Friday, December 4, 2009

They Rescue Horses, Don’t They?

I know the rescue topic has been covered here on a number of occasions and I mentioned several terrific rescues in this space two weeks ago. That said, rescue is still such an important endeavor and in my eyes, those wonderful people who save these beautiful souls can never have enough publicity.

In these increasingly difficult financial times, which may not be getting any better any time within the next year or two (and in fact are projected to get a whole lot worse), there are more horses than ever in need of rescue. Here’s some background for all of you in relation to my own rescue journey.

My foray into the horse rescue world began many, many years ago when I learned of the horror that is horse slaughter. Tens of thousands of horses were, and are, killed to feed the wealthy in Europe and Japan, where horsemeat is considered a delicacy, a treat, unlike here in America where we don’t eat horses any more than we eat dogs or cats. There are simply animals which we raise for food, like cattle, hogs and chickens, as well as those we do not. Horses fall into that latter category and to many of us, they are a part of our family.

Back in 1998, the state of California passed Proposition 6, which banned the slaughtering of horses in this state for the purpose of human consumption as well as the transport of horses across state lines for the same purpose. Unfortunately it has been difficult, if not impossible, to enforce. Now that all U.S. slaughterhouses killing horses have been shut down due to state legislation and USDA regulations, American horses are being sent to Canada and Mexico increasingly in order to comply with foreign demand for horsemeat. Thankfully there is an effort in Congress to once again try to get this horror stopped once and for all, but that’s another story for another time.

All throughout history, there have been cases of horses suffering terrible abuse, neglect, starvation and all manner of dreadful things. For many reasons, none of them good, some people seem to think that it’s okay to harm horses or force them to endure incredibly awful situations or conditions. Take the story of Black Beauty, for instance. A horse that was born into a good life and had so much promise, then was sold into torment and terror. Such things happen to many horses to this very day, even in this country, and there are so few people who actually work to make a difference and change the lives of these horses.

A lot of folks who may even have horses recreationally (and especially as show animals) know precious little about this dark secret of the horse world. Others know and are disinterested in the fate of countless, nameless horses. Thankfully with the advent of the internet, more and more people are getting educated on what happens to racehorses that aren’t fast enough, for instance, or just horses that no one wants anymore (or those from breeders who overproduced in order to get that one “next big thing”, sending the rest who didn’t make the cut to their deaths far too early).

Many people also think only low quality, lame, sick or otherwise ‘garbage’ horses are in need of rescuing. Nothing could be further from the truth! Our mare SL Blue Angyl, for instance. A stellar performer in our show string and an outstanding producer, her story of a rescued horse who went on to become a multiple Champion on the highest levels of California Class A Arabian competition in several different disciplines is on my website (look under "A Rescue Story" for her tale) and she's been profiled in our farm newsletter. There wasn’t a thing wrong with her, she has never taken a lame step and has a dazzling pedigree, yet she nearly went to slaughter because there simply weren’t enough buyers at the auction (incidentally a registered Arabian sale) she went through.

Fortunately, there are amazing and incredibly big hearted people out there who routinely take in abused, starved and neglected horses or those their owners can no longer care for, and find them homes if deemed adoptable.

Two of those ladies are right here nearby, Tania Bennett of Mustang Spirit Rescue in Pinon Hills and Courtney Hobson of Under the Angels’ Wings Rescue in Phelan, which I mentioned in my previous rescue post. Both Tania and Courtney have selflessly given their time and money to help too many horses to count, even if it means merely assisting them by painless euthanasia if there is nothing that can be done to save them. I am blessed and honored to know both these fabulous ladies and proud to call them friends. I am also in awe of the work they do (regardless of my many years of involvement in rescue, they still never cease to amaze me). But in this economic turmoil that’s gripping our nation, times are even tougher for rescues and donations are way down which, in turn, harms the horses in need of rescue and TLC.

For more information on both Mustang Spirit and Under the Angels Wings, please visit their websites ~ shown here in this post ~ I am thrilled to get you in touch with either or both of them. You can schedule a tour of each rescue and begin your journey, maybe leading to becoming a volunteer. I can guarantee you the horses will thank you big time!!


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