This morning I received a comment on my post "Look In On Old Horse" from "notimpressed" expressing her opinion on sending horses to auction and, as politely as possible, criticizing my decision to do so (I had written: "Of the eight horses I've owned in the past decade, only two have slipped through my fingers- the crazy horse that ruined my knee and a crazy old mare I bought from the auction and returned to the auction a few months later.... good by and good riddance to them both!")
Here is the reply. I post it here not to defend my actions but because I think she (or he) did an excellent job at expressing the very reason why I would never send a horse to auction again and why I hold such regret over having done so in the past.
- "Sad to hear of the mare who went back to auction when she didn't work out for you. I know for some people that is a realistic choice, but having saved one slaughter-bound horse and looking forward to more in the future, it never will be for me. If I can't deal with a horse's behavior problems or the cost of getting professional training to make it saleable, I'll have it euthanized myself rather than ever risk an animal I took responsibility for ending up on the long, cramped, hot trailer ride to slaughter.
I had hoped most other responsible horse owners felt the same, but this post made me uncomfortably aware that there are still people--and people who take good care of the horses they own--who don't shudder at the thought even of a rank, ugly horse being crowded into a double-decker trailer for 16 hours to face the captive bolt gun. Or perhaps people think that only completely worthless horses end up at slaughter? If my kind and athletic gelding was headed that way, a "crazy" horse unwanted by her owner likely didn't escape that fate.
I'm trying to rationalize this--maybe you meant a sporthorse auction, not the kind that attracts kill buyers. I hope that's it. But if it was the other, more common, sort of auction where you sent a horse whose behavior issues you couldn't handle, for shame. The beautiful filly your mare produced could someday, after the wrong sort of treatment, be someone else's "crazy" horse who they felt deserved nothing better than the kill buyer's trailer."
I agree with you completely. And I am ashamed of my decision to send that mare back to auction. I decided not to get in to that whole thing in this post in an effort to stay focused on the horses who's new owners I had spoken with and because I try, as much as possible, keep my blog light and positive. The very reason why I have stayed in contact with each of those owners is, in part, as a result of the lessons learned from that mistake. I cant go back and change it but I can do differently today (that was 8 years ago when I was 19 or 20)...and I do.
Yes, I did say "and good riddance to them both" as that was my true in sentiment, as much as I might feel I made a huge mistake in sending her back to auction I wont pretend that I regret selling her.... I HATED that mare and it had nothing to do with being particularly dangerous, she was just the biggest bitch you've ever met. As for putting down a horse that is unfit for sale- two years ago I did just that. It was a VERY difficult decision but I know it was the right one.
Thank you for your comment, sincerely... It is people like you, who express their opinion without attacking the author, that help others keep and open mind towards a different way."
Too often horses have to pay the price of our mistakes. I wont hide behind excuses. I could tell the story of that mare, of what I was going through in my life at the time, what I did to at the auction to ensure she didnt go to a kill buyer, what her issues were and if they were or were not "fixable". The story doesnt matter. No matter the circumstance, I will never sell a horse at open auction again.
As horseman, I feel it is our duty to do our best to evolve in to better patrons for our horses... to admit mistakes and learn from them and to, most importantly, do differently so that the horses that have had to suffer our mistakes did not do so in vain.