The more I learn about the proposed slaughter industry, the more I think about my own horses. I’ve mentioned a few times that one of mine was rescued from that fate. I’ve had him for quite a few years now and I still think about it every day. He’s pretty much a one person horse now and I often think about what would happen to him if anything happened to me. Because he’s big and `fancy’, I’m sure people would want him, Lord knows I’ve turned down serious money for him in the past, but I don’t know how he would do with anybody else. Not because I think I’m soooo much better than anybody else, but because he’s a problem child due to past abuse. I’m not sure if somebody else didn’t know his history, that they would do OK with him or have the patience he needs. I’m really not sure that somebody that didn’t have the emotional investment I have in him would take the time to learn to work with him. He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body, but because he is so big and athletic, he could be dangerous in the wrong hands. So, what to do?
We were actually talking about this at the barn the other day. My one friend has actually written her horse into her will. No, she didn’t leave him her worldly wealth, but she has three people designated that she would want to have her horse and made a provision for him. She knows that the designated people are all anti-slaughter as her concern is to keep her animal out of that pipeline. I have another friend that has written me into the will to disperse their horses in the event of their death. They knew I would place them in homes and see that they were cared for. I have made contingency plans for my own horses with a provision from my estate as well. I know that the fat bastards would be more than happy to be retired and they are perfectly happy where I keep them. They would continue living right where they are and being spoiled rotten by the BO. It’s sure never fun to think about stuff like that and you can’t exactly rule from the grave, so you make your best plans and hope it works out.
Not as easy to plan for is what happens if you lose your ability to care for your animals. Not everybody boards their horse and not everybody keeps them at home. There are almost as many situations as there are owners. I know when I injured my knee and had surgery a few years back, I was the only person that was available to care for my horses on a daily basis. I had surgery in the morning and was feeding that same night. It was not easy doing it all on crutches by myself, but we made it through. I actually had to ASK for some help from family to come help me get things set up, which included moving feed supplies to a place I could easily distribute their meals hopping on one foot. I wasn’t overly worried about getting down to water them as my horses are pretty respectful of my personal space, so the crutches weren’t ever an issue. Everything took far longer to do, but you do what you have to. They continued to be a priority. The whole situation to get me thinking though. I didn’t really know my neighbors and if I hadn’t had family in town and was unable to get out to them, what would I do? Thankfully, I did know other horse people and had helped others out before. I was pretty sure I could call in a favor if it came right down to it. Now, I make a point of trading favors with horsey friends. It is important to network as you never know what will happen.
I’ve had horses all my life and have been lucky enough to make my living with them for most of my adult life. Still, I have always carried at least two of my own horses in addition to work and they haven’t always lived where I work. When I was younger, there were many times I went hungry, but I have never had a skinny horse. They didn’t know I was poor, because I always made sure they ate before I did and I lived on what was left over. One of the readers of this blog mentioned `human responsibility’ in the comments and I think that applies here. Whether you lost your job or some other disaster strikes, you have a responsibility to your animals. We took their ability to care for themselves away when we domesticated them so many years ago. I have a horse on a special diet and I always make sure I’m at least a month or more ahead with his feed I buy. I’ve always stockpiled hay well in advance too. It’s just always been a part to my budget. Before the manicures and pedicures, before the hair salon, the animals are provided for.
Most of the plans I make for my horses, involve keeping them out of the slaughter pipeline. I am not really an `in-your-face’ with my beliefs type in person, but I make sure that the people I have horse dealings with, know where I stand on that issue. There is not a single person in my family that supports slaughter. I wouldn’t use a vet that supported slaughter only because I know we are coming from two different places when it comes time to make hard decisions. Time and again, I see people who have lost their jobs or had some other personal crisis end up either starving their horse or putting them in the slaughter pipeline. Life throws us all curve-balls and we can’t always plan for them, but we can be prepared. What plans have the rest of you made if the unthinkable happens?