved, it will be a devastating blow to an industry that is dependent upon gambling dollars for its mere existence.

This is no small concern, as the equine segment of tile "livestock industry*’ represents about 10% of total gross sales.

This translates into about 50 billion dollars per year, or equal to that of the "raw value" of every hog and beef animal slaughtered daily. Though the "red meat" business grows 10 fold as it goes through the processing, transportation, and marketing channels, the equine portion of the industry still represents a significant part of the entire livestock industry.

According to some of the most recent data available, there are more than seven hundred million head of horses located on approximately a half million horse farms in the U.S. These are significant numbers that contribute to an industry that is co-dependent on the livelihood of all livestock producers.

Latest figures indicate that the equine industry contributes more than three and one-half billion dollars to the income of the entire livestock industry. This means jobs and stability to those who ask not to be overlooked.

Just in Minnesota alone, it is estimated that Racinos would contribute about 200 million dollars in new revenue, help solve budget impasses, and pay for such amenities as the Viking stadium and educational shortfalls. But thoroughbred horse racing could be history in Minnesota and other parts of the country if Racino gambling is not permitted. It’s not as though I’m in favor of gambling, but let’s face it — agriculture is the biggest gamble on the face of the earth. So let’s call it what it is — a necessary shot in the arm to keep the thoroughbred industry alive and well.

May the sport of kings be recognized as the Triple Crown of all livestock species, not just for the rich and famous, but representative of all livestock producers across this great nation of ours. And may Rick Osborne, an influential member of Minnesota thoroughbred horse racing, representative of all owners, trainers, and breeders throughout the country, be the voice of reason for not wanting to trade his horse for a fishing pole. His passion for horses runs as deep as his namesake —  Osborntorun, just one of the 450,000 horse names registered with the New York Jockey Club.

Please register your name with the more than 70% of voters that have expressed their mandate in support of Racino based horse racing.

(insightful stories written by Ken Knight)

Ken E. Knight is the author of the “Knightro Report”, a nationally syndicated livestock-marketing column, which is featured in this publication on a regular basis. Mr. Knight is a graduate of North Dakota State University, with a major BS Degree in Meat and Animal Science and a minor in Communications. In addition to being a professional auctioneer, public speaker and livestock judge, he brings many years of corporate level meat and livestock market management and expertise to the industry for which he now serves as an independent voice of shared knowledge and experience.


For more in-depth information regarding the topics that have been touched upon in this report, Knightro conducts livestock marketing seminars on a regular basis. To schedule a seminar, auction, judging, or speaking engagement, please contact Ken Knight, Knightro, W11911 County Road FF,  River  Falls,  WI 54022,  phone  toll free 1-877-KNIGTRO, phone 715-262-8480,  fax 715-262-8480, e-mail [email protected]t; or contact the Midwest Farm & Livestock Directory at [email protected].