I work with a nice young girl (she’s 18, I feel so old....) on the weekends at the barn. Last week she asked where I got Henry from as she is shopping for a horse of her own. She wants to help a horse in need, which is awesome. I recommended she hit up a local rescue or go to the horse auction on July 3rd. And then....she asked me if I’d like to go with her to the auction.
I’m going. And it’s a bad idea.
I haven’t been to this particular auction in about 15 years. I was 11/12 years old and went to an early winter auction with my dad and some of his friends. My dad was more into horses at that time and used to go penning/sorting/trail riding with some cowboy friends he met through work. He never bought a horse at the auction but did buy some saddles/halters when we started out; it was more a social thing. I was, of course, hopeful we’d buy a horse! We were sharing one horse at the time and I desperately wanted a horse of my own.
I am haunted by that day 15 years ago. About 75% of the horses at the sale were in appalling condition. They either had horrendous hooves that hadn’t been touched in years and/or they were starving to death. I would say a good solid 90% of those horses went to the meat dealer that day. I left after less than an hour and I cried in the truck while I waited for my dad.
I have been invited back many times by other “horsey” friends but have always declined as I worry the conditions will be similar to what I saw that day. Apparently things have improved, but of course the meat dealer is still present and has plenty to choose from. I decided to go this time to help my work buddy, C. She could probably use an extra pair of eyes (and hands if she buys something). I told her a bit about my previous experience, not to scare her but to prepare her for what it may be like. Certainly there are deals to be had there, and it is a good place to truly save a horse from the meat dealer.
I don’t want to get into some big rant about everything I think is wrong with the horse industry...but I have a few comments. I think every horse deserves to be loved and treated with dignity. I have no respect for individuals who dump their senior horses at the auction or give them away for free rather than providing them a well-deserved and earned retirement. And I wish people would stop breeding horses because they can, leaving young horses unhandled and unappealing to buyers. These two types of horses are saturating the market. When I have my own property I hope to rescue a senior horse and give them the best retirement ever.
My personal herd is at capacity at the moment and I have no free time/money to help any more horses. I hope I can help my friend find a good horse and it isn’t too depressing.
If there’s a blog posting later this week that says “Meet my 12 new horses!” or “I’m getting divorced”.... remind me that I knew what I was getting into!