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Regional, Monthly All-Breed Horse Magazine
Distributed throughout the Greater Rockies Since 1993



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Copyright 2010 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;


Letter from Reader

The Slaughter Con

Submitted by Dale Bahr, Whitehall, MT


May 2010 Issue


     A warning from the heart...

     Being old enough to be on a first name basis with both God and dirt, and having had the luxury of learning about life from all sorts of people, I really thought I had learned to read people. After all, at 25, I was the only female on a 20-person sales line, most of them old Florida land salesmen. Most of those guys would tell a lie when the truth would have served them better.

     Besides that, I’ve raised dogs and horses most of my life and have heard just about every lie invented by mankind designed to obtain an animal. I’ve been told, by one of my puppy owners, they had an easier time adopting their daughter. Both potential horse and dog buyers have found themselves very upset when they learned they just weren’t right for the animal they wanted.

     I’m not being a snob. I’ve just learned that the whole picture has to fit — personalities have to mesh, expectations have to be realistic and they have to fully understand all the pros and cons of each individual animal. I’d like to be self-righteous and say it’s all for the benefit of the buyer. But it’s not. Because when all this doesn’t mesh, inevitably, it’s the animal that pays the price.


     All that said, one would think I would be pretty good at spotting a con. Especially a con who was adopting two of my kindest mares. Two mares I parted with only because of the faithful promise of a good life — a life with lots of attention from a young daughter, easy summer days riding, a warm barn in the winter. And, when life was no longer fun for them, an end with dignity and love.

     I grilled this person, over several weeks, about the plans she had for the mares. After they left, I called and exchanged emails, following their progress. Always being reassured they were content and well, with little stories to keep me happy.


     That was last November. About two weeks ago, I learned she had actually sold them for slaughter immediately after she took them “home”.

     This person had been referred to me by a dear friend of mine. My friend had absolutely no idea this person was doing this and was devastated to learn she had done the same thing to some of my friend‘s horses.

     This person had a very carefully constructed reputation as a trusted trainer and lover of horses. I had spoken with several people who had all reported the same thing. That’s what happens when people themselves are honest -- they can’t fathom someone being so devious.

     I failed my mares because I didn’t check her out further. For anyone adopting out a horse, I strongly suggest doing ALL of the following:

u Call the State Brand Inspector's Office to ask if the adopter is registered with them as any sort of commercial horse buyer/seller. Also ask if there have been any complaints against this person, formal or otherwise.

u Check with veterinarians in their area. Tell them you are doing a background check and, because you love your horses, you appreciate their time and honesty. Ask if this person is a client and, if so, do they see the same horses, year in and year out, or is it a revolving door?

     An even more obvious alarm would be no vet work at all. If you contact several vets and a so called animal lover is unknown to all of them, it's not a fluke. People like this don't damage their bottom line with good care.

u Check with various Humane Societies and see if the person is on their radar.

u Write up a conditional adoption agreement and DO NOT transfer paper work on the horse for at least a 6-month period of time.

     You will need to check with your state regulator as to the legalities of an adopter using your brand inspection. DO NOT have a new brand inspection issued with the adopter's name on it or it will invalidate your temporary paperwork. An adopter will understand. A slaughter con won't bother.


     As I was closing the trailer door, the day the girls left, my big, tender bay mare was talking to me, pawing the floor and very upset. I paused and, through my tears, reassured her she was going to have a wonderful, happy life with a little girl and it was going to be alright. Then I closed the door.

     I'll never forgive myself for being so wrong.


Copyright 2010 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;


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