Tuesday, November 25, 2008

All the Dead Horses

Or half dead, I should say.

The past week I have not been keeping up on the horse market. I have two very promising prospects in mind and two more that show a lot of promise. But I am not looking anymore, not because I have already found my what I am looking for! Ha! Like that would stop me! But because I just cant stand it anymore. It makes me sick. It makes me angry. It makes me doubt our humanity. All of the dead horses. Or, at least all the half dead horses, I should say.....

The ones that remind me of a time I walked into the local SPCA to find a beautiful Golden Retriever tied up beside the front desk. I was waiting for the attendant to get off the phone so stooped down to say hi to the angel laying at her feet. Her face was that of a classic golden, wide eyed and sweet but gone white with age. Warm brown eyes, clouded with gray cataracts, looked up at me and met my gaze evenly. Her tail wagged gently. I cooed to her softly, "Hey, there sweet lady." She got up to meet me, her bones clicked and muscles strained to lift her. Her tail stopped wagging for a moment, reflecting the pain it caused her to rise, but immediately resumed, gently swaying back and forth, the long ribbons of silken hair, falling from her tail like banners. She sat before me, her chest round and proud, her face set in a regal and contemplative pose. I reached out a hand, knuckles up, in greeting. She ducked her head and pushed up into my fist. I instinctual cupped her cheek and ear. She leaned into me, desperately. I looked into her eyes once again and felt my heart break at the look in them. She was dead. There were no other words for it. The pain and confusion that I saw reflected back from her gaze overwhelmed me and I felt the tears break and stream down my cheeks. I didn't understand. Was this the attendants old dog? Surely no one had left her here? I stood up when I heard the woman at the desk hang up the phone. She took one look at my face and simply shrugged her shoulders.

"Why?" I asked, my voice breaking.

She answered, "For thirteen years one family owned her. But the kids went away to collage and the parents wanted to travel. They dropped her off this morning."

I groaned. They cold, hard edge that had clipped her voice as she spoke told me all I needed to know....That while tragic, there was nothing uncommon about this beautiful dogs story. I cringed to think of what injustices this woman must witness, day by day and wondered at how she kept any faith at all...in humanity. I didn't need to ask what would happen to this dog. Her years had clearly come to an end, she was in pain, physically and emotionally.

"When?" I asked. "Please don't tell me you have to wait two day?"

"Yes, we do." She replied in the same hard tone.

I looked her dead in the eye, jaw clenched and my hands trembling. She looked back at me evenly, and then, ever so slightly, nodded her head. I turned on my heel and walked outside. I sat in my car and cried. At that moment, I hated myself for being human. For the dog. For the people like her. For the millions of children around the world, enslaved and starving. For the women that are beat. For the horses that we hurt for our own gain. For the abused and tortured. For all the injustice. And I felt some last thread of my innocence slip away.

It is that feeling of injustice, anger, resentment....of hate even, that I try to avoid when looking at horses for sale online. I used to be fairy adapt at avoiding the half dead horses. These days, it is impossible to ignore. A bad economy is hurting the horse market. Stop over at Browneyed Cowgirls post to read how she was recently reminded of this. Her neighbors, longstanding and respected horse breedersare euthanizing their brood stock. IMHO, they did the moral thing. They took responsibility, no matter how hard or disheartening the reality. They didn't pass the buck.
Here is my comment to her post:

"I think it is safe to say that we all love horses here! But the sad truth is that horses are not simple creatures to keep...not like dogs, that require very little financially and can sleep where we sleep. I think that we all have to face the fact that regardless of the economy, the world around us is changing and the market for horses will change with it. I personally feel that over time there will less need for the broodbands that we have seen in the past. Even now "production sales" are not as common as they used to be. In the past, I didnt question the ethics of breeders that were producing quality stock but I think that time has passed and there is no longer a market to support the use (and care) of those animals. I would much rather see a horse put down than see it starve. Is it sad? Of course, it hurts me heart to think of what those families are facing and the nice horses that were lost...but...I hate to say it in this crowd..... How many children were just killed in Darfur while I was writing this? more than 1? Less than 5? What child in the UNITED STATES just watched his mother die because they could not afford health care? What family just became homeless? I dont want to see horses die any more than the next person but the humane culling in times such as these, while tragic and sad, is a responsible action. Their death is not a punishment, their neglect would be."

I am so tired of finding ads like this:

"22 year old grade mare. Never bred. Sound for light riding but hasn't been ridden in years so would need a tuneup. Needs experienced rider. We've had this mare since she was 2 and would like to see her go to a good home. Cant afford to keep her for the winter. Come pick her up. $100 Will trade for a dirt bike or ATV"

Are you kidding me? Buck up!!!
*****All of the pictures on this post are of horses, over the age of 20, that are for sale. I am not suggesting that older horses do not have a use or should not be sold. But to sell indiscriminately, is wrong. ******

I had to post this because I feel so passionately that the death of an animal is not a punishment to them. Their suffering and neglect is. The obligation that all pet owners have is to put their own feelings aside and do what is right for the animals in their care.

There! I said it.

Usually, I try to keep this blog positive. Usually, it is my hope to make you'all smile. Maybe even get a chuckle out of ya! I am sorry for the rant. It had to be said.

Hmmmm.... how to make you smile after all that......


Okay... a joke....

A guy walked into a bar.....


No! That didn't do it. How about...

What did the snail say when it took a ride on the turtles back?


Dont hate me.


  1. lmao I am quite sure we don't hate you! Just as well as we all see the state that the horse market it currently in. It's a sad affair. I see it dailey on my drive to and from work, on-line looking at adds, and in magazines as well. And honestly, I'd feel alot better having the horses euthanized than wondering what kind of situation a horse that was traded for a dirt bike or ATV may get into with it's new owners.... I cringe at the thought....

  2. I think the way our "horse society" values (or more accurately doesn't value) older horses is a crime.

    So many things train us from when we are young to place less and less value on older horses when it should be the other way around. Older horses should be worth more.

    Competition monies favor the young - older farmers have been trained to believe that younger horses work harder and are less likely to go lame, they in turn teach their children this "gotta get rid old horses" attitude, and breeder also discard the old at rock bottom prices aiding in the devaluation of Senior Horses.

    It makes me sick the way some people will dump their old horses just because they are old. It's like gee thanks for the years and years of work and babies - here's your reward, a free ride to the auction and another free ride to a slaughter house.

    It makes me ashamed of being a horse person. I hate it.

    I have just been thinking about this very subject a lot lately...

  3. I'm not a horse person so I'm not curent on the horses. but the dog story. I have never cried reading a post, but that one did me in! I just cant see how a family member can be dumped off?! knowing that it will not find a new home! Why not take the dog to the vet, hold it while the vet puts the dog down? Might be harder to do but kinder to the dog

  4. Here's another one for ya...

    What did the fish say when he swam into the wall?

    Oh... dam.

  5. "...will trade for a dirt bike or an ATV..." Are you flippin' kidding me??? So after being used for some purpose, that is all she is worth?? Grrrr.....!!!!

    I second what Stephanie says (I have been seconding her a lot lately!!) about older horses in our society. Unfortunately, our society tends to think the same way about older humans too. :(

    I am all for euthanasia as well, because it prevents, or should prevent, suffering. When I worked for a veterinarian, we always made sure that animals died with dignity, which as you have pointed out, is better than what happens to people in Darfur, or who lack health insurance.

    Yet another great post, and Cdn Cowgirl is killing me with her joke...lol!!!

  6. thank you. for noticing, for paying attention, for thinking, for feeling. it is valued, it is important. there is no answer, but it is important that you are aware.

  7. I agree. Totally.

    I have sold a couple of horses in my life and hope to God that I never have to sell another. They become part of my family and it is heart wrenching to put a price on them.

    I cried for that poor dog at the shelter too. I grew up with a Golden. Wonderful dog. He was my pillow when I was little with my blankie. Sadly, he didn't get to live to old age, but was taken by a hunter's bullet for running deer.

    While it's terribly hard to put down relatively healthy animals, sometimes it is an acceptable option. And difficult...


  8. Way to go Chelsi and Amy Jo!! Good point!! FEELING!! That IS what is lacking here! And THINKING. Keeping up with the times as Chelsi has noted. Yes..it may have been your business at one time,breeding and such, but be responsible, here is where the FEELING comes in, for the horses, and the THINKING, for doing things different NOW to make money and survive. Don't make situations or try not to where animals end up suffering. Feeling, and thinking...these two traits I am ashamed to say..humans seem to be drowning out with "dirt bikes" and "ATV'S"..video games and .....
    Feeling is hard..so is thinking. Makes us take action and take responsibility. Wow..rant on!!
    Julie :D