Stories of Survival (Equine Edition): Phoenix

March 19, 2024

Brown horse

Every horse in the United States is just one bad sale away from slaughter. Unbelievably, this cruel practice still exists: horses are routinely transported across our country’s borders to face inhumane and horrifying deaths, killed for their meat to be eaten overseas. The trip itself is brutal, too, and sadly some horses don’t survive. In 2023 alone, more than 20,000 American horses were transported to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada.

Phoenix was one of those horses. But unlike most, her story has a happy ending.

In 2020, after retiring from a brief racing career, Phoenix was one of 29 equines on a trailer headed to a slaughterhouse in Mexico. She was just four years old. The vehicle was traveling on Missouri’s Interstate 44 when it crashed, sliding along the median and finally coming to a rest on its side.

Phoenix was in the front section of the trailer and was the last horse to be freed by rescuers. She was lucky to survive, but she sustained the most serious injuries of any of the surviving horses. Phoenix was immediately transported to an equine veterinary hospital. Once her condition was stable, she was transported to Longmeadow Rescue Ranch in Union, Missouri, to heal from the physical and emotional trauma brought on by the accident and her horrible experience in the slaughter pipeline. For months, caregivers changed her bandages, administered her medications, gave her special feed and allowed her to rest. 

As Phoenix healed, her personality began to shine. The team at Longmeadow discovered that she has a playful personality and thrives when given tasks to do, especially after she’s had a long nap. Phoenix even knows introductory dressage—a competitive equine sport that displays the horse’s exemplary training in front of a panel of judges.

It’s not clear how Phoenix came to be on that trailer headed for slaughter, but she has her spirit back and her whole life ahead of her.

Wonderful horses like Phoenix end up in the slaughter pipeline: Read the stories of Camille, Twister and Journey, who also were headed for slaughter before miraculously escaping that horrific fate. Tens of thousands of horses each year are not as fortunate, but you can help by raising awareness of this issue and joining the ASPCA in calling for an end to this industry.    

Learn more about horse slaughter and take action at