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Copyright 2008 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

Letters From Readers — Unwanted Horses  

 

April 2008 Issue

 

[Editor’s Note: We have received many letters from readers about the Unwanted Horse issue. Due to space limitations, we have had to excerpt these letters. Thank you for voicing your opinions!]

 

Dear RMR–

     I have been lucky enough to have land so I could bury my horses when they got old and had to be put down for various reasons. I never kept one alive on drugs and would never have let one suffer. I kept my promise to them. They would have a good death and burial if I was around.

     I have seen horses’ lives ended with a gunshot and with drugs. Shooting seems to be instant and may be the kinder. No one has loved a horse any more than I, so I say this with all my heart.

     I know this is impossible, but how good it would be if they could be put down where they live and their bodies taken to a nearby rendering company.

     The hauling, the sights, sounds and smells of slaughterhouses must be a nightmare for these wonderful, beautiful animals.

—Anita Smith, Penrose, CO

 

Dear Friends in the Horse Industry–

     I am a third-generation rancher and farmer in Swan Valley , Idaho . I will be 73 in May. Granddad came here in 1888, homesteaded in 1899. We have operated cattle and sheep for over 108 years. We have run one to four bands of sheep on the public lands for 57 years.

     I have ridden for about 64 years. We had to ride horses to grade school during World War II. We ran Angus cows on rough range for 32 years. Also, we ran 1,400 yearlings on the meadows.

     I have ridden every kind of horse from draft to Tennessee Walkers, which I have now. I have had several thoroughbreds. I have ridden Morgan Appaloosas, which were the toughest. Nine years ago, I had a Three Bars bred horse which was the best cow horse ever.

     What can we do about getting rid of our old horses? We got people moving in here from everywhere, probably the same as you folks. They never hardly ever ride them. Just feed them hay year around. (It makes us a good market for hay.) We have a big hole up the mountain where we put horses when they die.

     Right here, they are only paying about $120 per head and sending the horses up to Canada . Costs $80 to ship them.

     There are already reports that people are taking horses out in the desert and turning them loose in Southwestern Idaho .

     Let me know if I can do anything to help this situation.

—Renell Weeks, Swan Valley , Idaho

Dear RMR–

     I read your article on unwanted horses and am at the conclusion we need a humane society for horses as we have for unwanted cats and dogs.

     I know there are horse rescue places. I am one of them, but my husband and I pay out of our own pocket. I have taken in many old horses and horses with medical problems.

     We were retired but because of feed and vet bills we have both gone back to work to pay for hay and necessary items.

     But many people do not care for their horses as they can and should due to changes and finances.

     I am not fond of slaughterhouses. I am not sure of the people who are supposed to keep an eye on the care and activities at these places. I have been to auctions and seen many poor and unwanted animals there to be sold. It breaks my heart. But what can be done?

     If a Humane Society can be run for unwanted dogs and cats, why not for horses? Where they will be taken in no matter if they need to be put down humanely or need medical care or are just unwanted. We need our states or government to somehow fund these and maybe even local taxes in communities where horses are abundant.

     I don’t have the answer. I love horses and I can’t take care of them all or I would. But just like dogs and cats, people keep breeding horses and they need homes and training and care. People don’t realize what it takes to care of a horse. They are a big animal and hay is not getting any cheaper.

     I just wanted to talk to you and tell you what I thought. It might not do any good, but here it is.

     I enjoy your magazine and hope and pray that somehow we can get help for these horses that are Unwanted.

—Thanks. Sincerely, Kathy Hilliard

Dear RMR–

     There are 100,000 unwanted horses a year that now have no where to go. Here in the United States , people have already started dumping them — on big ranches, Open Range , Parks, anywhere they can. When people dump them, that horse is going to starve to death, freeze to death, or be eaten alive by predators. All slow miserable deaths.

     Emotionally, I’d like to keep every horse alive, as long as possible, unless he is in pain. Horses are family members to me. A person doesn’t just dump their old family members out in the woods and leave them for wolves to eat.

     As bad as I hate to send a horse to slaughter, it is kind of a necessary evil, to prevent abandonment, freezing and starving to death. Which is even crueler than a quick bullet to the head.

     There is no easy answer, to this emotional debacle. My husband and I certainly didn’t spend 30 years of our lives, trying to raise the best horses in the business: the prettiest, smartest, most athletic horses that ever lived, with personality and kindness, and beautiful color to boot, to end up in a dog food can, or a steak for supper in some foreign country.

     With that said, I still support horse slaughter here in the United States with inspectors to prevent cruelty. Who is going to come up with the money to take care of 100,000 unwanted horses?

     Not the people that closed the Horse Slaughter Houses. Let them put that money toward feeding America’s Homeless people.

—Sincerely, Betty Lynn, Lynn’s Quarter Horses, Corvallis, MT

Dear RMR–

     Are you aware that in the past, the CBC (Chappel Bros. Cannery) raised horses in Montana and North Dakota for slaughter? I understand that you had to be a good hand to ride for the CBC. Not many are alive today.

     Are you aware of the Taylor Grazing Act (1934), which called for the removal of unclaimed horses from open ranges. They were removed. This is what happened to the wild horse.

     Reality — Wild Horse Annie should be turning over in her grave! Her actions have put thousands of horses in prison and thousands more in servitude. Some of them have gone to slaughter.

     We hire umps, refs, and judges for their expertise. What horse expertise do the anti-horse slaughter people have? I have a lot of “Have you ever?” questions I could ask them.

     I’ve been around a few horses… I’ve seen some that I’d have liked to cut their throats; other that I’d have kicked their butts; others I’ve felt bad over; and a couple that I’ve cried over.

     We recently put down Tommy. He was a 30-year-old ex-calf roping horse that had had a ton of money won on. I cried. My wife cried. My son, Bill, cried. I have an old goat, an old mini-donkey, a pony, plus a couple of usable horses I’m feeding. Bill has a steer and a mammoth donk he’s been feeding for years.

     We aren’t without heart. Slaughter done humanely is the only sensible thing for most people to do.

—Dick Parker, Billings , MT

 

P.S. –I’d bet the ranch that any of these anti-slaughter people put under dire starvation circumstances would eat Old Dobbin in a heartbeat.

 

Dear RMR–

     I wanted to especially thank you for the recent articles on unwanted horses. Although this is a very emotional issue, it is one that each and every horse owner needs to confront at some time in their years of horse ownership. Your information was very straightforward and extremely useful. I will be exploring the links to better educate myself.

     I have lost two of my equine friends in recent years. Thankfully, I could bury them on my acreage. Most horse owners do not have this option. We need more readily-available choices and pre-planning for this eventuality.

     I recently adopted a “Premarin” horse from Canada . As a pharmacist who has reluctantly dispensed Premarin for many years, it was a personal wish of mine to adopt at least one of the “excess” horses born as a byproduct of the industry.

     Horse slaughter is thriving in Canada . Indeed, my horse came from a feedlot in Alberta and was rescued by an organization called “T.R.A.C.S” (The Responsible Animal Care Society) www.tracs-bc.ca I originally “shopped” for my horse on the site www.pmurescue.org

     Many Canadians are very concerned about horse welfare and enacting laws to ensure humane treatment. They are looking to the US and the laws being passed here.

     The problem of Unwanted Horses can be directly linked to overpopulation. Education is the key — I have already written to US Pony Club (no response yet) and my state 4-H council (favorable, concerned response) to suggest adding end-of-life issues to their educational programs. If everyone involved with a youth or other horse organization would just start this dialogue, I am sure much progress could be made.

     Again, many thanks for addressing the tough issues and not being just another glossy magazine. You’ve already done more than most publications to improve horse welfare. Salute!

—Yours truly, Peg Brownlee, “Lannman” and “Ambassador,” Florence, MT

 

Copyright 2008 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

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