The gelding stood that winter in the
wind and rain, his legs caked in mud, urine, and manure. He had arrived one
month before, and each week the truck would come to take 46 of his fellow
equines to destinations unknown. None of them ever came back. The gelding
had no way of knowing that each time the truck came and left without him,
meant his day was drawing nearer. He, too, was one step closer to being shipped
to a Texas slaughterhouse.
He had been sold at a local auction house by a woman who had used him for team penning. He was a sight to see when he first arrived, before the mud and rain of a harsh winter came. Tail flagged and head high, he was a lovely, proud horse.
But each week it became clearer that the woman was not coming back for him. Each day his head seemed to hang a little lower in the realization that something was very wrong. No one came with carrots, or to blanket him, and he was forced to fight his way through the mud and crowd of other horses to get to the food. When would the truck come again? When would he be prodded and whipped forward onto the metal floor with 45 others, to depart for the horrors of a lonely and terrifying end?
The gelding did not know that the pink ribbon in his mane was a signal not a guarantee, but a signal. The volunteers from Equus Sanctuary outside Los Angeles, California, had placed it there. It told the feedlot owner they wanted him, and that they would try to get the money together to save him. Still, if the truck came and was short one good-sized horse to make the load full for Texas, the pink ribbon meant nothing.
On Saturday morning, two and a half months later, his truck finally came, but it was his miracle truck! Linda Moss from the Equus Sanctuary had come to the feedlot with a woman who wanted to save eight horses, including the dejected and forlorn gelding. With her were people from a news show reporting on equine slaughter and the charro rodeo sport of horse-tripping (see Phoenixs story below). The plight of the gelding and his seven friends who had endured the same hardship would be broadcast to millions of people. Each horse was carefully loaded into a huge stock trailer with plenty of food for the ride. He must have thought it was a small slice of heaven after his ordeal, clean food and space, and a dry place to be!
The next day at the sanctuary, two caring ladies spent three hours bathing him. Several bottles of shampoo later, they found the gem beneath the filth. The gelding stood patiently ground tied while they did their work. His winter coat had been unable to shed, but as they softened the mud, huge sections of it fell away. The pink skin under the four white socks was fire-engine red from the burns of the ammonia-laced urine in the mud. As the women worked, one jokingly remarked, I feel like we are doing frog-to-prince magic! There was already a resident at the sanctuary named Prince, and so the bay gelding came to be known as King Arthur, or now just Arthur.
RoseAnn Nemes, founder and director of the Arabian Horse Rescue Network (AHRN), with two special friends, Merlin and Arthur, rescued from feedlots destined for slaughter.
After the big bath day, the bay gelding began his metamorphosis. Underneath the layers of mud was a gentle, lovely soul. For the first few weeks his mouth remained taut, his uncertainty always at the surface. He became the project and special friend of one of the Equus Sanctuary volunteers, Rose Ann Nemes. A few weeks later when Rose Ann moved to property with horse facilities, she took Arthur home with her.
Over the next few weeks Arthur started to settle in. Slowly he put on weight, and his skin and coat began to shine again. His energy and confidence returned, and one could see in his eyes that he felt safe in this new place. Neither Arthur nor Rose Ann yet realized the depth of the friendship that was to form a bond and understanding beyond mere words. Arthur turned out to be a clown extraordinaire, twirling lead ropes, and flinging stall balls over the fence. Most days when his new friend was cleaning and working around the property, Arthur roamed free about the yard creating mischief.
That was almost four years ago. Today, Arthur still lives with Rose Ann Nemes, founder and director of the Arabian Horse Rescue Network (AHRN), and he is the official equine big dog of the house. He may not be full Arabian, but he certainly has much Arabian blood. Even now at about 25 years of age, when he is loose in the turnout, his tail is still flagged, his head held high, his trot floating. He still loves to put on a show! It is that part of him that turned Rose Ann into an Arabian horse enthusiast.
Rose Ann often asks Arthur, Where were you when I was a little girl? You should have been the horse I had then. For all those years she prayed for a horse of her own, God gave her Arthur. And because of this very special friend, she thinks she and God are even. Arthur was worth every moment of the wait. Her experience with him set the stage for the next Arabian gelding that entered her life.
On October 19, 1994, Rose Ann drove to the feedlot to take photographs. As she walked amongst the pens of horses, she came upon eight grey Arabian mares who had been dumped by a local breeder. In the same paddock was an exquisite gelding with an angelic face. He was kind but very shy.
During the next several hours, she found herself continually drawn back to his pen, where he was off by himself. She could not shake the sight of his huge, kind eyes, lovely markings, long, thick mane and tail of black, copper, and silver streaks. What a sight he was to her, a more beautiful horse than she had ever dreamed of owning. Before she left that day, she told the feedlot owner, DO NOT SHIP HIM Give me two weeks to raise the money! Ten days later, Merlin came home. Its been four years since then, and he is still with her and her beloved Arthur.
Arthur and Merlins plight is not unusual. In the last ten years, more than three million American horses have been slaughtered in a handful of packing plants scattered about the United States. An estimated 50 percent of American horses are destined to die a painful, frightening, and inhumane death in slaughterhouses. Even with the public increased awareness of the slaughter industry, many horses of all breeds still end up being sold to killer buyers and horse traders who ship to slaughter what they cannot otherwise sell. Our companion horses continue to satisfy the human taste for horsemeat in foreign countries.
The Arabian Horse Rescue Network is a not-for-profit California corporation (Non-Profit Tax ID # 91-1913960) that receives most of its funding through donations from the Arabian internet community. Every month, several Arabian horses end up at the feedlots in southern California in dire need of human intervention to save their lives. Donations are used for upkeep of horses while they are held at AHRN for temporary quarantine, necessary veterinarian and hoof care, weight gain, and deworming. Because so many arrive in debilitated condition, they often require special feed, and a lot of it. Sometimes they also need basic training and handling before they can go to a new home.
The mission of the AHRN is to be a primary source of intervention for Arabians at risk of being shipped to slaughter from these southern California feedlots. As horses arrive, the information we collect is posted on our web site at http://www.ahrn.org, and on the America OnLine Arabian Horse board, and an alert e-mail is sent to a growing list of over 300 supporters nationwide. AHRN does not adopt out free horses, because other rescue organizations have found that horses given away frequently end up in less-than-ideal situations. Instead, our goal is to find homes for the Arabians at the price we paid to pull them to safety. As we continue to grow, we hope to assist in emergency situations in other parts of the U.S. when we can.
I have worked with individuals and organizations involved in various aspects of equine rescue for about five years, says Rose Ann. Little by little, as I posted notices on the internet about Arabian horses arriving at southern California killpens, I realized that while people across the country knew there was a problem, they did not understand the extent of it. They were amazed at the constant inflow of Arabians in jeopardy, and doubly amazed at the pedigrees that accompanied some of them. Supporters began to respond by donating funds to pull them from harms way, and even taking one more mouth to feed in order to save a life. While there are low-priced auctions all across the country, it seems southern California still suffers from a market flooded with Arabian horses. In our experience, this has been due to general overbreeding, ranch dispersals and culling, and owners/breeders who either have no knowledge of the likely fate of their animals, or give little consideration to the horrifying end they will meet at a Texas slaughterhouse.
HF Spring Fling and Midnight Exotique
The story of HF Spring Fling and Midnight Exotique is one of the most tragic we have encountered in our rescue work. Though we did not know it then, this little herd provided the spark that started our organization. They were among the first group of horses we posted on the internet, the medium via which most people learn about AHRN and its activities, and through which new homes are found.
In early 1997, an unidentified party brought HF Spring Fling (Khazzan x Foreverspringtime), Midnight Exotique (Midnight Magician x Bint Exelsjor), and a couple of other Arabians suspected to be from the same owner, to the feedlot to be sold. Even the feedlot owner was not prepared for what he was about to see as he went to the back of the trailer to remove the small herd.
The group was severely emaciated and near death, and a couple of the horses, including Spring Fling, had gone down in the trailer during the trip and could not get up. Their hipbones, ribs, and backbones jutted out sharply from beneath their skin. All that was left of them was dull, listless, and scarred hide stretched over protruding bone. Their eyes were sunken and they appeared to be resigned to their fate. What little strength they had left had been drained by the short ride.
This is how Rose Ann and her friend Michelle French, who had flown down from San Jose especially to rescue the small herd, found them.
Sickened by what she saw and determined not to let these horses be slaughtered, Michelle used her entire tax refund to pay for seven horses at the feedlot. Along with Spring Flings small herd of five, including Midnight Exotique, two younger mares, and an older stallion, she noticed two terrified young Arabian geldings wearing the telltale mental and physical scars of the charro rodeo sport of horsetripping. These youngsters had been dumped at the feedlot wearing halters that had not been adjusted as they grew. The halters had cut into their faces, constricting and scarring them, the rings badly rusted. They were so tight and sunken into their flesh, that the halters later had to be cut off because they could no longer be removed. Michelle could not leave them behind, certain they awaited a trip to the slaughterhouse.
Fortunately, Spring Fling and Midnight Exotique were freeze-marked and could be conclusively identified. Through the Arabian Horse Registry CD ROM, the last owner of Spring Fling was identified and contacted. Unfortunately, the woman had come upon hard times herself. She had developed a brain tumor and was terminally ill. When she became too sick to care for her horses, she asked neighbors to feed them for her but instead, they took the food for their own horses.
Shortly thereafter, someone claiming to be affiliated with a rescue organization contacted her. He offered to pick up the horses and get them placed in homes. Instead, he took them directly to the feedlot knowing he would receive quick, easy cash.
The woman had a great deal of difficulty communicating, but when asked about the two frightened and unapproachable young mares who had accompanied Spring Fling and Midnight Exotique, she indicated they were Spring Flings Barbary daughters, who had never been registered. She had no idea the horses had been at a feedlot, but she was relieved that they were safe. She said she would send Michelle their papers, but we believe the woman died before they could be sent. The sketchy details we have are all we will probably ever know about this incredibly lovely group of Arabians.
HF Spring Fling is a daughter of National Champion Pleasure Driving AOTD, National Reserve Champion Informal Combination, and champion halter horse, Khazzan. She is out of the champion-producing *Eter daughter Foreverspringtime, also the dam of multiple champion English pleasure horse HF Sparkle Plenty. Midnight Exotique was a winner in most classic head as a younger mare, and is a daughter of the black stallion Midnight Magician. She is out of Bint Exelsjor, a daughter of Swedish National Champion *Exelsjor. These two beautiful mares, their three companions from the same herd, and the two terrified charro rodeo geldings were retired to the Equus Sanctuary, and have gone to live out their days at the sanctuary.
Amir Wild Fire
AHRN volunteer Diana Patterson first learned of Amir Wild Fires plight on the America OnLine Arabian message board. Linda Moss of the Equus Sanctuary had found her in a killer buyers possession identifiable only by her freeze mark. Amir Wild Fire was a 1975 daughter of the *Bask son Fire Wind, out of La Femelle Fixe by Lyttl-Fix, a *Serafix son. Amirs dam died at the age of 12 after producing only a few foals. But from these few offspring, she distinguished herself as a great broodmare by establishing an Aristocratic mare line. Her daughter Alexandria (by Raffon) is an Aristocrat producer of 8 champions on the Class A, Regional, and National level in halter, English pleasure, country English pleasure, and pleasure driving. And Amirs second maternal sister, by the Egyptian stallion *Ibn Antar, is Lady Love, a park champion who is best known through her son, U.S. National Champion English Pleasure Canadian Love by Al-Marah Canadius.
While Linda desperately wanted to save Amir, the Sanctuarys funds were depleted. She knew that if someone didnt come to her rescue soon, she would be shipped to the auction where, at her age, her most likely destination would be the slaughterhouse. Following is Dianas rendition of Amirs story:
I read the post around midnight Tuesday. My heart sank when I realized who this mare was and that she had most likely already gone through the auction. I didnt have the money, or any place to keep her, but I could not let her die like this. Id figure it out later.
I called and e-mailed Linda immediately. She gave me the name of the killer buyer who had the mare, and the name of the auction house she had most likely gone through. I called the killer buyer the next morning, but he was out and his family was unwilling to give me much information. They would only confirm that a mare matching the general description I gave had gone through the auction that Linda indicated. I then called the auction house, but without an auction tag number, they could not tell me whom she had been sold to. While they were sympathetic, they were too busy to help me anyway.
I called the killer buyer back again; he was still out. I explained to the person on the phone that the mare had great sentimental value to me and pleaded with him to help. The man was unmoved, saying only that he knew who had probably purchased the horse, and that she had been bought for a riding camp. The probable buyers first name slipped. That was all we needed to launch the next leg of our search. Though we knew there was no guarantee that this was actually the mare I was looking for, it was better than nothing. But the instant Linda heard the name, it confirmed her worst fears. She knew the search for Amir was only beginning, and she knew the mare was not going to a riding camp.
By now, another couple of days had passed and we were all getting frantic. An acquaintance of Lindas who was sympathetic to her cause, called the man who we thought had purchased Amir. On our behalf, he convinced him to sell her to me. The man who owned her now didnt really want to be bothered with separating her from the bunch being shipped to slaughter and holding her for me. He put a stiff price on a currently unpapered, 22-year-old mare (who had supposedly been sold to him as a 10-year-old) to make it well worth his while. While I had faxed her freeze mark to him to confirm her identity, there was still a question as to whether or not he had the right mare. The brand was hard to read. I had to take the chance anyway. She was within an hour of being shipped.
Meanwhile my husband, overhearing all my phone calls over a number of days and wondering what I was going to do, knowing we didnt have the money for another horse or a place to keep it but seeing my resolve, broached the dreaded subject. I looked at him and he didnt ask again. Were getting another horse, arent we? was all he said.
I borrowed the money on my credit card and arranged to wire it to the man Saturday morning. In the meantime, I had to make arrangements to get the mare off his place. While he said he would hold her, I was still afraid she would accidentally be shipped. I could not find a hauling company that could pick her up any sooner than a week, and that was not good enough. I called Linda again.
Through a mutual friend, she heard of two women dedicated to Mustang rescue within an hour of Amirs location. They didnt know me from Adam, but on the slim chance they might be willing to help, I called anyway. Out of the infinite goodness of their hearts, with absolutely no personal knowledge of me, they set out the next day to bring Amir to their home until we could arrange to transport her. I couldnt believe there were still people in the world who would take the chances they did for a mare they didnt know, and a woman they had never met.
About this time, I got a call from a good friend of mine, Brian Skone of Ocala, Florida. He also knew I really should not be taking on another horse, and that doing this was stretching me. He and his family had recently purchased a farm in Florida and had plenty of room for Amir to roam and live out her days. He came to my rescue, reimbursed me for Amirs purchase price, and we went about making plans to get her to her Florida paradise. Until then, she would live with her female saviors at the Mustang rescue.
She came home with them on Sunday morning. They videotaped their journey to safety, the song Wild Fire playing on the radio in their pickup as they made their way home with her. The film arrived in my mailbox a few days later. The mare was, in fact, Amir Wild Fire. One of the saddest scenes on the tape was of Amir calling to another horse she had befriended during her trial. The women inquired about this other horse but were refused when they asked to see her. The strain on these kindhearted women was evident in the video. The horses were being held at an old slaughterhouse awaiting shipment.
With their care package to me, they included the auction tag that was still glued into Amirs tail when they picked her up, her rich chestnut hair still clinging to it. For me, it has become the symbol of her ordeal, and of the plight of so many slaughterbound horses.
They showered her with the love, good food she needed, and medical attention until she could embark on her trip to her final home. I have not named them here to protect their work and their identity, but they know who they are and I pray they will always be blessed in the same way they have blessed others. I am certain they have many friends awaiting them at the Rainbow Bridge.
Amir had slipped into obscurity after her sale in 1986, along with many other Arabians in the wake of the collapse of the inflated prices of the 1980s. We dont know where she had spent the last 12 years of her life, though we have tried to retrace her steps to little avail. While her sisters were hugely successful as producers, well never know what Amir would have been capable of. She is barren now but will spend her remaining years with the Skones, in the company of another lovely mare, Toi Soldierett (by Toi Soldier), whom they rescued through the Arabian Horse Rescue Network.
Santina I and Viva La Paloma
We received a call from a feedlot owner in February 1998 that two new bay Arabian mares had arrived there. The pair, who turned out to be a beautiful mother and daughter, had been run through a low-end California auction together, and both were in deplorable condition. The horse trader knew the name of the man who had consigned the mares to the auction, and called to see if we could secure their papers, which had not been sent along with them. Once we knew the identity of the last registered owner, we went to work identifying the mares through the Arabian Horse Registry CD ROM.
The older mare was Santina I, a daughter of U.S. and Canadian National Champion Stallion MS Santana. Santinas dam, Kuhaila Bay, was by Bay El Bey. With Santina was her daughter, Viva La Paloma (by Viva Le Bask), a three-quarter sister to the beautiful Scottsdale Top Ten halter filly and Pacific Slope Champion Mare, Viva La Amour.
While there are times when people unintentionally neglect to send registration papers along with the horses they sell, others purposely dump their unwanted animals through low-end auctions or killer buyers without them. This is sometimes done to avoid having the horses traced back to them, or to hold out for more money for the registration papers. Unfortunately, placing the horses is often harder if they do not have their registration papers. Given the choice between a papered and an unpapered horse, most people will lean toward the papered one even though they have no plans to breed or show. This was the dilemma we faced with Santina and Paloma.
While the mares were still at the feedlot and in danger of being shipped to slaughter, we contacted the last owner of both mares. We explained the situation they were in, hoping they had ended up at the feedlot unintentionally, and that the previous owner would help us get them to safety. But he already knew where the mares were, confirmed their identity, and was not interested in having them back. After the mares were pulled to safety, we inquired about obtaining their registration papers to facilitate placement. We were told that for an additional $1,000 per horse, plus any profit the killer buyer made on the sale of the horses to AHRN, we could obtain the papers. As a rescue organization, we were not in the financial position to pursue this. Sheila Varian very graciously made a call on our behalf to the previous owner, but he would not reconsider despite the fact that being reunited with their papers would have helped ensure their timely placement in good homes, and that their heritage would remain intact.
Jean Marie Diaz of Mountain View, California, put up the money to pull both mares to safety, and is now the proud owner of Viva La Paloma. Santina has a temporary foster home with AHRN volunteer Trish Warr, and has been in training for the past six months with Canyon Creek Ranch in Upland, California, where Trish works in exchange for her training fees. The AHRN will continue to pay her board every month until she is trained enough to be placed in a good home. At age fifteen, Santina had been used exclusively as a broodmare and did not even know how to longe. With no papers and no training, she was doomed to be shipped to slaughter if she had not been pulled. Both she and Paloma now look forward to new careers as riding horses and companions.
On June 20, 1998, Rose Ann and AHRN volunteer Trish Warr went to the feedlot to look at an Arabian mare who had come in. As they walked around the pens, almost simultaneously they saw a beautiful black-bay Arabian gelding who looked as if he had been through some terrifying times. As they approached to look at him, his ears went back, and his mouth and nostrils tensed. His hooves were very long, his mane and tail had not been bathed or brushed for months, but worst of all were the horrendous scars he wore. His back was covered in old and fresh wounds, and what appeared to be severe whip marks. In addition to the injuries to his back, his lower legs showed lacerations from ropes.
He was brought in, according to the feedlot owner, by several charros who said he no longer ran. This, coupled with the fact that he was covered in wounds, could mean only one thing. The gelding had been used in the horse-tripping event of the Mexican Charreada Rodeo. Although it has been outlawed in California, it continues to be a feature of the charro rodeo. It involves a charro on horseback who pursues a fleeing horse. The goal is to rope the front or back legs, and trip the horse to the ground.
That following week, Rose Ann could not shake the thought of the battered gelding. She called the feedlot owner and asked him to hold the horse for her. Despite the fact that the gelding was supposed to be shipped to slaughter two days later, he agreed to hold him. Through the donations of two staunch AHRN supporters, the beautiful Arabian gelding was pulled and taken to Rose Anns for rehabilitation.
When he first arrived in June, he would not let anyone near him, and no one pursued the matter. He was allowed to relax and he began to gain back the three hundred pounds hed lost. Rose Ann decided to name him Phoenix after the mythical bird. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, he is slowly blossoming into the beauty he was born to be. At AHRN, Phoenix has formed a special bond with Rose Anns Arthur.
Phoenix is safe now. He has been through so much and has come so far here, I just cant seem to get myself to put him on a trailer and send him to a new home. He has become our poster child of sorts, and is usually the first horse people ask about when inquiring about the AHRN.
Calricia Bay Fox and Companions
In August of this year, the owner of twenty-one-year old Calricia Bay Fox (Comar Bay Brummel x Foxette), an unidentified three-year-old filly, and two young bay stud colts called the feedlot owner and asked him to come pick up four horses he no longer wanted. One of the colts had a serious puncture wound to his eye that had gone untreated for what must have been a considerable length of time. The eye was badly infected, draining puss and blood, and appeared to be melting from deterioration and lack of care. All four were wormy and terribly thin, and the lovely old mare desperately needed dental work. While the owner continues to keep at least one show horse with a large training barn in the area, those at home were being neglected.
These four horses were left over from a dispersal sale late last fall. The authorities had forced the sale due to the owners neglect and starvation of his horses. It is likely the colts are Bey Shah grandsons by the owners stallion, but we will probably never know for certain. They were either never registered, or their papers were withheld when they were sent to the feedlot. Calricia Bay Fox was about three hundred pounds underweight, and the other youngsters were equally emaciated.
Because the three youngsters had hardly any handling, they feared even the slightest advances. This made initial treatment of the colts wound at the feedlot extremely difficult. After the AHRN pulled the horses to safety, the vet was called out to examine the eye but did not hold out much hope for saving it. Since the colt did not have a name yet, the vet affectionately dubbed him Popeye. The surgery was scheduled to remove what remained of his eye, and a plea for assistance was sent out to supporters. Then nothing short of a miracle happened.
During the next two weeks, Rose Ann waited for sufficient funds to come in to have the procedure performed, and tried to coordinate the surgery and necessary hauling for the youngster. For some reason things just were not falling into place as they usually did. Yet the colts eye was healing! When the vet examined him again, he was amazed at the progress and decided to hold off with the surgery. While regaining sight in the eye was probably too much to ask, we held out hope anyway. Amazingly, two months later, he had recovered some of his sight, and shape had returned to the eye. The color is back to normal now, with slight scarring in the center, and his eyes have recovered their youthful and bright expression.
Popeyes buddy was given the name Gulliver, and the two have become a couple of fun-loving clowns. With care and attention, the two boys have blossomed into inquisitive and curious, attention-seeking carrot hounds. In time, they will make fabulous riding companions in their new homes.
Popeye has a new home with AHRN volunteer Cindy Henry, and will be going to live in Texas soon! Gulliver has a new home with a family in Idaho, and will soon embark on the next chapter in his life.
Calricia Bay Fox is by the multi-National Top Ten Halter Stallion, and Champion English Pleasure, Pleasure Driving, and Western Pleasure horse Comar Bay Brummel, full brother to National Champion Stallion, National Reserve Champion Western Pleasure, and Regional Champion English Pleasure Comar Bay Beau. Her dam Foxette was a daughter of the beautiful halter and performance sire, Pierre of Aldachar. We were told by someone who recognized Calricias name that she was a champion halter mare in her younger years in some stiff competition. It is hard to believe that such a mare could end up in these dire straits. She, too, has progressed beautifully after dental work, worming, and proper nutrition, and will soon be traveling to her new home in Kentucky. Her new family considers it a great honor to be able to give a home to such a special mare.
The young three-year-old filly, whom we have affectionately named Libby, will require some additional professional training to overcome her fears. Fortunately, she has a committed and loving home in Idaho with the same family that is taking Santina, and will go there once she has a little more life experience under her belt. She is a beautiful, sweet girl who needs a slow and gentle hand to help her shine. And most certainly, she will.
Before the AHRN took flight,
I had been thinking about starting my own rescue project, but couldnt
quite find the support, says Rose Ann. When I went on the internet
and started letting people know of the Arabians coming in to the feedlots,
this project just took on a life of its own. I work full-time in addition
to doing rescue, so sometimes in my hectic days, I lose sight of how far
AHRN has come in its relatively short life, and what we and all of our supporters
have accomplished so far.
Two things continue to amaze me in this endeavor. The first is the people who buy these horses often sight unseen and how those human-equine relationships have turned out to be just right for both concerned.
The second is that whenever our funds are dwindling dangerously and we seem to be approaching our limits in our efforts to pull horses, or pay for necessary veterinary care, or just maintain the horses we have already pulled, the support always comes. We would like to get to a point where we could help in other areas of the country.
There is a great deal of sadness in going to the feedlot and realizing there are so many others we cannot save. Images come to mind of the young Thoroughbred mare with wobbles, the NSH by a heavily promoted pinto stallion who was born solid and dumped, the many Appaloosas and grade horses that often follow us around, starving for some affection and companionship in this cold and bleak place. Some look confused as to how they ended up here. They come to you gently, hoping for a hug, or a scratch, or a kind word. It is obvious from their trusting nature and desire to be close that they were once in loving homes. Others are frightened of this strange, inhospitable place some because they have suffered through a life of abuse and harsh treatment before their arrival here, or because their equine partners in this strange place are equally tense and apprehensive, and expressing their stress in an aggressive manner. Still others look lifeless and resigned to their fate.
AHRN has tried to maintain a certain level of respect and camaraderie with the Arabian breeding and showing community. We try, through education, to help people understand what can happen to their companions through irresponsible or excessive breeding. Bringing a life into the world, especially when that life can last in excess of twenty-five years, is a serious responsibility that requires deliberate thought, careful consideration, and planning. Among our supporters are many breeders who, through awareness of the problem, have adopted a different approach to their equine endeavors. One such advocate is Dr. Mary Laird of Grandview Farm, breeder of multiple National Champion GV Bey Phantom, and owner of National Champion Country English Pleasure horse, GV Jabaskette. Mary writes:
I bought my first Arabian at an auction in 1975, and my husband Steve and I began breeding Arabians as a business in 1985. I first became aware of Rose Ann and her work rescuing Arabians a couple of years ago on the internet. Although aware of the potential fate of many unwanted horses, I didnt realize the magnitude of the problem and how easily this could happen to any horse, no matter how well bred, until my contact with AHRN.
Our heightened awareness
of this problem has strengthened our commitment to the lifelong welfare of
the horses we breed and sell to others. It has also emphasized to us that
quality, not quantity, is what makes a breeder notable; every breeding decision
should be made with a specific useful purpose in mind for the resulting foal,
not just to produce a horse to sell.
Earlier this year, we were very fortunate to find the two-year-old filly Flickas Fire, through the AHRN. She had arrived at the feedlot and was in danger of being shipped out for slaughter. We bought her sight unseen, based on pedigree alone, and were not disappointed. She is by SW Dawid and out of the *Aladdinn daughter RV Flicka. This pure Polish filly is very pretty, athletic, and sweet-natured. It would have been a tragedy not to save her, and we feel lucky to have her.
Another strong supporter is Marian Beatty of Stealaway Acres Arabians, breeder of the beautiful 1997 Egyptian Event Junior Champion and Reserve Supreme Champion Mare, Minstrils Kiss. When she first became aware of the AHRNs rescue effort, Marian did a lot of soul-searching. For her own breeding program, she made a conscious decision to limit the number of mares she bred, and committed herself to breeding no more than she was prepared to care for if they did not find homes. She has made some deeply appreciated commitments to AHRN and its cause. Marian writes:
The AHRN is an organization made up of selfless people who have taken on the responsibility of trying to save some of our Arabians who find themselves facing certain death in the killers pens. I have much respect for the people who donate their time, effort, and money to save these horses. I have decided to donate $50 to the AHRN for every mare I breed, including my own and outside mares. I have written into my breeding contract that in lieu of a handling fee, the mare owner is to donate $50 (in addition to what I donate myself) to the AHRN. I make the payments to AHRN in monthly installments of $50, so it is not a big chunk out of the pocketbook all at once. If even ten people would do something like this, the AHRN would have $500 per month to work with in its efforts to rescue these horses. This commitment I have made makes me feel good inside. No donation is too small.
In addition to responsible breeding decisions, we strongly advocate registration with the appropriate registries, freeze-marking, and making sure a transfer of ownership is completed whenever a horse finds a new home. This has helped identify many an otherwise doomed animal, and either reunited him with a previous owner who was unaware of his fate, or facilitated faster placement in a good home. Also, providing proper training and handling is of enormous importance in placing horses in good homes. The young ones who are dumped with little or no ground training, or the older ones who have never been trained to ride are the most vulnerable.
It is heartbreaking and terribly frustrating to see the constant flow of Arabians into the feedlots and auctions. We do our best but know we are barely making a dent in the number of horses in desperate need of a second chance. There are other feedlots in our area that we have not been able to work with due to lack of space, human resources, and funding.
We are grateful for our support base of wonderful Arabian owners and lovers who keep us going through their words of encouragement, generosity, and selflessness. Rescue is an exhausting and emotionally draining endeavor that can become all-consuming especially when it is done in addition to full-time jobs, and human and equine family responsibilities! If you would like to learn more about the Arabian Horse Rescue Network, or horses currently in jeopardy or looking for new homes, please visit us at our website at http://www.ahrn.org, or drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact us at P.O. Box 4603, Sunland, CA 91041-4603. Together we can make a difference in the lives of this beautiful gift that has been bestowed upon us the Arabian horse.
Editors note: Although names of owners of purebred Arabians are available through AHRA, horses often change hands many times without official transfer of registration papers. Therefore, readers should not assume that the last recorded owners of horses named in this article were their owners when the horses came to the attention of AHRN.
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