Former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson has been chosen as the 2013 Humane Horseman of the Year by the Humane Society of the United States.
The society recognized Richardson for his leadership in working to block horse slaughter from resuming on US soil and his efforts to protect New Mexico’s wild mustang and burro population.
Each year, the society offers the award to an individual who demonstrates an outstanding commitment to protect America’s equines.
Richardson, in receiving the award, said: “I am truly honored to be recognized by our country’s leading animal advocacy organization and by those who are on the front lines of animal protection every day.
“My foundation and I are committed to continuing the fight to not only stop horse slaughterhouses from reopening, but to ban horse slaughter outright in the US, as well as finding humane solutions to manage our nation’s wild and unwanted horse population.”
The society’s chief executive and president, Wayne Pacelle, said: “Governor Richardson makes an impact when he gets involved in negotiations or public policy issues, and horses are lucky he’s used his influence to protect them from people who want to kill healthy animals for profit.
“Since signing a bill to outlaw cockfighting in his home state, he has amassed a remarkable record on animal welfare issues, and in 2013 he helped prevent the re-establishing of horse slaughter plants in the United States.
“He understands that this industry is an inhumane, predatory one, and its work is at odds with the values of the American public.”
Along with actor and director Robert Redford, Richardson formed the Foundation to Protect New Mexico Wildlife, which made its first action to join the federal lawsuit initiated by the humane society and Front Range Equine Rescue to block the opening of domestic horse slaughter plants.
Additionally, Richardson successfully encouraged Navajo Nation president Ben Shelly to abandon his pro-slaughter stance and see the value in managing horse populations with long-term humane solutions.
Richardson’s foundation also focuses on the preservation and protection of New Mexico’s wild mustang and burro population while collaborating with other organizations to raise public awareness of the plight of horses.
Richardson has also been active on other animal welfare issues, signing legislation as governor to make New Mexico the 49th state to outlaw cockfighting and advocating that the National Institutes of Health end invasive experiments on chimps and commit to sending them to sanctuaries.