Saturday, October 10, 2015

Another Saturday afternoon at the rescue

4:30 pm on a Saturday afternoon; I'm glued to Facebook watching updates pop up saying which horse still needs rescue funds. I feel like I'm participating in an E-Bay equine auction, only I'm watching the amount drop--the dollars still needed to bail a horse out of the kill pen. With only so much to spare, I try to weigh where my paltry amount will do the most good. Which horse(s) are in the direst position---just an hour or so away from getting on a truck headed to a slaughter plant in Canada or Mexico.

Photo by Sarah Goocey Photography with Copper Horse Crusade

The horse named Josie--the owner of that tagged halter in the pile pictures--was one of the lucky ones. She was rescued from slaughter by Julie Copper of Copper Horse Crusade. But this haunting photo brings to mind the piles of shoes and other belongings piled outside the gas chambers at the concentration camps. Let's face it--that's exactly the same thing our horses are facing. Halter removed, bolt to the head, and that's that, execution is done. Only the first strike doesn't always work; sometimes it takes three or four before the horse is dead. No, it's not humane and that's part of the ongoing battle.

First, we need to pass the SAFE Act (Safeguard American Food Exports). Our horses were not bred with the intent to be sold as meat. They are given wormers, anti-inflammatory medications, steroids, hormones, all kinds of pharmaceuticals not safe for people to consume. So why is it we are still shipping horses to Canada and Mexico, who in turn, sell the meat across Europe and Asia? What is so hard to understand the fact that their meat is UNSAFE?

Every week, numerous rescue groups spend their weekend photographing, posting and sharing horses from auctions and kill pens around the country in a desperate attempt to save as many as possible. With three hungry mouths of my own to feed, and a tight economy, I try to do my bit when I can, whether it's sharing the info across the web, or giving what I can to save some poor soul from slaughter. I can't sit by and let this happen. As I write, one horse remains at Moore's Equines for Rescue, a lone john mule. His partner, the molly mule is safe. The people that buy from Moore's (he's the kill buyer) do a phenomenal job, but it's hard work with a lot of desperation and emotion. I suspect the kill buyer is making a profit off of those like me who can't sit by. jacking up the price he would get by the pound. Sounds sleazy, but what else can be done--he gets his cut, the horses get their lives. The horses win in the end, and that's what matters.

So it's another night at the auction page.  As of 5:59 all 29 horses and mules with a 6:00 deadline are safe. I'll sleep tonight without being haunted by the face of one last mule, boarding the wrong truck.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Out on a breakfast ride

John and Rolex lead the way.

If you've never packed breakfast and headed out on your horse, you're missing some fun! We had breakfast rides at my summer camp. A counselor roused you from your bunk, told you what horse to go collect from the pasture. We saddled up and rode off to a destination where breakfast awaited, usually consisting or orange juice, cold cereal, and the trail rider's favorite--Pop-Tarts.

We didn't get started as early as we planned. The sun already cleared the power line, well beyond just cresting the slope! The day was shaping up to be another steamy one--so we skipped bringing along the thermos of coffee, just Pop-Tarts for us, and carrots for our trusty steeds. Our destination, depending on how the ride went, was someplace where the horses could graze while we munched our Pop-Tarts. Unlike my camp trips, where we tied the horses to trees, our OTTBs have not had said training--yet another skill they need to learn, right up there with ground tying.

Being Thoroughbreds, ready to go and on the alert, the horses tuned into any sounds emitted from the brush. One never knows when a killer turkey, squirrel, or deer may pounce on an unsuspecting horse! While holding onto the horses, we munched on our Pop-Tarts, wishing we had some coffee to wash down the dry, pasty breakfast.

An aside: yes, that's an impact vest I'm wearing. We have decided we don't bounce back so well any more. So like helmets, it's now part of our riding attire. I must admit to not liking how hot it seems, plus I feel like I'm strapped into a corset or bustier!. Hopefully, I won't need it, but it will be there should I take another spill. And let's face it, riding horses, especially hot-blooded ones, will eventually lead to another fall. I challenge anyone to say otherwise!

The horses, hearing the crinkling of Pop-Tart wrappers, assumed we had brought along tasty treats, such as sweet carrots! Our noisy wrappers caught their attention. They averted their eyes from scanning the woods for "monsters" and stuck their noses were into our breakfast. "What, no carrots, ma?"

"Not to worry, my beauties." I had carrots in the saddlebags. And honestly, they were more appealing than the Pop-Tarts. I guess it's a taste that will always take me back to a time and place--the Vermont hills and summer camp. But I think I'll adapt to a more nutritious and flavorful meal on our next breakfast ride. And, I'll bring coffee! And maybe our steeds will stand for hobbles or tying--as long as no demons lurk in the underbrush.
Part of being a horseman or horsewoman is to never stop learning and to maintain the ongoing schooling for both horse and rider. There's always another skill to master; another technique to try. Our horses are used to the hustle and bustle of the track, so large trucks don't scare them, but a deer bounding through the woods, a turkey trotting over the trail...that's scary stuff! But with time and exposure, they get better and better. Maybe by my next breakfast ride, Harley will ground tie for me---providing no monsters appear!

Rolex says, "Good carrots, ma!"