A visit to a horse killer auction…Go Fund Me idea?

I spent most of today at a horse auction. Not a high dollar, fancy show horse auction but the kind where most of the horses sell to the killers. I usually go to thisHorses rescued from sale type of auction at least twice a year. It isn’t fun. There is always a moment when I feel sick. Today it was when a horse went through with a seriously damaged eye. Even if the horse had sold to a home he would have lost the eye. As he was, no one bid on him at all. Not even the killers.

Several other horses sold for $20.00. Two of them were young horses, yearlings, neither sold to homes. They were also sold and loaded on the big semi trucks headed north. Ten or fifteen sold for less than $100.00. I would guess that the largest group sold between $350-$550. One sold with papers. The mini’s held their own and sold for $125 and up.

I have friends that ask me why I go if it is hard to see. I have some friends that have gone with me and others that can’t bring themselves to go. I go because it makes the problems more real to me. When I look at each horse I wonder about his or her story. One young girl was there with her animals but most were not represented, just dropped off and left to their own fate.

There were those that were injured and lame…but it wasn’t the majority, and most of the injuries that were at the sale didn’t happen at the sale. Today there were many damaged eyes (ranging from cloudy to bloody and needing to be removed) to legs with debilitating scar tissue and a large hernia to name a few.

The starfish story.

The starfish story.

My only ray of hope was that I was there with a young couple who came with the plan to rescue and rehome a few horses. This wasn’t their first trip and I was impressed with the system they have developed for evaluating the horses under theses less-than-ideal situations. They carry a bridle with a snaffle bit and use it to perform a basic test of these unrepresented horses that are all milling around in the kill pens.

I openly admired the couples determination to evaluate ahead of time and avoid buying on emotion only, especially during the sale. I told them that I kept thinking of the starfish story and how I would have to try hard to focus on the one that was saved…and not all those that were not. Then she showed me that the bridle is adorned with a silver pendant the size of a quarter that has the serenity prayer;

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

Every time I go to the sales I am inspired to find a way to make a difference, but how? Do I personally rescue a horse? Do I sponsor this young lady to rescue a horse? Do I start a ‘Go Fund Me’ page and do follow up on the horses that are rescued? Do we promote gelding clinics? Spaying clinics?

What are your ideas? Have you ever supported a horse rescue? What have you seen work or not work in horse rescues?

It made a difference for that one.”




  1. Laura Hurst Calentine on August 15, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    Most people who are not involved in horses, and I don’t mean don’t own them but don’t know the truth, have NO idea where there horse could end up. I have bought several auction horses one the years and brought them home for no reason other than the fact Johnny Baker would have been the only other bidder. One time, I was there and saw a big, we’ll cared for Morgan mare with a sale tag. Looked her over and started hunting down the owner. Stated talking to him and asked him the story: he was moving to Colorado, couldn’t take her, wanted a “good family” to buy her. So I told him what would likely happen to his sweet girl and he was appalled. Had no idea anyone ever slaughtered horses. I talked him into no saying her and hooked him up with LCC here in Athens and thank God, he donated her to rescue. So, #1 biggie, talk to these owners and let them know there’s a better than good chance their wonderful old friend is destined to be dog food. Won’t help some but worth it for those it does. Network pre-sale, if you know camps that sell horses thru Sugarcreek or New Holland, try to work a deal where they call you instead of hauling the to sale. Saves the camps money n hauling and a sale bill, you save good horses. Research and locate a couple of reputable horse rescues and give them a couple hundred a year. My one big pet peeve with rescue though are the ones who will let those young, healthy horses go thru a sale and spend their limited resources on the very old, very sick, and very crazy. In the horse (or any rescue) business, it is downright stupid to spend $5000 to “save” an animal who will have limited quality of life and eat up so much $$$ and space that you can’t take in a solid riding horse because you can’t afford to feed it. How is that a rescue? Okay, I’ll jump off my soapbox now.

  2. Lissa Haun on August 15, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    I’ve bought a mini donkey for 30 bucks.. sold him for $15 before i left to a little girl who had come looking for a donkey to take home.. I was on my way to a horse show when I stopped at the auction – I had no stall build to home him.. After I went to the office and got the contact info for the owner (who had dropped him off and left.. he was in horrible shape!) I bought him out of the ring and came back to the girl who had fallen in love with him.. Her mom and I quickly worked out the del and she began looking for transport for the 3hr drive home – they hadn’t bought a trailer..

    I rescued a craigslist freebie.. he was posted the day before the auction (one that has known kill buyers) I knew the way he looked, he would end up on the meat truck.. A few months later, he had gained enough weight to ride him – he was an extremely well broke, take him anywhere gelding.. I eventually found out he had once belonged to a friend who had lost track of him when her parents sold him.. I sold him to a young girl who needed a confidence builder.. she was used to riding deadheads and got on and kicked him hard (a former barrel horse, he could run) yet he just stood there, I think that is the moment they fell in love with him – they owned him til he died a few years later, but at least he died with a full belly and being loved!

  3. Anna Thompson on August 15, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    Support a good horse rescue in every way you can. Donate money. Like and share their posts on fb. Rehabilitate and then rehome a rescue horse! Someone with your name could really help just by supporting a rescue. Like you did with the orphan foals!

  4. Kimberly & jason saeler of whispering willow acres equine rescue on August 15, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    I currently run a 501c non profit rescue. Our horses are with us for the remainder of there lives as our horses are all out of the slaughter pipeline and considered not rehomable extremely dangerous unmanageable. These horses are the mental health horses of the world who are horses who so severely abused neglected starved ect ect. We bring them home and start completely over with them from the ground up, we teach respect and trust again in humans. This is a very long drawn out task with countless hours invested with sometimes weeks months and in worse case scenarios even yrs. some of these souls are truly scared for the rest of there lives but i am happy to say outside of our 2 newest rescues who have only been on the farm for 7 weeks. All 16 of our other 4 legged kids are safe ridable and very loving and attention seeking. We never intended to grow this big and have a 20 stall facility but the need for our type of rescue is so needed and its hard to not provide the one last chance. As many of the issues we encounter are man made issues. Id like to add we run this completely ourselves with no outside physically of financial help. My husband and i both work full time outside the farm and our off work time is all dedicated to the horses. It has become a true labor of love 🙂

  5. mswomanoffire on August 15, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    The rescue I’ve donated to is Action Horse Rescue (AHR).

    • mswomanoffire on August 15, 2014 at 10:04 pm

      Sorry, Auction Horse Rescue (AHR). They are an amazing group of people who rescue the horses that need to be rescued, meaning those horses that would be passed over. I love the stories of rehab and the before/after pictures.

      • Anna Thompson on August 15, 2014 at 10:33 pm

        They are amazing. They are great at networking too. Through them we were able to rescue a horse that had been bred and trained at our college many years ago!

  6. Taisa on August 15, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    I rescued my mustang off of craigslist before she went to auction, so she never got that far. There have been multiple times that I would have taken a rideable auction horse but I didn’t know how to evaluate them. If there are experienced people who will volunteer to assist people in choosing one or veterinarians who will volunteer to evaluate them, those things would bring more buyers.
    Also a 2 day pre sale preview area where the horses can be viewed, vet checked, petted, ridden, etc, would also help. It would have to be run by volunteers.
    Also assisting horse rescues in your area and making them function better. Maybe people would donate to a rescue instead of taking them to auction.

  7. Michelle Cochran on August 15, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    Thank you so much for this. Running a rescue is the toughest job I’ve ever known. Knowing we can’t save them all is a reality one MUST come to terms with… If not the line between rescue and hoarder becomes blurred. We have one of the largest rescues in Southern California. Many of our horses are from auction. Many come to us dead broke. It never gets easier looking into the eyes of the ones you couldn’t save. 🙁

  8. Kymbey Whitaker on August 15, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    When I was 10 I went to an auction with a friend and her dad. This starved POA went thru the line . He was so sweet.
    I looked in his eyes and had to have him.
    I went home and told my mom and dad I had to save him. They told me if I raised the money myself I could get him. So that Christmas I had recieved my first show saddle. I decided to sell my show saddle for $100 and I went and bought the horse. He was so starved he fell down in the trailer.
    I got him home, put weight on , halter broke him, started him ( bareback of course) and he made the most wonderful horse.

  9. Tracy Lee Lesnet on August 15, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    I am from Iowa we have a small town auction the first Monday of every month in Kalona Iowa. And yes they have kill buyers there, I myself have purchased a couple colts with papers and I feel I have at least helped one or two.And yes it is very hard to watch but around here it’s almost the norm… which is sad but there are people that buy them to take home and to give a better life.
    I guess what bothers me is when people just give up on horses and just send them through the kill pen,usually from a problem that they taught them!!!

  10. Dawn on August 15, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    My young sorrel gelding came from an auction as an unhandled colt. The best $125 I ever spent. He was from a grade mare by someone’s uncle’s unregistered QH stud. So basically a mutt, left intact and untouched. He is gelded and about 7 yrs old. He is smart, eager to please and not a mean bone in his body. We have come a long way together and we are going to try eventing in a year or two. I attended an eventing clinic with him a month ago and the clinician, a top eventing rider/trainer, really liked him. I was so pleased Because there were a few high dollar horses there and he was one that she commented favourably on. I am so proud of him

  11. Jackie on August 15, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    Stacy the barn I go to has brought in 4 or 5 horses from a lady that recuses horses. She takes on too many horses that have too many special needs. The she needs a little rescuing of her own … and my barn owner brings a few at a time to our barn, gets their weight up, the trainer works with the horses and gets them to the point they can be lesson horse. From there a few have sold to forever homes.

    Go Fund Me sounds interesting but even with more funding … can money alone fix all these needs. How can we all help?

    • Jackie on August 15, 2014 at 8:37 pm

      I love the starfish story.

  12. Leah Sinclair on August 15, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    Hi Stacy, what were the criteria that the people with you were looking for please?

    • Stacy on August 16, 2014 at 9:53 am

      I will ask them if we can do a future post together so I can get all the details right but basically; sound, sane, sweet. A horse that could be worked with for an evaluation and training period and then could be sold. Profit is put back into another trip to buy more horses. They were picking up feet, putting on bridle, bending, getting on bareback (if horse would allow) as part of the evaluation. Watching the horses in the pens; are they attacking other horses, etc. This is just the quick general…it would make a great video or blog.

      • Leah Sinclair on August 16, 2014 at 9:14 pm

        That would be a great post idea 🙂

  13. Christina on August 15, 2014 at 8:26 pm


    I too go to the auctions when I can. I bought the best horse in the world at auction 10 years ago and she is now an intricate member of my family. She is patient, she is kind, and she loves. As alpha in the herd she leads with grace and teaches softly. I have seen her put a few in their place, but never maliciously. It saddens my heart that not all horses can be purchased and given good homes. I literally purchased mine out of the hands of the kill buyer. She went for $50.00 and was only four months old. I couldn’t let that happen, so here we sit. I have acted, knowing I could make something out of this animal I was blessed to meet, but many others do not try. We can’t hide from the fact that people breed with abandon and without thought, sometimes leaving those horses to the auction fate. We must look at all aspects of the horses fate, not simply our own convenience and ask ourselves which path we should tread. My mare may make a good mom, but what about that other horse that may not make it out of the kill pen? I’m not saying that all horses can be saved, but I am saying that at least a portion can. My nephew now leads my mare around the farm and he is only two. Yes we supervise, but she takes care of him as well. I can’t imagine having NOT acted and letting that kind heart go to waste.

  14. Tanja on August 15, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    I have gone to an auction before, though not this type. I wound up rehoming one and another is still with me. One was a filly, and the other a broke to ride but foundered pony. The filly had been traumatized by all the traveling, and the pony was barely able to walk. He’s healing now and walking much better. I’m curious as to the basic test this couple performed.

  15. sue on August 15, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    I am one that could never go to an auction. I donate as much as I can. What I don’t understand why not bid on those horses that on one will bid on? Why not bid and put the horse down with dignity. Why let these horses go to slaughter and go thru that pain needlessly. I know there must be a vet that would do it to help these animals die without going thru a slaughter house.

    • Stacy on August 15, 2014 at 8:17 pm

      Sue- I have had that exact same idea. Usually when I go there are 1-3 horses that just need to be euthanized on the spot.

      • joyceharrer on August 15, 2014 at 8:55 pm

        yes I agree I went to an auction a purchased a yearly for $10 with a horrible infected leg drove her to the vet and had her euthanized. Maybe funding a euthanizing program could be an option. . A senator from LA had that idea I wonder what happened to that ???

      • Anna Thompson on August 15, 2014 at 10:37 pm

        I agree but with some more reservations than I used to have. Stacy , some time check out this horse rescue in Cairo, Egypt: Prince Fluffy Kareem! They are on fb. It’s an amazing rescue and they manage to rehab horses that would be deemed hopeless here!

      • judye822 on August 15, 2014 at 11:33 pm

        BRAVO, Stacy, for this blog – particularly since 70% of slaughtered horses are QH’s…. You’re becoming a new hero to me!! 93.3% are in good health with no behavioral issues and 96% are under the age of 10. Statistics from EWA.
        Horse slaughter is nothing but a predatory, greed-driven, crime-infested industry,

      • Holly on August 17, 2014 at 3:48 pm

        Along with gelding and spaying programs I really agree with the comment regarding a euthanization program. A person who lives near me asked me about his kids long time horse about a month ago. He wanted to know how much I thought he would get by sending their “too old to ride” horse to the auction. I suggested that he might want to have the vet out and then pay the $25 to have him taken away. I wasn’t suggesting cremation or anything I feel would be crazy costs, but felt that if the horse had served the family well for years, he deserved a loving end if he was truly no longer healthy. He looked at me like I was crazy and told me that the vet would cost money and by selling him he might get 100 or more dollars. Really? Your kids long time horse (or any horse) doesn’t deserve to be left to enjoy his later years and then laid to rest when needed?

        I wish it was feasible to have a horse tax when you first buy one like a recycling fee. Then when you don’t want them, they can be “recycled”. To a new home if they are in good health and able to partner, and if not, the funds to have them properly and lovingly disposed of.

        As a Canadian, I do wish you still allowed slaughter though. I feel so deeply that in the current system, hauling those darlings – no matter their condition – is not justifiable. …and at the very least, there should be a vet on sight when people bring the horses in to simply say “nope… We are putting this one down now”.

  16. joyceharrer on August 15, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    Think about aligning a fund with local rescue around the auctions to help with saving horses and placing in homes. There a many great rescues who have and continue to have success with rescuing horses from auctions. Gelding clinics are a great ideas as well.

  17. Carol Lambe on August 15, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    I am on the board of a rescue – I went to my first sale a couple weeks ago – got there late and the KB had bought 3 horses – one was a very pretty paint mare – she had no injuries and something about her just made me pursue buying her off the KB – he made a quick $100. Her story is sad – she belonged to the people who own the auction house – passed around by them to different owners – none of whom were very nice – her back is sore and her teeth and feet long and unkept – and yet this mare is sweet as pie – I’ve vetted her and she will be going to my gf’s place who is certified as a Equine Assisted Therapist where she will live out her days…she is only 12. People are the problem – they over breed, they are cruel, they don’t see horses as anything more than a thing to be tossed aside when they develop problems that they create. It’s hard not to hate these people…the answer – stop breeding!!!!

  18. Brittnee on August 15, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    Stacy, please check out the Colorado horse rescue network on Facebook. We are not a non profit, we are a large group of horse women who purchase and rehab horses from the kill auction. We do not ask for donations. Its all out of pocket costs.

  19. rachel on August 15, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    I personally work at a horse rescue and it is definitely worth it. I have seen how well they treat them and they take everything from lame to starved and emaciated horses. They also do owner education and helped that way. The rescue is called Rangers Legacy Equine Rescue.

  20. Sally Sweeney on August 15, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    My bay mare is from the very first premarin groups o foals , Labor day weekend 1999, in Winnepeg, Manitoba . I need to get some pictures of my fur babies posted ! Border Patrol brought us three 7 years ago. Park services 3 they were retiring . GREAT pleasure horses . we hve 12 horses, and Frosty a white mule who just turned 6 . All but two horses are rescues . We are not a 501(c)3, but we did take the overflow of a sactioned 501 .I don’t know how well I would do at an auction Stacy. Probably buy as many as I could and be depressed for the ones not going to a home .

  21. Cat on August 15, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    There is some land near me that I use to ride on many many years ago. It has an old old barn that would need some serious TLC…but there is A LOT of land. I would give anything to be able to purchase this land and use it as a rescue and haven for some of these horses till they could go to forever homes. I simply do not have the money…and am clueless on how to get it. I don’t understand these people and why they would think or want to be apart of such a cruel and heartless business.I just will never understand. why why why????

  22. barbkeith on August 15, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    We have a group outside of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada called Need You Now Equine who advertises horses owned by a dealer on a FB page in hopes of finding them a home. The dealer sets the price. I bought a terrified little yearling palomino QH 2 years ago. She had never been handled and it took about 6 weeks for her to start to come to me. She had to be handled like cattle. She kicked me the first time I touched her but now she does anything I ask of her and she just wants to be with people. She has gone from being a terrified, possibly dangerous horse to a beautiful, pocket pony who is eager to please. She has been backed and was wonderful. She was at a friend’s barn in January and he couldn’t get her to go from the arena back to her stall – it could take 20 min just to get her back in. I showed up after a few days and when I asked, she didn’t hesitate. After that, she was perfect for him too. Up until that point, she also didn’t seem to be too sure of men but now she doesn’t care who you are, she wants you to pet her. People curse those who send horses to the salebarn but if someone hadn’t done that to her, she wouldn’t be my baby. I will never know why she got sent but everyone has their reasons. I’m just grateful she was bought by this dealer and she ended up 6 hours east of that salebarn on my farm.

  23. Angie Thomas on August 15, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    I have bought two horses who were slaughter bound . One from the sale yards and one from the knackery after she’d been purchased at the sales . Being at the sale yards was an incredibly emotional and overwhelming experience . I myself cannot go back to the sales as I know I can’t save them all and it breaks my heart . Both my horses were relatively unhandled , one completely wild in fact . This mistreatment , neglect and over breeding of horses is something I feel passionate about . I know though I can’t save them all . What I can do is change the world for the two I’ve saved and promote and support others doing this work .

  24. Steffi on August 15, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    This is going to be an unpopular answer. I firmly believe that the only way to help the majority of unwanted horses are well-regulated slaughterhouses all throughout the country. Then at least the horses that do not find a home won’t have to endure the endless transport south or north, only to be slaughtered under who-knows-what conditions. I’m from Germany, and Germans love their horses too – but we do slaughter. Local companies will even pick horses up right where they are at if people can’t or don’t want to take them in, even put them down at home…no fear, no stress, no auction, and probably quicker than a vet with a needle. And people get paid for those horses, so at least they’re not left to starve or suffer because someone can’t or won’t call the vet. Sick horses, old horses, unwanted horses…they will always be there. And to help the ones that are left over after people are done picking through them, improving the conditions and regulations of slaughter would be the most reasonable and responsible thing to do.

    • Joy on August 15, 2014 at 11:25 pm

      I agree with you Steffi. Thank you for so saying what you said. The populations would then go down making the rest more valuable and thus owners could afford their care because their horses would have more value. The regulations should be well thought out to effect the best humane solutions to all these animals.

      • Steffi on August 16, 2014 at 9:11 am


        it just seems to me that all this rescuing one horse here and there or donating some money to a rescue – while doing so is honorable and important, don’t get me wrong; I own several animals that I rescued or that would have ended up at an auction – is like pouring water into a leaky vessel … it’s not solving the underlying problem. It makes the person feel like he/she has done something, which is great, but ultimately it leaves the problem for someone else to solve. People are going hungry, and the economy is still not noticeably recovering, and it may well get worse before it gets better, which means more horses at the sale and less people with the resources to save them. Is that fair to the horses or to the people (our children?) having to deal with that?
        We are lucky to live in a rural area, and we do have a plan for when – not if, because it’s going to happen eventually – our horses have to cross the rainbow bridge. My horses are not overly thrilled to see the vet and they would rather not deal with needles either, I don’t know about your horses. Mine are going to be shot, quickly and in their own pasture with a bucket of grain in front of them. And then they are either going to be food for our dogs or donated to a wolf rescue. The other two options are as follows: rent a backhoe and dig all day into the rocky ground, or leave them out as coyote bait…no thank you. Horses don’t care what happens to them after they pass but they deserve to not suffer or be scared before and while they die. My favorite mare was adopted from a wolf rescue. I found her there 4 years ago, she ended up there prematurely and they knew better than to shoot a basically healthy yet ill-mannered horse. I love my horses, but they are also 800lbs of meat each, that might as well be put to use after a humane death – my dogs, and wolves/large cats in rescues would probably agree if you asked them.

    • Elizabeth J Nadow on August 15, 2014 at 11:35 pm

      I would love to hear which you get, and how they work out. Does your program have a fb page?

    • Elizabeth J Nadow on August 15, 2014 at 11:52 pm

      Actually that comment was for someone else. Stereo, I agree with you. When the last of the slaughter houses in the US closed I noticed a big rise in neglected and abandoned horses. Between first time owners that get more than they bargained for and backyard breeders there is a need, but too many think it’s cruel. I think it’s more cruel for an unwanted horse to suffer neglect and cruelty for long periods. There is a need for humane slaughter.
      I also think we all (horseman/women) should educate any first time owner as best we can, especially if they fail to geld colts that would be wonderful geldings!

      • Steffi on August 16, 2014 at 9:42 am

        Yes. And nobody says we have to buy from backyard breeders. A well-run rescue is a good place to look for a new horse, especially if you just need it for pleasure riding or as yard art. We don’t like seeing horses slaughtered, so let’s close the slaughter houses. We also don’t like seeing orphaned kids, pets having to go to the shelter or our cars breaking down. And we don’t like getting sick…So let’s close all the orphanages, shelters, mechanic shops and hospitals too, and see how well that works out for us! Only because we don’t want to deal with a problem, that doesn’t mean it’s not there.

      • ERW on August 16, 2014 at 11:10 am

        The other side of that is that if slaughter is made easier then breeders find it easy to dump the unwanted and therefore breed more to find the perfect one. Slaughter houses closing and the economy going down hill happened at close to the same time so it isn’t know if it was the economy tanking or the closing of the plants. There is also the problem of horse theft increasing if there is easy access to slaughter. I understand horses being humanely killed and fed to zoos but I don’t agree with them being shipped to foreign countries to dine on them. There are so many things wrong with that. But as long as there is a market for horse meat it will continue. I don’t understand how an unknown and un inspected meat source can be a delicacy? Over 150,000 horses are slaughtered each year. That is over 400 horses a day, seven days a week. At some point will it go down? Where do they all come from? Is it the backyard breeders or racing industry or ??? And who wants the horse slaughter plant in their town? So many questions without answers. But I owe my horses a peaceful end when the time comes.

      • Steffi on August 17, 2014 at 7:23 pm

        I am not at all a fan of shipping horses anywhere for slaughter, regardless of who or what is going to eat them. Personally, if any of my horses have to go, I would want to be there to make sure the horse is neither scared nor suffering- I find, too, that I owe my horse a peaceful departure. Slaughter facilities in Germany allow owners to be there
        Those horses are not ‘uncontrolled meat’, at least not in Europe. Each horse has a passport where every medication is noted – if the horse was given something that renders it unfit for human consumption, it then has pet-status and cannot be slaughtered. There much fewer medications are sold over-the-counter to ensure that nothing potentially dangerous is given without a veterinarian making a note in the horse’s passport. Horse theft for slaughter happens, but not often, especially since the passport has become standard…you have to prove that you’re the owner and present the equine passport. That countries may import horses from countries like the US for human consumption – that’s ignorant. Not only from a horse lover’s standpoint, but who knows what medications those horses were just given? On the flip-side … can’t be a whole lot worse than a lot of the things on the shelve at the grocery store …
        Where they come from? Well, there are people who breed for that, but that’s probably the exception rather than the rule. And a horse bred and raised for meat is probably happier than a stallion that’s stuck alone somewhere, or a mare whose urine is used for pharmaceutical purposes. In Europe people aren’t allowed to bear arms, so shooting is not an option. That leaves – unless the horse dies on its own – the vet or the slaughter house. And slaughter is an accepted alternative to euthanasia in Europe. I don’t know about other continents, but in most European countries, some – not all – people eat horse meat, especially in France and Belgium. A lot of those horses were someone’s friend. And that someone typically had the opportunity to be there when the horse was put down. One can, for the sake of each horse, only hope that a lot of people stayed with their horses – because otherwise there is no real guarantee that the horse isn’t shipped alive somewhere else or resold. Either way, I would want to be there with my horse to ensure a humane death, regardless of what were to happen after that.

      • Steffi on August 17, 2014 at 7:28 pm

        Besides, reputable, ethical breeders should care about their foals’ fate…and someone who has thousands of dollars invested in that foal already will not aim to sell it by the pound. And the other breeders will breed regardless of whether the slaughter houses are open or not.

  25. susan on August 15, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    I have sent a donation to a local rescue. The lady was at the auction and had spent the budget she had, she needed x dollars for one more aged horse and posted a request on our local horse FB page. She has a well run rescue that works with the horses and rehomes them if possible.

    • Elizabeth on October 25, 2015 at 7:07 pm

      I’m interested in saving 3 Mares that have foals with them at a kill pen. Do you know anybody or Organizations that help people(me)bail horses out of kill pens. I’m short on the bail money and i don’t want to break up the family. They came from a owner who died and nobody wanted them so they are now at the Kill pen.It makes me sad and they been on my mind. I would like to bring them back to Tennessee. Problem is I just have to bring up the extra money for the whole family soon. I’m hoping you or somebody might know somebody or organization that could help me out to bring these beautiful Mare to Tennessee. I usally don’t ask for help but i need the help now. Please and Thanks Elizabeth

  26. morgan on August 15, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    The eyes of the horse in the article looking out with such sadness, could be my Tennessee walker. It breaks your heart to know the pain and suffering these animals go through, because of the uncaring humans whose lives they have crossed. People who say “they are only Livestock”! Just displays the ingnorance and lack of responsiblity that people have towards their animals and how easily they can just drop them off and walk away, to their comfortable lives, without a backward glance. Shame!!! These animals form emotional bonds just like we do, they think and feel just like us and yet we discard them when they are an “inconvenience” Shame on us !!!!!
    And yes I bought my two mare, and have 5 horses who would otherwise have no home. I’m not trying to stand on a pedestal, but you CAN help, you CAN do something. To those horses even some hay and pasture would be heaven. To the people who could help PLEASE do it, the need is so great.
    Maybe if all the famous trainer took one rescue horse each year and ran it through their programme then moved it on to a good home that would be a start. Maybe a “Traiers Challenge”!

  27. Michelle Rikard on August 15, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    A dear friend of mine has Omega Horse Rescue in Pennsylvania. She and her team go to New Holland Auction every Monday. They evaluate horses and pull the ones that they feel can use a second chance. Check out her website omegahorserescue.com I am sure she would be more than happy to talk to you about what goes into this type of rescue.

  28. Jody Brittain on August 15, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    i quit going to my local auction because I was always drawn to the back pens. Then I would walk away with such a heavy heart and tears in my eyes. I have my horse and three donkeys. They get the utmost care and attention, (even though sometimes I don’t think they care much about that). If I ever won the lottery I would rescue what I could, rehabilitate them, and find them homes. In this economy that has been created by our current administration., people just can’t afford them anymore. It is a very sad situation that I have no answers for, as well as many others.

  29. Carroll Sweet on August 15, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    First I think that everyone should read The Eighty Dollar Horse, second, animal protection laws should be enforced, too many irresponsible people own horses, third, we have a local vet who will humanely euthanize horses that are beyond saving (many people donate to that cause), fourth, we need lots more education regarding when and if to breed horses. When I have extra hay or money I give it to rescue organizations. When I sell or give away a horse I have a no slaughter agreement, even if I have to pay for the euthanization.

  30. Fiona Anderson on August 15, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    this is all so heartbreaking but even nature is cruel in its own way. I often wish I was wealthy so I could save some of these but its not so. I’m like Kim- I take the best care of my horses that I can and if someday I need to help one out, I will do my best but not at the expense of the animals that I have.

  31. Mandy on August 15, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    Yes to gelding clinics! The sire of every single horse at this auction should be gelded. People need to be educated or nothing will ever change. Rescuing these horses is certainly nice and admirable but the problem needs to be stopped at the source or it will NEVER END. Stop breeding mediocre horses and stop supporting Thoroughbred racing!

  32. Cece osborn on August 15, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    i went to the sale barn at elaset once a month for 15+ yrs, mostly a friend and i bought and sold tack, occasionally we brought home a horse, a few registered babies, a baby mule, an arabian mare once. I have seen lots of cripples, old injuries, poor breeding, damaged horses. Was it the fault of the breeder, the owner, the trainer, no training, the wrong training, the wrong job, bad mental state from the start, spoiled, poorly conformed, injured?? Yes all those things and more. I dont know if its the type of sale barn i went to (one than one on a consistent basis) but i did not see too many pen injuries, nor much more than scrapes, that could have happened on the way there. But these were horse sale night only, so they were handling them with dignity for the most part. Maybe it was the barn owners, horse people themselves, maybe they were more caring. Can anyone save them all? No. Are all worth saving?..Hell No, and i am sorry to say that. You have to be objective, maybe some are great horses just down on their luck, maybe they never had a chance to be great. One of the auctioneers who was an astute horseman, used to say that…hey hes/shes just down on their luck, a little good feed and he will be back…give him a chance. Objectiveness has to be carried out. I have bought babies cut off their moms, more than a month old they come out just fine–as long as they are not treated like dogs…then they become spoiled brats–and they NEVER get over that. it scares me when i see the foals going thru the sale barn who are ‘adopted’ by people, rescues who pick them up and adopt them to people who have the facilites, but maybe not the horse smarts. why?? because most of the time they are not treated like horses, but pups. You know the dog that jumps on you,knocks you down, basically has no manners?? That is how alot of those babies turn out, but they are 1000 pound dogs who kick and bite and strike at you, when any kind of training is put on them. Where to they end up after they have this bad behavior?? The sale barn. Did the sale barn horses we bought work out ok? Sometimes. Did the horses that i bought from a breeder work out better, yes. Did i breed a few mares and raise babies to show, yes. Did they lead productive lives and not end up at the sale barn? I hope so. I miss owning a horse everyday, i live vicariously thru you Stacy and others who train. The slaughter horses being shipped to Mexico is the worst, no animal of anykind deserves that. I have nothing against humane slaughter. Spaying and gelding…that is something i beleive in. Just like dogs…more neutering and less breeding.

  33. Gina Shiplett on August 15, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    Stacie you should go visit Copper Horse Crusade when you can. She is close to Cambridge and goes to Sugar Creek every Friday. She tries to pull at least 4 horses if possible. She also carries a snaffle with her. Julie has been doing this for about 15 years now. She has so many sad stories. But, the one’s that she does pull usually have happy endings. I just bought my last horse from her. I’ve been to these auctions before and they are heartbreaking. I hope I never have to go to another. Instead, I support them by adopting or donating when I can. 3 of my 4 horses are rescues. The one that isn’t a rescue belongs to my fiance. 13 years ago I got a nurse mare foal from Last Chance and still have him. My Palomino came from the kill pen (Sugar Creek) but Copper Horse Crusade saved him and I adopted him. My daughters QH was abandoned out in a field and his halter grew into his skin leaving permanent indentations. There are ways to help!!!! Adopt, donate, and educate about being a “back yard breeder”.

  34. Susan Berger on August 15, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    I go to two auctions a year with the focus of bringing home 1-4 older geldings. I look for the older ones specifically because 1. They are not usually looked at by other rescues. 2. They still have much to offer.
    I need them to work into our horsemanship program. We work mainly with 1 time and first time riders who have no idea what they are doing or how dangerous it is to climb onto an animal they don’t know how to handle and go for a trail ride in the woods with no fences. We also do lessons, summer camps, and work with at risk youth programs. We connect people who think they have no value with horses that are thought to have lost their value. They teach each other respect, trust, and how to accept love.
    Some of our older geldings have fewer years than others. We have had to make very heart breaking decisions. But I am reminded by our vet that we have given them care, love, and value. And they have returned it to us 10 fold.
    I would value your prayers as we make our journey again this month. I begin praying the beginning of the summer that God will lead me to the ones he has chosen for our program. It is a very daunting and humbling responsibility as we have very limited funds and we need them to be usable in our very special program.
    If you are interested, I will post later on what God leads us to this year.

  35. brett on August 15, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    thanks for checking out the sales, and your questions. I am not a big fan of rescue unless people are funding it themselves and not begging for donations.. its sad to see all of those horses get on the truck and head north, I agree, but there will always be unwanted horses. I love my horses and chances are not real good that I will ever put one on that truck, but its nice to have that option they are livestock. seems kind of dumb to me that the fed. government hoards 50.000 wild horses. that are also unwanted.. load them up and ship them off to these country’s that have a gazillion starving children. heck we have a lot of that right here. and I like you don’t go watch the local sale very often either.. I could easily become a hoarder myself…

    • judye822 on August 15, 2014 at 11:17 pm

      Unwanted horses don’t feed starving people! Horse eat is a delicacy in the EU and Asian countries….. Go to www,equinewelfarealliance.org and become educated on the statistics and facts of horse slaughter.

    • judye822 on August 15, 2014 at 11:25 pm

      Brett if you d like to learn the facts and statistics about horse slaughter, you should visit http://www.equinewelfarealliance.org. A gazillion starving children would NOT be fed by America’s horses….. Horse eat is for affluent people in the EU and Asia. Additionally, it’s the large breed organizations which feed the slaughter pipeline…..

  36. Jennifer Campbell on August 15, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    I support a couple of well researched rescues such as Rosemary Farm and Friends Of Sand Stone Farm’s Rescue Effort 501c3 Equine Rescue. Sand Stone farm is located in my home state and I have visited the barn, seen the horses and it is the one I interact with the most. Their focus is rescuing pregnant mares from these kill pens. The founder is an excellent horse person with a lot of experience. They will pay for training on the green horses to help them find homes. They have held gelding clinics. Please visit these Facebook pages and see for yourself. Thank you Stacy for sharing this experience with the people who may not be aware of the plight of far too many of our horses.

    • Mel on September 2, 2014 at 11:12 pm

      Jennifer, Yes, Carolyn Joy at Sand Stone Farm Rescue Effort is wonderful! She does a great job! I have young horse named J.R. that came from her. He has a forever home with me!

  37. Dawn B. on August 15, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Thanx so much for bringing up this difficult topic. We have so many unwanted horses in this country. We breed too many without quality or ethics. We don’t have these hard discussions and we need to. It could prevent a huge amount of needless suffering if our organizations and veterinary schools would take a stand to promote ethics in breeding, promote gelding clinics nationwide and bring about a greater conscientiousness on these issues. Slaughter is not coming back here… what are the alternatives?
    (Thanx Stacy… you are a gal with a backbone for sure.)

  38. ferg05 on August 15, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Stacy, so hard, so hard! Breaks my heart, but we can’t save them all. I just pray! I volunteer at our local horse rescue, ” Horse n’ Around Rescue Ranch”. What started out 5 years or so ago as a small horse rescue, has now 46+ rescues. Not easy to home them all. All of them with a heart breaking story of abuse and/or starvation. All animals lovers out there; there is a call for help and if you can give a little of your time and effort, whether it be physical or monetary…..DO IT! You will feel great and be helping if not one, many! We can’t save them all, but we can help and make a difference for the few!

  39. Linda on August 15, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Stacy, I have a horse that came from the Sugar Creek kill pen, rescued by a couple who do this on a regular basis. When I was looking for another horse to be a companion for my Concho after he lost his buddy, I talked to Victoria at Last Chance. She recommended someone else who had what I seemed to be looking for. This little Appy pony was on Craigslist, bought by a dealer, taken to 2 auctions, didn’t sell and went to the kill pen. Everyday, I am thankful for the person that saved his life. Yes, he is a work in progress, but he is sound of body and mind, has a sense of humor, likes kisses on his nose. He gallops up from the pasture at the sound of me coming outside or driving up. He has some baggage, but with thoughtful conversations, we work thru it. People who see him wonder why he ended up in the kill pen. I do too, but he has a forever home now.

    • Rachel Bendler on August 18, 2014 at 7:33 pm

      Linda, So glad to hear ‘Doobie’ is so loved. 😉

  40. missy on August 15, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    I been to theses sales rehab retrain and resell or find homes. Im one of the trainers in A Home For Every Horse’s Equine Comeback Challenge…. 10 trainers 10 unbroke rescue horses 90 days of training till the challenge at Pa National show in Harrisburg. I drew a little Arabian 6yr old named Heston. Heston was saved from a kill buyer for a mere 140 dollars. I have had him 5weeks and if I told you i broke him 4 weeks ago you wouldn’t believe me. The horse is smart and willing. It makes me physically ill where he was heading. I would love to know why they gave this wonderful horse up. The link to my challenge fb page is at the bottom. So many nice horses end up at down the wrong road. I have pulled some very nice horses from these auctions. Its hard to go because you want to save them all. As we call it the sit on your hand auctions,

  41. Kim Van Drisse on August 15, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    I can’t go. I can’t even go to registered sales.. it breaks my heart to see the unwanted, to see the fear and the despair in their eyes.
    I did adopt 3 mini-donkeys this year, for companions to my single horse. I can afford the animals that I have, and keep them the way they should be kept. Quality feed, pastures, fresh water, well fitting tack… Sure I could afford 3 or 4 horses but it would be basic care, not the kind of care I would want to be able to give. So I stay away…

  42. Jessica on August 15, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    I once went to a local auction when I was young. We were looking for a prospect. It wasn’t too bad from what I remember, but I wanted to take them all home. One we did bid on was a big grey gelding. When we took a look, he looked possibly drugged, (eye test) and his feet were in very rough shape, with old winter shoes that his feet had grown into and were poking him in his frog. Somewhat lame, but nothing serious. The one that stuck out to me was a tall, somewhat gangly grey dun mare that was terrified. She attacked people who came in, and several people were taunting her. I went in quietly to her pen, and just stood still. She came at me a couple times, but just bluffs. She finally started to relax. I got a foot away from her, and then another young girl barged in and she went after her. My mom only saw the bared teeth and aggression, not what I saw. Unfortunately being young, I was not aloud to bid on her. She did however go to a good home. I will never forget that day. I thank every person who rescues even just one from an auction. Every life matters and makes a difference. I think you sponsoring and making a fund me account and following up would get more people interested and involved. Not everyone has the room to rescue, but everyone has a dollar to help. 🙂

  43. Elizabeth Cowling-Jones on August 15, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    I couldnt do it…really i couldnt…but if i had the courage one day to go..it would be because i had room to take a couple home…I couldnt go and not come home empty handed…Would probably buy the young ones…they have a life ahead of them…so sad. there must b a more humane way for the unwanted…they have to travel in seriously overcrowded trucks to certain death in pain and scared,, would be just better to shoot them at home..less misery..If i have a sick horse that cannot possibly get better then I get the vet to euthanise..what is wrong with society today… !!!
    Respect for those that do go and save some… TO RESCUE ONE HORSE DOESNT CHANGE THE WORLD….BUT IT CHANGES THE WORLD FOR THAT ONE HORSE…. (the starfish factor)…

  44. Diane Wharnsby Brown on August 15, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    Last June, with the kind help of a local rescue group, we brought home two rescues from this kind of market too. Red was a 2 year old purebred chestnut Quarterhorse, as gentle as can be but very timid, and Jasmine was a 2 year old gangly young hackney cross with lots of spitfire and a large personal bubble. It took me over six months of daily, quiet presence before we could groom properly with brushes and hoof picks. Our farrier was kind and patient enough to keep coming every couple of weeks as most of the trims were ‘teaching moments’. But now, a year later, these two ladies are different creatures and their true personalities have shone through. You can’t rescue them all, but the ones that do find a home do learn to trust… it just takes time. The fun part of all this is that although I’ve ridden all my life, these two mares were the first horses I’ve ever owned and the first ground training I’ve ever done, so we’ve all been learning together. Wouldn’t change it for a minute! And someday I’ll go back and bring home a few more!

  45. Lori on August 15, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    I have a 45 year old horse that originally came from animal control. He was purchased at auction and left at my trainers barn when the family who owned him moved to Texas. I purchased him from my trainer for $400.00 when He was 15. He was a handful, but we clicked, won me lots of blues and a buckle. He needed kind hands and He got them from me. My trainer wouldn’t even ride him. We’re still Kimosabe’s 30 yrs. later and He’ll always have a home here. So, the moral of my story is, do what you can, if you can care for one properly do it, otherwise chip in to help a rescue. There’s no love like the love of a good horse.

    • Lesia Lowe on August 15, 2014 at 8:56 pm

      45 yrs old????? AMAZING!!!

    • Mel on September 2, 2014 at 11:04 pm

      I had a gelding that was in his forties too! He was the best horse every, I got him when I was eight years old and I think the horse was around 10 or 12 at that time. I had him until I was almost 37. My dad got him from a family that was dirt poor, they even had a dirt floor in their house. That horse won a lot of blues for all the kids that rode him after I grew out of him! I used him for mostly trail and 4-H but he was actually trained very well as I found out later after seeing all those trophies and ribbons he won, literally hundreds. My dad always knew I was safe when I was with that horse and didn’t worry about me. The horse was very trustworthy. I brought him back home to my parents with another older mare when he was done working and had him for a few more years. His teeth were worn down to the gum so I ended up feeding him several times a day senior mash and soaked alfalfa pellets and pretty much a special diet. But I’ll tell ya I will never forget the joy he gave me throughout my childhood and this horse really touched a lot of people. Many people have told me some of the memorable stories about him. He brought a lost boy home that couldn’t find his way back home after trail riding on state land. And this horse even has his picture painted on a young man’s gravestone because that boy never stopped talking about his ride on the horse and how much he liked it. The horse’s name was Prince but somewhere along the line he got renamed Ginger! He’s passed now and I still miss him!

      • Lesia Lowe on September 2, 2014 at 11:29 pm

        that’s a lot of great memories right there Mel….. :o)

  46. Meg on August 15, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    I think everyone should rescue a horse once in their lives. Well, horse people anyway. It makes you appreciate things a bit more.
    I took my 7 year old daughter to our local killer sale just to visit the tack sale room, and we came home with a $45 gelding that was 300 pounds underweight and had strangles. 3 years later, hes healthy. Hes ugly as sin, poor fella, but his heart is gold, and though his body will never be full and shiny again (trust me, weve tried!!!) he is an amazing boy. Saving him has taught my daughter so much about compassion that I couldnt have taught her otherwise. And we did save his life. And hes got it good now. He gets ridden maybe once a month for a few minutes by his girl, and he gets regular meals and health care. Hes our pasture ornament, and we adore him. We got really really lucky though. Ive heard lots of stories that didnt end nearly as well.

  47. melody on August 15, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    I don’t know. I have thought and thought about this many times. I never play the lottery. I walked down to the local gas station and bought two last week. If by any chance I would ever win I have vowed to open a rescue place for horses, dogs, and cats and let them live their lives out as healthy as can be and most of all loved and SAFE. What brought this thought? The last chance correl you posted about the foals. It tore me up. Also I have seen the horses being rounded up for kill on another fb page. It is horrid. I don’t know how those people can sleep knowing they are tearing babies from moms, horses from their herds. It breaks my heart so I am making a plan and if the money ever comes that is what I am doing. Humans have the government programs to take care of them although those aren’t so great either, but the animals have no government laws to protect them. I have donated to a few animal causes but that is not enough for me.

    • Lori on August 15, 2014 at 6:01 pm

      Start small, I feel like you’re thinking big? Any little thing helps.

      • Jayne on August 15, 2014 at 7:07 pm

        Well said, Lori. Individuals should start small, save one horse. Donate, network, volunteer at a rescue. It all matters hugely. . Industries, on the other hand, (racing, etc) need to address overbreeding or breeding: period.

      • Lindsay on August 16, 2014 at 4:52 am

        Well said Lori, I think that is pretty much every ones problem when they want to help, regardless of what the problem is.

    • Andrea Owen on August 15, 2014 at 7:26 pm

      That’s a great idea. I have often bought Loto tickets with the same intent. Some day!!!!

  48. Kim Dimmick on August 15, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    In the early and mid nineties I rescued many horses from the sale barn and a kill farm close to me. The money I made on the first supported buying the next and so on. High costs have made rescue by individuals virtually impossible unless you are wealthy. Many people fear buying from the auctions and felt comfortable buying from me and having a 30 days return policy. I never felt better than when I could bring that frightened animal home, love it and repair any physical or mental damage that had been done to it. And the best part was receiving letters and pictures from the new owners and seeing how loved they were in their new home. A win win situation for everyone.

  49. Debby Hess on August 15, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    My horse is a little rescue pony cross. His owner died of cancer, he was to be put down, till someone found out about it and took him home. He came to me next and I am his forever home. I get sick at the thought of what may have happened to him when he has been so good to me. I was recovering from some bad riding experiences – as far as I’m concerned, he rescued me. I’m so grateful that I could make the difference for this one.

  50. Diane on August 15, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    In 2004 I visited a feed lot in Washington State and I came home with one horse. I went there with the intent to rescue. I knew it could only be one horse, but at least I could give that horse a life it deserved. She was 7 years old at the time (the vet thinks), she is 17 now. She has scarring on her two front legs, but other than that there was nothing wrong with her. How hard was it to leave the 100’s of others that were there? I can’t even tell you….but I have this one….her name is Mocha and she is worth the heartache of not being able to save the rest.

    • Stephanie on August 16, 2014 at 11:15 pm

      “her name is Mocha and she is worth the heartache of not being able to save the rest.”
      what moving and beautiful words, Diane
      Stacey, in answer to your request for ideas…There are a lot of kind hearted people who are all doing there part to help suffering animals one or more at a time, that is a fact. How can we do more? I’ve asked myself (I have 11 rescued horses). I applaud your writing about this very emotional and sad part of the equine industry. I responded to a facebook challenge to support a rescue every month, just $10 via Paypal, to The Pegasus Project, a small and easy thing times 1,000 people really can make a difference in the lives of hundreds of horses. Pick an organization, there are so many out there, support them monthly, challenge your readers to follow your suit, most of us will heed your call and it will make a difference.

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