Stealing Horses

A “Historical Sketch” at the website of the “Society in Dedham for Apprehending Horse Thieves” (“the oldest continuously existing horse thief apprehending organization in the United States”) includes this statement:

Since time immemorial, there have existed amongst us, individuals whose driving force in life has been the acquisition of fine horseflesh – at the ultimate discount.

Horse stealing may be the second oldest “profession,” but it is not consigned to the past.  Horse thieves are still among us.  Although some horses are taken from their pastures in the dead of night by individuals with bolt cutters who load stolen horses into waiting trailers, most change hands illegally through means such as

  • kill buyers posing as legitimate buyers answering “horse for sale or to good home” ads on Craigslist, “pennysaver” tabloids and the like;
  • partnerships or syndication agreements gone bad;
  • equine lease, gift or sale contracts misconstrued or breached;
  • marital property disputes;
  • boarding contract fee liens;
  • direct theft by horse meat traders who lead the horses away or butcher them where they stand.

Whatever the means, because of the lure of “easy money” and the low priority given to horse theft by law enforcement and prosecutors, most perpetrators are never caught and  the vast majority of stolen horses never recovered by owners.  Once stolen, a horse typically changes hands many times, culminating in an almost certain trip to the slaughterhouse.

One Response to “Stealing Horses”
  1. From personal experience I know only too well that this is absolutely correct.

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