Posts Tagged ‘equine slaughter houses’

Here’s another one to fill in the blank on.

The haters would say I’m gullible. They would say I’m part of the problem. And then they would call me names, as I’ve seen them do numerous places to numerous other people.

Let me just say this: I am not writing to debate the issue of what I just did. I have NO regrets. I might even do it again, if I felt led like I did this time.

I am NOT the problem. I’m not even PART of the problem.

In fact, for this particular one, I am the answer.

You don’t have to like it. But don’t think you are going to come here and b***h me out like you do everyone else you don’t agree with. I won’t let that garbage come onto my blog. {And no, I really don’t care what you think- your opinion doesn’t mean spit to me.} 🙂

Why all the vitriol? Why am I coming out of the gate swinging?

I’ll tell you why.

I saved a horse.

Not just “a” horse.

I saved a horse in the kill pen; scheduled to go to slaughter.

Trust me when I say that when I did this, I had absolutely NO idea how hateful people are with regard to this topic. And somehow or another, a certain set of folks tie this to the soring I’m seriously against and have ranted about.

Let me tell you how our new Tennessee Walking Horse came to be part of our family.


I was on Facebook. No surprise there. 😆

A friend of mine pasted information and a picture of a horse on my wall and said the info came from a friend of hers. If I paid vetting {less than $100}, I could have her. Did I want her, or know someone who could pay for the vetting and save this mare?

I did a quick hop over to the page with her picture and her stats and very quickly decided that no, I didn’t want her. While we have a Quarter Horse {what our emaciated horse is} already, we have totally fallen in love with gaited horses.

I went to the main page of the site offering her info, and started scrolling and reading. Because I was moving fast, there was only a single horse that gave me slight pause.

What I came away with was this:

This was a group that was taking the horses in the kill pens and evaluating them- the ones they thought would be good for people, they would post on their site. People could sponsor one of the horses; they could fund raise for the horse, or they could “direct bail” the horse.

After a bit more reading, I discovered that all these horses are in Pennsylvania. No way was I going to deal with that! It’s $$$ having to ship a horse.

I also realized that while the organization would provide the mandatory Coggins test {which you pay for and is included in the vetting fee},  you still need to get a health certificate to travel over state lines.

To get a health certificate, the horse needs to be quarantined somewhere for a period of time so that a vet can determine it’s healthy enough to travel across state lines.

It was too complicated. There was no way I wanted anything to do with that.


That was my quicky looky-loo in the morning. And then, I went about my day.

Afternoon came, and I sat on my bed for a break. I got on my phone, and went back to the horse shared on my wall. The whole thing was interesting.

I mean, I knew horses went to slaughter. The town I just moved from was going to have an equine slaughter-house nearby.

On principle, I think it’s abhorrent; the business of eating horses.

I had very strong feelings about slaughter before we had horses, too, but now having 5 horses was really bringing it home that it’s just an awful thing.

Horses aren’t stupid. Not only can they smell blood, but they can sense fear and panic. {If you’ve ever ridden one, you’ll know what I mean. 😉 }

Since I was taking a break, I thought, what the heck, I’d go back to that site just for grins and giggles.

While we had decided that my Saddlebred mare was going to be a project horse and we were in the market for a dead broke horse for me, an auction/slaughter horse was not even a kernel of an idea.

And then I saw him.

He was the horse that had caught my eye earlier. I did more looking and found a few more pictures of him. I saw the video they had of him being ridden bareback. At the end of the video, I caught a glimpse of his eyes.

Smart eyes.

Fearful eyes.

Sad eyes.

Pleading eyes.

I went back to the main page and his info had been posted again, this time with an urgent plea.

This fella had 3 hours to be saved.


Have I mentioned that I research things? Not only do I research things, but I like to ponder them. Our two other gaited horses were “grab ’em before someone else does” which we hate. We got both of them knowing we could resell them and at least break even on them if we needed to.

But this boy only had 3 hours!

After having the girls watch the video and agreeing with me, I sent the info to Hunny. I flew downstairs and got to work.

I had to know what was going to happen if we direct bailed him. I mean, where would he go? He couldn’t come home with us right away because he needed to be quarantined in order to get his health certificate. How the heck was that going to happen?!

Turns out, the organization had a list of people who were willing and able to take some layover horses. They also had lists of shippers, so I sent out several emails to get quotes on shipping.

In the meantime, Hunny had gotten home. Saying he was less than thrilled was an understatement. He also likes to take his time. We had decided that the next horse, we were going to ride ourselves before committing.

Well. 😆 That was not going to happen if we got this horse. I didn’t even know how we were going to get him home.

Down to about an hour now, we were both feeling pressured, although most likely for entirely different reasons. 😕

He gave me the green light and by the time I got the paperwork done and payment done, we had something like just over 5 minutes left. Fortunately, I was messaging the broker folks and were in pretty good communication.

I decided on which layover I wanted to pursue {another “don’t ask me why”; I just felt like she would be the one to check into} and sent her a text.

By the time I heard back from her, the broker folks had already contacted her and gotten the ok to send him to her. All told, those two weeks, she took an additional 14 horses; 9 that one week alone.

That was Tuesday. I didn’t sleep well. There were so many unknowns and things to get settled.

Because the auction house only has the vet on Monday, does that mean he’d be stuck there until the following week to have his Coggins done?

When would he be transported?

I had a lot of work to do and details to get sorted.

In the early part of my research, I learned there is an underbelly to this whole thing. And while I had even looked up the organization on GuideStar Charity Check, I was not prepared for the amount of garbage I found.

I found a link to a newspaper article that said their offices had been raided by the FBI. I read horror stories about people who got the wrong horse; people who were all upset because they didn’t get the health certificate; people who donated for a specific horse and then never got any information about what happened to the horse after that, etc.

It was at that point I was really worried, wondering if we’d been screwed. Wondering if the horse we had direct bailed was going to be healthy. Would I get the right horse I paid for? Did I just lose a significant amount of money?

Originally, we thought he was going to layover Wednesday; but there was some confusion from the layover farm that was getting several that day. No news.

Thursday rolls around and I learned that horses didn’t get there the night before; they should be there Thursday pm. Because it wasn’t Monday, he didn’t have his Coggins drawn, which was already paid for.

I went back and forth with the rescue folks. If I didn’t get the Coggins done, I needed that fee refunded.

The layover farm was going to have their vet come out the following Tuesday because we needed that health certificate. And I still had transport to find.

A friend who is active in domestic pet rescue put the word out, and she spent several days going back and forth with people, to see if anyone had a trailer we could use. I had other options, of course, but I like to explore them all thoroughly before making a decision.

And I was still reading. I learned that there is an FBI agent {or some other LEO} wanting people to contact him/her for their ongoing investigation, if they had problems with this group.

There are also other groups around that ‘discuss’ this particular broker group. I guess you could call them hate fans. They are really keen to shut this group down, and anyone who disagrees with any of their positions is called names, complained about and generally verbally abused.

There are blogs dedicated to slamming this group broker group.

Let me just say– if you can’t talk to people in an adult manner without name calling and bullying, you automatically lose credibility with me, even if many of your points are valid. I know you are passionate about this issue. Calling people names who have dealt with the broker is not going to solve the problem. It does absolutely NO good, except to turn people off from hearing your message.

The brokers are not the problem. I’ll put my two cents in at the end.

Anyhow. 😆

So now I’m freaked out, wondering if I’m even going to get a horse; wondering if it will be the right horse and then wondering what kind of shape it’s going to be in.

Thursday evening, I get confirmation that the horse is on its way. I asked the stable owner to send me some pictures when he got there, to make sure it was the right horse. She was more than willing. I was relieved that when the horses were unloaded at the stables, he was there. He looked ok.

Each day, I texted her to get an update. E was very patient and put up with all my questions about it. It’s hard to stay on the fringes looking in, wondering and hoping your animal is ok.

Monday came; the vet came, and  by the evening, we were cleared for the weekend transport. At this point, I was still not sleeping well and sweating bullets. A lot could go wrong during the week, and then there was transport to think about.

Hunny was not thrilled about having to make the drive and we still didn’t have our chicken coop done, which is very much needed. Diverting from that project for a whole weekend was not ideal.

Have you ever tried to make hotel reservations the day before you need them- on a holiday weekend? Ya, it’s * a lot* harder than you’d think. 🙄 I texted back and forth with stable owner E, trying to find towns along the way to stay in. She offered to let us stay in her popup trailer on the farm if we couldn’t find anything. 🙂

Finally, Saturday came. We loaded up and started the trek to Pennsylvania.

As were were driving through downtown Washington D.C., we were thinking we should have waited another 2 weeks and spent the $$$ to have him shipped. The traffic was brutal, and not just in Washington. Once we hit the area around Richmond, Va, traffic came to a complete standstill. I mean, really- were were being passed on the highway by butterflies for goodness sakes!

Fortunately, the hotel was ok, and we did manage to get some sleep. Sunday morning we headed out for the 35 minute drive over the border to Amish country in Pa. We saw several horse and buggies, and an Amish woman walking down the road. In fact, the stable’s neighbors were all Amish, and they do a lot of raising horses for the Amish.

Our boy was not thrilled to get loaded onto yet another trailer, but he didn’t do a whole lot of protesting. He was sad to leave his stable buddy.

As we waved at Johns Hopkins Hospital as we drove through downtown Baltimore, we thought again that we should have had him shipped. 😆

He traveled amazingly well, especially for a slightly underweight horse. At our first stop in northern Va, I crossed paths with a longtime friend of mine. Since she was on the phone and we needed to get back on the road, I called her when we were back on the highway. I laughed about that all the way home! She lives about 100 miles away and was planning to visit ever since we moved.

It certainly is a small world!

The one time we stopped for gas, we had several people come over to drool over our Blaze. One woman from NJ brought her daughter over to see him. The daughter was around 12 or so, and had never seen a horse. She, the mother, had only seen a horse a single time as a child.

Another couple saw us back at the rest stop and came to tell us how handsome he is. ♥ They had been following us for a few hours, and thought it was great that we were transporting a horse. 😆

When we got him home, I was wondering how well he would transition. He came right off the trailer, and went racing from one end of the paddock to the other, kicking up his heels and whinnying. Then he rolled on the ground, got up, and did it again. I was crying by this time.

I’m telling you- this boy was *overjoyed.* He KNEW.

He knew he was safe. In hindsight, I wish I had videoed it. While it’s a memory I won’t ever forget, I wish I had a copy to share with anyone who thinks horses are dumb and don’t have feelings.

It took the other horses about an hour to figure out he was there, and then they all came racing over to see him. It’s important to introduce horses to each other slowly, especially if one is underweight. Because we have another gelding who still has his stallion mindset, it’s particularly important that we let the boys get to know each other without the girls in the same space.

Sometimes, geldings get along just fine; sometimes it’s disastrous. Our good friend has a gelding that cannot be in the same pasture as any other male. The last time he was, he chased the other gelding into some trees and broke his leg, which made euthanasia necessary.

The layover stable owner had told us Blaze wasn’t too keen on mares, but did well with a gelding buddy. We figured Halo, the formerly emaciated Quarter Horse, is the sweetest and most mellow out of our mares, so we wanted to try her in with him.

Well. All the girls were in heat. 😆 She chased him mercilessly. 😆 And he was like, “Can someone help me out here, please? I’m really not up for all of this!”

Halo came out, and he settled in for the night in the peace and quiet.

Early on, we had decided that we’d wait several weeks to ride him. By Wednesday, he was antsy. He wanted to go! Halo had been saddled and was out in the side pasture, and you could tell, he wanted out there, too! Once Hunny got home from work, we saddled Blaze and off we went.

Honestly, he is probably the best horse we have! He is SO calm, and has a fantastic gait.

Let me give some parting thoughts:

While I don’t know that we would try to go this route again, I have to confess I’m completely satisfied.

We got the right horse. He got his Coggins. The layover was fine, and the absolute perk is that he IS dead broke, which is just what we were looking for.

People want to gripe that the brokers are making hundreds of dollars off these horses. When a person bails or sponsors a horse, the kill buyer pockets the extra money which he then uses to go buy even MORE horses to send to slaughter. They say that if we don’t buy these broker horses, we would shut down the kill buyers and they’d have nothing to send to slaughter.

They also say that tons of horses can be found for cheap, or on Craigslist for free.

I’ve checked Craigslist in my area for several months. Not a single free horse. Other horses were listed for even more money. I figure, if I’m going to risk on a horse, why not get one for whom death is imminent?

They say, all the horses are sick and/or skinny and euthanasia- not slaughter- is what they need. I’m sure that may be true for some of them.

Our horse was not seriously underweight. He needs maybe 100 lbs. Something to know about horses is how quickly they can lose weight. Stress and/or travel and dehydration can result in a horse losing 50 lbs in a single day. I was not too worried. We have been down this route before- we know how to save a starving horse.

As to the group I went through and the kill buyer/auction combo- here are some numbers:

This particular auction house has auctions once a week. The average week sees 250-300 horses going through. The kill buyer needs 30 horses to ship to slaughter in Canada. I have no idea how many are saved through the broker, but something is surely better than nothing.

They say these brokers create drama to guilt people into saving the horses, by using tactics such as, “This horse only has hours left!”

I acknowledge that our new horse came exactly with that kind of plea. But does this guilt people? I didn’t bite because he only had hours left to live- he was the kind of horse with the kind of height and age I was looking for. I passed over numerous other horses until I saw this boy.

Honestly- it wasn’t my fault I only found the broker and the horse that morning!

People complain about the profit being made on these horse that are picked up cheap or free at auction, etc, and then resold for hundreds of dollars.

Let’s talk about money.

Do y’all realize how much money is made in horse racing? And not just the big Triple Crown stuff, either. There are racetracks all over the place. And typically, the horse of choice is the Thoroughbred. One of the most prolific breeds going through auction are Thoroughbreds. If they don’t earn enough or get too old {I’ve seen 6 year olds considered “too old”}, they are thrown away. Literally.

Same goes for Saddlebreds, Tennessee Walking Horses, etc etc etc.

The money wrapped up in the horsey world is astonishing.

The brokers trying to save some of these-even if they are making a profit- are not the problem. The people buying the broker horses are not the problem.

The equine industry at-large is the problem. Breeding and breeding and breeding horses to pick out the best ones to make money with- that’s the problem.

Racing horses; showing horse- anything where money is tied to performance- that’s the problem.

The other end of the problem, obviously, is the business of slaughtering horses. Here in the US, there’s been a hold on that practice for a number of years, but it looks like it’s not going to be illegal much longer, unless something changes. Just last week, NM Attorney General Gary King put an end to a slaughterhouse’s bid to open right outside of where we used to live.

Here’s the thing- we can’t legislate other countries. We can only legislate what going on in the US. Make auctions have a reserve of several hundreds of dollars so that kill buyers can’t snap them up for cheap. Make breeding large numbers of horses illegal. Offer neuter programs, so those that find stallions can have them gelded for cheap.

Eliminate the huge purses and profits associated with racing and other equine industry money makers.

So. Here’s my advice if you are looking at getting a horse through a broker.

  • Don’t donate to save a horse unless you don’t care where the horse really ends up.
  • Don’t fund-raise to save a horse, particularly if the horse does not have a home offer.

Here’s why- if the horse doesn’t leave and go home with someone specific or to layover, you have no idea where that horse is going to end up. I’ve heard about horses getting sponsored and then just disappearing. Where did they go? Did they go to slaughter anyhow? I have no idea.

There was a lady who had donated $25 after we direct bailed our boy. I asked but never got an answer as to whatever happened to the funds she donated for our horse, but it didn’t affect the price we paid. I really hope they applied it to another horse.

  • Make sure you or your shipper has the Coggins IN HAND when the horse is picked up. The broker I worked with was very organized, but it’s not their responsibility to make sure you have the test results on the specific horse when that horse is picked up. In fact, this is one thing they actually mention time and time again.
  • Bear in mind- you’re not getting a Health Certificate, which is legally required to cross state lines. The broker I worked with didn’t say they would give one, yet that is one of the biggest complaints I have seen from people. I have no idea if the verbiage was changed recently or not, but I didn’t pay for one nor did I expect one.
  • You are not guaranteed registration papers. Nope, you’re not. And when I read the website, if the horse had papers, you only got them if you direct bailed. I have seen a lot of people up in arms about not getting registration papers. I didn’t see any posted, so assume he didn’t have any. And by gollee, I haven’t gotten any. You don’t see me whining. 😀
  • Follow through. I confess I’m a bit of a nag, but I was scared silly I wasn’t going to get the horse I paid for. The shipper verified and then we verified once he was at the stables.
  • While they are very good about noting any visible defects, you aren’t assured a dead-broke horse or even a ride-able one. Watch the video if there is one and see what they are able to do with the horse. Ask to see pictures of the teeth. The folks I went through had a website with pictures posted.
  • Know the variables to get the horse to YOU. This is not up to the broker to do for you. While the folks I dealt with were extremely helpful, I’ve only done it this once, so I have no idea how other brokers are.

The bottom line for me is this: We paid less for Blaze than we would have paid for another horse pretty much any other way {because as you’ve read, I didn’t see any freebies anywhere near me!}. We didn’t get registration papers, but I really don’t care. I just want to ride.

I’m sure I’ll get hate mail for this post. I’m sure I’ll be called names.

But let me tell you this: For this ONE horse, we made a difference.

And that, my friends, is all I can do today.

Yes, I can write and contact my local congressional folks. Then it’s up to them.

But this? This I could do. I could use the money I would have spent on another horse- getting this boy a good home with me.

Look at these pictures and tell me this wasn’t a good thing! 😆


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