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Ending Horse Slaughter in the United States with Christine Hajek

Ending Horse Slaughter in U.S.

Horse slaughter is not something many people may not give a ton of thought to in their everyday lives. That is not how it is for Christine Hajek. She founded Gentle Giants, a non-profit that seeks to end horse slaughter as well as save as many horses from abusive and neglectful homes. She tells us how she succeeds at running a non-profit and challenges societal views. 

ending horse slaughter

Gentle Giants

The Why

Christine grew up in a home that had horses and it was a small breeding farm. Like most commercial equine ventures, the horses on the farm had to earn their keep. If they were not productive, they could not be there. That meant at the end of the horse’s service, it was liquidated at an auction. This usually meant the horses did not go to a good home. Many were sold and slaughtered. Christine wanted to change that as much as possible, which brought her to founding Gentle Giants. Her quest is to rescue, rehabilitate, retrain, and rehome.

The What

Gentle Giants’ mission is what was said above. Rescue, rehabilitate, retrain, and rehome horses. She does this through many different outlets. Rescuing includes attending auctions and outbidding the meat buyers. Rehabilitating includes quarantining new horses to make sure illnesses aren’t passed, and the vet assesses for injuries and health problems. They then work on those with the horses. Retaining horses include the Sanctuary where horses can be adopted after they exit quarantine and complete training.


Rehoming includes getting horses to be adopted to good homes and providing support after they are adopted. 

The How

This can be a tricky field to get into because horses, are expensive, and many people don’t understand the scope of the problem. Christine started with a hobby. It was in her backyard, she would rescue a couple of horses at a time. As time continued, they started getting more horses and it became a little too much to do on their own. They realized they didn’t need funding, they needed volunteers. They had a decision to make. Scale back, or incorporate a non-profit. They decided to become a non-profit. This came with a lot of hard work and researching. 

ending horse slaughter


ending horse slaughter

Scaling the Business

Starting Off

Christine spent many years as a paramedic and firefighter so she was able to start with a clean slate coming into the non-profit world. The biggest mindset battle was the fact that people who work in the non-profit sector should be willing to sacrifice financial security or a competitive salary. Gentle Giants pushes against that. People can still get paid while doing good things in the world. Starting off, Christine felt that Gentle Giants should not have employees. However, she soon realized that you can’t provide adequate care and work unless the people who are doing it are fairly compensated. Volunteerism can only get you so far.

Scaling the Business

Something that is important to remember is that you need a team of people you can count on. If they are terrible you need to be able to fire them. You have to decide how you want to structure your business. You can’t scale without it. Having people you can count on is key to your business’s success.


Business Structure

Gentle Giants has bylaws. It’s not a free for all. As well as there are the standard things you need for a business. You have obligations to the IRS, as a 501, you have to keep books, the accounting, etc. But then you have to think about other things such as your mission statement and the policies you want to have. That will determine the type of people you want to work for you, and the type of business you become. You need your general goals and policies, but you also have to pay attention to the minutia of having to create policies for things like social media use with staff. For example, if we have a sudden loss at the farm, we don’t want the staff to share that until we’ve had an opportunity to announce it. What if there was a volunteer that was close to that horse and saw the social media post before we were able to call them? That can be hurtful. These policies help your business stay true to its mission and succeed in maintaining good staff and volunteers.

ending horse slaughter

Horse Slaughter

Understanding the Problem

Starving horses, abuse, and neglect still exist even though horse slaughter isn’t an option. People have the choice to take care of their horses. There are approximately 9 million horses in the U.S. and in 2020, about 140,000 horses got shipped to slaughter. That is less than 1% of the equine population. Every year almost a million horses are euthanized because of illness, injury, and end of life decline. 

ending horse slaughter

The industry doesn’t have to adapt much to absorb these “unwanted” horses that are actually not unwanted at all. The equine industry could absorb those numbers. Do the responsible thing. It’s a solvable issue.


An important clarification, everyone who buys a horse does not have to keep that horse until the day that horse dies. People can’t always do that, and that is understandable. However, there are responsible outlets to do that. Horses have feelings too just like humans, dogs, cats, etc. All we need is for the equine community to come together and we could fix the problem. Many people think that just because the animal is bigger doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel pain and sentience. Make sure you take into account what it takes to have an animal. What are the costs, and what does the care look like? If you can’t do right by it, then don’t buy it.


head shot Miriam Gunn

If you are curious to know more about how I can help you achieve your business or life goals, please contact me: Miriam@leavebetter.com

As someone who has been a therapist for over a decade and has been coaching people for over three decades, I am uniquely qualified to join you on your quest for seeking the best version of you possible.