The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) advocates the humane treatment of all horses and believes the equine industry and horse owners have a responsibility to provide humane care throughout the life of the horse. However, a small percentage of horses are ultimately unwanted because they are no longer serviceable, are infirm, dangerous, or their owners are no longer able to care for them.

The AAEP recognizes that the processing of unwanted horses is currently a aspect of the equine industry      and provides a humane alternative to allowing the horse to continue a life of discomfort and pain, and possibly inadequate care or abandonment. The AAEP encourages, fosters, and provides education regarding responsible ownership and management that will reduce the number of unwanted horses. In addition, the AAEP supports and commends the efforts of equine retirement facilities and adoption groups.

Regarding the care of horses destined for processing, the AAEP’s position is that these horses should be:

  • Treated humanely and with dignity;
  • Transported to the production facility in accordance with the United States Department of Agriculture regulations;
  • Euthanized in accordance with the “American Veterinary Medical Association Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals”.

In addition, the AAEP recognizes that the human consumption of horsemeat is a cultural and personal issue and does not fall within the purview of the association, whose mission is to improve the health and welfare of the horse.

Revised by the AAEP board of directors in 2023.

Resource Type

  • Position Statements


  • Equine Welfare
  • Euthanasia
  • Gender & Lifestage

Publish Date

January 1, 2023