Stephenville Horse Auction, TX 7/5/13

Friday, July 5, 2013 - 09:45
Investigation Category: 

Investigators returned to the monthly horse sale in the small town of Stephenville, TX.  When they arrived at the auction at 5:40pm, temperatures had reached 96 degrees Fahrenheit and the pen area was covered in a thick layer of dust.  None of the fans installed in the pen area were running to improve the airflow and no water was visible in any of the pens overlooked by the catwalk. There were approx. 280 horses, mules and minis present at the sale, which were moved by workers on horseback. The handling was rough and impatient, workers were hitting horses over the head and across the face on multiple occasions. Nobody from the auction bothered to segregate aggressive equines from the other horses, which resulted in devastating fights in the large loose horse pens. A bay mare with tag #333 was extremely agitated and was observed kicking several horses with full force, all while auction employees were standing right next to the pen.

The outside loose horse pens in the back of the premises held approx. 60 horses. While these pens had water available for the animals, there was absolutely no protection from the burning sun.  Investigators noted a large group of broodmares, which appeared had been brought in by a single seller. Several of them were pregnant again. All horses observed were in good condition.  The light blue colored semi of the Stephenville Cattle Company was parked next to the pen area. No other semis were present.

The horse sale started at 6:15pm. As the sale proceeded, workers moved large groups of horses from the back pens to the front.  Once they arrived at the front pens, the situation became very chaotic and several horses slipped and fell in the turmoil. The majority of horses sold to a small group of buyers known to supply the Mexican horse slaughter plants. Loading started immediately after the sale was over. No semis were observed, the horses were loaded onto large canvas top stock trailers pulled by one ton pickups.