And this is one of them. Meet Muffin, rescued last week from the Kaufman Kill Pen by my friend and barn owner, Felicia. If you only come to my blog for light-hearted hysterical fare, go ahead and close your browser now. This is not one of those days.
I had never been to a kill lot before, and it was worse than I imagined. Overcrowded pens. Mud so deep in a few spots that some horses were actually getting stuck for a moment.
One pen had maybe 30 horses in it, and maybe two water troughs that I could see (if there were more, I didn’t see them). The trough nearest us was bone dry. No one was around, so we filled it. Horses were literally fighting each other VIOLENTLY to just drink water. Disclaimer that this is what I saw on that day. It’s possible that this particular lot is sometimes managed better and that this was a bad week. But this is what I saw.
Sickness abounded. Coughing everywhere. Runny green noses. One horse that came up to us, pleading and with a look of desperation in her eye, had a lump under her throat indicative of strangles.
One mini was on the ground literally trying to die.
It was difficult to get good photos, and I honestly didn’t want to take many. These shots can’t possibly show the sadness and desperation of this place and its conditions. A mule came up to the fence and literally placed her head in my hands, begging me to take her home.
Luckily for her, she lived; she was purchased.
Many others were not.
It hit me so very hard that so many of the faces we saw were not going to live much longer. So many horses in good weight. In the prime of their life. Useful. Loving. Mostly healthy and with good conformation. A gorgeous mustang who could have lit up any show ring.
But not wanted.
And this kill pen, as bad as it was, isn’t the problem. The horse world is the problem. And it’s everyone’s fault.
Those of us who don’t plan for our horses’ retirement. Those who don’t follow up on their former horses’ whereabouts. Those who don’t care – or don’t think about – where their horse ends up when they can’t afford him any longer. The breeders who breed too much. The disciplines who go too hard. Too fast. Too young. Too much for horses to handle, and they end up discarded at way-too-young ages. The breeders who are breeding incorrectly. The private owners who breed so their mare “can experience being a mother.” The owners who place stallions in the same pasture with mares and don’t care if foals happen.
And too many of them end up in hells like this.
Those who were not so lucky as Muffin and Felicity are now or will soon be on their way to Mexico for slaughter – where they will be deprived of food and water for sometimes days before their very painful death sentence. If you imagine that a horse going to slaughter is essentially put to sleep, think again.
I urge everyone to do their part to keep their horses – and others – out of these hellish places. Write your associations. Get involved. Educate people. Do something, anything. Give our horses a chance, and stop killing them.
If you feel so moved, please consider donating to the vet expenses of poor Muffin. She has a long road ahead of her with her various infections. And also consider donating to rescues that pull horses out of these kill pens.
I leave you with the following, which I think is the best way I can put into words the sadness that I witnessed.
I Was a Horse
By Wendy Angel
I was a child’s gift once.
A Christmas wish. A hope for a best friend.
A yearning for a ribbon or buckle.
And I made dreams comes true.
I was a friend once.
A pillow for tears and a keeper of secrets.
A giver of confidence and a light in darkness.
And I taught you about life.
I helped you provide once.
I drove and reined and raced and danced.
I taught your students and chased your dreams.
And I was proud to do it.
I was discarded once.
No explanation or tears or a comforting hand.
Alone and tired in a pen filled with fear.
And I didn’t know why I was there.
I was a horse once.
And now I’m gone.