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Archive for July 1st, 2008

This is written by Jennifer Swanson of Pure Thoughts Horse Rescue. Contact information is at the bottom of the article. She has vowed to the Shire Husband (a horse they failed to save) to no longer keep her mouth shut but to scream the truth from the mountaintops! Keep in mind that our girl, Cassidy April, was headed to this same fate.

June 22, 2008

As you approach the auction house the first thing you see are the eyes looking out through rusted caged windows. The horses get as close as they can to the air, the sunlight they know is out there, but they can’t get too close or their eyes will be impaled by the bent and rusted prongs. Still, they look out, hoping to see something familiar, someone coming to take them home.

Every horse has a different story. For the horses at auction, the look in their eyes all begs the same question: what did I do to deserve this? These horses are in a dark, man-made and operated cement hell.

They are poked and prodded and crammed, sometimes 50 horses, into single pens. Some horses fight, some try to stay to the side to avoid getting kicked. Some are hurt, some are mares trying to protect their foals. Others are just trying to stay on their feet so they don’t get trampled. There are tired and wounded workhorses. Colicking horses. Injured racehorses standing on three legs that still wear sweat from their last race.

This horror is just the first step in a torturous journey that these horses are on. It’s a journey that we as Americans, horse lovers and humanitarians allow in our country. And just when I think it can’t get worse, they open the gates and shove another horse in there, and the ruckus starts again, as the horses shift and struggle for position. A few strong ones can fight for a little bit of hay in the corner. Many horses have their heads stuck out of the pen in hopes a passerby will give them a pet on the head, in hopes someone will see them and take them out of there. Their quiet pleas seem somehow louder than the screams of the horses who are scared and hurt.

The horses do not have to have a voice to tell their story. The workhorses and Standardbreds, injured and abused and yet often clearly fresh from work, are the most painful to watch. These horses have given their lives to work for their owners and then they are delivered to a painful death. The Amish, the people who use these horses for their means of transportation and agriculture, in many cases provide the most horrible cases of neglect and abuse. A bullet to the head is more humane than what they do to these horses. What in their faith allows for this cruelty? The auction at Sugarcreek is the dumping grounds. Most people will bring their horses there to be sold, but they will buy their horses from better auctions. They will go to Mt. Hope or and spend thousands on a beautiful Standardbred with bows in her hair right off the track. In a year or two this same horse will be at the kill auction in Sugarcreek: weak, abused and destined for slaughter. They will go to a draft farms and spend thousands on a beautiful team or a draft horse, usually a Belgian and the same things will happen. This horse will be used and worked to within days of its life and then sent to the kill auction. That is the reward these horses receive for their work and servitude. If the horses are injured, they don’t care for them. They simply work them until they can no longer work, then they are sent to the killbuyer. I know there are Amish people out there who take good care of their horses, but we see so, so many that don’t.

And it’s not only the Amish. The racing industry joins them in the cruelest act. Gleaming muscled racehorses are top choice for the killbuyers. On May 23rd Pure Thoughts bought more than 15 tattooed thoroughbreds. Some of these horses were picked up at a Maryland racetrack by a man who said he would deliver them to a therapeutic riding center. Instead he planned to deliver them to killbuyers. Fortunately for those horses we were there and brought them home. What happened to Eight Belles is truly heartbreaking and it seems the racing community is trying to change practices and policies. But what about this behind-the-scenes atrocity. Do all of the people who mourned the loss of Eight Belles know what happens to many racehorses every Friday at Sugarcreek?

Next time you enjoy a day at the races, think about the ones that did not make it that far or the horses that came in last in their race. Chances are there next stop is an inhumane slaughter. Is that really worth the exhilaration you felt as the horses crossed the finish line? Is their life worth our recreation? Are we, as a nation saying “It is okay that these horses experience a horrific death” is that what we want to define us as horse lovers?

But there is more. It’s not just the racing industry and the Amish. The slaughter pens hold many of beautiful horses, show horses, ponies, trail horses, pets, workhorses. Mares and week old foals are bought by killbuyers. They will be taken from the auction together but a stop will be made. At this stop the foal will be ripped from its’ mother and either left to die or fattened up until it can be pass as a six-month old and then it will be sent to slaughter. The mare thinks losing her foal is a heartbreak, she has no idea what she is in for, this is nothing. Pregnant mares who are just days from giving birth are in the killpens after auction. They will be slaughtered. Killbuyer and slaughterhouses do not want our sick, old and lame. They want the healthy horses. Slaughter does not care what is on the registration papers, it just wants flesh.

But we haven’t even gotten to the process of slaughter yet. After the auction, the next horror these horses go through is the transport. Usually this is done unlawfully and without morals. The horses are crammed, again, into a trailer. Stallions, yearlings, mare, foals ponies are jammed in together. There is no water. There are no stops. They drive across the country to Canada or Mexico and don’t get off-loaded until they reach the slaughterhouse. Some will die on the way. If they act up, they are beaten harshly.

And yet, the American public turns a blind eye to this practice. So far we haven’t forced our government to listen to cries of the horses.

Some horse owners and lovers also stay in the dark, not educating themselves on the cruel truths of horse auctions. That nice man who seems to be buying up many good horses is NOT taking them back to his ranch. He is buying them for meat and he will smile at you politely and soon those horses will begin their long hellish journey, one that will end with him or her gasping for their last breath after being mutilated and tortured.

As rescuers we dance with the devil every day for the sake of the horses. We play the game we must play in order to be able to attend these auctions, work with the killbuyers and purchase these horses. We keep our stories amongst ourselves in order not to ruffle any feathers. We all filled with anger and rage over what happens and the tears are a river that runs constant. The story I tell is one I have lived with, it haunts my dreams and fills my soul. I look at the ones we save and cannot help but think of the ones we were unable to save. When I learned of horse slaughter, it changed my life. I gave up the life I had for a life that was once unknown to me and now I live and breathe it.

My job now is to speak for the horses and do my best to bring an end to this dirty little secret. From slaughter to nursemare foals. Cruelty and misuse of horses is inhumane and intolerable. For those who cannot speak … I will.

On May 23, 2008, Pure Thoughts Horse and Foal Rescue aligned forces with the Davis- McCullough Foundation and saved all the horses that were intended to go to slaughter at the horse kill auction known at Sugarcreek Livestock auction. We did it with help from Victoria McCullough of the Davis-McCullough Foundation, which has spent years dedicating itself to the needs children and animals.

All equines were safe that day, including some from the week before who were waiting for their trip to slaughter. That was a single day that the horses were safe. As a country we have the ability to change this action and bring the horses of our country to safety everyday. These horses are being slaughtered for human consumption and shipped overseas to Europe and Asia. Let’s ban together and tell them No. Not our horses, the horses will not be tortured for your gluttony, not on our watch.

For more information on how you can help you may email Jennifer@PureThoughtsHorseRescue.com , visit the site http://www.PTHR.org or call 561-254-0415

Jennifer Swanson
Pure Thoughts Inc.
Horse & Foal Rescue
http://www.PTHR.org
19181 Capet Creek
Loxahatchee, FL 33470

Saving the life of a horse may not change the world………..
……..but it will change that horse’s world.

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