“It’s a tragedy people have to eat horses, they’re beautiful animals. You ever take a peek at a cow or a pig? They’re ugly. We’re doing them a favor by eating ’em . Saves ’em the agony of looking at their reflections in the trough every morning. But a horse, that’s a noble beast. Why, in the cavalry, a man’s steed was his best friend, a real companion. Where do people get off making pork chops out of them? Too much killing in this world, too much death. No respect for people, for tradition, for life. The whole world is spinning down the tubes and nobody even seems to notice.” — Col. Sherman Potter, M*A*S*H, “Old Soldiers” episode
Aside from the more pleasant things I’ve already talked about here, there is one thing that’s not so pleasant that I am very passionate about when it comes to horses but I really have not written much on it. I thought I should take a few of my blog posts to put my feelings out about horses that end up in the slaughter pipeline.
Have you ever asked someone who is a horse lover what they think about horse slaughter? The people who are for it usually come back with this lame excuse for keeping it going by saying, “We need to do something with our old and lame horses.” I hate that response because it proves to me that they don’t have the real information. They have been brainwashed by the pro-horse slaughter people.
A lot of the horses that go to slaughter are either young or in the prime of their lives. I have not seen that many older ones or crippled ones, mostly the younger ones. I see a lot of yearlings up to eight years old to be the majority. These are horses that are right there in the beginning of their lives. Another thing to think about is this: would you really retire your older, trusted horse by sending it off to slaughter? If you really knew what happened in Canada or Mexico you wouldn’t want that to happen to your loyal friend if you truly had a heart. Another point: if your horse broke a leg on the way, the trip to the slaughter house is a very hellish experience for the horse. But that will be discussed later. My job, right now, is to help educate people so we can all take a stand against it.
A lot of these horses are gentle and ready to train or are already trained and used to be a horse that someone loved. A lot of the time people take their horses to the auction because they can’t afford to keep it, their kids outgrew it, the horse grew too old, it was injured, etc. Whatever the reason, we need to be more careful than ever to see where our horses go. From my experience, there are people who have you sign a contract or have a verbal agreement to allow you to be the first contact if they wanted to sell their horse someday, but that usually does not happen. So the person who sold the horse has notices up trying to find out what happened to their beloved horse that they sold or gave away.
A lot of individuals also suspect that their horse will be auctioned off to a loving new home. In a lot of cases that could be true, but in a lot of other cases that is not what happens to their horse. It is very scary these days to try and re-home horses. There are a lot of people who do that and are quite successful at it but there are probably a few horses here or there that slip through the cracks and end up where the previous owner never wanted their friend. I have a story to share that could put a little bit of a light on that part of the equation.
I once had my horses at a friend’s place on an acre lot. It was a nice little farm with a big space for an arena and two big runs by it. It also had a very cute barn that had three stalls inside it. However, the barn was used for storage. It was not used for horses at that time. I loved that farm, to me it was a charming place. I had another friend named Nicky (not her real name), who called me wondering if we could house another horse there. This horse was used for racing and was a very tall appendix-quarter horse gelding. He was injured with bowed tendons. He had this injury before and was laid off for a year only to re-injure them again. This time, the owner of this race horse wanted him to go to slaughter. My friend Nicky wanted to save him. She asked me for advice or if there was a possible way I could take him in a hurry. I called the home owner and she said to go ahead and bring him there. So the rescue attempt was on. We managed to get someone with a horse trailer to get him over to that farm and Nicky helped me with the expense to feed him. After all, he was 16.2 hands tall and those horses eat a lot of hay.
After we had him safe, we then wanted to figure out what to do with him in finding a great home for him to no longer be a race horse or threatened with slaughter again. In our calling around and placing ads in free online news outlets, we had a breakthrough. The grandson of the man who originally raised this horse saw the ad and called on this horse. When it was figured out that this was his grandfather’s horse years ago, there was some hurt and anger about the fact that the man who had this horse to race him did not keep his word and offer the horse back, but was going to let him go to slaughter.
This was a younger couple, and for this horse it was a happy ending. They took him, got him re-examined by a vet and retired him to be a horse that would be rested for a year and then ridden lightly on trails or in arenas. He was at the age of 9 when we saved him years ago. He also won the owner a championship award. This was his pay for such an award. There are others who are not so lucky, but this is one story that we would all applaud since this horse was special for the grandson.
I had a horse years ago that I sold to someone who really wanted her. He was good to her and owned her for years. But then I lost contact with him and wanted to know what happened to my horse named Sassy. I searched to find him with eventual success. However, I found out that he had to travel out of the country for a year and Sassy would not let anyone else ride her. There was another person who said that he would take her. I never found her, she would have been in her later teens. I still to this day wonder what happened to Sassy. I wish he let me know that he was trying to sell her. I might have been in a position to take her at that time. I have always been disappointed that he didn’t give me first choice. It was an agreement we had between us. She was a beautiful horse and I truly cared for her.
I will have a couple more blog articles to come to help people see that this is not something we want for our horses. Slaughter of horses is not humane, horses are not just livestock that we should just send off to slaughter. These are animals that we train to trust us and in return we do not want to have them endure the biggest betrayal ever for their trust and loyalty. Please feel free to comment and we can discuss it.