The Face of Horse Rescue – Freedom From Slaughter
Two years ago my daughter started riding horses. I didn’t think in a million years something like that would happen – you see, I have severe allergies to horses. BUT, modern medicine has changed and the drugs available today now make it possible for me to not only get near a horse but also own some. So almost a year to the day later – we bought our first horse in May 2016. As if one horse wasn’t enough – we bought two more in August 2016. That was supposed to be a one horse purchase but lo and behold – two! That is pretty much how our life works.
Now a year after the purchase of our first horse, I wanted to do more. I have grown tired of watching horses go through the horse auctions only to be trucked to slaughter in Canada. Hundreds of horses crammed into spaces not fit for five horses. They get sick, they get hurt, they have babies that die, and they sometimes die. If you have ever spent time with a horse you can see the emotion in their eyes. You can feel it in your soul. Most want nothing more than to please as best they can. They don’t ask much of their humans – and they don’t deserve to go to slaughter.
I don’t own a farm, I don’t own a trailer (yet) – to rescue a horse I need to pay board. But I did it. I have definitely not thought through the emotions of it all well enough – that is very difficult to prepare for. However, the life I saved – that was well thought through.
Meet Sprite – she is my first official horse rescue. My plan is not to keep her. My problem is that I WANT TO! The reality though, is that I need to sell her so I can rescue another.
How does a horse end up at auction destined for slaughter? There are thousands of reasons. Sometimes the owner dies and the family left behind doesn’t have the desire or means to care for the horse. Sometimes, they have been work horses for the Amish and quite frankly they are not loved by the Amish – they are tools. Once their usefulness as a tool has diminished they can’t afford to keep an idle horse around. Other times, owners get overwhelmed financially – it is a huge commitment, or they just don’t want to do all that work anymore – tons of work to care for a horse.
As you can see this is a gorgeous horse. She is an 11 year old thoroughbred and has been well cared for. So how did SHE end up at auction. I can’t answer specifically but what I do know is in 2013 a girl went away to college and her family offered Sprite up for free. I am not sure what happened between 2013 and now – yes, she was cared for but somehow she ended up at auction anyway. This is a show horse – she had 20 race starts then went on to be a jumper. I am not sure what other skills she has – she is in quarantine at the moment. We will soon find out. But she is gorgeous, was well cared for and STILL ended up at auction. To make matters worse a kill buyer purchased her from the auction. What saved her? This particular kill buyer has a relationship with a rescue where he thankfully allows them an opportunity to place these horses for a fee before they get sent to slaughter. Through relentless fundraising most of the horses that fall under this rescue arrangement end up getting saved – not all, but most.
She is a really good girl. She is one of the fortunate ones who doesn’t seem so far to bear the emotional scars that many of them have. Some of these horses literally go from one horrible auction situation to another. They live in fear, they give up hope and you can absolutely see when a horse just gives up and wants to die. There is no mistaking the look in their eyes. This girl still wants to please. Often when the horses get rescued they know what their destiny was and they are forever grateful to their new owners.
She becomes just a number – we actually know more about her than you know about most horses that end up in auction. She has a lip tattoo that gave some clues and thankfully no one mutilated her to hide that tattoo. Yes, that does happen and it is horrific. It isn’t the auction houses that do it – it is the people dumping them at auction. Most horses no longer have a name, their history is gone, they have no identity other than the hip number they are tagged with. She WAS 899. But she is fortunate to still have some of her identity due to tracking the tattoo.
Her freedom ride was so exciting for her and she was more than willing to get on that trailer. A friend of mine picked her up but who can prepare themselves for the scene that unfolds while you wait for your horse(s). Some of the horses are saved. But not all horses are allowed to be sold by the rescue. There are still large large trailers ready to be loaded to bring horses to slaughter in Canada. So while you sit there waiting for your horse who is desperate for that freedom ride – you get to see first hand that not all horses are so lucky. And sometimes, even if a horses is rescued, the new owner has a change of heart and doesn’t come get the horse. The horse is bought and paid for but that is only half the battle – he/she still needs transportation, still needs to get to their new home and sometimes that doesn’t happen. That paid for horse then gets on the trailer to hell instead of a freedom ride.
So Sprite got her freedom ride. She is in quarantine from all horses at the moment and limited exposure to humans. Some horses arrive sick or get sick once they get to their destination. She actually isn’t sick nor does she show signs yet but she did get injured slightly the morning of her freedom ride before she was released to our driver. Not a big injury just annoying since she was already bought and paid for. She doesn’t seem to mind being in quarantine at all. She is happy (very happy) to be alive and is more than patient to hang out through her quarantine. She loves to sun bathe in her window and watch the herd. She doesn’t make a sound – she has chosen to be perfect.
Once she is out of quarantine we will work with her for a while then find the perfect home for her. She will be sold, not given away for free and hopefully to someone who can get her back into showing. She is stunning and I am sure she will be great. I will miss her terribly but I need to save the life of another, then another. I want to teach my children the importance of doing the right thing. Teach them that we all have the ability to make a difference in this world. This is how we will make ours.
I will continue to post updates about Sprite – we are located in CT. When she is available to be adopted out you may feel free to express an interest by emailing me or messaging me on Facebook. She will not be “ours” for long but she will be treasured while she is. We board at a large facility and everyone is falling in love with her.