Saturday, March 10, 2012

We Save All We Can

This is how it is: I work at a horse rescue center. It isn't always pretty. But it is always rewarding.

Yesterday, Blue Skies ransomed 6 horses from a slaughter/auction holding farm. This a person who picks up horses cheaply from auctions around the South, feed them and resells to either another auction site or directly to a kill buyer. A kill buyer takes the unransomed horses (I refuse to say unwanted) and ships them to either Mexico or Canada for slaughter.

That's right - slaughter. If you have gotten rid of a horse in this recent economy, chances are they have found their way into the slaughter pipeline. No, they aren't living the good life on some big farm in the mountains, or teaching lessons at a stable in horse country. They are headed on a one way trip to hell. Sorry, I know that might come as a shock to some people. To those of us who are in the rescue and rehabilitation of horses it is the sad reality.

Here are the facts: There are more horses bred on an annual basis in this country than will ever be profitable to the breeders. With the depressed economy horses are a luxury most people consider expendable. Livestock auctions and rescue centers around the country are struggling to keep hay and feed for the animals they have; there is precious little room for any extra animals.

To most of you, horses are just another animal, like a cow or a goat. Well, wouldn't Alexander the Great have looked pretty funny conquering the known world on the back of a goat!

For the rest of us, it is a sobering reality. So many owners call wanting to surrender their animals for lack of funds, others want to 'trade' their older, usually ill animals for younger healthy horses. And I love the calls looking for the perfect, sane, calm pony for children to 'ride'. Perfect and sane and pony don't usually go in the same sentence.

There is nothing physically wrong of any of the 6 animals we ransomed yesterday that we can see, other than severe malnutrition for several of thems and a new wariness toward humans probably not there before adventures and fate brought them to BSRA. From a detached honest perspective I can see personality and promise in each of them, but I know it will be at least three months before true progress and trust can be established. Is that discouraging? A little, but that is the reward, the human 'carrot' at the of this stick.

Because that is the beauty of rescue. Seeing a defeated and lonely horse coming to life with love, attention and food. Watching relationships and herds form and re-form as newcomers are worked into the farm. Helping a neglected animal recognize that not every person who comes near them means harm. These are rewards that cannot be measured in terms most humans understand. You have to feel their love to know the power of a horse.

And perhaps, one day, everyone will understand.

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