February, 2022

According to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) there are
only two classifications of United States origin live horses exported to Canada:

  • Breeding/Rearing/Competition/Racing
  • Slaughter

“When submitting certificates for live horses (non-slaughter) to Canada through
VEHCS, please select the intended use of breeding/rearing OR
competition/racing. The breeding/rearing option includes all horses traveling as
personal pets, for recreation, etc., regardless of intention for use as a breeding
Source: United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

The CHDC has recently obtained Veterinary Health Certificates (VHC) for horses who were examined and deemed eligible to be exported from Montana, USA to Canada under the breeding/rearing category, from January 1 to October 31, 2021.

The Certificates for loads of horses admitted during this time indicate that, in addition to adult horses, foals were included – the youngest being just 1 month old! 

Veterinary Health Certificate with mares and one, two and three months old foals

The animals were declared to have been inspected by a veterinarian within 30 days prior to export and found to be healthy and free from evidence of communicable disease, and in a physical condition fit to be transported.

A negative Equine Infectious Anemia test within six months prior to exportation is required.  The date the blood sample is drawn is recorded for each horse in the “Identity of Commodities’’ table on the Health Certificate.  Foals up to five months of age are exempt from this requirement if they are imported into Canada at the same time as their dam.

Question 11 of the Certification Statements asks:

11. The horses covered by this certificate will enter a feedlot once in Canada. Y/N?


The answer to this question on all certificates received was YES.

One Health Certificate indicated mare/foal pairings.

We can’t help but wonder how foals so young fare in feedlot settings, in harsh weather conditions, particularly in the cold winter months.

Veterinary Health Certificate indicating mare/foal pair

Several Certificates listed many young draft horses

We counted 15 Health Certificates with forty horses listed and one with forty-two horses.  How many were actually loaded on the trailers is unknown as that information was not provided.

Fourty-two horses were listed on this Veterinary Health Certificate issued on May 27, 2021

Breeds of horses imported to Canada destined for feedlots during this time period were recorded as

  • Quarter Horse
  • Draft
  • Paint
  • Appaloosa
  • Bucking Horse
  • Quarter Horse mix
  • Draft cross
  • Nordland
  • Mule
  • Arab

Six horses were blind in one eye.

2 Year Old sorrel Quarter Horse mare, blind in right eye

Gray horses are not spared.

Refused Entry

During this period one trailer was refused due to the condition of several of the horses. Four were down and described as being exhausted in the Inspector report.

After being loaded earlier that morning, at 9 a.m. on September 23 a trailer carrying 36 horses arrived at a US/Canada port of entry. Following inspection it was deemed ineligible to enter Canada, citing sections 133.3(1) and 140.1 of the Health of Animals Regulations. (As 133.3(1) concerns veterinary biologics we feel this may be a typing error, and section 138.3(1) was intended.) 

The Notice to Remove order stated overcrowding and poor body condition of six horses as the reasons for removal:

  • 6 year old grulla Quarter Horse mare
  • 8 year old bay roan Quarter Horse mare
  • 4 year old bay roan Quarter Horse gelding
  • 4 year old buckskin Quarter Horse mare
  • 10 year old bay roan Quarter Horse mare
  • 3 year old grulla dun Quarter Horse mare

The trailer was divided into 3 sections with 10 horses, 16 horses and 10 horses per compartment. 

Four horses in a group of ten were down when the trailer arrived at the inspection facility. Several were in poor body condition, some who were down had a body condition score of less than 3.

These horses were described as being exhausted and the best outcome was determined to be their return to the feedlot of origin, due to their compromised condition.

The electronically signed VHC Certificate issued on Sept 16, 2021 stated the horses, at the time of the inspection, were found healthy and in a physical condition fit to be transported. 

Yet when attempting to enter Canada seven days later, several were determined to have a body condition of less than 3.

With the exception of one Appaloosa, all horses on this trailer were Quarter Horses ranging from 3 to 10 years of age:

  • 3 years …. 6 horses
  • 4 years …14 horses
  • 6 years …. 7 horses
  • 8 years …. 8 horses
  • 10 years …1 horse

To receive a copy of the documents received through Access to Information for this file please send your request in an e-mail to info@defendhorsescanada.org .  

To learn more about horse slaughter in Canada and the export of live horses abroad for slaughter please visit our website and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.