It all started with our two horses, Mariposa and Montez. We had begun searching for horses to buy for our daughters and the cost of horses was staggering, depending on the breed, age, level of training, and so on. Through my research, I happened upon a horse rescue organization. I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me there would be organizations seeking homes for horses just as there are for dogs and cats.
Unfortunately, like dogs and cats, breeders and horse owners are not always responsible with breeding or caring for their animals. Sometimes they aren’t able to care for their horses properly or they find they can’t afford to care for them. As you might imagine, caring for a horse is a much larger endeavor than caring for most dogs or cats. Their sheer size, the space necessary to keep them, and the costs of feeding, grooming, training and veterinary bills can be an extraordinary burden.
We are so grateful that our horses were saved by rescue organizations and as a result we were able to bring them into our lives. Mariposa was found abandoned in a field, in the middle of nowhere, tied to a tree with multiple ropes. Whoever tied her there intended for her to die. Thankfully someone discovered her and got her to Colorado Horse Rescue where we happily found her. Despite having trust issues, unsurprising given the way she was left, she is a sassy, strong and loving horse. A lot like her best friend, Marissa.
Another rescue organization purchased Montez at auction, but he was lucky not to be purchased by a kill buyer. Considered an old man at 16, Montez is believed to have been a ranch horse and was showing signs of wear with joints popping and bones creaking. Gorgeous boy that he is, he could easily have found himself on a truck bound for slaughter. Instead, we happened to walk into the rescue looking for a horse just a couple of days after the rescue had purchased him. For Gaby, it was love at first sight despite his size (16 hands). Was he a lot of horse for an 11 year old? Yes. Yet he is a gentle giant who loves to go fast but will take it slow for his girl.
Our experiences finding Montez and Mariposa opened our eyes to the world of horse rescue and the many horses in need of safe and loving homes. It also led us to the knowledge that hundreds and thousands of horses are being sent to slaughter every year. Many people don’t realize this; we certainly had no idea. According to the ASPCA, each year more than 100,000 American horses are trucked over the borders to Mexico and Canada to be slaughtered for human consumption in other countries. The slaughter pipeline is a nightmare for horses and as far from a humane process as you can get.
Gizmo and Georgie, rescued mini-donkeys
Like you, we wondered how this could happen. Who would allow their horse to be sent to slaughter? Most people would never willingly send their horse to slaughter, right? But sometimes people can no longer care for a horse. Circumstances change and perhaps they can’t afford the vet bills or even the cost of hay. Maybe they tried to sell Montez themselves or find him a new home, but to no avail. Desperate, they take him to auction thinking a nice family or private buyer will buy him. All too often, however, the kill buyers who frequent these auctions are the ones who buy the horses. Once on a kill buyer’s lot, a horses’ fate is typically sealed. There are loving people and organizations out there trying to save horses from the kill lots too.
We decided that if we could help save horses in any way, we wanted to do it. Ultimately, we want to be able to reach out to those owners who can no longer care for their horses or who just need some short-term help and fill that gap. If we can provide monetary assistance for feed or assistance with vet bills so that they can keep their horses, great. If they can no longer keep or care for their horses, we want to take those horses in and provide training, rehabilitation and help find new homes. If we can’t reach those owners in need early enough, we’ll try to intercept horses at auction before they end up in the slaughter pipeline.
This is Valor. He and his momma were bought at auction by a kill buyer. Donations covered their bail and Allegiance Ranch offered them a rescue home.
Our goals are big but our hearts are bigger. We will find a way to help as many horses as we can. What’s special about our endeavor is that we also have a heart for veterans. We believe that our efforts to help and heal horses can also support veterans in need. Our plans for the next phase of Allegiance Ranch and Equine Rescue will include programs to support veterans.
If you want to learn more about the terrible horse slaughter pipeline and ways you can help, please visit the ASPCA website at https://www.aspca.org/animal-cruelty/horse-slaughter. Please also consider supporting our efforts and follow Allegiance Ranch and Equine Rescue on Facebook. Please share our website and Facebook page with your friends and consider making a donation. We have much work to do and any help is appreciated!