Monday, July 16, 2018

From Rags to . . . rescue?

You can't be on social media, have anything to do with horses and escape seeing those heart wrenching ads.Worse than Sara McLaughlin singing in those commercials.

There will be pictures, video of some tragically cute horse, riding nice or looking like the gentlest critter on the planet. He's in an awful strait. For some reason, the kill buyer who has him absolutely must ship him no later than this coming Saturday. Why the pressure is on and this nice horse must die an awful death day after tomorrow no one seems to know.

There will be posts by "rescues." Let's get his adoption fee put together! Hurry, donate now!! Save the horse!

The adoption fee is far more than the horse will kill for but it is what it is and no one wants to see a horse like that take the awful trip to Mexico. By the way I have some inside scoop on plants in Mexico and you would not wish that on your worst enemy much less a horse, even a rank outlaw.

But back to our subject, horse rescue scams. If you are on Facebook there's at least one page dedicated to exposing these jerks. I pulled this image for my use, here:

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There are stories abounding of how the horse you "adopt" again, paying full retail shows up more than half dead (I personally know someone who pulled one of these unfortunate creatures that did die, three days later). Sometimes it's not even the same horse.

I had wondered about this when I first saw these ads. I fell for the "buy it today or I will ship it tomorrow" horse trader's ploy back in the 90's when I was newer to the game.  This looked like a higher tech version of the same old song.

Are there any legit rescues out there? Well of course there are. Is there any humane slaughter options left available? Canada, but it's tricky, what they will accept and still a long haul to that border as well.  Seems to me we better get it back here in the States because in all the years now since it was banned no one has come up with a good option for horses that for whatever reason find themselves out of a job and unwanted.

Which brings us to the real subject of our story.

Enter me, standing out back at a small horse sale checking out the loose stuff.  A good friend of mine and long time trading associate had a heart attack shortly prior and his wife wanted me to come along and try not to let the guy overdo.

I used to be a regular at sales and knew most of the familiar faces at that time. I have been retired (nice way of putting "out of business" again much thanks to the bottom dropping out of the value of the mid-range horse in the 90's) since 2010. I didn't know anybody but pretty much anyone looking at this bunch of horses has shipping in mind. 

We always used, back in the day, to scan for anything that was pretty, sound, had shoes or saddle marks.  Sometimes loose horses get there for a lot of reasons than they want to try to kill you if you get close enough. It is, at times, just that. I had no idea if that still happened and none of the people looking had a cowboy vibe so it seemed unlikely.

There were not many horses to see and most painfully thin. This has become a common sight.  People lose the ability to feed their horses, find out the colt, now 10 that they never got around to getting broke to ride doesn't sell very well.  Hauling to a sale and letting them go for whatever they bring, hoping something okay works out for them is sometimes the last ditch resort to watching them starve in the yard.

A horse catches my eye. Not just mine, either. The bay is standing casually aloof. He doesn't care to come up to the people around his pen but he's not bothered by them either. Handsome, long rangy pleasure bred looking   . . . guy. All man. Darn it. A stud. A teen aged stud at that.

I board now and no way I can bring home an unknown stallion, pay to put him in a stall, get him cut, take the risks of trying to get a saddle on him, let alone ride the thing. What once would have been a plan was way too far away from today's reality.

It was, even for my friend. To manage a horse like that, you have to either have the ability and knowledge to check out a dicey one or be able to hire people who can. Those people are getting harder to find, too. We left him, shaking our heads at what a nice horse and sad for his fate.

Unanimously we felt his people probably got out of the horse business, tired of losing money like the rest of us and he was out of a job. Damn shame, but there it was. My friend bought some other stuff and we moved on.  It's life in the horse business. You cannot save them all.

Two weeks later I accompany them to another sale. I am checking out saddle horses as my friend fills a contract for a resort in Colorado that runs horses seasonally. Leases and sends them home at the end of the season.  Because of the heart attack, he was behind schedule and scrambling to get his order filled.

There were a couple likely prospects, the prerequisite amount of scamps. I watched a horse dump his rider and then later sell for far more money than he had a right to bring.  Watched a guy that calls himself a big deal trainer come in with mostly nags but one pretty cute buckskin colt that made me say hmmm. And no.

End of the day, a fellow I hadn't seen rides into the facility on a big bay horse in full roping gear. The horse was in no hurry, looked like he may have had a long day of roping behind him prior to the sale. He looked . . . tired. And beat up, bite marks all over, a particularly savage tear in the side of his neck He'd tangled with somebody tough.

I'm asking the guy my usual question and it occurs to me he's looking at me funny. I put it aside as who knows. Maybe I have a booger. It's been a long day for me too.

Horse was a stud, gelded awhile ago . .. how long? Oh, he says . . . maybe a month? I look, it's pretty fresh for a month but looks clean and gelded is gelded.

Okay thanks, says me.

My friend buys the horse.

Later that night (You probably know this already) I have a light bulb. It's that same horse! That stud from a couple of weeks ago.  Gelded a month my ass!

I call my friend with my revelation. "You really only figured that out now?" He's laughing.  Well yeah . . . No wonder the guy on him was looking at me like I was an egg. I will tell you, a loose horse looks different than one riding and no, the "recently gelded" did not ring a bell. Just like a horse in different "clothes" take a guy out of a polo shirt, khakis and put him in jeans and boots and you have a whole nuther deal.

No wonder the horse looked tired! Yanked out of his life, hauled to a sale, gelded, rode, dumped into a pen of horses that knocked the snot out of him. He'd had a hard couple of weeks!

Now, next comes the kicker and then the punchline. Stay with me.

The horse turns out to be a broke beast and on top of that, so kind and quiet you wouldn't know in any way he was fully intact three months ago, or about to lose his life on a brutal killing field.

Punchline; another friend has a client looking for gentle kid safe horse on a budget. I get everyone put together and they buy this fine horse. He will be in tall pastures with the best of care as much loved as he absolutely deserves to be. This is the kind of horse you want to hug his neck anytime you are anywhere near him.

What a good thing it is to know there are still guys out there, combing those sales, looking for saddle horses. A saddle horse is worth more than naked by the pound. Anyone tells you different, watch your wallet.

Pretty nice end up for a horse we couldn't save, huh.

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