As we all know, one of the PSAs like to modify their arguments for slaughter depending on their audiences. I imagine when they are only talking amongst themselves, they don’t bother with the warm fuzzies and probably just say things like `them horses all need to die’ and `horse is good eatin’ while banjo music plays in the background. Lucky for the rest of us, they sometimes have enough brain activity to try to appeal to what they perceive would be our better natures when they try to convert anti slaughter people. I give them credit for at least realizing that by and large, antis tend to actually like horses and have a lot of compassion. That’s why we get to hear about old and sick horses that have nowhere to go from the PSAs. It doesn’t usually occur to any of them that pretty much all of us realize that those horses aren’t `good eatin’. I would have to say my favorite argument from them is the mythical `unwanted horse’. I hear a lot about these creatures lately as apparently, they are infesting suburbia in packs and offending the delicate sensibilities of the PSAs not only by their mere presence, but they are the reason for the bad economy and a myriad of other ills society suffers from. So, today I thought it would be all sorts of fun, to meet some of these `unwanted horses’ that apparently are or were in desperate need of harvesting so they can have their dignity restored and have a value. As you know, the only solution in dealing with these beasts is slaughter.
Meet Snowman. He was a former plow horse of unknown breeding that found himself standing on a slaughter truck at the age of 8 yrs old. Clearly his previous owner saw no value in him even as a beast of burden and no longer wanted this horse. This would make him exactly the type of horse the PSAs say needs a slaughter-house in order to save them. Lucky for Snowman, Harry de Leyer, a riding instructor, saw something in that horse that inspired him to purchase him off that truck for $80. After getting him going under saddle and discovering a gentle nature, he used the horse for a lesson horse at the riding school he worked at. When school let out for the summer, de Leyer needed to sell a few horses to get by and Snowman was purchased as a private mount. If the story ended there, it would still be a success story and proof that this horse had far more value than a piece of meat on a dinner plate. However, Snowman clearly felt he belonged with de Leyer and would escape from his new home to return to his old one. Eventually it was decided he belonged with de Leyer and they went on to make history together in the show jumping ring. I can never do his story justice in one short paragraph, but needless to say, he was very `wanted’ and went on to win countless national titles, become a media star and put his young rider on the map as well. Who knows how famous and important he could have been had he just gone to be somebody’s dinner when originally offered for sale?
How about Sunday Silence? Most people on this side of the pond will remember him for winning races like the Kentucky Derby, The Preakness, The Breeders Cup Classic, as well as his heart stopping rivalry with Easy Goer. Hard to think of a horse like this as `unwanted’, but he was. He was not considered to be particularily well-bred as a young horse and was small and cow-hocked. After overcoming a near fatal virus as a weanling, he was offered for sale as a yearling where he failed to reach his reserve bid and went through as a buy-back. He was then offered for sale as a two-year old in training where the bidding stopped well below his reserve price and again he went home to his breeder. Soon after shipped from Kentucky to California in hopes of at least finding easier company to race in, when he survived a trailer wreck after the driver died of a heart attack resulting in a flipped over rig. Still trying to recoup some of his investment in the horse, breeder Arthur Hancock eventually worked out a deal with trainer, Charlie Whittingham to purchase half of the horse for $25,000. That’s not a lot of money for horse that would compete at the level Sunday Silence ended up at. Before he even raced, Whittingham sold half of his half to another friend. Clearly, nobody had big dreams for this horse. After retiring due to injury and despite his numerous accomplishments on the racetrack and winning $4.9 million, Sunday Silence still failed to attract much interest as a breeding stallion and was promptly sold to Japanese interests and shipped overseas. Ironically, even though Japan is the same country that slaughtered Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand after he outlived his usefulness as a sire, it was there that Sunday Silence finally found his value. Despite dying at the relatively young age of 16 yrs of age, he topped their sire list 8 times and he was syndicated in Japan for what converts to approximately $25 million n US. His impact on the Japanese racing industry is still strong and some of his offspring have found their way back over here to boost up our bloodlines. Not bad for an unwanted horse, huh?
Need to hear about horses that are still in the land of the living? Say `hello’ to Neville Bardos. He began his career as a racehorse in Australia and by all accounts was a miserable failure. He’s also a cribber, which if you remember our pal NT’s list (https://shedrowconfessions.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/24-reasons-to-slaughter-a-horse/), is one of the top reasons it’s ok to slaughter a horse. In fact, Neville Bardos was headed for the dinner plate when Boyd Martin coughed up the princely sum of $850 to redirect his fate. Neville Bardos has become an international star in Eventing and was named USEF Horse of the Year in 2012. This was after he was in barn fire in 2011 that resulted in burns all over his body and lung and throat damage from smoke inhalation. He was only given a marginal chance at surviving, but in fact not only survived, but returned to compete at the top level within months. This former `canner’ horse from Australia is now owned by an American ten share syndicate. Imagine how much more he could have become if he just would have gone to slaughter like he deserved!
Maybe since most PSAs seem mostly concerned with wringing the last few dollars out of their companion animals, they can’t wrap their minds around the success of the horses we just featured. I can understand how it would be hard for them to grasp that one horse in the right hands can basically become an empire maker or put a person on the map in a good way, when they seem to be so worried about a couple hundred dollars worth of blood money. For that reason, I will talk about the horse pictured above. She’s not famous and she probably never will be. However, very recently she was standing in the kill pen at Unadilla Auction with her fate pretty much sealed. Lucky for her, she was bailed out that day for the princely sum of $130 and a mere six weeks later was winning ribbons for her new owner (http://offtrackthoroughbreds.com/2013/08/09/mare-goes-from-kill-pen-to-show-ring-in-6-weeks/).
Still not convinced? We’ve talked about the two horses pictured above before. Both these horses raced at Beaulah Park in Ohio, but once their careers were over, found themselves at Viande Richelieu Meat Inc. in Massueville near St.-Hyacinthe, Quebec. Usually, this means there is no chance of the storybook save from death in a kill box as was the fate of Backstreet Bully, when his connections tried to save him after he was shipped to slaughter (https://shedrowconfessions.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/a-sickening-end/). Lucky for these two horses, due to the tenacity of several advocates and perhaps divine intervention, they were recovered from that slaughter plant, and as a result at least Viande Richelieu Meat Inc. will no longer accept known Thoroughbreds (http://www.drf.com/news/canadian-slaughterhouse-firm-no-longer-accepting-thoroughbreds). Both of these young horses went on to compete at The Battle of the X’s, a challenge for former racehorses that was hosted by Remember Me Rescue in Texas. They can also look forward to happy and productive lives for many years to come. I’m sure their connections will be happy once their tails grow back out and they can erase all memories of what nearly was the fate of these two beautiful horses.
No matter how many examples I post, PSAs will continue to talk about unwanted horses. They will say these are the exceptions and not the rule, while us antis will say that it is actually the reverse. The fact is that these horses are not exceptions, but victims of circumstances and sometimes bad marketing. That’s something that your average PSA just cannot comprehend. They will shriek that they took their horse to a sale and nobody bid on it. What they will fail to mention is that not every sale is the same and you need to market to your desired buyer. I could take my Warmblood to a weekend auction in cowboy country and I guarantee you the only bid he will get is from a kill buyer. That’s even if I clipped him up and rode him through the ring. The fact, is he wouldn’t be at a venue that the type of people that generally purchase horses like him frequent. However, if I chose to market him to the show crowd, put a fair price on him and showed him around to those people, I could probably turn him quite quickly. I shouldn’t even say `probably’ as I have turned down offers for him plenty of times. If you take your horse to New Holland, Unadilla, Sugarcreek or any of those known slaughter auctions, you are selling your horse to a kill buyers or rescue organizations and none of those people are going to pay you top dollar for a horse. For the most part, serious buyers don’t even go to those sales as they are pretty hard to witness when you can’t save them all. Then consider the fact of running horses through loose, having them in filthy and poor condition and you have decreased their value even more. The fact is horses find themselves in the slaughter pipeline because people are assholes and refuse to take responsibility. No other reason. Saying they are all unwanted is like saying that every single person is undesirable. You only have to look at how many PSAs get married or at least have baby daddies and mamas to know that’s not true. Just like the unwanted horse, it’s merely a matter of being in the right place at the right time or vice versa. I want to close by featuring two more horses that are not unwanted. Sadly, they may be in the slaughter pipeline, but nobody is giving up on finding them just yet and we will not allow them to become one of these fabled `unwanted horses’. They have never been unwanted. Please share their picture/flyers around and put out the word. Also say a prayer or whatever it is you believe in while you’re at it. Let’s bring these boys home!