Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rescuing Horses

photo by Sue Steiner

This is not my normal blog about making art and this past weekend was spent in what is not a normal activity for me. I was part of a horse rescue.

There has been a lot of talk lately about the issue of horse slaughter and the transportation of these horses to the slaughter houses in Mexico and Canada. At this point in time there are no slaughter houses in the US that kill horses. It is a state by state ban at this point and there is a bill before the US Congress to make the ban a Federal law. I really don't want to get involved in the politics of the issue. You might be surprised by what I might have to say. Suffice to say that we Americans ship quite a large number of horses to these slaughter houses outside the US. And where we have regulations in place for the humane care for the animals that are killed for human consumption here in the US...there are no such controls once the animals leave our borders. And the transportation of the horses within the US is not monitored, so they are shipped days without food or water, crammed into stock trailers where they are frightened, fighting and miserable. Not right for these animals that we have breed merely to serve our whims. And let's face it, they are not bred or kept as livestock for human consumption. So the USDA regs for beef cattle are not in place. So the horse meat from the US that does eventually end up on the tables of Europe and Asia...is chock full of steroids, anti-inflammatory meds and antibiotics. I wouldn't want to eat that! But that is all I am going to say on the issue, because for me it is really about our propensity for money grubbing overbreeding and the high cost of humane euthanasia in this climate of extreme financial tragedies. If you would like to read more about these issues, you should read the article Dark Horses in the current issue of Orion Magazine. And take a look at the website for the Unwanted Horses Coalition - http://www.unwantedhorsecoalition.org/

But this story is really about, Baylie. One of the things that I watch on Facebook, is a page for horses that are owned by a kill broker in Pennsylvania. The kill broker is the guy that buys horses for next to nothing at auction and if he is unable to sell them to private groups or rescues within a few days, he trucks them to Mexico and Canada to resell them for $/pound at the slaughter houses. This particular page was put together by a group of horse lovers and rescues that go weekly to this guys barn...they work and video tape there horses there each week. then they post a less than 2 min. video the page, still photos and as much information as they can get on the animal. They try to determine it's age from the teeth and it's general use for riding, breeding, working, etc. The information is minimal to say the least. But it is the best they can do with what they have. They also post the cost to get that horse bailed out of the kill pen. And each week, these people have, with herculean efforts, rescued a huge number of horses. What happens is an amazing coordination between those who have room to home the horses, and those with some fund to offer, however minimal, to help raise funds to bail and transport the horses.

So to get to Baylie. Just over two weeks ago, I spotted 4 horses on the broker owned list that I thought were remarkable...they were each good, straight legged, well broke using horses. All of a size and type that I would love. Now, I can in no way take on ownership of another horse. But what I did was to repost their information on my facebook wall so that the friends and fans that I have could see them too. You never know. Very quickly 3 of the 4 were bailed and had new homes offered. The last was a Bay Roan Morgan type horse. 4-5 years old that reported rode nice and drove. I decided that since he was slow to find a home, I would donate $100.00 to his bail and I did so. By the deadline I saw that he was completely bailed and happily thought that all 4 were heading to new homes.

This week, when I started looking at the posting of new horses....I noticed to my horror that this one horse was in the kill pen. What it looks like happened is that a woman offered to purchase 11 horses from his week. She "paid" for them through Paypal. But what she did was use a prepaid credit card, which is not ok with Paypal...so the refunded all the money back to her. To me...it sounds like a new kind of scam. But this time it left 11 horses destined again for the slaughter houses. And one of those the lovely young Bay Roan gelding. I was horrified. I immediately posted about him everywhere I could. Telling everyone I could think of. And up popped my friend and fellow equine artist, Sue Steiner. http://www.suesteiner.com/ Sue had already taken in 4 horses from out of this same kill brokers pen in the past year. and she offered the cost for transport and her home to take the Roan. I decided that, although I sent is $100.00 the previous week, that money was used to bail out another horse since it seemed he had a home then....I would offer another $250.00 towards his perminant bail. but that was only going to take care of less then 1/2 of what we needed. So I again...put out the call on Facebook and twitter to all my friends to see if any could help. I hate doing that. It is not at all my style to fundraise for causes. It is not that I don't believe in it. It is more that I don't believe in imposing my concept of what is important on others. We all have places we donate our time and money. doing so is an individual choice. But my uncomfortable efforts paid off. I am honored to say that my friends donated....small amounts that added up and one, Pamela Koo http://twitter.com/thepamkoo went above and beyond in putting us over the top and allowing us to bail him completely.

Baylie, as he is now called (Sue let me name him) arrived at his new home in the middle of last night. He will get to be a horse for a few days before Sue evaluates him for temperament and riding.

I am so proud to have been able to be the impetus for getting this one lovely horse to safety. I am humbled by the response from all my friends and fans. And I am sold on the power of social networking in a way I never expected. We all hope he has a long and happy life. I don't think I will ever be able to do this again. And I have issues with the whole process from overbreeding in the US to some of the practices of some of the rescue organizations. But for this one horse......my heart is full!


Sheona Hamilton Grant said...

Wow what a story!!! Missed all the action would loved to have helped. Your energies were well channeled and now extremely well rewarded! Major thumbs up for a valiant effort and a happy ending!

lovemyponies said...

I love you even MORE for doing that. Bless you for being the impetus that saved Baylie <3

Elizabeth McCrindle said...

Glad he's safe, you have a bug heart Juliet Harrison :))

Sue Steiner said...

We've had Baylie for exactly one week now. His expression and demeanor gets softer and sweeter with each passing day. We so appreciate Juliet, Pamela and the others efforts in getting Baylie safe and we feel fortunate that his is in our barn. My daughter is already smitten with him! Thank you Juliet!