I don't like to go on rants about things. Really, I don't. But, occasionally I do it anyways, apparently. I love Stacy Westfall, and currently posted my first rant, on her blog. My toddler was sleeping, and my older two boys were playing quietly. The timing was right, I guess. I hope she doesn't mind, I dream of riding with her (lesson, clinic, etc.), and of course I dream of riding LIKE her. So, I hope my post wasn't annoying.
She wrote, "This may seem like an odd question but I am trying to gather information. I try to visit a sale like this at least twice a year. No, it is not enjoyable, but it does keep me grounded and aware in a very real way. If you do check 'Yes' please leave a comment about where the sale is held. I have gone to Sugarcreek in Ohio. I would be interested in other known locations."
She asked people a very simple question, "Have you been to a horse slaughter sale?" She also wanted to know where (please leave a comment on her blog).
I use to volunteer as “Stable Crew” at a YMCA camp when I was younger. The Stable Director took the ‘crew’ to Sugarcreek. I was a teenager (I am now 35), but the memory is quite vivid. It was my first exposure to the reality of the horse industry…that horses are simply a commodity, and disposed of in the most profitable way possible, if not of value otherwise. To a horse crazy teenager, it was quite a shock.
But, I think I benefited from this early exposure by learning the importance of training a horse right, breeding responsibly, and the need to plan, financially, for your horse’s retirement.
The stable crew I was a part of 20 years ago, has collectively purchased each and every horse that was part of our herd when we worked there as teenagers, and have retired them, to prevent them from going to slaughter. They toted thousands of campers, Indian Princesses, and even mentally and physically disabled, on trail rides and around the ring. They deserved a happy home when they were no longer able to serve.
Thanks for this post. Although I have sent numerous checks to my friend (a stable crew from our teenage years) who boards the retired horses (just a couple horses and a donkey still alive), I haven’t in a while. I am writing a check today and sending it her way. Everyone needs to realize that horses need a retirement plan, just like they do.
Additionally, I have a fairly nice QH mare myself, (papered, good breeding, 16 hands, and a looker). I have been tempted to breed her to a nice stud, with the hopes of getting a competitive show prospect of my own. But, I vowed never to breed an average horse, because the likelihood of getting another average horse is too high (even if I breed to a proven stud). Although she looks good ‘on paper’, and is pretty, my mother always said, “Pretty is as pretty does”. So, hopefully I will get some points on this mare during the next couple show seasons, and then I can justify breeding her.
I think everyone needs to visit a ‘slaughter sale’. I’m not against horse slaughter entirely, only because I think it is a better option than the neglect that an unwanted horse often suffers without this option. But, you can obviously see that I am passionately against irresponsible breeding, not investing in your horse’s training, and the discarding of horses that have served their people their entire lives. Maybe if we made more of a fuss over these things, slaughter wouldn’t be such a necessary evil.
Stacy, not sure if you were hoping for more than a simple response from the question you posed, but, what a great question to ask people! You got me going Hope you don’t mind! I hope more horse owners will visit a slaughter house and take a first hand look at their horse’s potential ‘retirement’, if they don’t invest in their horse’s breeding, training, and golden years.